Synopsis: A routine Jedi Academy field trip is turned into a rip-roaring comic adventure in Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace. Tour guide Master Yoda leads a group of rambunctious Jedi younglings through Senate chambers when he senses a disturbance in the Force. Summoned to help save the Republic, he discovers that one of the younglings, Ian, has secretly boarded his ship… and young Ian has a taste for adventure! Meanwhile, C-3PO and R2-D2 are put in charge of the boisterous group and find themselves in over their heads. As the evil Sith prepare to wreak havoc, it’s up to Yoda and the Droids to ensure that their young charges aren’t torn to bricks!
eyelights: its many nods to the series. its silliness.
eyesores: its ADD-addled pace.
“Darth, you’re not in this scene.”
‘Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace’ is the first in a series of successful TV movies rooted in the graphics of the incredibly popular Lego Star Wars video game series. It takes characters from throughout the Star Wars saga and throws them together into a tongue-in-cheek 22-minute adventure.
For this episode, we follow three sets of leads, all of whom criss-cross each other during the programme: Grand Master Yoda, C-3Po and R2D2 and young “Ian”, a stowaway orphan. The whole story revolves around the theft of some secret battle plans by Asajj Ventress, to be delivered to Palpatine.
Yoda senses a disturbance in the Force, and although he has returned from a trip to the outer rim with a half-dozen padawans and is set to show them the Galactic Senate, he leaves them in the nervous but capable hands of C-3Po so that he may discover the source of this disturbance.
Meanwhile, Ian has sneaked into the group so as to escape security. But he has a knack for causing trouble, and soon he’s inadvertently created havok in the Senate itself, so C-3Po takes the group off planet to avoid any repercussions. Bad choice: they find themselves caught in a space battle.
This sends them crash landing onto Tatooine, eventually finding themselves at the infamous Mos Eisley cantina and then being captured by Jabba the Hutt. This forces Yoda, returning from Hoth where he tracked down and retrieved the stolen plans, to come save the day – with Ian’s help.
‘Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace’ is an all-action, slightly ADD-addled, but fun, ride. The pace is so brisk that I found myself incapable of latching on to most of it; there was too much to look at, to experience, in one viewing. I actually had to watch it twice to properly take it in.
What’s great about the programme is that it’s peppered with humour throughout, whether it’s situational, slapstick, one-liners, sight gags, pop culture references, and a variety of jabs at the ‘Star Wars’ universe. There’s a little bit for just about all audiences, including children.
Some of my favourite bits are the recurring appearance of a very eager Darth Vader in scenes he has no place in, only to be berated buy a Lego George Lucas, who comes to walk him off the set, or the silly sight of things and even people exploding into Lego pieces upon forceful contact.
And there’s the Senate bit wherein Palpatine has a laugh at everyone’s expense, arriving with his hood up. He’s called out as a Sith Lord until he takes the hood down – after which they now see the humble Senator. That is, until he puts the hood back up. And back down. And back up. And…
It was truly a blast to see all the cameos by various characters from the series, usually mishmashed amusingly out of context. And it was also intriguing to see how they were interpreted in Lego terms. You can only imagine how terrific the Cantina scene was from that perspective.
Where the episode failed was in pandering in series clichés but not doing it well: For instance, the opening scrolls were meaningless and, to make matters worse, were read out blandly. Or there was the trite medal award ceremony, which was again a huge deal (is there any other way?).
I get the impression that ‘Star Wars’ has become a caricature of its former self, all spectacle with little substance – all lightsaber duels and spaceship battles. It’s exactly what George Lucas has decried recently, saying that the series is supposed to be about family.
Ironically, it was his own prequel trilogy that set the series down that path.
That being said, this episode of ‘Lego Star Wars’ does an admirable job of distilling it all into 22 furious minutes of ‘Star Wars’-flavoured entertainment. Granted, it’s a distant cousin to the original movie, but it caters to the overstimulated modern fans of the series.
And serves them well.
For good or bad.
Date of viewing: November 25, 2015