Are you ready to take a dip into Season 4 of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars?" The animated series returns Friday (7 p.m. Sept. 16, Cartoon Network) with a two-part premiere that takes the Jedi Knights and the clone army to the ocean planet of Mon Calamari.
According to Lucasfilm, "separatist troublemaker Riff Tamson is stirring up hostile undercurrents between the planet's two native species, the Mon Cala and the Quarren. The Republic sends Sen. Padmé Amidala and her Jedi and clone protectors to negotiate peace, but it's too late. With the assassination of the Mon Cala king, and young Prince Lee-Char not ready to unite his people, war is inevitable. A fierce underwater battle breaks out as SCUBA clones and new weaponry go head-to-head in an epic fight against overwhelming Quarren and Separatist forces."
You would think that as an animated series, creating an underwater world wouldn't have any bigger challenges than any other world the Lucasfilm crew has produced. Cameramen aren't shooting actors under water, after all.
Supervising director Dave Filoni said there were special challenges, "not least of which was creating animation while keeping the characters buoyant."
"We wanted the cameras to feel like scuba cameras, and so the movements are slightly different than the ones you normally see in an episode," he said in a release. "And the environment is populated with many small details such as a lot of coral and barnacles, which makes it feel as rich and dense as an ocean environment should be."
The premiere episodes showcase the feature film quality found throughout Season 4, which will present stories that strengthen ties to the "Star Wars Saga."
"In one of the premiere battles, there are thousands of characters at war," Filoni said. "That gives you a sense of the scale we're trying to deal with now when we say we're doing a battle. In ‘Episode III Revenge of the Sith' we pan over the edge of the Jedi cruiser and reveal the massive space battle over Coruscant. That's the kind of thing we're aiming for in terms of combat in Season 4."
In the second episode of the premiere, "Gungan Attack," things look bleak for the Jedi, clones and the Mon Cala as they retreat to underwater caves following surprise Separatist attacks. Seeking to crush all hope of resistance, the evil Riff Tamson targets Prince Lee-Char. Jedi Master Yoda, unable to summon more Republic aid, turns to the powerful, amphibious Gungan army.
"This season the fights reach a new level right from the get-go," Filoni said. "The things we experimented with in the past, which were maybe one or two acts of a battle, are now becoming a whole arc over three or four episodes. We're executing these battles on a scale not seen before. And while the battles are the big buzz this year, there will also be some surprises along the way."
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