Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lego my popcorn!!!

Well over a week (or so) ago, on a couch on the other side of the family room...

Geek Reviews

Edit: I just realized, since the sale, and all it's cool toys are no longer in existence.... The dark expanse above this edit was a movie crawl, much like the original Star Wars one... but with my own wording to fit this blog.... *Sigh* Maybe I'll find a new site with something similar!

What a set up, right? So maybe it wasn't that epic after all.... But there was an almost mad scramble to get the order in on time! I know you all are on pins and needles wanting to know the mystery DVD. Well, if this entry's title (and pretty much every other theme in this blog) are any clues, you might be able to make a very educated guess.

For those that may still be trying to figure it out, I am referring to the recent release of the LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace film that was on Cartoon Network a couple months back. From all of my research before the release, it was only available as a Blu-ray/DVD combo. The deal of the day for that one was a Walmart "special"... $13 + free site-to-store shipping! The set was also packaged with a LEGO mini figure of a younger version of everyone's favorite nerf-herder, who was featured in this release. I placed the order and made plans to have an adventure with my Geekawans.

Confirmation of the arrival of my new purchase arrived on a Friday. I sorely wanted to rush out that evening to pick it up, but a promise to help a close friend with a personal project (one that played into my first passion! Okay, okay... second) came first. By the way, check it out on YouTube by clicking here. It's a short video, but quite entertaining!

So that following day, my youngest and I ventured the crowds at Walmart to pick up my copy. Irony of all ironies, ordering online did not necessarily save me any money.... There were displays full of the exact same set, priced at $13. So ultimately, I just ensured that I would get a copy for my very own. Yeah....

It took me a couple days to pop the disc in the player, though. Hey, I know! Star Wars is a priority! But so is passing my classes. Anyway, the first thing I was curious about was the special features; more specifically the extra video shorts. The first one I scanned was titled Bombad Jedi. I am still at a loss why they included Jedi in the title.... Basically, it chronicles the exploits of one bumbling gungan -- in Lego form, no less -- as we revisit numerous events and locations throughout the Original Trilogy (also in Lego form). The animations are very well handled, as are the character designs. With an exception of Jar-Jar.... It seems as if the designers tried too hard to make him both Lego cartoonish and expressive. The end result added an odd comical look that was a bit outlandish, even for Jar-Jar. I did like the tie-ins to why Jar-Jar was in the specific areas that he was, as well as how he "influenced" the outcomes for each episode.

Out of the other shorts, two were a bit less memorable. The short The Quest for R2-D2 wasn't necessarily  bad. It simply didn't capture my interest as well as the other shorts. Although, there were some clever nods to the different species in the SW universe and how they interact with their respective envirnments. The Clone Wars Animated Comics were a bit more interesting. I am guessing originally packaged with some of the higher-end lightsabers found down the toy aisles at Walmart and Target, these comics are actually a collection of short (1-2 minute) stories of the clones during various sieges in the Clone Wars. Again, not spectacular in nature, but interesting none the less.

The final two shorts included are the Star Wars in 2 Minutes short films. Done by a then 9-year-old, these films are his retelling of the Star Wars saga with an impressive, most impressive collection of Legos. The videos were originally posted on You Tube, and you can view them by clicking here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

Overall, the quality of the videos is pretty good. On both blu-ray and DVD. The animation was handled very well on all of the shorts, seamlessly mixing full textured backgrounds with Lego set pieces and characters. Personal feelings about characterizations aside, each short has its own charm and is a fun little side adventure that adds to (and re-imagines) this Geek's favorite film series. With the exception of the Clone Wars Animated Comics, the shorts also include some recognizable easter eggs that adds to their individual charm. One of my favorite is the inclusion of the Lego Mola Ram character in the Cantina scene in Bombad Jedi. For those not very familiar with this character, click here for a visual and brief description of who he is in the LucasArts family.

All right. Now, on to the main feature!

The Padawan Menace has the viewer following a group of Jedi younglings (before they are taken on as padawans -- even though they are collectively referred to as padawans.... anyway....) as they are given a tour of the Galactic Senate by a certain golden droid and his plucky counterpart. Yoda gets some strange feeling and leaves the padawans (younglings.... sorry. I'll stop now.) in the droids' care and disappears to locate the source of a mysterious feeling in the force.

The rest of the main feature follows the padawans as they visit some familiar places in the Star Wars universe. Yoda is joined by another youngster who is trying to evade the authorities by posing as a padawan. This particular young one is almost immediately recognizable by anyone with a love for the original trilogies. I'm tempted to say more, but I'd rather not ruin the surprise.

Like the shorts, The Padawan Menace is chock full of various references to Star Wars lore, and in some cases foreshadowing of coming events in the timeline (respective to this film). One of those is a reference to a particular scene in Empire Strikes Back involving one character expressing appreciation for another.

The animation was handled very well. At times, I almost forgot it was animated. Almost. As with Jar-Jar in the           animated shorts, Yoda at times seemed to be overly expressive. It didn't necessarily detract from the character, but it could be distracting at times.

One thing I was not particularly fond of was the high level of annoyance Yoda would display. I understand that Yoda is the senior character in this cast and he is reacting to a large number of younglings. However, the few scenes we saw of him in Attack of the Clones with younglings seemed to show him with infinitely more patience. Some of the interactions did add to the overall charm, though.

It's hard for me to not like a Star Wars film outing. I really enjoyed this film, for what it is. An animated adventure that stories Yoda, a group of soon-to-be-padawans, and a supporting cast that includes numerous beings from the entire saga. This review was a long time in posting, so I thank you for sticking with me!

Stay tuned for my review of Empire Strikes Back on blu-ray. Coming soon to a blog near you!

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