Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Star Wars Holiday Special (TV Movie Review)


        The Star Wars series has had quite an odd collection of specials and spin offs, hasn't it. Well, the strangest and most unnecessary addition in the Star Wars saga would have to be the 1978 TV movie titled “The Star Wars Holiday Special”. That’s right, of all the great genera’s and film series out there, you’d think that Star Wars would be the last one to have a holiday special. It doesn't even sound real, sounds more like a parody, but I can assure you it’s an actual entry in the Star Wars saga, and is even in cannon with the series. This film came out a full year after the first Star Wars movie and two years before “The Empire Strikes Back”, so the story (or some semblance thereof) is set between the two films. It’s marketed as a Christmas special but I don’t know how it could be that when Christmas isn’t even mentioned at all in this film. Instead we get a made up holiday called Life Day, what is that you may ask, well I guise it’s a celebration of life but the holiday itself is only briefly mentioned by characters and never fully discussed or understood. In other words, this is a holiday special that completely ignores it's own holiday. So this film has actually succeeded in being the most pointless thing ever filmed, what were they thinking?



       So what happens in this so called Christmas/holiday special? Well it has a run time of 1 hr. 37 min. and it’s all spent watching a family of Wookies, more specifically Chewbacca's family, doing things at home. I kid you not, this entire special is spent observing Chewbacca’s son, wife and father doing things at home like cooking, jumping around and watching TV. I’m honestly more confused than anything else, I mean whose ridiculous idea was it to make a Star Wars Christmas special centered on characters that never speak English and don’t even have subtitles. It’s literally just them making painfully annoying Wookie sounds the whole time, making this one of the hardest things for anyone to sit through. Well, occasionally something completely random will happen but they all still involve this family in some way. There’s a part when we cut to a cantina on Tatooine, the aliens there sing a little song and then were right back to where we were before, pointless. There’s an annoying cooking show, a boring scene with a robot going through an instruction manual and to further demonstrate how random this special can get, we have a scene with grandpa Wookie as he plugs himself into a machine where he watches some really hot girl talking and singing about “pleasures” and “fantasies”. I really wish I was joking about that but I’m as serious as you can get. 
    
 

       Now usually a Star Wars special or spinoff will have one or maybe two actors back as classic characters from the movies but in the case of this special, it features the entire cast from the films. That’s right, Harrison Ford is back as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher is back as Princess Leia, Mark Hamill returns as Luck Skywalker, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, and even Gredo are all back played by the same cast and finally, James Earl Jones is back doing the voice of Darth Vader. Holly Cow, with all the actors reprising their roles as all the beloved Star Wars characters, you’d think that something worthwhile would come of this. Unfortunately the most exciting the characters ever get is in the opening. We see Han Solo and Chewbacca in the Millenium Falcon as there being chased by Empyreal Star Destroyers and for one small moment you get this amazing feeling that you’re actually watching a classic Star Wars movie that you never even knew existed. But it only takes a minute for things to go downhill as we meet the Wookie family. Now and then, there would be a moment when they contact Princess Leia or Luck Skywalker but there very short and the cast really isn’t trying to act at all. It’s like they know there in a bad film and they just can’t waist an ounce of talent on it.



    There’s also a lot of stock footage from the first film used, whenever the Millenium Falcon is battling Ti-Fitters or getting chased by star destroyers, it’s all just recycled footage from "Star Wars 4: A New Hope", and surprisingly, these are the more credible parts. Even the footage of Darth Vader is recycled from the first film, they try to take advantage of a deleted scene with Vader talking to a commander and dubbing James Earl Jones’s voice over it, isn’t that nice. There’s a moment when Storm Troopers invade the Wookie home and for one rare moment you think that something is finally happening. But no, the troopers just hang around in the background watching music videos of Jefferson Starship. Seriously, this special spends 7 minutes on the Empire watching a Jefferson Starship music video. There is one amusing moment when one of the Storm Troopers is defeated by tripping over his own gun, sure that’s stupid but I can at least laugh at that.
                    

      As terrible as this film is, I can still give it one bit of credit and I know I’ve talked about this once before in another post but I might as well bring it up again. Half way through the film we get this poorly animated cartoon featuring all the characters. The story and animation in this little cartoon are really nothing special at all, but it is here that Boba Fett makes his first appearance in the series. Yes, I’m one of those guys who thinks Boba Fett is firkin cool, despite not doing anything in the whole series. Well, in this cartoon, he’s finally doing something and he’s absolutely awesome too. He’s on a mission from Darth Vader to gain Luke Skywalker’s and Han Solo’s trust but Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO discover his true intentions before they take him to their base. A very simple premise but it’s such a treat to finally see this character interacting with the main characters and to have Darth Vader refer to him as the best bounty hunter in the galaxy. The best thing about Boba Fett in this special is the voice actor Don Francks, he has one of the coolest, laid back, sinister villain voices I've ever heard and it just gives me chills whenever he speaks. So,  for as bad as this Holiday special is, Boba Fett is still awesome in this cartoon but it’s just not worth sitting through everything else to get to him. 
                                        
                   

    The Special ends with all the characters getting together at some Life Day cave and more Wookies arrive by walking in from outer space, I really don’t what to say about that other than, “WHAT THE HECK?”. The Wookies all dress in red robes and just when you thought things couldn’t get any stupider, Princes Leia sings this lame Life Day song ... bleah! Then to finish everything, Chewbacca begins to have nostalgic flashbacks on the events of the first film, which really makes you wish you were just watching "Star Wars 4: A New Hope" again. I mean, clip shows are good movie clichés but they need to come from lead characters and better films then this. 




    Overall, there really isn’t any anger coming from me while discussing this Star Wars special, I’m far more confused and bewildered that such an absurd and pointless thing like this could possibly exists. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely the worst thing to be released under the Star Wars name and one of the worst things to be created by human hand, I just don’t see any reason to be angry at it. After all, it’s not like the Star Wars prequels where you’re expecting good movies (P.S. I don’t hate those films as much as everyone else, they were just a little disappointing). Thankfully, George Lucas has taken it upon himself that this holiday special never re-airs on TV, and that little to no copies every get released. Making this one of the few things that Lucas has actually taken responsibility for. I give “The Star Wars Holiday Special” 1 star out of 5, and that’s probably more than it deserves.  

       Well that was bad but there are more Christmas specials to be reviewed this season on my site and the next one is going to be a really good one.

                                “And May The Schwartz Be With You!”

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