Family Guy Presents: Blue Harvest was a real success for the franchise. The film spoofed and retold the story of Star wars as only Family Guy could and it was a fantastic ride. What made that event film work was that the writers had some ideas to have fun with George Lucas’ original story. Now they’re back to tell the story of Empire Strikes Back. The question is are they back because they came up with another fun idea or are they back because the first film was such a success and FOX wanted them to do a sequel.
So, once again the power goes off in the Griffin house and everyone gathers around to hear Peter tell them another story. Peter’s story picks up with Chris as Luke out in the arctic cold replicating the beginning of Empire Strikes Back. Everyone returns to their roles from the previous film except for Meg who gets little to do in this story similar to the previous one. Peter portrays Han Solo, Lois returns to play the Princess; Brian plays Chewie, and the most brilliant casting features Stewie as Darth Vader. Stewie is easily the funniest character in this film just like on regular installments of the show. Brian can be quite funny too but he feels underutilized in this film. He’s in plenty of scenes but he doesn’t get to be very funny.
The problem with this film is that the creators are really focused on retelling the story of Empire Strikes Back rather than spoofing it. Scenes are cut and presented as close to Family Guy versions of those scenes in Empire Strikes Back as they could and while they’re fun they come at the cost of some classic Family Guy laughs. There are some funnies here for sure especially when Stewie starts choking people but the film just never seems to quite reach the level of the previous one. With that said, for Family Guy fans, this is an epic ride through a fan’s eye view of the classic Star Wars sequel. No it’s not classic but there are still some good laughs here. Some of the ensemble cast gets little to no screen time though so don’t be surprised to only see a few characters for a scant few seconds.
Seeing Star Wars characters and locations rendered in Family Guy style just never gets old. The opening scene featuring a muppet playing a role in the film is really funny and it sets the pace for the film. The little moments in the film like that one are the best of the film. When Family Guy is at its worst it’s still one of the most clever shows on television so for fans of the show or fans of Star Wars, or even fans of 80’s pop culture this one’s a must see. I can’t point to one moment in the film that’s the most defining and the most funny of the film. Typically you can point to that one moment or one scene in the individual episodes of the series so not finding that moment is the surprising thing about this film. As I said there’s still funny here and its overall plenty entertaining.
The 1080p 1.33:1 widescreen presentation is extremely vibrant with bold colors and deep blacks. The image just seems to pop off the screen. The issues that plague animated films in HD are also a problem in this film too. There’s aliasing in a few spots, one instance of some odd macroblocking, and color banding too. What’s great about these issues is that none of them seem to be a problem for main characters. The instances occur off to the side of the main character or in the background so they aren’t as noticeable. Not the best HD animated presentation but not bad for a TV special.
The only audio option is a DTS-HD Master audio track and like the video it’s fairly solid. Dialogue is the priority in this mix having been pushed out in front of the score and sound effects. Directional effects are apparent when there’s movement on screen but rear speakers are a bit soft when compared to the rest of the soundstage. The “borrowed” John Williams-ish score doesn’t pop in the mix like you’d expect but it does come through every speaker clean and clear. Overall though this is a good audio track with nice clean crisp dialogue.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The two disc presentation is packaged in a standard slim blu-ray amaray case with a slip cover featuring the same art as the actual case. The art is a fun mesh of Family Guy and The Empire Strikes Back poster art. Disc two features the digital copy of the film.
First up for bonus features is feature length audio commentary with Seth MacFarlane, Mark Hentemann, David A. Goodman, Kirker Butler, Dominic Polcino, and Seth Green. There’s some fun moments in the track but it feels a little held back, like there’s more to be said on certain subjects that the participants just won’t say. While it’s not as entertaining as you’d expect there are some bits of good information to be found in the commentary.
Family Guy fact-Ups are pop up fact tracks that are funnier than the audio commentary. There’s tons of good trivia information here and there’s also a slathering of snarky comments that make the track a pleasure to watch.
The Dark Side of Poster Art is a brief featurette covering the creation of the cover art for the DVD. A great deal of work went into this art and it’s interesting to see some of the process the artist went through to create the art.
There’s a brief series of animatics with commentary, a sneak peak of the next film including a good bit of the table read and a complete table read of this film. The table read is amusing at times but a little bit uninteresting to look at after a few minutes.
I’d like to have seen more behind the scenes video of the creation of the film but there’s some moments of gold here.
Family Guy Presents: Something, Something, Something, Dark Side is amusing and entertaining but it just doesn’t reach the level of excellence that the first film set.
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10
The Movie 6.5/10The Video 7.5/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 6/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10