At 44 minutes, Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III is infinitely shorter than Star Wars Episodes I, II and III and it’s also infinitely better than George Lucas’ very flawed movies. Seth Green, Matthew Senreich and their cohorts behind Robot Chicken, the rapid fire sketch show that’s a hit on Adult Swim (and also a multiple Emmy winner), have this time adapted their smartly executed style of comedy into a more cohesive, singular story told in flashback by Emperor Palpatine, the evil ruler of the dark side. Palpatine is voiced by Seth MacFarlane, who actually brings some depth and a touch of sympathy the role. As the emperor is falling to his death, a scene pulled from Return of the Jedi, the action freezes and his voice over takes us back while the Who’s “Baba O’Riley” plays over the soundtrack. Immediately American Beauty sprung to mind, with Palpatine speaking with regret over the many decisions he’s made.
His biggest regret is choosing a little boy named Anakin to become his apprentice. From there, we watch Anakin make one boneheaded move after another, leaving Palpatine to deal with the repercussions. At the same time, the episode features hilarious storylines following the life of Boba Fett and a Stromtrooper named Gary, who may have accidentally started a fire in the house of Luke Skywalker’s aunt and uncle (we all know how that turned out). Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III covers ground from all six Star Wars movies and doesn’t hold back any punches. Still, everything is done in good fun. Obviously there is a great deal of respect for Lucas and his empire; the producers (who meet with Lucas in one of the extra features) all revere the original trilogy and speak lovingly of it. But they’re not delusional and, like most fans, recognize that gaping problems with the second trilogy- the series of films where Lucas decided to change Darth Vader from one of the greatest screen villains of all time into a tragic hero.
Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III features a stellar cast of actors, including Zac Efron as Anakin, Anthony Daniels as C3PO, Billy Dee Williams as Lando and Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks. The rest of the huge cast includes such names as Breckin Meyer (a frequent collaborator on Robot Chicken), Abe Benrubi, Donald Faison, Donald Glover, Rachel Leigh Cook, Adrianne Palliki, and of course Green and Senreich. Do you need comprehensive knowledge of the Star Wars mythology to follow along with the action? Not really, although some familiarity with the movies makes this show so much funnier. In truth, though, this special is intended for fanboys, as it was made by fanboys.
The DVD comes with an abundance of special feature, so many that it will take you longer to get through them than the actual special itself. Three hours (!) of material await you once you’ve finished laughing your ass off to the show. Among them are a Q/A between Green and his fellow producers with the man himself, George Lucas. Lucas seems to be cool with their inquiries and he acts like he’s in on all of the jokes. You have to wonder, though, if some of it isn’t just putting on a game face to make himself look better for the long time fans. Maybe I’m being cynical. There are six behind the scenes featurettes on the DVD, 26 (you read that right) deleted scenes and four audio commentaries. I wish all single DVD’s came with this much good stuff. The Blu-ray release contains two exclusive features including time lapses of animation and a Seth Green animation reference.
Author’s note: I am an employee of Turner Boradcasting and Cartoon Network. The views expressed on Popdose are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.