Star Wars: The Clone Wars
There are several factors at work in Star Wars: The Clone Wars that contribute to it succeeding, on a certain level anyway. Granted, that level is an animated children's movie, and an interquel at that (read: no surprises), but it's still a reasonably good time, with lasers and light sabers galore.
The story opens with Anakin Skywalker (voiced by Matt Lanter) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) in the midst of a battle, which sets the tone for the whole movie. Anakin receives a rambunctious padawan named Ahsoka (Ashley Eckstein) to take under wing, who promptly informs the two Jedi that Yoda sends orders to embark on a mission to rescue Jabba the Hutt's kidnapped son. After some more fighting, Anakin splits off with Ahsoka to hunt down Jabba's son, while Obi-Wan goes to negotiate with the Hutt for wartime boons. Of course, the evil Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and Chancellor Palpatine (Ian Abercrombie) lurk in the shadows, scheming away at double and triple crosses, and they have a female padawan of their own to cause some chaos. Padme (Catherine Taber) makes a grand entrance late in the story, pulling political strings and falling into her own hot water back on the capital planet of Coruscant.
The stakes are considerably lower this time around, and the filmmakers know it well enough to keep the tone light and fun. Being set between two existing movies--Episodes II and III--there's nothing here that could possibly affect the saga's larger plot, so they opt instead for adventure. It's big on action, impossible "camera" movements, light-saber duels, and Jedi acrobatics, and these are enough to make Clone Wars a pretty decent time. But it's a small movie that exists mostly as a marketing gimmick for the upcoming television series of the same name.
Which brings the movie to perhaps the best advantage it has going for it: low expectations. It has no star power, no meaningful story to tell, characters that can't really go anywhere, and it's the seventh--seventh!--installment in a franchise that's worn out its welcome with some fans. The godfather himself, George Lucas, played only a minimal role in crafting Clone Wars, merely providing the story and allowing three other screenwriters to do the nitty-gritty and Dave Filoni to direct. In departing further from its source material, Star Wars is a step closer to becoming a genre unto itself, with its own conventions, archetypal characters, visual style, and even signature dialogue motifs (albeit rough ones). But like all true genre flicks, Clone Wars serves only two functions: offering fans familiar territory by adhering to genre conventions and earning studios (or in this case eccentric millionaires) a predictably large revenue.