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Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi Review

October 26, 2022 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
STAR WARS: TALES OF THE JEDI Image Credit: Lucasfilm
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Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi Review  

Disney+ presents a new anthology of animated shorts set in the Star Wars universe with Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi. Produced by Lucasfilm Animation and created by Dave Filoni, this group of six shorts spotlights key moments in the lives of Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) and Count Dooku (Corey Burton). As the feature unfolds, viewers will witness the characters in important moments of the Star Wars Universe not previously depicted.

In short, Tales of the Jedi acts as a supplemental to all seven seasons of The Clone Wars animated show. This is not a continuation or an eighth season so to speak. Tales of the Jedi expands and fleshes out the backstories of Ahsoka and Dooku, highlighting specific events that put them on their ultimate paths.

There are six shorts here, all about 12-14 minutes in length: “Life and Death”; “Justice”; “The Sith Lord”; “Practice Makes Perfect”; “Coda”; and “Choices.” The shorts, especially the ones with Count Dooku, play very much like companion pieces to The Clone Wars, offering bite-sized plots and short interludes and adventures. It connects narrative dots and fills in blanks that were previously left open. Besides showing the evolution of characters and whom they became, it also depicts their reactions to significant moments in Star Wars mythology that have never been shown before.

The best short of the lot is “Life and Death,” directed by Nathaniel Villanueva and written by Filoni. “Life and Death” is the story about the birth of Ahsoka Tano and her biological family, featuring Janina Gavankar as the voice of Ahsoka’s mother, Pav-Ti. After a ceremonial hunt with Pav-Ti and baby Ahsoka goes bad, it becomes clear that Ahsoka has extraordinary abilities, and that she’s destined to become a Jedi.

STAR WARS - TALES OF THE JEDI

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

While it is an origin story, “Life and Death” feels very ethereal and nicely far removed from events of The Clone Wars. The material with baby Ahsoka and her biological family has appealing ethereal and magical qualities. It showcases Ahsoka’s connection to the Force as something fantastic and magical, yet also preordained for young Ahsoka.

Three shorts track the early years of Count Dooku, showcasing his disenfranchisement with the Galactic Republic, steering him toward the dark side and Darth Sidious (aka Palpatine, once again voiced by Ian McDiarmid). Dooku is portrayed as a reluctant defector who is simply doing what he feels is right, having seen the Republic and Senate’s corruption firsthand, losing faith in democracy.

The problem with Dooku’s portrayal is that he never came off as that particularly deep in the prequel trilogy. Not to mention, he looked incredibly idiotic with how easily Palpatine duped him in Revenge of the Sith. The way Dooku is written here calls attention to the flawed, clunky writing of the prequel trilogy. In Attack of the Clones, Mace Windu outright says about Dooku, “He couldn’t assassinate anyone. It’s not in his character.” Based on these shorts, a capacity for assassination definitely appears to be in his character. Not to mention, in one of these shorts, Dooku appears to act with only lightly veiled contempt towards Windu when interacting with him.

Star Wars - Tales of the Jedi Still

(L-R): Count Dooku and Mace Windu from “STAR WARS: TALES OF THE JEDI”, season 1 exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

It’s nice to see a fleshed-out backstory for Dooku and his inner conflict, but it still plays like the material attempts to overcorrect the flaws of the weak writing of the Star Wars prequels. It results in trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Trying to overcorrect or explain the plot holes of the prequels only makes them more prevalent. This version of Dooku is much more layered and emotional than his cinematic counterpart. The result is that the animated Dooku and the one in the films coming off as two different characters, similar to the animated version of Anakin Skywalker, voiced once again by Matt Lanter, compared to Hayden Christensen’s live-action performance.

Despite the drawbacks, the moments of Dooku in his younger years, with a young Qui-Gon Jinn as his apprentice, are well done. There’s even a cool vocal cameo by Liam Neeson, who once again reprises his role as Qui-Gon. Neeson’s own son, Micheal Richardson, gets to voice a young Qui-Gon. It’s also neat to see what Dooku was up to during specific points of films such as The Phantom Menace.

For some strong worldbuilding, Tales of the Jedi also features the first speaking appearance of the mysterious Yaddle. Yaddle was a female member of Yoda’s species who made a non-speaking appearance in The Phantom Menace and was a member of the Jedi Council. Yaddle finally gets a significant role here, voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard, and it’s a definite highlight of the shorts.

Much like The Clone Wars television series, Tales of the Jedi‘s stories are fairly good. There are some great moments and solid animation, but specific parts exceed the whole. Overall, it’s good to see much of The Clone Wars cast and crew get back together for a new animated project. Fans of the series should be happy to see this new collection of shorts.

Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi will be available to stream in full starting October 26 on Disney+.

7.5
The final score: review Good
The 411
Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi acts as a good companion piece to The Clone Wars animated series. The short "Life and Death," which chronicles a young Ahsoka and her biological family, is the real star of this group of anthology shorts. There are some good moments of worldbuilding and character development that will be of interest to fans. The shorts are bite-sized adventures, and the full anthology can be watched in under 90 minutes. With that in mind, Tales of the Jedi is worth a look for any fan of Star Wars or The Clone Wars.
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