“… It is a dark time for the rebellion. Although the Death Star has been destroyed, Imperial troops have driven the rebel forces from their hidden base and pursued them across the Galaxy. But, you know this story…”
Know this story, you do. It’s the opening of the second, or actually the 5th in sequence, but it is the second one made, unless you count… Never mind. This is the prologue to The Empire Strikes Back, more commonly referred to the 2 hour trailer for Return Of The Jedi. Not so long ago in this Galaxy, Family Guy took a shot across the bow of those Imperial Cruisers with its extremely funny and on the spot spoof of the first Star Wars film, or actually the 4th chapter…. Star Wars: A New Hope. It was only a matter of time before Seth Mac Farlane would steer his own ship back into George Lucas’s universe once again. With equal parts faithful adaptation and off the wall detours, he’s done it again, delivering another very funny tour into the dark side.
“… What you don’t know is that 20th Century Fox had so little faith in the Star Wars franchise that they let George Lucas keep all the merchandising rights. Are you listening, stockholders? How can we invest in a company that makes such short-sighted decisions. I mean, this is the same company that cancelled Family Guy twice. Who’s running that joint? Monkeys? I mean if they’re going to be that foolish with their money, then I guess that means we can be foolish with their money, too. Like spending a bunch of it to animate an elephant that has nothing to do with the rest of the episode.”
From the opening shot of Imperial cruisers in space to the glorious John Williams score, this spoof begins by looking very much like an animated redux of the film. Of course, as soon as you see the characters, you start to settle into Family Guy familiar territory and style. Peter is once again Hans Solo, as are Lois as Leia, Chris as Luke, Cleveland as R2D2, Stewie as Darth Vader, Brian as Chewbacca, Glenn Quagmire as C3Po, Carter as the Emperor, and Dr. Hartman as various Imperial Storm Troopers. With the new film come new parts. This time around we see Carl as Yoda, Meg as the space lug that almost swallows the Millennium Falcon, Mort Goldman as Lando, and The Giant Chicken as Boba Fett.
The animation is light years ahead of the normal television series. Many of the shots are direct copies of shots from the original film itself. Luke’s Jedi training uses an amusing intercut of footage from the Russian training scene in Rocky IV. The film is completely uncensored, so let the F-Bombs drop where they may. You might consider that this is very much a cartoon for adults.
Much to my disappointment, the show is presented in a full frame format. Most of us have come to understand high definition as being widescreen. Of course, there are older films and shows that just can’t be presented in anything but the full frame in which they have always existed. But that’s not true for this brand new film. It is presented in full 1080p video with an AVC/MPEG-4 codec. The bit rate is a very solid 30 or more mbps. Everything beyond the aspect ratio is perfect. The image is stunningly sharp. Colors are bright and have the appearance of original animation cels throughout. Detail allows you to believe you are looking at film scenes of some of these ships. Black levels are extremely inky and dark. This makes those deep space moments rather a nice study in contrast with the white ships against those wonderful black backgrounds. Truly exceptional, if it weren’t for the format.
The DTS-HD Master audio is just as remarkable. The score is as brilliant and glorious as it is on the original films. From the brass highs to the horn lows, the most subtle elements remain. The dialog is perfectly placed. There isn’t a lot of aggression in the mix, but it more than makes up for it in dynamic sound. Even the subs will give you sound that makes you forget you’re watching a cartoon.
Family Guy Fact Ups: This option allows you to watch the film with a cluttered screen of trivia pop-up boxes.
The Darkside Of Poster Art: (9:18) A look at the creation of the painted poster art for both films as the look of the originals is incorporated into the box art. There are some creepy interludes, and I’m not sure what’s going on with them.
Animatic Scene To Scene: (6:36) Watch the pre-viz animatrics side by side with the finished scenes.
Family Guy Table Read Featuring Acts 1 & 2: (49:27) This is a lot of fun but does wear thin. You get to see the entire cast and production crew gather around for a read through of the script. You can’t really see everybody that well since the stationary camera has to cover a large crowd.
Sneak Peek At Family Guy Episode VI: a short table read of the next chapter.
The extras let us know for certain that there is going to be more. We know the original trilogy will be covered. Whether or not they go on, I’m not sure. I’d love to see them tackle Star Trek, but Star Wars being a Fox property makes this easier for rights issues. Otherwise they would have to pay for the rights. “And that’s money that could have gone to curing leukemia, or muscular dystrophy, or what does Michael J. Fox have? That.”