LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out DVD Review: The Force Is Weak with This One

I love all of the LEGO video games. Love love love them, and play all of them to completion. A big part of what I love about them is the witty and hilarious writing by the development team at Traveller’s Tales, and I’ve often wished for them to take on a video-only project.

Unfortunately, I’m still wishing. Rather than hand off production of this TV-special-turned-DVD to a proven commodity, LEGO has engaged another group which shall remain nameless because I didn’t look them up, and the end result is like open mic night at the local comedy club: amateurish and not very funny.

The Star Wars property is ripe for comedy specials, as previously proven by the gangs from Robot Chicken and Family Guy, and yet what we’re left with here is a collection of broad gags, a nonsensical plot that combines characters from both trilogies, and barely any comedic payoff. Check out this gem for example: Darth Vader crash lands on the desert planet of Tatooine and laments “I’ve got sand up my NOOOOOOOse.” The yuks just keep coming. Or not.

Here we have R2 dressed in disguise as an Ewok. Why? Doesn’t matter, the sight gag is the point. There we have Imperial officers engaged in Three Stooges pranks on the bridge of a Star Destroyer. Everywhere we have characters and situations woefully underutilized, all in service to a project that seemingly has no reason to exist.

What plot there is involves the Emperor building a new Death Star out of thousands of LEGO bricks floating in space as a bonding project with his two boys, Vader and Darth Maul. Yes, Maul is back from the dead, although still susceptible to break in two at any time, being made out of LEGO and all. At least he gets to build the Death Star in his own image, leading to yet another nonsensical sight gag: the Darth Star. Meanwhile, the Rebel Alliance travels the galaxy as they prepare for their next assault on the Empire.

On the upside, original C3PO actor Anthony Daniels lends his voice to the character once again, giving the project its only air of authenticity. As another plus, the project only runs 22 minutes, so at least the pain is over quickly. There are no bonus features to speak of, making its release as a standalone DVD all the more perplexing. Really, the only conceivable reason to purchase this is the exclusive LEGO Vader minifigure included with the DVD. The exclusive aspect is the painted medallion on his chest, but if you want to know why he’s wearing a medallion you’ll just have to grimace and watch the DVD.

Steve Geise

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