Adult Swim‘s Seth Green and Matthew Senreich return with their hilarious band of rebels tonight in presenting ROBOT CHICKEN: STAR WARS III, their latest stop-motion animated mashup satirizing everything Star Wars. Fans will succumb to this punchline-armed and fully operational send-up, this time as told from Palpatine’s point of view, rewinding his life and career from before he was a Galactic Senator to his dubious choice of Darth Vader as his Sith apprentice.
Following suit from their first two Star Wars parody specials, RCSW III fires off jokes and visual gags faster than a cappucino-fueled Slave I blaster cannon, making fun of George Lucas’ hit film franchise along with the rampant, geeky fandom that worships it (including Green, Senreich and their entire team, of course). Tracking Palpatine’s fall into evil and rise to become Galactic Emperor, he reluctantly admits, “Okay, I’m not going to sugar coat this — mistakes were made” including picking whiny young Anakin Skywalker to rule beside him.
While all of the STAR WARS film universe is locked in Robot Chicken’s targeting computer, the Prequel Trilogy takes the heaviest hits and it’s not easy to repel firepower of this hilarious magnitude. Witness a brief recreation of the Arena Battle from ATTACK OF THE CLONES when young Boba Fett sees his father killed in action, holding his helmet in sadness while Palpatine (deliciously voiced by Seth MacFarlane once again) narrates with contempt, “Apparently we’re contractually obligated to follow that dumb kid’s story too. That’s what happens when you sell the most action figures — thank you, fanboys!”
While the comedy flows like the Force for casual fans and viewers, fans with sufficient geek cred will bust a Tauntaun gut at the dozens of inside jokes and references to obscure characters who expand tiny moments from the films into laugh-filled new moments of inanity. Padme’s passive-aggressive seduction of Anakin in her chambers makes hilarious fun of actual dialogue straight from ATTACK OF THE CLONES which make his lines work so much better.
Quick shots like Boba Fett having a very short game of catch with his father’s helmet pepper the show with bursts of laughter that make you fear you’ll miss the next joke flying down the Death Star trench. Stormtroopers greeting the Emperor on the Death Star escalator builds to a quick and irreverent comedic climax as if ripped from Mad magazine’s Scenes We’d Like to See, exploring the banal side of STAR WARS if it were real everyday life. Find out what might have happened when Darth Vader’s TIE fighter spun out of control after the first Death Star was destroyed, or how blue elephant-faced jazz musician Max Rebo survived the explosion of Jabba’s sail barge on Tatooine. Seth Green and Matthew Senreich’s irreverence for the STAR WARS universe is matched only by their obvious and devoted affection to the most minute of details found within it, including the mystery of why Prune Face got his own RETURN OF THE JEDI action figure.
If none of those references mean anything to you, fear not, young Padawan. Just sit back and enjoy the jokes and stop-motion physical comedy −- you’ve taken your first step into a funnier world.
As usual, the voice work from the cast is superb, striking the perfect balance between STAR WARS imitations (including several of the films’ actors like Ahmed Best, Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams parodizing themselves) and stand-alone comic performances. The stop-motion animation also tops previous efforts as the first episode produced in 16×9 High Definition, which really makes the miniature characters, sets and more adventurous camera work come to life for bigger, better laughs.
Don’t miss Robot Chicken’s latest and greatest Star Wars satire, which should rerun a few times again after tonight’s debut. According to the interstitial lead-in segments, the ROBOT CHICKEN: STAR WARS III special DVD (and we hope Blu-ray!) is on the twin-sun horizon, loaded with sketches which didn’t make the one-hour episode time constraints plus RC extras with the show’s creators.
FilmEdge rates ROBOT CHICKEN: STAR WARS III 5 stars for its very high midichlorian count of laughs.