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DVD Review

DVD cover

Robot Chicken
Star Wars - Episodes I & II Box Set (HMV Exclusive)


Starring (voice): Seth Green, Seth MacFarlane, Mark Hamill, George Lucas, Malcolm McDowell, Ahmed Best, Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams
Revolver Entertainment
RRP: £9.99
Certificate: 15
Available 25 October 2010

Not long ago, in a galaxy not far enough away, a legendary story unfolds of the intergalactic struggle between good vs. evil. Witness Emperor Palpatine receive a reverse charge call from the Dark Lord announcing the destruction of the Death Star, watch the droids have trouble getting through airport security and see Admiral Akbar selling out in an advert for his own breakfast cereal. In addition, George Lucas gets saved from a mob of nerds at a Star Wars convention, Luke and the Emperor settle things with a 'yo mama' fight and there's even a new unforgettable addition to the Star Wars franchise with Empire on Ice... and that's just a snippet of the many sketches featured...

Robot Chicken: Star Wars - Episodes I & II Box Set is a HMV exclusive collection that packages together both of the Robot Chicken: Star Wars specials.

Robot Chicken: Star Wars is a specially produced extended episode of Robot Chicken, which was officially endorsed by Lucasfilm - in fact George Lucas provides the voice of his animated action figure.

The genesis of this collection of sketches was born after someone from Lucasfilm contacted the Robot Chicken studio to say how much the studio had enjoyed a Star Wars sketch (the telephone conversation between Darth Vader and the Emperor) they'd featured in the show. Eventually, after several meetings, an officially endorsed Star Wars episode was commissioned. Thankfully though, Lucasfilm seems to have had no input on the actual content, allowing the creators to really poke fun at the franchise.

The episode puts its own Robot Chicken spin on the Star Wars universe in 23 minutes of non-stop, and beautifully realised, stop-motion animation.

There are gags that everyone will get instantly, as well as more subtle jokes that die-hard Star Wars fans will love. The two most notable include a Jawa standing at the bar in the Mos Eisley Cantina, shouting; "Martini!" - fans will remember that a Jawa in the movie shouts "Utini!". Then there's the sketch where Luke is sat in the Toshi Station night club watching the Power Converters all-girl pole dancers. This will mean nothing to you unless you remember the line in Star Wars where Uncle Owen makes Luke work on the droids and Luke whines: "but I have to go to Toshi Station to pick up some power converters!"

The producers succeeded in getting Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker - although he didn't voice all of the Luke scenes), Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks) and George Lucas to lend their vocal talents. In addition Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad), Malcolm McDowell and Hulk Hogan also make appearances.

Extras include Video Commentary (53 minutes video with creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich talking us through the sketches. I'm not sure how this will look on the finished DVD - whether they will be in a small box on the screen as the episode plays, but on the review disc we received it was just the footage of Green and Senreich - which made working out what they were talking about a little difficult in places); Animation Meeting (6 min, 43 sec walk through of the entire episode, which fast forwards to show highlights of Green showing animatics to the rest of the crew while he acts it all out); On Air Bumps (Aired and Unaired) (22 min, 10 sec which is basically the cast and crew messing about in the studio and doing pieces to camera); Trailers (6 min, 43 sec collection of short promo trailers. This is worth watching as it contains additional content with the George Lucas doll); Behind the Scenes (6 min, 55 sec); Deleted Scenes (4 min, 34 seconds of animatics); Alternate Audio (10 min, 17 sec of extended ad-libbed dialogue for numerous scenes); Production Design (19 min, 11 sec behind the scenes look at the construction of a number of sets and models); Time Lapse (3 min, 15 sec which shows the animators animating several scenes of a period of time); and Panel Presentation (5 min, 57 second convention Q&A with cast and crew).

Travel back to a galaxy far, far away as Robot Chicken brings us a second Star Wars themed feature special which reunites viewers with Emperor Palpatine who, tiring of Darth Vader’s incompetence, seeks advice from Alfonso, the hairdresser, during a routine trim. Gary the Storm Trooper is forced to take his daughter to work to keep the wife happy (not as simple as it sounds when your boss is the Dark Lord of the Sith) and Luke and Darth Vader bond over a father/son fishing trip. Once again, the Robot Chicken crew takes a twisted look at all six films to create a hilarious parody of the phenomena that is Star Wars...

Robot Chicken: Star Wars - Episode II once again allows the Robot Chicken humour to infiltrate the Star Wars universe. While the first Star Wars themed special was great fun, the writers and animators have succeeded in pulling off a much more polished and well throughout collection of sketches. This time there's an ongoing theme which looks at the bounty hunters that were seen briefly in The Empire Strikes Back.

Again, as with the previous collection, there are gags here that everyone will appreciate, as well as gags that work best if you are a true Star Wars geek. Examples of the later include a sea monster who wants to explore his planet. The next time we see him is as a skeleton in the background as C-3PO walks past (a scene taken from A New Hope after C3PO and R2D2 land on Tatooine in an escape pod); and Lando Calrissian showing his distaste for the name of Boba Fett's ship (Star Wars fans will know it's called Slave 1).

There are vocal guest stars from the world of Star Wars too. Carrie Fisher reprises her role as Princess Leia, Billy Dee Williams makes his comeback as Lando Calrissian and Ahmed Best returns as Jar Jar Binks.

The DVD release comes with two viewing options for this Star Wars Special. You can either watch the original broadcast version, or the extended edition which includes many more sketches.

Extras are also pretty impressive. There are six audio commentaries for the extended cut of the episode (two with cast members, one with the writers one with the crew, one with Clone Wars special guests and one with Frank Oz); Chicken Nuggets (watch the broadcast version of the episode with optional sketch by sketch introduction. When a chicken appears on the screen you can press the enter button on your remote to see the introduction); The Making of RCSWII (6 min, 01 sec); Animation Meeting (6 min, 31 sec in which Seth Green acts out various scenes for the animators); Skywalker Ranch Premiere (4 min, 27 sec look at the episodes premiere for cast and crew. George Lucas also puts in an appearance and helps play a practical joke on one of the writers); 501st Visit (2 min, 38 sec featurette in which the 501st Storm Trooper group turn up and enrol some of the Robot Chicken staff); Behind the Scenes: Sneak Peek (2 min, 40 sec look behind the scenes of the episode); Accepted/Rejected (3 min, 52 sec in which the writers tell us about their sketch pitches and then we find out whether they were accepted for the finished episode. Some of the rejected episodes sounded great, so it's a shame they didn't get through); Time Lapse (7 min, 15 sec time lapse look at the various sets used in the episode); Production Design (9 min, 19 sec look at the sets, costumes and vehicles); Video Blogs (Writing Process (3 min, 15 sec); Voice Records (5 min, 43 sec); and Puppet Making (2 min, 17 sec)); Deleted Animatics (27 secs gag); Alternate Audio (9 min, 29 sec various audio takes); On-Air Bumps (2 min, 10 sec TV ad clips); Promo Spots (3 min, 18 sec) and trailers for other releases.

Personally (just like The Empire Strikes Back) I found this to be a much better episode than the first Robot Chicken Star Wars outing. It's more polished and feels like the production is a lot more mature. The ongoing bounty hunter angle is also a great way of tying together a lot of the sketches.

The fact that you can now purchase both of these specials for under a tenner should be all the excuse you need to add this box set to your DVD collection.


Nick Smithson

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