New from The HoloFiles from Josh and George Bate: REVIEW: Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi

By George Bate

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Tales of the Jedi

Officially announced at this year’s Star Wars Celebration, Tales of the Jedi came about as creator Dave Filoni spent his time writing Star Wars stories in his spare time while traveling. At Celebration, Filoni said, “When I fly back and forth working on The Mandalorian, I’d write stories on the plane to pass the time. And I got this story.”

This story Filoni refers to is a new animated series that spawns several decades of the Star Wars timeline and focuses on Ahsoka Tano and Count Dooku. With three episodes dedicated to each lead character, Tales of the Jedi serves as a companion piece to The Clone Wars and is now streaming on Disney+.

Tales of the Jedi continues the glowing trend in Star Wars animation for each project to improve upon the animation and production from the last. The Clone Wars improved leaps and bounds in this area from season to season, and comparing Season 1 to Season 7 really highlights the advances in technology and animation on display. Tales of the Jedi follows up last year’s first season of The Bad Batch and, like The Bad Batch and the final season of The Clone Wars, is beautiful from start to finish. Whether it be Ahsoka’s home planet in the first episode, the recreation of Naboo from Padme’s funeral in Revenge of the Sith, or Palpatine’s ominous base on Coruscant first seen in Attack of the Clones, each and every location is extraordinarily detailed and beautifully realized. 

Ahsoka Tano from “STAR WARS: TALES OF THE JEDI”, season 1 exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

Accompanying the immersive animation is a characteristically brilliant, thematic score from Kevin Kiner and vocal performances that convey so much emotion. In particular, Corey Burton is superb as a younger, more contemplative Dooku. Burton makes subtle changes in his performance from the Dooku he played in The Clone Wars that successfully convey the youth of Dooku at this time and the difficult concepts he is struggling with regarding loyalty to the Jedi Order. Also excellent here is Ashley Eckstein, returning as Ahsoka Tano. This marks the first appearance of Ahsoka following her live-action debut in The Mandalorian, as played by Rosario Dawson. With 14 years of voicing the character under her belt, Eckstein proves she still can do novel things with her performance as Ahsoka. Also, Bryce Dallas Howard makes the switch from Star Wars director to voice actor with her performance as Yaddle. Howard plays a graceful, wise Jedi, who, funnily enough, does not speak in the strange, backwards way that her fellow little green Jedi Yoda does. Finally, Liam Neeson and his son Micheál Richardson both voice Qui-Gon Jinn at the series, with Neeson’s son voicing a younger version of the character. Hearing Neeson return to the Star Wars universe is amazing in and of itself, but knowing that his real life son was brought in to lend his voice to a younger version of his father’s character is such a nice touch.

The quality of storytelling on display in Tales of the Jedi proves, perhaps better than ever, that some of the best Star Wars stories are those that are animated. This is best demonstrated in the three Dooku-centric episodes of Tales of the Jedi, especially ‘The Sith Lord.’ This episode captures what Tales of the Jedi does so well – it excellently connects to the prequels and The Clone Wars and, in turn, deepens our appreciation of these stories in truly unexpected ways. ‘The Sith Lord,’ and other episodes, answer long-standing questions in Star Wars canon. Who deleted Kamino from the Jedi Temple Archives? What happened to Yaddle? And does she speak like Yoda? Where was Ahsoka in the immediate aftermath of Revenge of the Sith? The ability of this series to add new meaning to decades-old Star Wars projects is incredible. In this sense, Tales of the Jedi can be appreciated as a companion piece to the likes of The Clone Wars, Rebels, and the prequel trilogy, offering new insights about those stories. But, it can also be appreciated as a standalone series about two lost Jedi with two very different life stories.

A scene from “STAR WARS: TALES OF THE JEDI”, season 1 exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

A criticism, of sorts, leading up to the series’ release was why yet another Star Wars story is centered around Ahsoka Tano, the character first introduced in the 2008 The Clone Wars film who went onto play roles in The Clone Wars series, Rebels, The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and now has a solo live-action series in development. And, while this train of thought may have been understandable leading up to the series’ release, Tales of the Jedi ultimately dispels these concerns. Tales of the Jedi’s first, fifth, and sixth episodes feature Ahsoka in the lead role and, unlike the Dooku episodes that are more cohesively linked together, each tell unique tales about the Jedi that work very well as standalone stories. None of these Ahsoka-centric stories revolutionize the character in any radical ways, but they do provide new, nuanced depth to the character. The first episode ‘Life and Death’ tells the earliest Ahsoka story chronologically, showing the young Jedi with her birth mother Pav-ti (voiced by Iden Versio herself Janina Gavankar) and revealing more about Ahsoka’s family, upbringing, and culture in a beautiful looking story that prioritizes emotion and story over action and dialogue. The second Ahsoka-centric episode moves forward in the timeline and tracks a period of Ahsoka’s training with her master Anakin, before flashing forward to showing how this training helped Ahsoka survive Order 66 as depicted in The Clone Wars Season 7. The third Ahsoka-centric episode, which is the best of her bunch, moves even further along in the timeline. Ahsoka is seen to be in attendance at Padme Amidala’s funeral on Naboo and, sometime later, occupies a menial job in a peaceful existence that gets disrupted by the arrival of a Jedi-hunting Inquisitor. Each story effectively stands on its own and, while not offering the level of insights or sheer entertainment value as the Dooku episodes, manage to add complexities and layers to Ahsoka Tano, further cementing her status as one of the best Star Wars characters. 

Tales of the Jedi’s first season nicely sets the stage for what is hopefully a broader series that focuses on Jedi beyond Ahsoka and Dooku. These first six episodes prove just how far Star Wars animation has come, and the type of emotionally resonant, interconnected, and meaningful stories that can be told in this medium. The Dooku-centric episodes, in being set before and during the events of The Phantom Menace, raise the possibility of a different animated series in the future – one about the Jedi Order leading up to the events of Episode I. With the exploration of the High Republic era in recent years, Star Wars has shown a willingness to explore stories before the films in the timeline. We can only hope that Tales of the Jedi serves as a backdoor pilot for a new Star Wars series set before the prequels.

Ahsoka Tano from “STAR WARS: TALES OF THE JEDI”, season 1 exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

Verdict: 8.5/10

Tales of the Jedi is simply terrific. The new animated series excellently connects to the prequel trilogy, The Clone Wars, and Rebels and will deepen your appreciation of those stories in unexpected ways as long-standing Star Wars questions are answered. The episodes are well paced and place an emphasis on story rather than action, with the Dooku episodes being a particular highlight. The animation and voice-acting are superb, and hearing Liam Neeson and his actual son voice Qui-Gon is a delight. Tales of the Jedi, in many ways, feels like everything about the prequels in one season of television. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Tales of the Jedi.

from The HoloFiles https://ift.tt/kaF9AJj
via IFTTT

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s