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Star Wars: Tales of the Empire

Star Wars: Tales of the Empire (Disney +)

In the filoniverse, everything revolves around Ahsoka Tano...

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Back in the day we were delighted at Gamereactor with the animated miniseries Tales of the Jedi which, recreating several moments in the lives of Ahsoka Tano and Dooku, provided interesting background for these prominent characters in the galactic saga, while showing a 'next-gen' version of the animation style of The Clone Wars, with an unprecedented quality. Almost two years later, the team of Dave Filoni and company return on this Star Wars Day repeating the formula, but this time focusing on two characters of lesser relevance who had their flirtations with the Empire.

The premise is fine and, as the total of the 3+3 episodes is less than an hour and a half long, I watched them as Saturday morning cartoons on this May the 4th. However, apart from the fact that the quality reaches new heights, the truth is that the miniseries has left me rather empty.

First of all, it's not the Tales of the Empire per se. OK, there's some politicking and some of the tactics used by the various admirals, moffs and inquisitors during Palpatine's dictatorship are explored, but it's really more about filling in the lives of Morgan Elsbeth and Barriss Offee. The first big difference is that there is much less of the Empire than there was of the Jedi in the first "Tales of", pun intended. The second is that these characters, as much prominence as Filoni gave them in The Mandalorian and Ahsoka series, and in The Clone Wars respectively, have nowhere near the personality and significance of Ahsoka and Dooku themselves.

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On the plus side, unlike the Ahsoka Tano series, here it doesn't matter so much that knowing what happened before in the filoniverse makes the series that much better and more exciting and interesting for fans. That which was a burden on the Rosario Dawson show (and which once resolved elevated the series to one of the best Disney has ever made), doesn't matter here because it's taken for granted: this is filler for those looking for it.

And what a beautiful bit of filler it is. Chronicles of the Empire is perhaps the finest and best-looking thing ever done in Star Wars animation, from some memorable shots, to the use of colour, to the incredible detail of the ships and planets, to the movement of the characters, and not to mention a well-measured soundtrack that makes the Obi-Wan Kenobi series look sound ridiculous. It keeps the style that made The Clone Wars popular as a hallmark, but puts it to a new level, and the truth is that the 3D models created for Diana Lee Inosanto in her different ages are fantastic and accurate, as much or more than those chosen in 2022 for Liam Neeson and Christopher Lee.

Speaking of planets, and as you'd expect from Filoni, it's nice to explore places familiar to fans at different times in their existence. On the witch's side we won't spoil much by saying that we'll return to Dathomir at 'that' point in The Clone Wars Season 4, or that we'll get to see how Corvus and the city of Calodan transform before The Mandalorian. On the side of the treacherous jedi, just think, she ends up stopping by a place that both Cal Kestis and Obi-Wan himself know well.

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But these stories lack substance. And climax. And, surprisingly, darkness. The two big cameos by baddies in the two branches remain just that, cameos (though Elsbeth's at least leaves the best dialogue about the Empire). And, again, as Barriss herself is told, "you're holding back and that makes you predictable". Neither story brings anything really curious to this fiction, no particularly fresh conflict or motivation beyond several notes and perhaps the brief mention of the controversial 'kidnapping' of sentient children by the Jedi.

And, boy, do both protagonists come from Ahsoka and converge to Ahsoka. Yes, she's for me the best character in all of Star Wars and I'm looking forward to Dawson's second season, but if Filoni doesn't stop navel-gazing, we'll all end up tired of what started so well. In short: see it as a pretty filler if you know where Morgan and Barriss are coming from and you will be fine with it, but it won't bring much to the table that isn't audio-visual either.

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06 Gamereactor UK
6 / 10
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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