Many Bothans died to get Chief Justice Michael Stailey to write this review.
Our reviews of Robot Chicken: Season One (published April 12th, 2006), Robot Chicken: Season Two (published September 4th, 2007), Robot Chicken: Season Three (published October 27th, 2008), Robot Chicken: Season Four (published December 24th, 2009), Robot Chicken: Season Five (published November 4th, 2011), and Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II (published August 3rd, 2009) are also available.
"Dream big, live big, love big, fall to your death down a giant whole."
As is often the case when a joke runs too long, it gets stale. So is the case with Robot Chicken: Star Wars. These specials started off as inspired, fought to be wildly creative, and have now run outta gas. You can't fault Seth Green and Matt Senreich for trying. I mean, hell, they've lapped the Family Guy creative team and their shot-for-shot Star Wars remakes ten times over, and there are still some laughs to be had.
Robot Chicken: Star Wars III draws inspiration from the likes of Pulp Fiction and Fight Club, by starting at the end of their story before heading back to the beginning. The focus here is on Emperor Palpatine (voiced by Seth MacFarlane, immensely more entertaining performing someone else's material than his own), a dude who's had one hell of life…and it's all about to end. Cue the flashback!
From insensitive local real estate developer, to overly ambitious political leader, to tyrannical intergalactic despot, good old Palp takes us on a voiceover tour of the expanded Star Wars universe. The spotlight shifts from an annoying Jerry Lewis-esque member of the Jedi Counsel and terminally annoying Luke, to Boba Fett and Gary the Stormtrooper, as we peel back the curtain on what happened offscreen during the six Star Wars films. The gags range from laugh-out-loud funny (cocktease Padme, stolen Sand Crawler, Wampa at the gas station, angry Max Rebo, death of an Ewok) to downright painful (Vader's bathroom disaster, Death Star escalator, Sarlacc Pit, action Prune Face). It's a mixed bag of funny at best, but you have to see the Wampa sketch (the link to which I've included in the sidebar under accomplices).
Credit the production and animation teams for continuing to take existing molds and creating new characters/sets to bring Lucas' universe to life. The care and attention that goes into even the shortest of these bits is phenomenal. At 10-15 frames per second—depending on the subtlety of the character movements, complexity of the sets, variety of camera angles, and number of visual fx—even the briefest of these segments require hundreds if not thousands of shots. These guys have been at this a long time, and Robot Chicken continues to look better and better with each season.
Speaking of looks, presented in 1.78:1 1080i (packaging claims 1080p) widescreen, the depth of detail is astounding; the whole series should look this good. The blacks are fairly solid and the colors pop, but the eagle-eyed among you will spot a number of digital glitches. The True HD 5.1 surround track won't come close to impressing anyone, as it's basically a plussed 2.0 Stereo track with little in the way of ambience or a robust soundscape. Hey, it works for me, but I'm not that demanding of HD perfection for a release like this. And I can't imagine anyone's looking for reference quality material from Adult Swim.
The bonus material, on the other hand, makes Robot Chicken: Star Wars III well worth the purchase…
* Commentaries—Two tracks from the voice talent, a third from the writers, and a fourth from the production team. Each is worth a listen (you'll be amazed at what you learn), but most will gravitate towards Seth, Matt, Donald Faison, and Breckin Meyer.
* Chicken Nuggets—I hate these picture-in-picture options where you have to click the remote any time a logo appears. For those who dig this kind of feature, you'll get some video cut-ins from the production team talking about many of the same things you'll hear on the audio commentaries.
* Deleted Scenes / Animatics (25 min)—As usual, a mixed bag of comedy that was left behind on the drawing board or in the editing room. Hit "Play all" and let it run as you do other things around the house. The video is crap and the introductions are often funnier than the gags, but there are a few laughs to be had.
* Featurettes (23 min)—More talk about the religion of Star Wars, the toys they use, writing animated sketch comedy, recording the cast, the visual fx, and getting paid for doing what you love.
* Skate Tour '09 (22 min)—Behind the scenes tomfoolery from the Robot Chicken Star Wars coast-to-coast bus tour. Immerse yourself in the Comic Con unwashed masses.
* Star Wars Celebration V (8 min)—Q&A highlights from the Robot Chicken panel at the ultimate Star Wars nerd-fest.
* Time Lapse (8 min)—Stop motion animation in 10 min or less.
* Animation Reference (8 min)—Seth provides inspiration for his animators.
* Sunday In the Boardroom with George (8 min)—Schmoozing with the big cheese, and making him laugh. For those who don't know, George Lucas is damn funny! Plus, you learn how to go "boom-degasser with your hay-digger."
* Skywalker Ranch Premiere (4 min)—Unveiling the special in the Holy Land.
* Gag Reel (3 min)—More funny? Not really.
For the Star Wars faithful, it's a no-brainer. For Robot Chicken fans, the bonus features far outweigh the special itself, and it's in high def. For everyone else, wait for the inevitable Adult Swim replay or for the series to hit Netflix. Boba Fett out!
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