Rhiya Redesign

12:49 AM Garyn Dakari 0 Comments




Alrighty, here's my sixth or so iteration on the concept of 'Rhiya', a sorceress RP and possible future webcomic character of mine. It may seem a tad obsessive, but what can I say, some characters are tough nuts to crack... but I may have finally done it. Probably not, actually, given that I used the word 'may', but at the very least I'm a lot closer than the past five(#1 and #3, are particularly embarrassing, ought to be case studies in bad character design).

Previous attempts for comparison, mainly from 2014:
January 2014 May 2014 September 2014 April 2015 2015 speedpaint


0 comments:

Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Season 1 Review

11:27 PM Garyn Dakari 0 Comments



Why the judgmental-visor-stare, Cody Clone? I'm supposed to be judging you, not the other way around!

...fine, you win, I'll start with the positives.

-Things I liked-

The soundtrack! See, one of my pet peeves is miss-use or over-use of the Star Wars movie soundtracks. Videogames are often guilty of this, with some such as Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy using nothing but the movies' score. It makes sense why they do it, John Williams' work is amazing, and it's expensive to hire composers, conductors, engineers, musicians, and everyone else necessary to create a soundtrack - but to me, each movie's score was specifically created for that movie, and use outside of their respective movies can cheapen them. Thankfully, I needn't worry about that with The Clone Wars, as it makes full use of an original score by Kevin Kiner, with Williams' score very sparingly and tastefully seeping through every once in a while.
The voice acting. For the most part, it's really good. Corey Burton's Dooku and Arnold Taylor's Obi-Wan are nearly spot on. Matthew Wood is just as good as Grievous as he was in Revenge of the Sith. Tom Kane remains the second best Yoda in the galaxy. Ian Ambercrombie as Palpatine, Terrance Carson as Mace Windu, and Matt Lanter as Anakin don't really sound like their movie counterparts, but they do the job, and I've gotta give props to Dee Bradley Baker for playing every single clone as well as some background characters.
The animation. The lighting and rendering is the best I've seen in an animated television series.

-Things I didn't like-

The animation. Yep, animation makes it on both lists, because it's a mixed bag. Like the 2008 pilot movie, the character movement here is often very stiff, wooden, as are the facial expressions. While some of the planets look great(Ordo Plutonia), while others(Rugosa Moon) are more akin to a Jedi Academy level. I'm not expecting Pixar or Dreamworks level animation in a TV series of course, but there were a number of animation issues that stood out.
The writing. It was hit and miss in the prequels, and so it is here.
The tone. It's very childlike in most episodes. Schoolyard name-calling and nicknames abound, the villains nearly always fail and end up running away in the end, and the humor is simply too juvenile. "Oh you dolt of a Dakari, why are you watching a Cartoon Network show then?" I here you say. To which I'll respond, I like 'kid movies', I love animation and I love Star Wars. Disney and Pixar have proven time and again that you can have something for kids that appeals to adults as well, and one could make the case that the original trilogy was made for children. So yes, I'll admit that I'm outside the target audience age, but I still have a problem with the overall tone.

-Episodes/Arcs-


Mushrooms I see. Fetch them, we shall.
Episode I: Ambush

Well, so much for hoping this season would start better than the movie. This first episode, mostly disconnected from the events of any other episode, features Yoda and a few clones fighting some droids on a Toydarian moon... and that's it. It reminded me a bit of Tartakovsky's 2003 Clone Wars series, in that it focused 98% percent on action, dropping story almost entirely. Only unlike the 2003 series, this action isn't fun to watch.
Recommendation: Skip.


What do you mean, calling our ship Malevolence is a bad PR move?
Episodes II-IV: Malevolence Arc

Next up is a three-episode arc consisting of Rising Malevolence, Shadow of Malevolence, and Destroy Malevolence, which are more fun that what has come before it, but still pretty dumb. Destroy is the most entertaining of the lot, giving Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padme a rather ridiculous set piece to slash and jump their way through, though it ends up pitting Obi-Wan against Grievous in a lightsaber duel, which is rather dull to watch - 'cause not only is the animation still very clunky, but, y'know, we've already seen Episode III and know exactly what these two look like fighting each other in a lightsaber duel.
Recommendation: Skip.

All right, which one of you has my wig.
Episode V: Rookies

Finally, a good episode! Well, 'good' might be a tad generous, let me start over.

Finally, a refreshingly not-bad episode! Rookies follows a small group of Clone rookies(Who would've guessed) on the Rishi moon. Aside from a couple brief cameos, there are no Jedi in this episode, which proves to be a welcome change of pace, as we're introduced to some named Clones who go on to become recurring characters.
Recommendation: Watch.

Did you hear that one about the bad motivator?
Episodes VI-VII: Droids arc

These two episodes, Downfall of a Droid, and Duel of the Droids, basically exemplify my preconceptions of this show before I tried watching it: Painfully cheesy storyline,  ugly animation, scatological humor up the arse, and Saturday-morning-cartoon villains. The only part I liked was the choreography and cinematography of a brief scene between Ahsoka and Grievous.
Recommednation: Skip.

Yousa missin my bumblin!
Episode VIII: Bombad Jedi

Another terrible one, aren't we on a roll! I'd go so far as to say this is the worst piece of Star Wars I'd seen since the last time I tried to watch The Holiday Special. If you hated Jar Jar Binks before, this episode will change nothing. As someone who's never hated him, this was almost enough to make my join the club.
Recommendation: Skip.

You did not just dress Jar Jar in a tie...
Episode IX: Cloak of Darkness

Best episode so far, though it does have its share of cringe-worthy moments. "If it isn't the hairless harpy..."
Recommendation: Watch.

Not my best side.
Episode X: The Lair of General Grievous

This one's alright. It finally lets us see Grievous as something other than a total pansy, that's got to count for something!
Recommendation: Watch.


Mondays...
Episodes XI-XII: Captured arc

Okay, Dooku Captured and The Gungan General are dumb, to be sure, but they're a lot of fun. Your own mileage will vary depending on your tolerance for Stupid, Jar Jar, and (Debatable?)fan-service. I enjoyed them though.
Recommendation: Watch.

This isn't crashing, it's landing with style.
Episodes XIII-XIV: Jedi Crash arc

First off, I liked the beginning of this arc, with Aayla Secura and the battle in the sky. Then the Jedi... well, crash, on a planet, and the next half hour happens. It's okay, I guess, but it really starts to drag. It's got George Takei in it though, and that's pretty cool.
Recommendation: Watch. Or don't. Or whatever.

I've got to move up in the world...
Episode XV: Trespass

Definitely one of the better ones from this season, standing apart from the others by demoting the main characters to side characters, shifting the focus to the new character Riyo Chuchi and her planet's problems. I actually liked the look of this one too, though that was probably just because the snow blowing around was hiding everything I normally dislike.
Recommendation: Watch.

Hand them over. All three of them.
Episode XVI: The Hidden Enemy

This one's actually a prequel to the 2008 movie, and in extension, the rest of this series, taking place back on Christophsis before Ahsoka showed up. And it's actually pretty fun, and I enjoyed it a lot more than the Christophsis portions of the movie itself. There's this one really cool camera shot when Anakin Force Pushes a window, shattering it out toward the viewer. Hey, I've got an appreciation for that kind of thing.
Recommendation: Watch.

Padme, look! Dead people.
Episodes XVII-XVIII: Blue Shadow Virus arc

Blue Shadow Virus and Mystery of a Thousand Moons are another pair of stupid-but-fun episodes, which I enjoyed, though will probably not watch again. Like the Dooku Captured episodes, whether or not you enjoy this will depend on your tolerance for stupid and/or cliche things, like cackling Mad Space-German Scientists or killer plants. Oh, there's also an action scene in a hallway with slightly curved walls, and some droidekas roll up the walls as they round corners. That was neat.
Recommendation: Watch.

Damn, did we do that?
Episodes XIX-XXI: Battle of Ryloth arc

Better than the average episodes of the season, but it all felt a little dry, which isn't great for what is essentially the finale of a season. Still, it has its moments.
Recommendation: Watch.

Given the recent wig shortage, we require your hat, sir!
Episode XXII: Hostage Crisis

Hey, note to all you TV show producers out there. If you've got an otherwise sub-par season on your hands, THIS is how you end it. Definitely the best episode in the season, with the best villain-introduction scene since Return of the Jedi. Seriously, Anakin and Padme are in the middle of their oh-so-convincing romantic dialogues, when BAM, this blue jerk breaks it up and declares it's time for some Die Hard in a Galaxy Far Far Away for the next twenty minutes. Glorious.
Recommendation: Watch.

-Characters-


  • Asajj Ventress finally gets to shine, if only a little. At least, until
  • Cad Bane completely steals the spotlight.
  • The Other Villains are basically terrible, and not in the way you want villains to be.
  • Ahsoka Tano would win a lot more points with me if she'd stop calling Anakin Skyguy.
  • Everyone Else is about as good or bad as they were in the 2008 movie or the prequels.


-Lightsaber duels-

Like the 2008 movie, they're not great, and almost all of them we already knew the outcomes of. Still, Grievous vs. Ahsoka was the one bright spot in the otherwise dismal Duel of the Droids, and Cloak of Darkness had a decent duel.

-Presentation-

Visually, Season 1 is a lot better in screenshots than it is in motion. The lighting is great, textures and models are decent, but the character movement and facial expressions could use a lot of work. I have no complaints about the sound, and am very appreciative that it continues to use an original soundtrack rather than recycle Williams' music. There's no overarching plot or theme to this season, which I'll actually consider to be a good thing, just because it makes the bad episodes easier to skip on rewatching. Each episode has an opening narration by Tom Kane which may irritate some, but I'd grown used to it by the end.

-Role in the Larger Saga-

About half this season 'works', and the other half, doesn't. Much of it's just too stupid or over the top to imagine it in a live action setting. Even many of the episodes I enjoyed, don't hold up when put next to the films. There are some that do, however, such as Rookies, Cloak of Darkness, Lair of Grievous, Trespass, The Hidden Enemy, the Ryloth Arc, and Hostage Crisis. In terms of universe lore, it adds a few new mostly forgettable planets, moons, alien species, and yet another superweapon or two. In all it barely adds or detracts anything from the movies themselves.

-Conclusion-

Guys and gals, I found Season 1 of The Clone Wars to be extremely hit and miss, with episodes ranging from cringe-inducingly-awful to really-quite-fun. Kids might love it, adults, not so much - and as an adult who's still pretty much a kid, I fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. It's a rough start, to be sure, but by the end it seemed to finally be finding its legs, and the last episode left me quite optimistic to the future... in spite of an unwanted callback to the past.

-Score and Recommendation-

4/10, better than the 2008 film, still below Attack of the Clones - If you took only the better episodes, this could stand up to AotC, but taken as a whole, it's a mixed, though largely negative bag. I recommend either selectively skipping episodes or watching many, if not all, on 1.5x or 2x speed(Whichever is slow enough you can still understand the dialogue).

0 comments:

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) Review

2:19 AM Garyn Dakari 0 Comments

SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains major spoilers, and every review in this series assumes you've seen all six Episodes in the main Star Wars saga.


Well now, not off to a very good start, are we...

To rewind the clock a ways, I actually did see this on DVD back in early 2009 when it was fairly new. Back then I was unaware that it was really a pilot for a television series and found the movie to be a random and wholly unsatisfying interquel. Recently I watched it again just before beginning the show itself, to see if my opinions of it changed at all. Spoiler: They pretty much didn't. So if you want to stop reading there, feel free, but if not, here's me going into spoilerific detail now.


-Story-


Two things are immediately striking(And not in a good way) when this movie begins. 1, Rather than the Star Wars crawl we all know and love, it opens with Tom Kane giving us the story setup. And 2, the animation style is - and there's no two ways about this - downright ugly. I get what they were going for, taking inspiration from the 2003 series, but something was lost in translation between 2D and 3D and it simply doesn't work well. Initial impressions, quite off-putting, but as it's bad form to give up on a movie within the first ten minutes, lets hear what the great Narrating Kane has to say. Galaxy's at war, same old same old, and Jabba the Hutt's son has been kidnapped. Wait, Jabba has a son? Strike three. Thankfully we're not given much time to dwell on that however, as the movie drops us into the 'war' portion of the story first, where we find Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker on the crystalline planet of Christophsis.

Ugly animation aside, I think I like it. In a Wizard of Oz sort of way. Okay movie, you haven't lost me yet!
Before we can get to any real action though, we're subjected to some banter between our Jedi BFFs Obi-Wan and Anakin- movie, you're starting to lose me -which is perhaps even worse than it was in Attack of the Clones. Apparently Anakin's a Knight now, and thus Obi-Wan needs a new padawan. After enduring teenage Anakin, I'm not sure why he'd ever want another one, but dismissing that for a moment, misery loves company, and here Obi-Wan is trying to convince Anakin to get himself a padawan as well. Come now Obi, you're supposed to be the sensible one!
Anyway, a Jedi youngling named Ahsoka Tano arrives, but due to a paperwork screw up(Or something), she is to be Anakin's padawan, not Obi-Wan's.


Trolling you, Obi-Wan and I were.
Now of course, nowhere in the movies from Sith to Jedi is a Skywalker apprentice mentioned, so we have to assume that at some point this padawan must depart, be exiled, or die somehow. After a minute or two of dialogue, I was sincerely hoping it would be the latter. Yeah, I get why this character exists, she's a Spunky Kid With Attitude, which the younger audience(i.e, most of the audience) will likely latch onto, hopefully resulting in bajillions more merchandising sales - but if there's one thing I was swiftly finding more annoying while watching TCW than Obi-Wan and Anakin, it was Ahsoka's overconfidence and insistence on giving everyone nicknames.

It's not all negative though, we're also introduced to the clone Captain Rex. He seems alright, and has a bit of personality to him despite being a clone.

Copy Paste? Roger roger!
Now that we've got the characters out of the way, it's time for the Battle of Christophsis! Which just like the animation and dialogue thusfar, is simply not very good. The sequence consists of a shielded droid army walking in a straight line across a straight bridge toward a squad of clones behind cover, while Obi-Wan is elsewhere pretending to surrender to General Loathsom(No comment) in order to stall for time. The battle half of things is just as boring as it sounds, and shines a real spotlight on the shoddy animation, with clones' feet clipping through the ground, jerky motion, and empty environments. Usually phrases like this would sound like exaggeration, but I'm serious when I say a better looking battle could likely be achieved in a Battlefront II machinima. Obi-Wan's negotiation scene on the other hand, is mildly amusing(Sadly that score makes it the best scene so far), if rather pointless.

Actually the whole battle's rather pointless to the narrative, as Yoda shows up once it's over and gives the Jedi the real premise for this movie, retrieving Jabba's son, Rotta the Hutt. And thus the quest is on, taking our heroes to another new planet, Teth, Tatooine, and... well, that's it actually, Teth and Tatooine.

AT-TE following Rex up a cliff? AWESOME.
To its credit, this movie has fairly good pacing, and nearly every scene either has a battle or leads into a battle, and the battles at Teth were actually fairly good. Or elements of them were anyway, such as the verticality of AT-TEs climbing sheer cliff faces alongside Jedi and a clone platoon while exchanging fire with the droids at the top, all set to electric guitar music. It's dumb, but it's cool to watch, until A&A start exchanging snarky quips anyway.

A&A find Rotta without too much trouble, only to discover that - surprise - this is all a Separatist plot to frame the Jedi for the huttnapping. Dooku's assassin/apprentice Asajj Ventress also shows up, which would no doubt be very confusing for anyone unfamiliar with Tartakovsky's 2003 animated series. She's a fairly intimidating presence and gets a cool, but brief scene with Rex. Teth has some other good character moments as well, including Ahsoka and Anakin coming to terms with each other, and more poignantly, Anakin choosing to leave Rex and the clones behind for the sake of a mission. While the dialogue still mostly sucks, this Anakin already seems to be more mature than his live action counterparts.

The climax of the movie takes place across parallel scenes on Coruscant and Tatooine. I'll go into the Coruscant side first, just so I can try to end this review on something that resembles a positive note, because the Coruscant side not only involves Padme, but introduces...



The worst character in the history of STAR WARS. I just don't know how else to put it. Jar Jar has nothing on this guy. Even that two-headed announcer from The Phantom Menace couldn't hold a shoto lightsaber to the cringe-inducing abomination that is Jabba's treacherous uncle, Ziro the Hutt. Before this movie, I'd had the pleasure of never hating a Star Wars villain before - even the lesser ones such as Dooku, Gunray, and Grevious still ranged from Okay to Pretty Good and had some good concepts behind them, but Ziro? Damn you movie, just stop giving Jabba relatives!

Thankfully the Tatooine side of things is a lot more watchable, with Anakin and Ahsoka splitting up so Ani can fight Dooku while Ahsoka ventures forth to Jabba's palace alone. While there's never much doubt that the Jedi will fail here, the movie does manage to create some tension and urgency by sending Ahsoka on her lonesome into the lion's den, and Dooku revealing to Anakin that he's got a trap for her. It's not great, but the execution works thanks to the well-placed musical cues and good editing, and it's about as good as one could hope for in a finale to such a weak setup.

Could be worse.
Then Jabba goes and destroys his credibility and all the aforementioned good feelings about the movie again by calling his son Punky Muffin.



-Characters-


  • Returning characters are more or less as good or bad as you remembered them from the live action films, with the exception of Jabba who in no way shape or form resembles the menace he was in Return of the Jedi. Huge step down.

  • Ahsoka Tano is obnoxious, though shows flickers of potential for future improvement... for all the good it'll do her anyway, considering this show has to wrap everything up in 3 in-universe years.

  • Captain Rex is the one newcomer I actually liked, though not enough to make me like the movie.

  • Asajj Ventress didn't make much of a splash here, but it was enough to get me vaguely interested in her future role in the series.

  • Ziro the Hutt can die in the fires of Mustafar.


-Lightsaber Duels-

Uninspired, to say the least. We get two duels, both of which involve characters we know survive into Episode III, and end in draws. The animation, cinematography, and fight choreography is unmemorable in both, and aside from some Okay-At-Best dialogue mid-duels, there's really nothing special here.

-Presentation-

The music is alright. Nowhere near the level of Williams' iconic score, of course, but it'd be unfair to expect such. The drum-centric remake of the opening theme is fitting, given the war-time subject material, and honestly I liked the bizarro electric guitar moment. It was just the right kind of stupid that fit right in. The animation is dreadful, the narration at the beginning annoying, and the design is weird mish-mash of the prequel trilogy, the 2003 2D series, and original material, none of which gel together very well.
-Role in the larger saga-

How well does it 'mesh' with the existing six movies? Not well. It turns one of the series' best villains, Jabba the Hutt, into a joke, and then gives him two terrible relatives. The dialogue is even stupider than it was in Attack of the Clones. The action is cartoony and over the top, I can't imagine most of it in live action form. It gave both Dooku and Anakin apprentices, which potentially could cause problems in the overall lore, but I'll reserve judgement till the end of the show. On the positive side, it gave us a cool crystal planet, and Teth.

-Conclusion-

Taken as a standalone, theatrical movie, it is absolutely terrible. Doing so feels a tad unfair though, as it was intended to be three or four TV episodes and were edited into a movie more or less on one of George Lucas' whims. So if taken as the extended pilot for a TV show, it... is still pretty bad, and certainly doesn't inspire any confidence. In fact it put me off watching the show for over 4 years, and I only returned for a second go because the series got good reviews by the end and it was the only piece of EU to make Disney's cut.

-Score and Recommendation-

3/10, not as good as Attack of the Clones - Bad writing, bad presentation, mostly bad characters, and good moments that I can count on one hand. The Star Wars nerd in me says this sucks, and the movie critic in me says it really sucks. If you're getting into the show, yes, give it a watch just for the character introductions. Otherwise, steer clear.

0 comments: