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Review: 'The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special' (2020) Dir. Ken Cunningham

Helen Sadler, Jake Green, A.J. LoCascio, Eric Bauza, Ben Prendergast, James Arnold Taylor, Trevor Devall, Tom Kane, Matt Sloan with Kelly Marie Tran and Billy Dee Williams


Acting as a tongue-in-cheek canon continuation of the cinematic Skywalker Saga following 'The Rise Of Skywalker', the Force continues with a festive themed adventure through time...

Following the defeat of Emperor Palpatine (Devall) and the Final Order, the Resistance unites to prepare for Life Day. Poe Dameron (Green) takes charge in bringing together everything from food, decorations and music.

Meanwhile, Rey (Sadler) doubts her ability as a Jedi Master. She discovers a special key that grants time travel for Jedi on Life Day to explore the past to understand the future. So begins her journey across history.

She meets many faces from the past including Master Yoda (Kane), Darth Vader (Sloan) and even Darth Maul (Prendergast), all who help Rey discover what it means to be a Jedi and to continue her fight to preserve peace across the galaxy with her friends...

The second Star Wars holiday special, after the lacklustre (but immortal) 1978 TV live-action outing, celebrates the entire saga with the vibrancy and humour injected by LEGO. Could it be seen as canon? Not really. It's just some festive family fun.

Two stories run side-by-side. Poe Dameron races against time to bring together friends for the annual Life Day celebrations, and this means doing everything from organising food, the Max Rebo band for music and decorating the Millennium Falcon in time. We have a host of Resistance allies to help, including Finn, R2, Chewbacca, Rose (voiced by Kally Marie Tran direct from the movies) and even the Porgs. The other story is the meat of the 45min adventure, in which Rey (voiced by a near perfect Daisy Ridley soundalike in Helen Sadler) travels across time when she discovers a powerful key in an old Jedi Temple. This grants her the ability to see events of the past that have shaped her future, and to learn what it means to be the best Jedi Master she can be.

Of course, this story is just an excuse for a vibrant and comical celebration of the franchise and the crossovers we have always wanted to see from Episodes I to IX.

With Rey and trusty BB-8 ripping open portals across time that makes 'Avengers: Endgame' look pale by comparison, we are treated to familiar faces and events from most of the live-action Star Wars outings. From the Boonta Eve Podrace of 'The Phantom Menace', the Death Star trench run in 'A New Hope' and a Mustafar duel from 'Revenge Of The Sith', this even finds time to shoe-horn in a small cameo from a certain Mandalorian and Child into proceedings.

It's mostly there to add a comedic spin to all of the places and people we know and love, and letting them interact together. For example, three generations of Obi-Wan Kenobi greet each other in unison with their immortal introduction, Rey and Kylo Ren battle on a podracer, and two generations of Han Solo decide who shoots Greedo first. It's silly stuff and offers nothing but family friendly humour.

It's as forgetful as ever once you've come to the end, and the story that ties all the episodes together for our hero Rey is done in a sweet way, shimmering with festive spirit and the nature of what it means to be good, true and honour your friendships. Even Sheev Palpatine becomes a changed man as he spirals down the Death Star II shaft.

The LEGO aspect makes this a visual treat. The animation is slick, colourful and packed with energy. A rousing score litters the adventure with riffs and motifs from all sides of the franchise, and it's nothing but Star Wars wrapped in a big shiny bow. The combination of what LEGO allows in toy innocence is here, and also the attention to detail and in-jokes from the Star Wars saga. Not even "Ben Swolo" memes are forgotten here!

This holiday special does just what is expected from LEGO and Star Wars uniting once more - silly fun, respect to the franchise and a colourful cast of comical characters we know and love.

'The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special' is a co-production between Atomic Cartoons, LEGO Group and Lucasfilm Ltd.

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