'The Bad Batch' Is Pretty Good, but Like Everything Else, It Needs More Grogu Created by Dave Filoni
Starring Ness Bautista, Dee Bradley Baker, Freddie Prinze Jr.
Published May 04, 2021Lucasfilm and Disney continue to expand the Star Wars animated universe with the latest series The Bad Batch. Helmed by veteran Dave Filoni, The Bad Batch builds on the universe established with the previous animated series Clone Wars and Rebels. We follow Clone Force 99, a.k.a. the Bad Batch, an elite team of genetically enhanced clones with special abilities. Crosshair, for example, has super sight, which makes him a perfect sniper. Tech, of course, is a genius, and the group's leader Hunter has a Rambo bandana. He can do stuff like Rambo from the Rambo films. It's silly, but it's Star Wars — it should be a little silly.
The Bad Batch begins immediately before the fall of the Jedi and the restructuring of the Galactic Republic into the Empire. It's a period of time rife with potentially interesting storylines: after years of war, a fragile galaxy is now having the will of a fascist empire imposed upon it. Almost immediately, the Bad Batch find themselves at odds with the newly formed Empire and questioning where their loyalties lie.
In terms of production, there is little to take issue with. Like the final seasons of Clone Wars, The Bad Batch is slick and well-animated, with appropriate Star Wars musical themes weaved into the original score. It's hard to imagine that fans of the previous Filoni-helmed animated series will be disappointed with The Bad Batch, but it also probably won't win over many new fans either.
There are moments of fan service that probably work for those with emotional connections to the material, but not to the average viewer. One particularly jarring moment includes Freddie Prinze Jr. returning to voice a much younger childhood version of his Rebels character Caleb Dume. The character is animated as a child, but retains his normal speaking voice. The moment is probably touching for longtime fans, but the casual viewer will wonder why this kid sounds like a grown man.
The clones aren't as compelling as the Jedi that the original Clone Wars series and Rebels generally focused on, nor does it have a big hook like Grogu in The Mandalorian. But as part of the expanding animated Star Wars universe, it's a welcome addition. (Disney/Lucasfilm)