May the Force be CGI

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 August, 2008, 12:00am

The trilogies may have ended, but there is still more to the Star Wars storyline

The cinema legend Star Wars is set to return to cinemas this summer, but this time as an animated feature. Star Wars: The Clone Wars will effectively serve as the opening episodes of an upcoming television series of the same name.

The Star Wars yarn started in 1977 with a box office blockbuster that spawned an entire culture. The original was way ahead of its time in terms of special effects and mixed with a swashbuckling script. This combination ensured that for a long time it dominated US box offices as the top movie of all time. It was only overtaken 20 years later by Titanic.

Two trilogies later, Star Wars creator George Lucas hopes to push the creative envelope once again.

Building on the success and popularity of his Emmy-winning series Star Wars: Clone Wars: Vol. 1, Lucas has taken his characters into the world of CGI animation 'to tell the Star Wars stories that are left to tell'.

The familiar characters from the galaxy far, far away have been reshaped with a signature style - a mixture of video-game realism and ragged fantasy - and animated with state-of-the-art technology. Lucas believes the project will 'push the art of animation forward'.

The original Star Wars created a distinctive world with instantly recognisable features - light sabres, droids and Wookiees. For the animation, designers have had to come up with something completely new to animation, yet still retain the feel of the original movies.

'It took us a long time to figure out exactly how to develop the look, style and feel of an animated Star Wars,' admits director Dave Filoni, who confesses to being a big fan of anime and manga.

The feature's makers promise something different from the TV series. 'We loved the look of the micro-series,' says producer Catherine Winder, adding that once they saw the small-scale models, the movie filmmakers began to get an idea of what the film would look like.

This movie is set before the time of Anakin Skywalker's descent into evil, and tells of the war which shaped the republic into an empire and paved the way for civil war.

It introduces several new characters, including two new females who join the male-dominated cast - Ahsoka, a gifted Padawan, and the nefarious Ventress.

Behind the sound effects is Star Wars stalwart Ben Burtt whose magic in the first movie saw a special Academy Award created. Burtt also worked on the popular recent robot movie WALL-E.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars opens on August 21