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Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out (2012)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 3/26/2012

All Ratings out of
Extras: No Extras

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/29/2013

This may not be a common occurrence, but this situation has to have happened somewhere at some time: You're a parent and you're child A) loves the Star Wars franchise and B) has a great sense of humor. You would like to let them watch the Family Guy Star Wars spoofs, but most of the references which don't pertain to Star Wars will go over their heads and a good chunk of the material is inappropriate for kids. So, what to do? Well, leave it to the good folks at Lego to come to the rescue. Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out contains an irreverent sense of humor and a break-neck pace which is very similar to the Family Guy send ups, but the material is family friendly.

The story in Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out is a bit hard to describe, as it jumps all over the place, taking pieces from the original trilogy and the second trilogy. Following the destruction of the Death Star, Luke Skywalker (voiced by Lloyd Floyd) and R2-D2 travel to the planet Nabu to find a secret Empire location, while Han Solo (voiced by John Armstrong) and Princess Leia (voiced by Lisa Fuson) take a troop transporter and try to find some new allies (which has them running into Gungans). Due to the fact that they were both in the bathroom, C-3PO (voiced by Anthony Daniels) and Chewbacca get left behind at the Rebel hideout. Meanwhile, Darth Vader (voiced by Matt Sloan) joins The Emperor (voiced by Sam Witwer) to discuss their next move, when, much to Vader's chagrin, they are joined by Darth Maul (also voiced by Witwer). While the two Darths fight like spoiled siblings, Luke is sidetracked by groupies.

I must admit that, having never seen a Lego production, I didn't know what to expect from Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out. Obviously, I anticipated seeing familiar characters from the Star Wars universe, but in Lego form, and the piece certainly delivered on that front. It was the short's tone which truly surprised me.

If you look at most family/kid focused animated shows or movies, most of them contain some humorous elements. However, the "humor" is often lame and flat. While Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out is a Star Wars piece which contains the sort of action we would expect, it is first and foremost a comedy which contains very irreverent and silly humor. Again, not unlike the Family Guy entries, this production isn't afraid to be completely off-the-wall, but to also take shots at the Star Wars universe itself, as evidenced by Han and Leia's insistence that Jar Jar Binks not join them on their quest. The jokes come very quickly and not unlike something from Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker, these barrages are generally comprised of a stupid joke combined with physical comedy then followed by a clever line. While all of this is happening, there are always jokes in the background, most notably the advertisements in the city where Luke is chased. The Lego jokes are almost an afterthought here, but there are plenty of moments where the gag focuses on the fact that the character or vehicle involved is made up of those famous little blocks.

If you were to have asked me before I watched Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out who the target audience for this was, I would have said young Star Wars fans. I can now tell you that this will appeal to Star Wars fans of any age, given that they have a good sense of humor and don't mind seeing the beloved characters lampooned. And while this can certainly be watched casually, the piece really pays off for those who pay attention, especially to the background. (And clearly, the makers know their audience, as we get not only Boba Fett, but his ship (Slave-1), wandering in the background.) The short is only 22-minutes long and there are no extras on the DVD, but the sheer amount of craziness here does offer some replay value.

Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out even goes so far as to skewer the famous last scene from Star Wars on DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The short has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. This isn't exactly Pixar-level animation, but the transfer doesn't reveal any problems with it. The animated figures are nicely detailed. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are nicely done, most notably during the action sequences as we can hear fighting and laser blasts happening off-screen. The familiar Star Wars sound effects move from the front to the rear channels with ease. The subwoofer effects are light, but notable at times.

The Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out DVD contains no extra features. (Although the packaging of the initial pressing does contain an exclusive Darth Vader Lego figure.)

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.