LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace (Blu-ray + Standard DVD) (With Minifigure) (2011)

Actors: Anthony Daniels, Nika Futterman, Tim Gaul, Tom Kane, R. Martin Klein
Directors: David Scott
Producers: Amber Naismith, Mark Thorley
Format: Blu-ray, Widescreen, Color, Animated
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Number of discs: 2
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Run Time: 22 minutes





The Star Wars saga received a couple of surprising reprieves after the general disappointment of the three prequels. The first was the delightful Clone Wars animated series, which proved that the franchise could sustain countless hours of additional material.

The second was the Lego Star Wars video game, created in the wake of the disastrous Star Wars Galaxies MMO. It was fun, light-hearted and captured the essence of Star Wars while giving it a slightly subversive tweak. And – in the name of exploiting every marketable corner of the Star Wars universe – it ultimately spawned an animated special of its own.

Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace (as it styles itself) aims squarely at younger fans, though it features enough winking nods to keep parents happy. It features Master Yoda taking a group of Padawan learners on a field trip, then running across a Separatist plot to destroy the Republic. Accompanied by a young stowaway, they set off to make things right: traveling through a universe of plastic bricks and yellow faces on their way to victory over the forces of darkness.

The story is cute and slight, with a tone reminiscent of the video game that spawned it. Yoda largely serves as a straight man to the younglings’ antics, and proves a surprisingly good fit (“to deserve this, what have I done?” he grumbles at one point). The evil Asajj Ventress provides plenty of mayhem, though the violence stays decidedly PG (the casualties can just put themselves back together after all). The vocal cast includes many veterans of The Clone Wars – topped by the redoubtable Tony Daniels as C-3PO – and the feature moves quickly enough to avoid becoming stale.

That actually constitutes one of the problems; the main feature is a scant 22 minutes long, backed by a handful of extra features that viewers can blaze through in under an hour. As if sensing the ephemeral nature of the actual content, Fox included a Lego toy representing one of the main characters . . . a poor substitute for meatier material on the disc itself.

Still, it’s an amusing trifle, with a lot of clever material and a sense of fun that Star Wars fans should appreciate. (My favorite bit involves Darth Vader accidentally appearing in a number of scenes, only to be led off by a Lego George Lucas.) As an introduction to Star Wars, it’s appropriate for any age and the twinkle in its eye reminds us that the saga still has plenty of life in it. Overpriced it may be, but it’s awfully hard to hate . . . no matter what age you are.

THE DISC: The Blu-ray disc includes five Lego shorts featuring Star Wars characters. The best two sum up the respective trilogies in two minutes apiece, with appropriately gentle digs in all the right places. The other three are fairly forgettable, but never truly bad. The disc’s only real shortcoming is its brief running time. For $20, viewers deserve more material than they get.

WORTH IT? Only if you understand the brevity of the feature. If the price doesn’t faze you, it’s good fluffy fun.

RECOMMENDATION: The Padawan Menace is a good fit for younger Star Wars fans . . . though try to find it at a discount if you can.

- Rob Vaux



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