Get out your bricks and lightsabers, we're reviewing the Lego Star Wars specials The Empire Strikes Out and The Padawan Menace!
These are two half-hour specials within the Star Wars universe using mini figs and Legos to kidsy and comical ends. The Empire Strikes Out bridges the gap between Episodes 4 and 5 and The Padawan Menace takes place between Episodes 2 and 3.
Guys. Guys. Guys. How are these two Star Wars movies not canon?
Who knew that the Star Wars universe would work perfectly with the silliness and slapstick of the Lego universe? Take note, these are specials in which characters are speaking fully, unlike the silent cut-scenes of the Star Wars Lego games. And they are hilarious! For one thing, George Lucas and a number of people have made the argument that the prequels, and Star Wars in general, are for kids even more so than for adults. That's never been more apparent than in the Lego universe, where Darth Maul and Darth Vader bicker, try to force choke each other, and conclude their argument with Darth Maul force-force choking Darth Vader and saying, "Quit force choking yourself!"
Oh, that's right: Darth Maul is back, he talks, and he's a total dick. It's amazing!
Whoever thought to make a Lego movie that bridges the gap between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back is a genius. (This isn’t to say I want a REAL movie bridging the gap – they’re fine exactly how they are, thank you) And they even incorporate elements from the prequels, like Princess Leia going to Naboo and trying to enlist Gungans in the rebel alliance. Makes sense now that we know the backstory of Princess Leia and Naboo, no?
And I don't want to spoil anything, but I fully accept Han Solo's origin in The Padawan Menace as Star Wars canon.
These are really fun short movies that every Star Wars nerd should enjoy, especially if you loved the Lego Star Wars games. Maybe it is better that they're not canon, so they can take risks with the story and make really dumb but amazing jokes. Yoda force putting-back-together a clone trooper as they're running after a bad guy really only works in the Lego universe. These are movies that embrace Star Wars culture and fully embrace their inherent silliness. These are movies in which a mini fig George Lucas tells a confused Darth Vader that no, he's not in this scene, this is a prequel.
It's weird to say how nice the graphics are, since you wouldn't expect a show involving tiny Lego people to need to look THAT good, but the graphics and animation are really, really good. It's the kind of animation that's present in the Lego games, and the graphics look as amazing as ever. They are the shiniest of Lego bricks. Shiner than any normal human could ever get a Lego brick in the real world. They’re super shiny is what I'm saying!
The voice acting is pretty great. I don't think they got any of the original voices, but they still pull their weight. Greats like Tom Kane and Phil LaMarr provide some hilarious dialogue for the characters. You know it's a kids’ movie when the Star Wars crawl is also narrated so the little kids don't have to worry about reading.
There's also a ton of action! Sure, it's cute Lego action, but it's as much action as there was in the prequel movies or in your basic episode of the Clone Wars cartoon. And really, Lego action is almost better than regular action because they take the durability and creativity of bricks into account. A Jedi can repulse blaster fire with her lightsaber while putting robot minions together with her force powers. This is why, if you haven't played any of the Lego Star Wars games, you should really give them a try.
I guess my only concession is that these shows aren't longer. They're each less than thirty minutes long, and less than an hour if you watch them back to back. That may be ok, too; maybe if they were over an hour long the shtick would get tired and the humor would drain you faster than force lightning. Even with the short time, they still get a full story in, jokes and all.
These are incredibly fun short movies that won't take up much of your time at all, but will give you a huge laugh and lots of enjoyment. I'd only ruin them more by talking about them, so go on and watch them!
THE GOOD: Fun and funny, lots of action, Legos are cool, lots of in-jokes and cameos, super silly, explains gaps in the Star Wars mythos in fun ways
THE BAD: Pretty short at 22 minutes each
THE VERDICT: $$$$$ See them! Try to catch them online or buy them for your Star Wars collection. I guarantee you, they're a better investment than the umpteenth enhanced version of the Star Wars trilogy. If you like Star Wars, Legos, and silliness, you'll love these. They're basically a PG-rated version of the Robot Chicken or Family Guy specials, and with better action.
MOVIES AND SHOWS LIKE IT: Star Wars, Blue Harvest: A Family Guy Special, Robot Chicken Star Wars Special, The Clone Wars
ONE SCENE-METAPHOR: When the Emperor has to rebuild the Death Star, how do you think he does it? Brick by brick, while reading the instructions.