In the tortured chronology of the franchise, The Clone Wars takes place after the events of Episode II: Attack of the Clones and before those of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
As every Star Wars completist knows, this is the period of Civil War when the Republic is under attack from the Separatists who will form the Empire.
But even one who doesn't know her Alderaan from her Anakin (the former is a planet, the latter a Skywalker) can easily distinguish those from the Light and Dark sides in this animation directed by Dave Filoni.
Early in this neon-colored film, Yoda taps square-jawed and peg-nosed Anakin to find the kidnapped spawn of notorious Jabba the Hutt. Assigned to assist Anakin is a "padawan," or tutee, Ahsoka Tano - a copper-skinned, sapphire-eyed and micro-miniskirted babe of the sort usually found in Japanese anime.
To observe that the hero and heroine have marginally snappier repartee than Anakin and Padme in the live-action films is like saying that fruit is sweeter than wax fruit - very faint praise. And while we're on the subject of wax, let's just say that though the animation backgrounds in Clone Wars are vivid and alive, the figures move as you would imagine the statues at a waxworks might.
The PG-rated film is squarely aimed at younger audiences who presumably won't mind, as I did, that its plot is endless light-saber duels and dogfights.
The best that can be said about the movie is that it's harmless and mostly charmless. The Clone Wars is to Star Wars what karaoke is to pop music.
Contact movie critic Carrie Rickey at 215-854-5402 or crickey@phillynews.
com. Read her blog, Flickgrrl, at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/flickgrrl/.