"Star Wars" parody films have almost become a small industry of their own. Several popular "Wars" parodies have gotten the filmmakers further into a directing career, including such shorts as "George Lucas In Love", the brilliant "Troops" and the "edit" of "Phantom Menace" that completely removed unpopular character Jar-Jar Binks. The latest feature is "Thumb Wars: The Phantom Cuticle", direct from the mind of Steve Odekirk ("Ace Ventura").
The "filmette" is a parody of the original "Star Wars", only with thumbs playing the parts with little faces imposed on them. Odekirk voices Loke Groundrunner, the hero of the movie, who joins up with Princess Bunhead, Oobedoob Benubi, Hand Duet and Crunchy to fight the forces of Black Helmut Man.
Just short of 30 minutes, the film isn't consistently hilarious, but there's several brilliant moments - for example, instead of destroying a planet, Black Helmut Man and his forces decide to "spin it really fast". The voice work by the cast is extremely funny and the "thumbmation" works better than one would expect, as the reactions by the characters are frequently very funny. Even some of the predictable bits of humor work at least moderately well thanks to the voice actors ability to sell the lines well.
The "Thumb Wars" DVD comes out on 10/16/01, the same day as "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" comes to the format. Coincidence? Probably. I would think George Lucas probably wanted to ride the coattails of the success of the "Thumb Wars" DVD. Just kidding.
VIDEO: "Thumb Wars" is presented by Image Entertainment in the film's original full_frame aspect ratio. Shot on video, the short film actually looks better than what one might expect from a low-budget video production. Sharpness and detail are actually very good, and the picture looks consistently quite well-defined. I noticed no instances of edge enhancement or other problems throughout the movie; colors looked nicely rendered and pleasant, as well. Certainly a much stronger visual presentation than most shot-on-video productions on DVD.
SOUND: "Thumb Wars" has been remixed in Dolby Digital 5.1 for this release. Although that may make a difference on a larger picture, this is essentially a very small, very low-budget effort, so although the effort is appreciated, the soundtrack still certainly isn't about to come close to the presentation that the film parodied offers. Still, there were a few minor, noticable uses of the surrounds for sound effects or music. As with the image quality, the sound of "Thumb Wars" does benefit from Image Entertainment's efforts.
MENUS:: Basic main and sub-menus that use film-themed images and cover art.
EXTRAS:: An enjoyable, if mostly jokey, commentary from Odekirk and producer Paul Marshall is the main attraction in the supplemental section. The two have an enjoyably goofy time commenting on the characters and some of the film's shortcomings. Also included are trailers for "Thumb Wars", "Blair Thumb" and "Thumbtanic", along with storyboards, an interview with "Gabba The Butt", and "Thumbographies".
Final Thoughts: At only $9.99, "Thumb Wars" is a fun little presentation and the DVD from Image Entertainment is very enjoyable. Coming out on DVD the same day as "Phantom Menace", "Thumb Wars" is certainly worth looking out for, as well.