Robot Chicken Star Wars Episode III

Robot Chicken Star Wars Episode III


Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Return Of The Jedi certainly had – and still has - its fan(boy)-base, thanks largely to a bikini-clad slave girl Leia, a full-fighting Boba Fett and the first appearance in person by the evil Emperor, but even at the time of the film's 1983 release, there were some who observed how lazily it revisited the structure and scenes of the first 1977 Star Wars film (subsequently retitled Episode IV - A New Hope). Hence the first act unfolds on Tatooine, with Jabba's lair essentially reprising the cantina bar scene - and the film ends with the destruction of a 'second' Death Star.

Something similar might be said of Robot Chicken: Star Wars – Episode III, which both exploits and suffers from its own, now well-established, brand status. On the one hand, this third Star Wars-focused television special gives fans of the stop-motion comedy sketch show Robot Chicken more of what they want – indeed a whole lot more, given that it is more than half an hour longer than the previous Star Wars specials, which are themselves over twice the length of the regular 11-minute Robot Chicken spots. On the other hand, you can have too much of a good thing and a lot here just feels like tired retreads of gags from the previous episodes.

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For example, the sight of a newly-suited Darth Vader breaking into some cool disco moves is funny, not to mention a feat of extraordinary animation – but didn't Lobot already do disco in the original Robot Chicken: Star Wars? And haven't we seen Darth Vader break-dancing in Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II? Breckin Meyer's improvised take on Boba Fett as a self-absorbed, fantasist ass-hole, though hilarious the first two times round, has long since lost its novelty. Obscure character Prune Face gets his own high-octane action trailer – but the equally marginalised Bossk had a rather similar action trailer in Episode II. Luke and Ben taking an ungainly sand crawler out for a gravity-defying joy-ride would be funnier had we not already seen stormtroopers do the same in an ATAT in the previous episode.

As Emperor Palpatine (voiced by Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane) is thrown by Vader down a chasm in the second Death Star and plummets to his eventual death, the memories of his life (and of the two Star Wars trilogies) that flash before his eyes form and frame all the skits in Robot Chicken: Star War Episode III – yet the Emperor's voice-over often provides a revealing commentary on the poverty of the jokes.

Puzzled by images of a sleeping stormtrooper, Palpatine asks: "Are we doing my story or are we doing some random, pointless -". Interrupted by the sound of the stormtrooper loudly farting, Palpatine says with grim resignation, "Ah, welcome to Robot Chicken." Later, during a horrifically unfunny pastiche of The Dukes Of Hazzard, Palpatine comments: "You know what, there's no need to drag this out, the payoff's pretty weak." If this is the best that the writers can do, perhaps they should take Palpatine's advice and, as he puts it, "take a break, come back fresh". This is the same error of judgement also made by Family Guy's third Star Wars parody It's A Trap (2010): the belief that, by openly acknowledging failings, you somehow magically make them go away. Severe editing might have been a better solution for this hit-and-miss affair.

There certainly are some hits here. That farting stormtrooper, incongruously named Gary, has been resurrected from a brief appearance in Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II and is here elevated into the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (all rolled into one) of the Star Wars universe. This jovial footsoldier (voiced by Donald Glover) is always on the margins yet somehow inadvertently has a dramatic effect on the saga's main events, accidentally burning Owen and Beru Lars to death along with their Tatooine farmstead, and later clumsily sparking the Ewok rebellion against the forces of Empire.

Equally good is a lengthy skit, played for full pathos and therefore all the funnier, in which we witness the Wompa abjectly struggling to get on with his daily business without the arm that Luke had cut off in the ice cave on Hoth. Too many other skits, however, like the one in which long-necked Yarael Poof whines that the other members of the Jedi Council treat him like a doormat, stretch their half-baked ideas out far too long and then fail to find a decent punchline.

The quality of the animation, at least, remains stellar – but judging by this overlong, underwhelming episode, the time has come for series creators Seth Green and Matt Senreich to put their Star Wars toys away.

Reviewed on: 12 Jul 2011
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Spoof take on Return Of The Jedi.
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Director: Chris McKay

Writer: Seth Green, Matt Senreich, Douglas Goldstein, Tom Root, Matthew Beans, Hugh Davidson, Mike Fasolo, Geoff Johns, Breckin Meyer, Kevin Shinick, Dan Milano, Hugh Sterbaker, Zeb Wells

Starring: Seth Green, Seth MacFarlane, Breckin Meyer, Abraham Benrubi, Bob Bergen, Ahmed Best, Rachel Leigh Cook, Anthony Daniels, Hugh Davidson, Zac Efron, Eden Espinosa, Donald Faison, Keith Ferguson, Donald Glover, Tom Kane, Billy Dee Williams, Zeb Wells

Year: 2010

Runtime: 53 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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