A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I used to give a crap about Star Wars. That was before George Lucas started whoring out his beloved franchise to let seemingly anyone create new content and belittle the cherished creations he apparently just doesn't care for any more. Oh sure, it was cute the first time I saw a Santa-hatted Darth Vader bobblehead at Target, and playing the LEGO Star Wars video games was a blast. I even chuckled at the Darth Vader Volkswagon commercial. But now it's clear that Star Wars has been allowed to cross over to the Dark Side, just as Disney did when it started creating direct-to-video movies like Bambi 2, The Lion King 1 1/2, and Cinderella 3.
LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace recently arrived as a Blu-ray and DVD combo pack, and reeks like the insides of a tauntaun. This shameless cash-grab provides very little bang for the buck, comprised of a 22-minute-long "feature," a few shorts and an exclusive LEGO Minifigure.
I gave this a look based on how much I enjoyed playing the LEGO Star Wars video games. The cut-scenes created for those games are clever, humorous and fun. This isn't.
Even with a duration of only 22 minutes, The Padawan Menace is a slog to get through. The writing is dumb! "But, Sombrero," I hear you say. "It's for kids!" I happen to think that kids don't deserve dumb material being heaved at them. Kids are smart and respond to things that don't insult their intelligence. Don't agree with me, then go ahead and subject your kids to The Padawan Menace. See if I care.
In The Padawan Menace, a young Han Solo sneaks into the Galactic Senate in the midst of a Jedi Academy field trip and immediately begins causing havoc. When some Secret Battle Plans are stolen by the Sith, he teams up with Yoda to get them back. The fact that he's Han Solo is revealed at the end as if it's supposed to be a surprise twist, though the packaging for the disc already spoils it by clearly stating that the exclusive Minifigure included is "Young Han Solo."
The Padawan Menace is set during The Clone Wars, as the scrolling preamble clearly states. Yet, the continuity is thrown haphazardly asunder when R2-D2 at one point plays a portion of Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope via hologram, and C-3PO recalls it as if it already happened. Wait, really? You see what I mean about the writing being dumb?
You want more examples?
• Young Han Solo sounds like Bart Simpson and calls Yoda, "Yo-yo."
• Yoda calls C-3PO, "3PO-C" and then tells him, "peace out."
• While passing through the Mos Eisley Spaceport, the characters walk by the "Darth Mall" where "Prices [have been] slashed in half."
• C-3PO wields dual pistols and announces, "say hello to my little friends."
Dumb, dumb, dumb.
It's one thing to playfully thwart canon but what The Padawan Menace does to Star Wars lore is more like pissing all over it. And for what? To sell a Blu-Ray and exclusive LEGO Minifigure to unsuspecting LEGO and Star Wars fans?
I know LEGO Star Wars collectors are going to want to buy this just for the exclusive Minifigure, but, trust me, once you actually watch The Padawan Menace, that Young Han Solo Minifigure is going to look about as appealing to have in your collection as Bantha poop. A George Lucas Minifigure shows up at several points in The Padawan Menace to shoo Darth Vader out of a few scenes; I would have much rather had an exclusive Minifigure of George than Young Han Solo.
The bonus features include several other LEGO Star Wars shorts, obviously produced much earlier by the stark contrast between the crispness of the visuals in The Padawan Menace and those in the shorts. The Quest For R2-D2 is a goofy story about R2-D2 carrying plans for a Star Wars theme park. In Bombad Bounty, Jar Jar Binks is injected into the original Star Wars trilogy (don't give George any ideas!) where he is bounty hunted by Boba Fett. Star Wars in 2 Minutes is split into two parts (I guess they couldn't do it in two minutes after all) and is animated via stop-motion using real LEGO pieces and figures instead of computer graphics. There's also The Clone Wars Animated Comics which consists of several short stories of Clone Wars missions narrated by a Clone Trooper.
Star Wars fans have been made to suffer much as of late what with Lucas' further changes to the recent Blu-ray release of his films, and enduring The Padawan Menace so soon afterwards just feels like rubbing salt on fans' wounds. Yoda says, "do or do not; there is no try." I say, "do not buy LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace. Don't even try it."