Robot Chicken: Star Wars: Episode 1 and 2 DVD review
|REVIEWS - DVD REVIEWS|
More inventive stop-motion screwiness, this time aimed firmly at the Lucassphere...
"Whether a Robot Chicken veteran or someone completely new to Adult Swim, give these a try - you won’t be disappointed"
Jar Jar Binks promoting an insurance ad; a bounty hunter styled rat race; and bring your daughter to work day at Storm Trooper HQ - such eccentricity and diversity can only have come from one place. Robot Chicken is back, and this time it’s bigger than ever. Dipping its hat at arguably the greatest sci-fi movies of all time, Robot Chicken joins Family Guy in parodying a series that ultimately shaped the genre of sci-fi following its release. However, other than succeeding Family Guy and featuring a few similar talents in regards to voicing, the similarities are sparse.
Fans of the Robot Chicken franchise have come to expect a degree of zaniness unknown to its competitors. The familiar group of writers and voice actors that feature within it clearly share an esoteric humour, and this is seen throughout the episodes. On this level, the Star Wars episodes don't disappoint. Whether it’s the sketch that ultimately epitomises why Darth Vader would make the worst dinner guest of all time, or what really happened in the Mos Eisley Cantina, there is the familiar undertone of peculiarity that we have come to expect from the show.
Another nice feature is the continued improvement of talent featured within the episodes. Episode one sees the likes of Hulk Hogan lending his voice to evil Abe Lincoln and Conan O'Brien voicing Zuckuss as a late night talk host, whereas episode two has much more of a homely feel, with the likes of Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams providing voices to their original characters (Princess Leia and Lando Calrissian respectively). The regular cameos provided by these characters, combined with the familiar voices of Seth Green, Breckin Meyer and Seth Macfarlane, result in an enjoyable viewing from start to finish.
Conversely, as I have mentioned before, Robot Chicken is a fine seasoned student of hit and miss comedy and, at times, you can’t help but feel that the material runs thin. While you can see what the cast was trying to do, sketches occasionally feel underdeveloped or even long winded, which seems odd considering that the majority don’t last for longer than a minute. Fortunately, both episodes hit more than they miss, while certain sketches will leave you in absolute stitches.
As a parody, the idea is brilliant; both Family Guy and Robot Chicken have had significant success with these, explaining why both have released a second in due course. However, I do feel that the irony is lost on Seth MacFarlane. While he may see it as helping out a friend, one who has worked on Family Guy since the beginning, he has in fact bettered a leading competitor with his own touch of comical excellence. Much like the latter seasons of Family Guy, I found Blue Harvest and Something Something Darkside tedious and lacking any true moments of laughter. The reason they have been so successful is because of the adolescent following, the bandwagon expanding to near the point of collapse. While I still try to watch it (try being the operative word), Family Guy has suffered throughout the years, dying an increasingly painful death with the release of each new season. While MacFarlane’s Sith Lord is brilliant and there is no doubting the natural ability he has for voices, his show continues to fall short of this deformed offspring. Robot Chicken has shaken off its oppressive chains and continues to grow and, following some impressive reviews, this growth shows no signs of slowing down.
Together, both episodes have taken Star Wars to a new level, poking fun of an area that no sci-fi fan has ever dared to before. With George Lucas giving his seal of recognition and speaking of the laughter each parody provided him, these episodes will only further the growing reputation of Adult Swim’s top rated show.
Overall, I feel that the first episode offers a little bit more originality than its sequel. However, this is not to sell the second episode short though, with a couple of scenes, such as what not to order when dining with Admiral Ackbar (see below), sheer moments of genius. Its downfall, unfortunately, is the increased amount of misses compared to the first.
Overall, I would recommend both episodes as sound purchases. As you watch them, it is clear to see that these have been put together by Star Wars fans. The attention to detail and the respect they give it are impressive, while still allowing for the obvious degree of lunacy one comes to expect from such a show. Amazon.co.uk and Play.com are offering episode one for just £3.39 and episode two for £3.99 (savings of 73% in each instance) and with the Family Guy episodes continuing to rip people off at double the price, the DVDs represent superb value for money.
As the episodes themselves are only 30 and 45 minutes respectively, Robot Chicken has chocked them full of extras (see below) so as to validate its retail price. Whether a Robot Chicken veteran or someone completely new to Adult Swim, give these a try - you won’t be disappointed.
While both the discs offer a great selection of extras, episode two offers that much more for your money. In the first episode, you can look forward to enjoying three bonus episodes of Adult Swim’s finest shows and plenty of add-ons such as on-air bumps, animation, deleted scenes and much more. While episode two is fairly similar, it also offers both the original and extended version as similar extras to those mentioned above.
Robot Chicken: Star Wars: Episode 1 & 2 is released on the 25th of October in the UK as an HMV exclusive.
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