This is a mostly spoiler-free review of “Lego Star Wars Holiday Special.”
The “Lego Star Wars Holiday Special” is more than a holiday-themed “Star Wars” adventure. It’s not merely a quick show that allows families to celebrate Christmas and “Star Wars” all at once. Rather, it’s a proper sequel to “The Rise of Skywalker,” one that is hilarious for adults, excellent for children and wildly thrilling for “Star Wars” fans who want to relive some of the franchise’s most classic moments. And you even get a taste of fan fiction come to life.
The holiday special begins on Life Day — the “Star Wars” version of Christmas — with Rey training Finn on using the Force and becoming a Jedi, which is definitely a payoff since Finn had shown signs of using the Force in “Rise of Skywalker.” When the training goes wrong, Rey heads off to an ancient Jedi temple to find lessons about how to train Finn. She and BB-8 stumble across a crystal, which opens up a portal to time and space.
So begins Rey’s journey across the “Star Wars” timeline. I won’t spoil anything here about where and when she visits. But I will say she drops into pivotal scenes in all of the major “Star Wars” films (except for, funny enough, “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi,” although we do see a brief flashback of the latter).
The special — which is about 47 minutes in length — shows us Rey’s journey as she relives classic “Star Wars” moments and intervenes in them. She comes across Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren, among several others. There are plenty of fun cameos in this episode that I won’t spoil here.
It’s a fun ride that sort of works as a coda to “Rise of Skywalker.” We see Rey engage with multiple characters from the past while setting a new course for herself and the rest of her crew. From a storytelling perspective, it’s a nice epilogue that allows us to see where Rey would take the Jedi beliefs from the end of “Rise of Skywalker,” and how she’ll always embrace the past when she seeks out her future.
More importantly, she takes on the lesson that “from failure we can learn,” as Yoda tells her. We can learn from the troubles of the past and move forward.
Elsewhere, we see Finn, Poe, Rose and the crew build up a Life Day party, trying to cook tip-yip and joking about how well everything is going to go. The characters are spot on to their live-action counter parts, providing the same level of humor we’d see in the films.
The John Williams score is profound in this project, too. Many of the songs from across the Skywalker Saga leak into this special, and make it all the much more impactful. A few of the songs even get a touch of a holiday remix, so there’s even a little bit more to enjoy.
I can’t help but think how exciting this project would be if it wasn’t told in Lego form. The Lego animation doesn’t get in the way, but it sort of cheapens the entire experience. A points, it would have been fun to see this in a more “The Clone Wars” style of animation. But the Lego animation style allows the film to be a little more cooky and silly.
Some of the jokes fall flat for adults, though they are probably meant for younger viewers. But there are several one-liners that “Star Wars” fans can enjoy, especially if you pick up their deeper meaning. Again, I don’t want to spoil it for you. But let’s just say there are callbacks to George Lucas interviews, original scenes from the films and fan theories that you’ll want to brush up on later.
The “Lego Star Wars Holiday Special” is essential viewing for any “Star Wars” fan. You’ll see some fan fiction-esque moments that’ll have you wanting to relive the “Star Wars” series, while also experiencing further character development of Finn, Rey and Poe — the three sequel trilogy characters.
I don’t know what Lucasfilm has planned for the sequel trilogy stars now that the films are done. We don’t know if their journeys will be explored in books, comics or television shows. But it’s clear from the holiday special that there’s plenty of story left to tell, and the “Star Wars” franchise shouldn’t shy away from these characters. Like the spirit of Life Day, the future of “Star Wars” is something to embrace.
The special premieres Tuesday on Disney Plus.