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Lego Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles
Being unfamiliar with the initial Lego Star Wars animated offerings, let alone, the original "Yoda Chronicles" I knew approaching the most recent installment in the animated series, "The New Yoda Chronicles" I might be at a disadvantage in terms of plotting. However, being a lifelong "Star Wars" fan as well as a fan of the Lego brand of parody/comedy, I approached this second season of four, 22-minute episodes with optimism and youthful spirit. Existing solely in a non-canonical, slapstick driven universe, "The New Yoda Chronicles" exists somewhere between "A New Hope" and "The Empire Strikes Back" with the occasional flashback to a post-"Revenge of the Sith" timeline. Drawing on the concept of the Holocron, a Jedi (and occasionally Sith) artifact that stores centuries of wisdoms and teachings, "The New Yoda Chronicles" sends Luke and company on a mad dash across the galaxy for a batch of Holocrons hidden long ago by Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda (told in the mostly flashback-centric episode "Escape from the Jedi Temple" that kicks off the disc), all while Darth Vader, under the command of a frustrated Emperor Palpatine does the same.
Unfortunately, for anyone expecting the silent humor of the original Lego Star Wars games or the cleverly crafted script that made "The Lego Movie" a hit, "The New Yoda Chronicles" has none of this to offer you. Instead, viewers are subjected to four episodes that quite honestly contain two episodes of plot. If starting out with a pointlessly long flashback episode weren't enough, the remaining three episodes take numerous opportunities to continually rehash the driving motivations of our heroes and villains, although I'll give the writers here more credit than those responsible for dreadfully expository rich "Man from U.N.C.L.E" film which suffered from the same problem and handled it in a comedically flat manner. There are a number of laughs to be had over the course of "The New Yoda Chronicles'" 88-minute runtime, sadly they are few are far in-between, with a handful then aiming for a questionable age group (a "Taken" gag involving Qui-Gon Jinn could only be for any unwitting parents or "Star Wars" fan duped into watching this firmly first-grade level saga).
Further complicating matters is how loosey-goosey the writers are with the source material; yes, it's a Lego parody, but I wouldn't be shocked to find even an eight-year-old scratching their head at a generally untrained Luke in a lightsaber duel with Emperor Palpatine, let alone Yoda digging up a group of his old Padawan's to assist our heroes (anyone who has seen "Revenge of the Sith" knows very well what Darth Vader did with the "Younglings") hop from one familiar movie locale to the next. Apart from a nice diversion to Utapau, including a cameo from Boga and Obi-Wan's long abandoned Jedi Starfighter, "The New Yoda Chronicles" is a mishmash of noise and nonsense that in the end, is meaningless. A dreadfully uninspired cash grab, at this point in the game, its only audience can only be kids who found the prior entries intriguing enough to ask their parents to shell out $15 for this. "Star Wars" fans are better served by "Rebels" and Lego fans should just give "The Lego Movie" and/or a Lego video game another go as this merging of two worlds misses the mark.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks a little off for a year-old production from Disney; colors don't pop as vibrantly as a Lego video game, let alone "The Lego Movie" and the contrast is a tad too intense for my tastes. Animation looks generally smooth, with minimal issues related to compression artifacts. Edge enhancement and aliasing issues are non-existent.
The English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is the most positive experience of the whole production, using surrounds well, there are moments that this does sound like a "Star Wars" production. Dialogue is crisp and balanced against rich effects that know when to hit the LFE up for a ear-pleasing display at the right moments. The score of John Williams and the show's in-house composer are icing on the cake, giving this its only hint of cinematic ambience. A Spanish 5.1 track is available as well as a French 2.0 track; subtitles include English SDH, Spanish and French.
An alternate ending to the final episode, "Clash of the Skywalker" is the lone extra.
Overly long, even at only 90-minutes, "The New Yoda Chronicles" appeal solely to a younger audience who has already made the journey this far in this oddly produced Lego Star Wars series. For newcomers, the jokes are too flat, the plot is too anemic, and the animation is tough stuff to warrant even a passing viewing. Skip It.