OK, so this post is going to expose my inner nerd.
This week Simon Pegg announced on his Twitter feed that he will be voicing the character of Dengar in upcoming episodes of The Clone Wars animated series. I had never watched the program having written it off as nothing more than a cheap cash in aimed at selling new toys to young children. Hell, the three prequel films were cartoony enough, why would I want to subject myself to something that would surely fall even further into silly slap-stick comedy and kids exclaiming "yippee!"? But Simon Pegg was willing to be involved? OK, maybe it's not that bad? In fact Pegg even tweeted that he chose to star in The Clone Wars as it is "making Star Wars cool again, twenty minutes at a time."
That was all the endorsement I needed. I dived in. Admittedly the first episode didn't inspire much confidence. It featured Yoda and a bunch of clone troopers facing off against a platoon of droids. Nothing atrocious, but I was in no way blown away. However episode two really impressed me. It featured a nail-biting rescue sequence set amongst the debris of a destroyed spaceship. A small escape pod desperately attempting to remain unnoticed by a droid ship that was making it's way through the wreckage, slaughtering any survivors. Yep, killing survivors. Sure it wasn't in any way graphic (though we do see dead bodies) but what is important is that it lead to a palpable sense of danger for our protagonists. Something sorely lacking in the prequels.
My point is, The Clone Wars seems to understand what Lucas clearly forgot when making the prequel trilogy. Suspense is everything. Sure, The Clone Wars is a cartoon aimed at quite a young demographic, but it still understands how to build tension and create drama. If you can overlook the hammy writing and sometimes clunky voice acting, there is a great little show to be found here. Stylistically beautiful and narratively captivating. Perhaps Simon Pegg was right, The Clone Wars really is making Star Wars cool again, twenty minutes at a time.