Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II DVD Review
Once again, Revolver's disc presents the show in its original 1.33:1 aspect and serves up tremendously strong and vibrant visuals that make the episode a real pleasure to watch. As before, the limitations of a SD DVD transfer make little impression on a picture that looks incredibly strong. Edge enhancement is there, but it doesn't detract one iota. Smearing, aliasing and banding are not an issue - well, there is a little bit of aliasing actually - and the image remains marvellously clean and surprisingly well detailed.
Naturally, there is no appreciable depth of field with these figures and small desk-top sets, but the imagery is always fast, fascinating and fun. Once again, the colour scheme is as aggressive as an explosion in a neon factory, with the primaries wild and the secondaries warm and smooth. Detail is on a par with the first disc, as you would expect … so, all in all, there's little to complain about with this DVD transfer.
Episode II breaks away from the previous release by incorporating a full DD 5.1 track as well as the more limited 2.0 option.
Sticking with the surround mix, what we find is a fairly decent bass level that provides a bit of oomph to the explosions, and a good solid foundation to the track at large. The main impetus of the mix is still primarily based across the front, but there is definitely a more weighty presence within the soundfield and more appreciable activity. The style of the show, however, isn't necessarily one of wraparound dynamics anyway. During the battle with the Rebels that poor Stormtrooper Gary has to go through with his daughter, there is plenty of scope for laser blasts to whistle and sizzle all around us, but the rears barely pick up anything at all. This goes pretty much for the entire presentation – there is stuff emanating from the surrounds but it comes across more like casual bleed-through than any intentionally directed effects. Ambience does not figure in the equation much either.
But the 5.1 option does offer a wider and deeper sounding experience, with more force coming over. So, for this reason, I wouldn't hesitate in recommending that the surround track, as limited in scope as it is, is the way to go.
Revolver deliver a very similar roster of extras for Episode II as the line-up for the previous release. We get a great selection of commentaries again from the usual creative suspects, as well as Billy Dee Williams and even Frank Oz who pops up to reminisce even though he is not actually involved with Robot Chicken – and these are well worth a listen – and a couple of Bonus Episodes which certainly have their moments.
The Chicken Nuggets are back – more behind-the-scenes snippets that you can access from an icon during the feature, itself. There's a proper Making Of RC: Star Wars Ep II, some more alternate audio tracks of the vocal performers giving it some in the recording studio and running away with the improv. More irreverent show intros from the creative team in the selection of On-Air Bumps. A familiar time-lapse segment shows the animators at work once more, and we get to hear from the various writers as they pitch ideas for the show that may, or may not (depending on how Seth feels about them) make into the finished Episode II in Accepted/Rejected. This is actually quite good, as we discover the fate of each concept.
Despite the menu claiming that there are some Deleted Animatics – there actually isn't any. It is just Seth Green and his chums larking about again. There's a visit from the Stormies of the famous 501st Legion (Southern California Garrison!) who arrive en masse at the studio with an entourage of Jawas, droids and bounty hunters in tow to present Green and his buddies with plaques, badges and whatnot. Quite good fun, actually. But the biggie, I suppose, would be footage of the premier of the Episode at Skywalker Ranch for Mr. Lucas. The Bearded One gets in on a pretty cool prank at the expense of one of the main writers, and we get to see some of that awesome ranch that we'd all to break into.
With promos and video-blogs thrown in as well, this is a pretty terrific package all-round. As with the first instalment, it isn't the actual content that makes the somewhat chaotic background exposé so enjoyable, it is the comedy value that Seth Green and his team manage to instil each little featurette with.
I loved the first disc, but this one is, by far, the funniest. Although the extras are virtually an exact replica in style and content – and that's no bad thing, by the way – it is the show itself that you return to, time and time again. Brilliant and inspired once more, this just puts the good stuff on maximum hyper-drive and blasts off into the constellation of oblivion and never looks back.
Big Bad Boba and the put-upon Palpatine rule the roost, but the characterisation of the entire cast and the set-ups they find themselves in are so well written that there is barely a sketch that drops the ball. Episode I had that George W. Bush interlude that was cute but a bit of a distraction, Episode II maintains the pace and sticks to the real deal. The thing is, it will probably be impossible to look at the films again in quite the same way after seeing this.
Far funnier than Family Guy's Star Wars forays, Robot Chicken wins the comedy “It's A Knock-Out” Pod Race with style and packs a lot of great extra material on to the disc as well, making this apparently limited edition release all the more irresistible for fans of the show, and of the movies.
Awesome. Just wish they could produce a full film!
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £12.99
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