20. STAR WARS:
CLONE WARS (2003-2005)
Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky
The most painful thing about confining this list to the last 25 years was that we couldn't include either Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back, both of which were too old. And that left Return of the Jedi and the prequel trilogy which no one in our Brain Trust could work up any enthusiasm for. But then we remembered Star Wars: Clone Wars, the series of animated shorts that aired on Cartoon Network. The creation of animator Genndy Tartakovsky (The Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack), Clone Wars fills in the story gap between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, and fleshes out how Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker battled against the separatist forces of evil.
POP CULTURE LEGACY There's an abundance of style and storytelling economy here that was, sadly, absent from the George Lucas-directed prequels. Sometimes, if you let the talented kids into the sandbox without telling them exactly how to play, the results can be surprising.
THE BEST BIT Volume 2. Even though volume 1 is almost wall-to-wall action, the five shorts in volume 2 cover a lot more ground, and lead directly into Episode III. (Better yet, just get both. They're pretty cheap.) Marc Bernardin