Daniels, Nika Futterman, Tim Gaul, Tom Kane, R. Martin Klein
Directors: David Scott
Producers: Amber Naismith, Mark Thorley
Format: Blu-ray, Widescreen, Color, Animated
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Number of discs: 2
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Run Time: 22 minutes
The Star Wars saga received a
couple of surprising reprieves after the general disappointment of the three
prequels. The first was the delightful
Clone Wars animated series, which proved that the franchise could
sustain countless hours of additional material.
The second was the Lego
Star Wars video game, created in the wake of the disastrous Star Wars
Galaxies MMO. It was fun, light-hearted and captured the essence of
Star Wars while giving it a slightly
subversive tweak. And – in the name of exploiting every marketable corner of
the Star Wars universe – it
ultimately spawned an animated special of its own.
Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace (as it styles itself) aims
squarely at younger fans, though it features enough winking nods to keep parents happy. It features Master Yoda taking a group of Padawan learners on
a field trip, then running across a Separatist plot to destroy the Republic.
Accompanied by a young stowaway, they set off to make things right:
traveling through a universe of plastic bricks and yellow faces on their way
to victory over the forces of darkness.
The story is cute and slight, with a tone reminiscent of the video game that
spawned it. Yoda largely serves as a straight man to the younglings’ antics,
and proves a surprisingly good fit (“to deserve this, what have I done?” he
grumbles at one point). The evil Asajj Ventress provides plenty of mayhem,
though the violence stays decidedly PG (the casualties can just put
themselves back together after all). The vocal cast includes many veterans
of The Clone Wars – topped by the redoubtable Tony Daniels as C-3PO – and
the feature moves quickly enough to avoid becoming stale.
That actually constitutes one of the problems; the main feature is a scant
22 minutes long, backed by a handful of extra features that viewers can
blaze through in under an hour. As if sensing the ephemeral nature of the
actual content, Fox included a Lego toy representing one of the main
characters . . . a poor substitute for meatier material on the disc itself.
Still, it’s an amusing trifle, with a lot of clever material and a sense of
fun that Star Wars fans should
appreciate. (My favorite bit involves Darth Vader accidentally appearing in
a number of scenes, only to be led off by a Lego George Lucas.) As an
introduction to Star Wars, it’s appropriate for any age and the
twinkle in its eye reminds us that the saga still has plenty of life in it.
Overpriced it may be, but it’s awfully hard to hate . . . no matter what age
THE DISC: The Blu-ray disc includes five Lego shorts featuring
Star Wars characters. The best two sum up the respective trilogies in
two minutes apiece, with appropriately gentle digs in all the right places.
The other three are fairly forgettable, but never truly bad. The disc’s only
real shortcoming is its brief running time. For $20, viewers deserve more
material than they get.
WORTH IT? Only if you understand the brevity of the feature. If the
price doesn’t faze you, it’s good fluffy fun.
RECOMMENDATION: The Padawan Menace is a good fit for younger
Star Wars fans . . . though try to find it at a discount if you can.
- Rob Vaux