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STUDIO: Cartoon Network
RUNNING TIME: 45 minutes
- Interview with George Lucas
- Chicken Nuggets (sketch by sketch video commentary)
- Behind the Scenes
- Voice Recording Featurette
- Star Wars Celebration V Robot Chicken Panel
- Skywalker Ranch Premiere
- Writers Room Featurette
- Deleted Animatics w\Video Intros
- Audio Commentaries
Well, we can’t fuck it up any more than George Lucas has.
Created by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich. Written by Douglas Goldstein, Tom Root, Matthew Beans, Hugh Davidson, Mike Fasolo, Seth Green, Geoff Johns, Breckin Meyer, Kevin Shinick, Dan Milano, Hugh Sterbakov, Matthew Senreich and Zeb Wells. Directed by Chris McKay. Voice Acted by Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Abraham Benrubi, Zac Efron, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Seth MacFarlane, Ahmed Best, Donald Glover and Mike Henry.
It’s the warped minds behind Robot Chicken doing stop-motion animated sketches that take place in the Star Wars Universe. What’s different is that it comes more from an obsession with all the hundreds of action figures than it does with a slavish devotion to the franchise.
I grew up thinking Jedi was the best Star Wars movie. I think it had something to do with the fact that I wasn’t aware how lame the Ewoks really were until I was 20 or so, and didn’t really appreciate the depth and scope of Empire until around the same time. If I’m being perfectly honest, the reason I started thinking the Ewoks were lame wasn’t because they were cute and designed to sell toys, but because I just couldn’t wrap my head around how a rock bouncing off the helmet of a storm trooper would kill them or knock them out or whatever. The Ewoks saved the galaxy with sling shots and that annoyed the hell out of me. It should have been harder and the rebels should have suffered more losses but, whatever, who the hell am I to write any more words about the OT when that shit has been written about to death since the internets was born.
So when I realized I didn’t like Ewoks anymore (and was slightly soured on the Trilogy, as well), I was presented with a problem: I had about 6 fairly good sized stuffed ones (fake, not dead Ewoks that were killed and then filled with straw) and about 90 or 100 Star Wars action figures to go along with them. I had three big assed boxes of toys (including 75 G.I. Joes and He Men and Jace and the Wheeled Warriors) that I spent half my life playing with that I just didn’t want to see anymore. Most of them I didn’t even recognize from the movies and I just assumed they were the deleted scene action figures that Lucas figured out how to market and make a buck on and that soured me even more on the entire enterprise. I packed the boxes up and put them deep into storage and didn’t think about them once for 7 or 8 years until I turned on Adult Swim one day and caught an episode of Robot Chicken (the one with He-Man and Skeletor in the car pool lane) and saw all of my toys talking shit and fooling around with each other. It reminded me that I used to be less cynical and could just enjoy things for what they were without all the pesky context getting in the way.
Flash forward to today. It’s my 31st birthday and I’m surrounded by all the nerdy shit that I grew up with, action figures included. I look at them differently now, as more of a signpost of things I used to like or still do, instead of as cross promotional marketing to add a few more millions to a film’s final take. Robot Chicken made me come to this realization, because I know that even if their show got cancelled years ago (or never picked up in the first place), they would still be playing with their toys in a warehouse and making short little movies. Short little movies with 90% of the deleted scene toys just like I have. There’s something amazing about that.
The Robot Chicken Star Wars movies are interesting beasts because they seem to be done out of a place of love instead of a “you raped my childhood in its tiny asshole” place. I really didn’t like the prequels but they didn’t retroactively make the other ones shittier for me. I have the pre-Special Edition trilogy on VHS, so I can go back in time and watch those whenever I feel the need. Don’t get me wrong, the Robot Chicken Star Wars Trilogy does have some cynical humor and a few below the belt jabs, but they also still treat Lucas with some respect, they try to make you love Jar Jar even though you don’t wanna and yet they also manage to keep that nostalgic feeling alive without coming across as cloying or insincere. If anything, Robot Chicken made me want to revisit the prequels again, which I’m sure wasn’t their intention. They know all of it is flawed, but they love it anyway.
I watched all three episodes back to back so they tended to blur together a bit for me, but I really think that’s the way they should be seen. The films aren’t tackling one movie with each film like the Family Guy movies did (thank god), instead they jump around to all six movies as they see fit. The first film is just a series of skits without too much connective tissue, whereas the second film spends a good amount of time focusing on the bounty hunters from Empire that Vader hires to track the Millennium Falcon. The third ties its skits together even tighter by focusing on The Emperor’s rise to power and his poor life choices what with hiring Anakin and all. Episode 3 is extremely Emperor-centric, so your enjoyment of it probably hinges on whether you’re super annoyed with Seth MacFarlane and his vocal stylings or not. Personally, I think he’s a damn fine voice actor and his Johann Krauss was one of my favorite things about Hellboy 2. He does good work with The Emperor here and makes what could have been a one note joke into a fairly endearing character. Some people just like to hate on a motherfucker though, so I can’t guarantee anything.
I definitely got the most laughs of the Trilogy from Episode 3 and the places some of the sketches go are truly original and that is the entire trilogy’s biggest saving grace. Not all of the jokes work here. Maybe it’s working on a 45 minute long piece instead of Robot Chicken’s usual 11, but sometimes they go for the easy pratfall or slapstick joke instead of hitting up something a little smarter or character driven. Even if a joke bombs it never derails the sketch though because Robot Chicken is always taking you to a part of the Star Wars Universe you’ve wanted to see a little deeper. I mean, an entire scene with Boba Fett (flawlessly voiced by Breckin Meyer) andWeequay chilling in the Sarlaac while Weequay starts exploring his sexuality is priceless (and yes, I know Weequay is the name of the race and not the dude, but I have no idea what that guys name is and it’s my birthday so I shouldn’t have to look it up if I don’t wanna). Luckily, the ratio of good jokes exceeds that of the bad, so I found myself having a wonderful time and wondering how many more tauntaun jokes they could pull out of their asses (answer: many).
I’m not super biased when it comes to reviewing these guys since I am such a die hard Robot Chicken fan and love even the worst sketches for stupid, apologist reasons, but I think history is going to be kinder to these movies than the Family Guy ones (although, Blue Harvest did make me laugh my ass off. The other two not so much). I love that George Lucas let these guys have their way with the Star Wars Universe and even voiced himself in a sketch where he rides a fanboy dressed as a tauntaun through Comic-Con. Yeah, I’m pissed he’s throwing that goddamned “Nooooooo” into Jedi, but they’re his toys, I guess. As much as it’s easy to hate the guy and flick him shit, I don’t want to imagine a world where he never existed (now, a world where Guillermo Del Toro directed the prequel trilogy I’ll imagine the shit out of). Watching this made me glad I was less cynical and could view all this as nerds sharing in shit that they love instead of as Lucasfilm cashing in on the next generation of geeks. Plus, Ahmed Best gotta eat, so…
This is packed with hours of special features that are a veritable treasure trove of information about how the Robot Chicken guys do their work. Watching the time lapse footage of the painstaking process of animating the show is some of the most fascinating behind the scenes footage I’ve seen on a Blu-Ray yet. I’m still delving into the features on this disc and probably will be for days to come.
The film itself looks gorgeous and the surround sound melted my eardrums from the inside out. This is definitely worth checking out on Blu-Ray. The sheer amount of goodies provided by the filmmakers make it a worthy addition to your collection.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars