Star Wars: The Clone Wars ★★★★

I'm not certain I understand the antipathy so many critics seem to bear this film. It's undeniably awkwardly paced -- I wouldn't be surprised to learn this was originally intended to be the premiere arc for the TV show, and was subsequently edited into a feature -- but it is also undeniably entertaining.

Star Wars has always been best when Lucas is in the producer's chair, and not directly responsible for the storytelling, and that's never more clear than here. This film takes the best elements of the prequel trilogy but, under the deft direction of Dave Filoni, they are arranged into something exciting, suspenseful, and thrilling. The humorous elements of the prequels are here as well, only instead of making me wince in sympathetic embarrassment, they actually work. The relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan is rich and clearly defined, and the introduction of Ahsoka Tano as Anakin's apprentice is a welcome addition to the franchise; not only to show another side of Anakin during his slide into darkness, but also as a fun and interesting character in her own right.

In short, this film is a blast, and if it's an indication of what to expect from the TV series of the same name, I'm going to enjoy that series very much. Not a stretch to say this is the best theatrical Star Wars release since Return of the Jedi.