Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus returns to the toy box to see what Robot Chicken will make them do this time.
Robot Chicken lays another Star Wars egg on our laps and as per usual we get their humours spins on all things from the galaxy far, far away played out with little toys.
I won’t get too specific here as the sketches don’t exactly add up to a story but the highlights for me are all things Palpatine (who gets a lot of screen time this time out) especially his realisation that Mace may have deformed his face after their face off and his growing frustration with the Stormtroopers waving to him on the escalators. Yarael Poof‘s complaining makes me chuckle lots and of course anything with Boba Fett never fails to amuse, after all he is “the most interesting bounty hunter in the galaxy”.
As always I enjoyed Robot Chicken’s take on the Star Wars Saga, though I have to say this one felt a little more miss than hit on this, my second viewing. There are some classics in here, like cocky drunk Boba Fett “Back form the dead bitches!!” and Luke trying to avoid the now one armed Wampa at the gas station, but some of the smaller, flatter gags felt a little too played out in this volume and when a joke you don’t find funny is beaten to death in front of you it’s never enjoyable.
The transfer has high and low points. The highs come with the textures of the clothing, fabrics and the miniature sets. Everything feels packed full of detail and there’s a real sense of the weight and feel of materials used. The lows come with edge halos and the odd bit of digital noise in the wider shots and a random increase of grain in the odd scenes.
The best thing here are the colours which are very strong, Yoda’s green and Shaak Ti’s red and white markings all look great and the black costumes are sometime quite striking within the well-lit sets. Once again knowing that this is all acted out with action figures and models is celebrated thoroughly and the low-fi nature of the stop motion is still packed full of charm with every joint and paper mouth looks good within this presentation.
With a simple 2.0 track, there’s not a lot of depth to the track but it’s still quite a pleasing bit of audio. The dialogue is clear and it is the strongest part of the mix, while the Star Wars music hangs back a little behind the vocals. The Star Wars sound effects all sound great (but hey when don’t they?) and there’s the odd peak with lightsabers and such but when compared to the to the actual Saga or The Clone Wars this is slumming it for sure.
‘Chicken Nuggets’ brings up the chicken icon for you to select and this cuts us away to short scene specific chats from writer’s Tom Root, Zeb Wells and Mike Falso.
The featurettes starts with ‘For the Love of the Toys’ (04:47) where the creators talk about their Star Wars collections growing up and now. I love this sort of stuff as I share many a fond memory of my Star Wars toys. ‘For the Love of Star Wars’ (03:50) is more of the same but this one is about the movies rather than the toys (again always enjoyable stuff). ‘For the love of Filmmaking' (05:18) goes more into the love of how Star Wars was made and the appreciation of what George Lucas inspired in them all, which in itself is an insight into how the show achieves its look. ‘Behind the Scenes: Writing’ (03:45) has the writers reading through their ideas intercut with some storyboards and lastly ‘Behind the Scenes: Voice Acting’ (05:13) has the voice actors including Lando himself Billy Dee Williams and Zach Efron (as Anakin) doing their stuff with the microphones. I love seeing Ahmed Best sticking to Jar Jar in these Robot Chickens too.
‘Robot Chicken Skate Tour ‘09’ (25:58) is a look at a tour the guys did for their skate parties. All filled out with cosplay Star Wars fans, iffy roller skating and plenty of Robot Chicken promotion dotted about. This is a good insight into the show's offbeat promotion and is full of abstract little nuggets of goodness.
The ‘deleted scenes and animatics’ (30:01) is a batch of unused, slightly different or early sketched ideas packed with more laughs and more plays on the saga.
The ‘Skywalker Ranch Premiere’ (04:56) has the gang rolling up to the ranch to premiere their work (lucky swines).
The 'Star Wars Celebration V Robot Chicken Panels' (09:05) has the writers answering Star Wars fans' questions. The ‘Gag Reel’ (03:50) is outtakes and funny bits not used in the rest of the features. The trailers section has two for the show and one is a Robot Chicken specially made ad for The Force Unleashed II.
The ’Animation Reference’ (09:43) features the videos of Seth Green acting out the characters for the animators to use as reference.
‘Sunday in The Boardroom with George Lucas’ (10:03) is pretty much a reason to buy the disc in itself. It's just George Lucas in a boardroom with Seth Green and some of the Robot Chicken guys asking Lucas to clarify details about small things from the saga. Lucas is totally playing along and it's absolute feel good fun. George asks is he “destroyed their childhood” and it was great and even as the jokes get dirtier Lucas still plays along and often drops in a gag to compete. Uncle George kicking off about NOT creating Mara Jade and kicking a writer out of the room is fantastic and his approach to writing and creating character names is brilliant. Seriously this is golden and sort of like seeing a bunch of fanboy’s dreams come true. I can only hope the upcoming Star Wars Saga on Blu-ray features some extras this enjoyable.
Lastly, and as with the other release, one of the biggest highlights here are the commentary tracks. 'Track one: Actors' features Abraham Benrubi, Ahmed Best, Keith Ferguson, Seth Green, Matthew Senreich and Billy Dee Williams. 'Track 2: Actors' features Bob Bergen, Donald Faison, Seth Green, Breckin Meyerand Matthew Senreich 'Track 3: Writers' has Matthew Beans, Mike Falsolo, Dan Milano, Tom Root, Hugh Sterbakov and Zeb Well and lastly Track 4 features some of the crew. All of the tracks are upbeat, genuinely fun and packed full of chuckles. There is a bit of insight into the musical choices, homages, favourite characters features and the process of making Robot Chicken but generally it’s the participants enjoying making fun of everything and having plenty of laughs. The stand out for me was the first actors track with Billy Dee Williams and Ahmed Best. Billy Dee cracks loads of great gags and obviously enjoys mucking about but every one of the tracks is just as enjoyable.
Robot Chicken Episode III serves up more great Star Wars laughs and once again has a disc packed full of extras for fans of the show and Star Wars to lap up. I would have loved to check out the US Blu-ray version to see if the upgrade made any difference but this DVD release is just about as strong as the previous releases even if the gags are getting a bit thinner three episodes in.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 4th July 2011
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Stereo 2.0
Extras: s, In The Baordroom with George Lucas, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Cast: Billy Dee Williams, Seth Green, Zach Efron, Donald Glover, Ahmed Best.
Genre: Comedy and Sci-Fi
Length: 54 minutes
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