If you live for the flash of light sabers, the shriek of spacefighters and the symphonic swell of John Williams themes, you'll find much to enjoy in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." If you like a little narrative mixed in with your thrills, however ...

The latest installment in the seemingly interminable "Star Wars" franchise is a computer-animated trifle that's long on sizzle and virtually nonexistent on substance. The film is little more than an extended pilot for the "Clone Wars" TV series premiering this fall on the Cartoon Network. Never content to let well enough alone, George Lucas has finally pushed his star saga one prequel too far.

Obi-Wan and Anakin, looking like high-tech Claymation figures, are sidelined from ongoing battles with the Empire when the Jedi Council assigns them to find the kidnapped son of Jabba the Hutt. The pollywog has been abducted by the evil Count Dooku, who has pinned the blame on the Resistance, in hopes of winning access to crucial shipping lanes under the sluglike crime lord's control. Anakin reluctantly brings along a brash female Jedi-in-training, Ashoka, and once the pair locates the baby Hutt, their strained banter mimics the trials of any newlywed couple with an infant in tow.

There are numerous -- actually, endless -- battles between the separatists and the Republic, and those skirmished are capably presented. So what? Industrial Light & Magic has been cranking out these whiz-bang sequences for years. Where imagination was really needed, in the wooden dialogue and dopey droid comic-relief sequences, there's nary a drop of inspiration to be found, save giving Jabba a fey, lisping uncle (voiced in Truman Capote style by Corey Burton).

George, if this is the best you can do, please give us "Star Wars: The Final Tie-In" soon.

Colin Covert • 612-673-7186