Chief Justice Michael Stailey warns, "You will never find a more wretched hive of pandering and stupidity."
Darth Vader: "Watto, my old master, it's me, Anakin Skywalker."
I've come to the realization that I'm burned out on Star Wars. Having recently gone through all six films on Blu-ray with my nieces and nephews, overdosed on Disneyland's revamped Star Tours attraction, reviewed the Family Guy film parodies, watched each of the Robot Chicken specials, and played through the complete LEGO Star Wars video game collection twice (once on my own and once with my nephew), I'm spent. It's no different than having chewed a piece of your favorite gum too long, eventually the flavor is lost. It's no surprise then that this fifth (!) Cartoon Network LEGO Star Wars television special falls flat on its face.
Following Luke's destruction of the Death Star in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, the rebels set their sights on a secret Stormtrooper base, rumored to be hidden on the planet Naboo. So off our heroes go, Luke and R2 in one direction, Han and Leia in another, inadvertently leaving Chewie and 3P0 behind in the bathroom of the rebel base. Ha ha. Meanwhile, Emperor Palpatine has purchased a new do-it-yourself Death Star kit and plans to make the building of it a bonding experience for his "boys"—Darth Vader and a recently reassembled Darth Maul. Needless to say, sibling rivalry gets the best of them. Ha ha. Back on Naboo, Han and Leia enlist the help of the saliva-challenged Boss Nass to take down the bad guys, while Luke deals with the teen fangirl stalkers he's gained from his instant hero/celebrity status. His secret weapon, holding up a photo of Hayden Christensen to get the swooning girls screaming after Darth Vader instead. Ha ha.
Call me a heretic. Call me bitter and cynical. Call me whatever you want. I just don't see the intrinsic value here. LEGO Star Wars is a cash grab, re-purposing characters and sets from the existing Traveler's Tales video games to hastily produce a Cartoon Network 30 min special that plays like little more than a series of rapid fire cut scene gags (with real voice talent, something the original games did not have), inside jokes, and pop culture references to garner cheap laughs. For example, the new Death Star uses spare parts to make it look like the head of Darth Maul. Darth Vader gets his own medal ceremony for villainy. And then there's this dialogue exchange…
C-3PO: "Oh, my stars, Han shot first!"
Watching cut scenes within the context of the game is one thing, but trying to craft a story out of jokes which have most (if not all) been seen or heard before is an exercise in futility. Sure, there are a handful of meta references that made me smile, but nothing that elicited any sort of genuine laughter. My hope is, with Kathleen Kennedy now running the show at LucasFilm, we'll stop seeing the dilution of the brand with ill-advised projects like this.
Presented in standard def 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby 5.1 Surround, the production values are on par with what you see in the Traveler's Tales games, vibrant colors, now classic LEGO movement, strong attention to detail, and fanboy homages in every nook and cranny of the background, as far as the eye can see…and the ear can here, as many of the series original sound effects are also in use.
On the plus side, my eight year old nephew found LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out highly entertaining. So, for second generation Star Wars fans and the LEGO fanatics in your life, there may be value here. Fox's set includes and exclusive Darth Vader mini-fig, which helps cover the $14.99 (MSRP) cost, as this 22 minute short is worth more of a steam than a purchase. For those who like to ween themselves off the franchise until JJ Abrams unveils Star Wars Episode VII, pay no attention and move along.
Guilty. The title says it all. Now pull the plug before they make more.
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