Tuesday 17 November 2020

LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special (Movie Review)

The holidays are fast approaching, meaning that we'll only continue to get even more holiday-themed movies vying for attention. Disney+ is just the latest streamer to jump into the fray, delivering its own dose of Christmas cheer with what is arguably its biggest property. And regardless of what you felt about the conclusion to the Skywalker saga in The Rise of Skywalker, the Star Wars franchise still remains beloved by fans all over the world, especially with the current success of shows like The Mandalorian.

The last time the franchise had received a holiday special though, it hadn't gone down particularly well. That original 1978 film has only grown in infamy since then, with even George Lucas and the cast and crew themselves acknowledging just how bad it had turned out. So when a sequel was announced, all these years later, eyebrows were no doubt raised. But thankfully, the new animated film is just self-aware enough to make it a joyous adventure in its own right.

The film is set after the events of the sequel trilogy, where what remains of the rebel alliance is preparing for the forthcoming Life Day ceremony, the in-universe equivalent of what we call Christmas. In the midst of all that, Rey has been having a hard time with Finn's Jedi training. But after she discovers some ancient Jedi text that make mention of a temple that contains "a key to the galaxy's past," she becomes convinced that this was what she needed to improve her training techniques.

The catch is the key is only available on Life Day, which happens once a year. So she sets off in pursuit of that temple, accompanied by her favorite droid, BB-8, while the others are left to sort out preparations for the ceremony. Except the key turns out to be more power than she was ready to wield, setting off a chain of events that threaten to change the entire Star Wars timeline, with often hilarious results.

The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is a movie that is clearly geared towards Star Wars fans. The movie explores the Skywalker saga's storied history by revisiting many of its landmark moments, and it subverts expectations by putting a comedic spin on those familiar scenes, with enough in-jokes and gags to ensure that I was never once not laughing my lungs out. As such, I worry about how much all of that would resonate, if at all, with someone that isn't as clued-in as I am.

I was also a bit bummed out to see that none of the actors from the movies were reprising their roles, in the same way the original cast had done for the 1978 movie. This took away some of the authenticity, but I quickly got accustomed to the new voices, most of whom sounded good enough. I especially liked Tom Kane, who'd put in a rather convincing turn as Master Yoda. And "Participation trophies for Jedi, there are not" needs to be indoctrinated into the official library of awesome Yoda quotes.

The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is as much a celebration of the entire Star Wars franchise as it is a celebration of the forthcoming holidays. It had so many laughs crammed into its short 45-minute runtime, and enough self-referential nods that it should easily please old and new fans alike.

1 comment:

  1. Anything would be better than the original (It's even hard to watch on RiffTrax.) We have Disney+ again for the Mandalorian so I might check it out. Not a big fan of the Legos movies though. Probably because those were not my Legos. We just had blocks and a few unique pieces for cars and stuff when I was a kid. There were no people.