“Great leaders inspire greatness in others”
That’s the opening title that greets the audience before the ‘spoken crawl’ (very reminiscent of the media segments in Starship Troopers) and the great leader in question here is Yoda. If you’re a fan of the loveable little green guy then this episode will be right up your alley.
Ambush is all about how Yoda inspires his Clone Troopers to use their weapons more constructively, not just for blasting ‘clankers’ (that’s how the Clones refer to Battle Droids – gets a bit irritating after a while). And, by the end, one of the injured Troopers is using his gun as a crutch to aide his walking to demonstrate the allusion (though it’s not explicit thankfully). The top dog Jedi manages to sit down his troop (in the midst of a number of attacks) and school them in the way of The Force.
This scene is particularly touching (especially for older viewers) as it evokes his teachings on Dagobah from The Empire Strikes Back. We even get his playful laugh and mischievousness presented along with John William’s moving theme (and did I hear a harmonica in there too? Very Midnight Cowboy). Old-skool fans of the big-eared green one will have much to revel in. The vocal performance is spot on, capturing the Jedi’s thoughtfulness and jocularity perfectly.
The story, such that it is, is simple – the Jedi and Separatists both want to use Toydaria in their ever-confusing war. Both sides, the latter represented by Asajj Ventress, are there to convince the top Toydarian (a pale imitation of Watto). The planet is well realised but the inhabitants themselves come off less well with little personality and animation that doesn’t quite cut the mustard.
But the story is really there to serve the aforementioned Jedi. His attack on the Battle Droids is a treat on the eyes and there’s a few laughs in there too (though older, more cynical viewers may just sit and tut), all provided by the ‘clankers’: whilst fleeing the scene one droid can be heard exclaiming “Run Forest!”; and another ruefully claims, “But I just got promoted” before being dismantled by Dagobah’s finest. Personally, I kinda like the way the droids have become comedians and it suits the format (you know, for kids).
Ambush works as a great reintroduction to ‘franchise’ that will hopefully put paid to the perceived negativity surrounded the recent theatrical release. It’s worth pointing out that, if you haven’t seen the recent cinema release, then you needn’t worry – there’s no essential info from the ‘film’ needed. These episodes are clearly designed to be viewed as a single entity (though there will be ongoing story arcs) so don’t worry about any ‘story baggage’. You can catch this beauty on Sky Movies later this month but (looks around sheepishly) I recommend that you catch it by ‘other means’, you won’t be disappointed.