*Warning: This article may contain spoilers for LEGO Star Wars: Terrifying Tales*
After last week’s incredible Star Wars: Visions, I had an incredible feeling that Star Wars would overcome its oversaturation with original stories and fresh spins on already established characters. But, of course, Lucasfilm may never veer off The Skywalker Saga, even if many new worlds could deserve our attention, so it must feel fresh whenever established characters come back. However, after the disappointing LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special that could’ve been the most outstanding meta-referential parody to acknowledge the existence of the mythic Star Wars Holiday Special, my expectations weren’t high for LEGO Star Wars’ latest special, Terrifying Tales. Unfortunately, it doesn’t impress, even if it is marginally better than the Holiday Special.
Let’s be honest, when was the last horror parody you watched that contained a riff on the “Here’s Johnny!” scene from Kubrick’s The Shining? That’s right, the last one you watched! This joke is as tired as it was the last time, and I believe it showcases how unoriginal a parody is when it keeps referencing the same movies without trying to find a fresh outlook on the joke. And even if the bit was slightly funny, the fact that it’s been overdone in almost every horror parody leaves a rather middling taste in the mouth. Instead of the same recycled ones, I beg of any studio to find other jokes or horror movies to riff on. Yes, Kubrick’s The Shining was foundational for horror cinema (even if its creator, Stephen King, hated it). Still, so many other horror films have never been referenced in parodies and could find some terrific deep-cut jokes for adults (and kids who may find them odd). For example, there’s a story that Vaneé tells called The Lost Boy on Kylo Ren, and the title adopts the font of Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys. During the entirety of the story, I legitimately thought that the film would be referenced at some point or another. Aside from one shot of a shirtless Birth playing a Kloo Horn, which could (or not) reference shirtless Tim Cappello in The Lost Boys, there was a missed opportunity to do something enjoyable with Star Wars and The Lost Boys. One does not simply tease The Lost Boys and…do nothing concrete with it.
There’s lots of missed opportunity in the special, as it’s too busy crafting unfunny meta-jokes instead of doing something entirely out-of-this-world by mixing LEGO Star Wars and Halloween. The sandbox is there, and unfortunately, the filmmakers don’t seem very interested in utilizing it. Granted, the animation is more fluid and vivid than in The Holiday Special, and the action is also better than in last year’s special. An entertaining fight with General Grievous and Darth Maul, as they look for the Saber of Scardont, is tons of fun to watch and has the best use of LEGO characters’ easily detachable parts by a mile. Unfortunately, the filmmakers seem to think audiences want anthropomorphized versions of LEGOs. In reality, it’s more entertaining to disassemble and reassemble them through inventive action than anything else because if you’re not going to use a LEGO-filled world to its advantage, you’re better off using 3D animation instead of LEGOs. Look at The LEGO Movie franchise: you may love or hate them, but the filmmakers certainly understood how to use the building blocks, and the same can be said for the LEGO Star Wars videogames. But whenever a LEGO Star Wars TV special comes into play, it seems to forego the notion that the characters (and the world) are indeed LEGOs and rarely use them to its advantage to produce creative setpieces.
And as a result, Terrifying Tales is no different from the plethora of LEGO Star Wars specials that don’t use LEGOs to their advantage. Its voice cast is marginally better, sure (Tony Hale is simply delightful here), but without a good story to invest its viewers into the world of LEGO Star Wars, Terrifying Tales feels like a novelty that’ll distract children instead of an entertaining special for both children and adults. There’s fear (myself included) that Star Wars may become an oversaturated property if Lucasfilm keeps churning out titles set in The Skywalker Saga. However, I do hope they will come up with series, specials, and films that explore corners of the galaxy that haven’t been touched upon before going back to Skywalker, as the franchise is in desperate need of fresh storytelling. Time will tell if The Book of Boba Fett explores a different corner of Star Wars we haven’t seen yet, or is more of the same.
LEGO Star Wars: Terrifying Tales is now streaming on Disney+.