Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus watches action figures do great things with the new Robot Chicken DVD
Those Robot Chicken guys get a second pop at the Star Wars Saga with more spoofs and goofy takes on classic moments from the galaxy far, far away.
The last year or so has been full of great Star Wars references in TV and movies. From Family Guy specials, a Darth Vader cameo in Night at the Museum 2, Storm Troopers in Race to Witch Mountain and even a full on lightsaber battle in 17 Again, Star Wars has now totally slipped away from mere fanboy in-jokes to mainstream enjoyment.
The good thing about Star Wars is that the gags work for pretty much all of the audience, no matter how out there the take is and Robot Chicken has proven that they can go to the absolute limits of ’out there’ and still be a blast. Now, I wouldn’t say that I find these Star Wars specials particularly laugh out loud funny, but the general feel good factor of the sketches are unquantifiable. From the opening ‘back from the dead assholes’ Boba Fett Ewok massacre, Robot Chicken just puts a huge fan boy smile on face. What Star Wars fan doesn’t want to see a cocky Boba Fett flashing lightsabers, getting Princess Leia and using his rocket launchers to destroy fleeing Ewoks?
Other sketches that work wonders include Doctor Ball. Having the droid from A New Hope questioning the many medical choices made in the later Star Wars movies is great stuff. Asking if they are trying to drown Luke in Empire and sarcastically questioning ‘she’s lost the will to live?’ to the doctor droid’s diagnosis of Padme in Revenge of the Sith is simple but effective stuff in the Star Wars universe. Also the sketch with a couple of Tauntauns' reactions to their friend not coming back with Han after he saved Luke on Hoth is inspired stuff as is Palpatine’s take on Yoda’s classic ‘Do or do not. There is no try’. Though I doubt Lucas would have gone for ‘There’s do and there’s fucking up royal’. Also, retuning classics like carrying on the first Robot Chicken Star Wars Admiral Akbar cereal gag is great and it’s staggering how far Akbar’s ‘It’s a trap’ can run as a punch line.
Robot Chicken Star Wars is just the sort of thing that I can throw on and enjoy time and time again and while some of the gags fall a little flat and this second outing isn’t quite as entertaining as the first one was for me, I love the level of detail on offer here as well as the love of the saga that’s on show, whether it be the attention to detail in the replication of the sets or somehow making the weirdest of characterisations somehow feel totally genuine. Boba Fett as a show off frat boy always puts a smile on my face and the imagining of the dinner party Vader invited Han, Chewie and Leia to join on cloud city is just what makes these projects so much fun. Oh and it’s great that it’s not just me that finds Lando wearing Han’s clothes at the end of Empire Strikes Back so weird.
Robot Chicken never ceases to amaze me with its model and action figure work and it looks fantastic here. The image is impressively sharp and detailed for DVD, with colours and lighting really looking great with a hugely effective cinematic feel in all of the sketches (well except the Geonosian arena advert—but that's intentional).
Image quality remains consistent throughout and other than looking a little soft in places, Robot Chicken really is an impressive presentation that once again outdoes any pre-conceptions I had with its lo-fi background.
There are moments where you forget the fairly crude nature of this project and the jump up to 5.1 is an area that makes this feel that bit more like Star Wars. The track is actually quite impressive despite its limitations, with sound effects spread nicely throughout the track and the dialogue strong in the front speakers.
Explosions and general Star Wars-esq sound effects are dotted about at just the right moments and broaden the Robot Chicken canvas and even though this is never going to sound like an actual Star Wars movie it does a bang up job at sounding as good as a lot of higher end TV shows out there.
Once again Robot Chicken comes packed with extras including an ‘extended version’ of the special (38:12). Starting with the commentaries, of which there are six, you’ll get to listen to two actor ones, including Robot Chickeners Seth Green and Breckin Meyer, as well as Donald Faison, Billy Dee Williams, Ahmed Best and Rachel Leigh Cook. Then there’re the writer and crew ones, which are just as fun, and lastly we arrive at the more Star Wars themed ones. The 'Clone Wars special guests' commentary includes Dave Filoni and Matthew Wood and the Frank Oz commentary tracks are great on many levels. Whether it be their personal Star Wars experiences or being amazed by the work the Robot Chicken guys have done, these commentary tracks are a great listen and just as entertaining as the tracks on the first Robot Chicken DVD.
‘Chicken Nuggets’ is a feature that allows you to jump out of each scene as you watch the show and watch a video commentary. ‘The Making of RCSWII’ (06:01) is short and sweet and covers quite a bit in a small amount of time, while ‘Animation Meeting’ (06:31) shows Seth Green acting out the scenes for the animators or as it’s introduced ‘Seth acting like a dork for six minutes’.
‘Skywalker Ranch Premiere’ (04:27) pretty much highlights that everyone working on the show has the best job ever. Taking the finished show to the ranch and having George Lucas not only attend the screening but give high praise and even play along with a gag amongst the writers about who wrote a specific scene is just great to see as is when Matt, Seth, Tom and Doug became members of the 501st Legion in the ‘501st Visit’ (02:38).
‘Behind The Scenes: Sneak Peak’ (02:40) is a bit of a filler as are the fun rejected pitches in ‘Accepted/Rejected’ (03:52). The ‘Time Lapse’ (07:15) stuff is as eye opening as ever and the ‘Production Design’ (09:19) takes a focused look at the fantastic work this show does so well and the attention to detail they achieve.
The ‘Video Blogs’ (11:16) which feature ‘Writing Process’, Voice Recordings’ and ‘Puppet Making’ are great insights, especially Billy Dee Williams making every line of his dialogue sound like the coolest line ever and 'Deleted Animatics' (00:27) isn’t really what it says it is but a brief explanation that nothing was deleted, so there’s nothing to show.
‘Alternative Audio’ (09:29) has a few different takes set to some still images of the show and ‘On Air Bumps’ (02:10), ‘Promo Spots’ (03:18) and ‘Trailers’ are a mixture of ads for the show as well as other Adult Swim shows.
Lastly there are two bonus episodes of regular Robot Chicken (11:37 each). So, all in all this is a great package for a single episode of a show and thoroughly enjoyably for anyone who's a fan of Star Wars or indeed Robot Chicken and the work they do.
With two specials already under their belt, I hope that Robot Chicken continue to provide more Star Wars spoofs in the future. This is mainly because I find this kind of Star Wars themed fun continually enjoyable (as well as taking great joy in seeing Action Figures used like this) and having it as a yearly event would be something I'd really look forward to (especially if they continue to get actual Star Wars veterans involved).
As for the disc itself, the AV is well above what I’d expect for the release and it’s packed with fun, short and sweet features that include some of the most enjoyable commentaries I’ve listened to in a while. So this is an easy recommendation.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 27th July 2009
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Aspect: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Audio: Dolby Surround 5.1 English, Stereo 2.0 English
Extras: Extended Version, Bonus Robot Chicken Episodes, Chicken Nuggets, The Making of Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II, Behind-the-Scenes: Sneak Peek, Skywalker Ranch Premiere, 501st Visit . Animation Meeting, Accepted/Rejected, Time Lapse, Production Design, Video Blogs, Deleted Animatics, Alternate Audio, On-Air Bumps & Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Seth Green
Cast: Abraham Benrubi, Carrie Fisher, Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Seth MacFarlane, Billy Dee Williams
Genre: Animation and Comedy
Length: 38 minutes
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