CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
DVD Review: ‘Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II’ Delivers Laughs
CHICAGO – Who would have guessed that some of the best “Star Wars”-related material of the ’00s would be produced by Seth Green? And yet, there’s no denying that a lot of what Green delivers with “Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II” is smarter than a majority of the product coming out of the Lucas machine. Check out the special, now on DVD, and see for yourself.
DVD Rating: 3.5/5.0
If you’re completely unfamiliar with “Robot Chicken,” perhaps a “Star Wars” special is not the best place to start. “Robot Chicken” airs during the Adult Swim portion of the Cartoon Network line-up and features stop-motion animation inspired by and using action figures of most of our youth. Most episodes run just over ten minutes and feature dozens of “sketches,” some of which may just be brief jokes that last less a few seconds intertwined with longer scenes.
Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II was released on DVD on July 21st, 2009.”
Photo credit: Warner Brothers Home Video
Naturally, any show with an ADD personality like “Robot Chicken” is going to be hit-and-miss. Having said that, the “Robot Chicken” batting average is well above what you would consider adequate for a show like this one. If a sketch bombs, it’s usually a matter of seconds before one works.
And, as you might imagine, a show with writers as knowledgeable about pop culture and geek history as “Robot Chicken” is bound to shine when they enter the world that George Lucas built. They are speaking to an entire generation who has themselves imagined what conversations between the Emperor and Darth Vader might be like or dreamed of continuing adventures of Boba Fett. And the fact that royalty like Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher return to voice their own characters? It doesn’t get much better than that for “Star Wars” buffs.
Believe it or not, “Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II” does have a loose plot. A majority of the sketches focus on the bounty hunters, especially Boba Fett, or the Emperor and the building of the second Death Star. In between the “plot-centric” sketches, the writers hit everything from Anakin killing younglings to Jar-Jar doing a hilarious “Gecko” commercial. Check out an hysterical clip below:
“My Little Tauntaun” commercials, AT-AT races, brutal Ewok violence - “Robot Chicken: Star Wars” is a fanboy dream come true.
However, the DVD is a slightly underwhelming affair. Yes, it’s cool to have an extended version of the episode (it runs about 36 minutes, as opposed to the 22 minutes that were broadcast), but “Robot Chicken” should be on Blu-Ray and it should have more logically organized special features.
Take for example “Chicken Nuggets”. It’s a feature that allows for an introduction to each sketch to play, highlight Green, the writers, and/or the voice actors. Great, right? Why do I have to wait for an image of a chicken and hit enter on my remote to see each intro? There should be an option that just allows them to play automatically.
The other special features are cool but brief and oddly laid-out. A highlight is a trip to Skywalker Ranch, where Lucas himself lays praise on the “Chicken” boys. It doesn’t get much better than that for a “Star Wars” fan.
Despite my criticisms of the DVD presentation, “Robot Chicken” is underrated, clever television. “Star Wars” fans, animation fans, and just comedy fans in general should check it out.