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Monday, 17 June 2013

CLASSIC REVIEW: 'ROBOT CHICKEN - STAR WARS EPISODE II' DVD



ROBOT CHICKEN: STAR WARS EPISODE II


ROBOT CHICKEN created by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich

As seen on the US ADULT SWIM cable channel

Distributed in the UK by REVOLVER ENTERTAINMENT


Reviewed by Scott Weller



THE DARK SIDE OF THE CHICKEN IS UNLEASHED!!


Seth Green-actor/comedian/writer/director/uber-geek and all round nice guy (with an imagination continually fertile, yet also ultimately perverse at the same time!!), and his “usual gang of idiots” (I mean that affectionately in the way that MAD magazine used to refer to their staff!!!) from the ADULT SWIM stop-motion comedy-verse, are back with more absurd hilarity and movie continuity what-if’s within the STAR WARS universe for ROBOT CHICKEN: STAR WARS EPISODE II, and George’s Lucas’s epic creation is all the more richer for this new programme’s many moments of light hearted, downright belly aching insanity towards it!!

Green’s knowledge and enthusiasm for STAR WARS within the series had already been shown in the first ROBOT CHICKEN release and here he takes it to the next step. Here is someone who pokes fun of it but actually does so in that affectionate and wonderfully nodding “we’re fans, too, and we want to have fun with it in a way that everyone will share the joke in” tradition-surely one of the best forms of fan love you can get, though still splitting your sides from all it’s brilliant humour at the same time.

And many of the sequences in this second edition are just as ambitious and funny (the Stormtrooper’s “take your child to work day” being particularly memorable!!), if not better, than the previous volume.

I prefer the extended edition of RC: SWE II a lot more than the broadcast one, obviously, as it’s longer and has some super new comedy sequences added to the mix. It all kicks off to a brilliant start by fulfilling the dream promises of so many fans boys from twenty six years ago, as the Ewoks, in a truly priceless opening sequence, get a seriously bad time of things from a certain bucket headed Bounty Hunter. We always wanted to see Boba Fett make it to the end of JEDI for a clash with Han Solo. He doesn’t quite do that here but gets to perform some super-cool badass-ary towards the little fur cuties instead, or “Purple rain”, as only he knows how!! Quite simply, the Ewoks are toast in a variety of spectacular and priceless demises from Fett, and his vast array of weaponry, which we all wished had actually been used in the original movies!!

Breckin Mayer’s (yes, that really is his name!!) interpretation of Fett as a supercool “gangsta” type badass is inspired and his later sequence in the Sarlaac pit (another fine example of the series model work-specially constructed as a moving set around the puppets)) is both genius and belly wrenchingly funny, especially its final scene.

Being mostly EMPIRE-centric, Seth and the crew get to make the most of that film’s new characters, of which the ever popular Bounty Hunters take deserved precedence, especially Bossk (who, in his off duty hours, wears a white tuxedo and carnation ala Indiana Jones in a wicked piss-take of TEMPLE OF DOOM’s opening sequence), whilst Dengar is the ultimate in space high-campery!!

There is still room for some meaty stuff linked to the Prequels, too, as the running gag involving Owen Lars teasing joke about Anakin soon comes back to haunt him with deadly consequences, whilst another hilarious sketch involving Anakin and the Jedi Younglings is sidesplitting, especially in the end moment with Padme coming home with the groceries!!

Don't forget the other comedy regulars (where would we be without Admiral Ackbar sketches!!) and more notables including Dr. Ball M.D.-the torture droid (a vocal hybrid of STAR TREK’s Leonard McCoy and the most cliched screen doctors from film and TV over the years) who makes a floaty appearance all over the place offering his over bearing and unwelcome sage advice to all the characters of the STAR WARS universe!!, the AT-AT Walker derby on Hoth (“They’re beautiful!!”), and the Geonosian smack down commercial-all inspired stuff. I’ll also never be able to quite look at the Tauntauns, IG-88 or the Ugnaughts in the same way ever again!!

Her voice may sound older, but Carrie Fisher returns to play Princess Leia Organa and is hilarious in her scene with Luke after the death of Ben Kenobi!! Whilst Billy Dee Williams has fun mocking his super cool performance as Lando Calrissian from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (“This deals getting worse all the time!!” being a notable example).

Also returning once more after his previous star turn is FAMILY GUY’s Seth MacFarlane. There may be a little bit of an imperious Stewie in his voice at times, but he truly is the Emperor now. His moment with Alfonso the Ithorian hairdresser, his dressing down of Vader, and his later tempting of fate sequence on the DEATH STAR II had me almost choking from laughter.

However, it’s Ahmed Best who almost steals the episode once again with another hilarious turn as Jar Jar Binks-a further step in the positive theraputic cure by TV programmes like ROBOT CHICKEN in helping fans get over their Prequel nightmares from the last ten years.

Sadly, the chance of getting Mark Hamill back to voice Luke have probably been shot down forever due to some words made about the actor in the 2007 STAR WARS FAMILY GUY skit, which he apparently took offence to. Let’s hope that things can be rectified in the future, and that he gets the chance to return to voice his iconic character in future RC comedy sketches.

As well as hearing the original STAR WARS actors once again, equally special to me, one of my favourite moments from the first CHICKEN, which didn’t make the previous DVD (having been saved for this one), finally appears-the dining room scene on Bespin between our Lando Calrissian betrayed heroes and Vader/Fett.“Alderaan chunks everywhere!!” Classic. I really love Vader when he’s like this!!

And rounding things off, let’s not forget the invincible double act of Obi-Wan and Yoda who manage to sneak in a musical number about the importance of having a “certain point of view”, then pretty much going on to destroy any possibility that Luke will ever have a happy life once and for all!!

There are a lot more sketches I could rave about (the couple buying an apartment on Bespin being one such moment), but I don’t want to spoil things anymore...

Green and his writing team bring a unique kind of cool absurdity to the STAR WARS universe which is very funny and endearing at the same time!! Their love of the saga’s story and characters-and its strengths and limitations (i.e. occasional unusual logic and plot holes) - are brought out for moments of pure comedy genius.

Equally, one cannot fault the meticulous production values, amazing, highly detailed set design (like the Star Destroyer bridge and theMillennium Falcon hold) and the awesome stop motion figures of the characters used in the programmes-special nods to all the creative people that worked so faithfully and so hard to produce this further piece of comedy gold.

Some fun background extras accompany this quality DVD-like the cast and crew screening of the completed episode at LUCASFILM (with Lucas himself being present), a look at the aforementioned excellent production design and construction for the programme by the dedicated team of STAR WARS fans, the usual trailers, Chicken Nuggetts, animation features and time lapse behind the scenes filming. And there’s a few other little surprises. There’s also the warm bonus of several other generic ROBOT CHICKEN episodes which are equally very enjoyable.

The previous ROBOT CHICKEN: STAR WARS release has proved a big success for REVOLVER, selling a massive 13,000 DVDs in the first week in the UK alone. It’s well deserved. They, alongside Green and ADULT SWIM, have certainly delivered the kind of quality that a sequel package deserved, and one that STAR WARS fans will greatly enjoy.

Here’s to four more STAR WARS ROBOT CHICKENS!


AFICIONADO RATING: ROBOT CHICKEN: STAR WARS EPISODE II, like the first programme, is well worth the time and investment, and it will always make you laugh when you watch it. 9 out of 10

And don’t forget Bob Goldstein, the personal injury claims lawyer- if you’ve got a severed limb from fighting a Jedi, he’s standing by to take your call!

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