By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Trying to recreate the magic of the original Star Wars films can sometimes be hard. Trying to build and expand upon it is even tougher. The computer animated series Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures (originally broadcast on DisneyXD) does what very few expanded universe spin-offs can do, and that’s to engage viewers with an adventure faithful to the mythic narrative style the original trilogy represented.
In this animation, the Freemakers are a family of mechanics — Rowan is the kid with the gift (a future Jedi), Kordi is the elder and overly overprotective sister and Zander is a freewheeling brother — who salvages and repairs spaceships. R0-GR (“Roger”) is this group’s servant of sorts; after being reprogrammed (he was once a B1 Battle Droid) and the adventures they share, he becomes more than a faithful companion. When this family is at work, the spirit of what the LEGO brand represents can be seen in the ships they rebuild and in what the boy can imagine up.
This saga succeeds in being far more engaging than other LEGO Star Wars animated products. Sadly, LEGO Yoda Chronicles and Droids felt very contrived with its structural humour. Try as the producers might in their attempts to have a fun product, they never properly represented the whimsical and light-hearted comical nature of those original LEGO animated videos. When the comedy is mostly used to make the Empire (namely Palpatine and Vader) look like imbeciles, the end result felt less like attempts of recreating moments from, for example, Charlie Chaplin‘s The Great Dictator. The bad guys can be ruthless when needed, but behind the scenes, they are just boys wanting to have fun. For most of The Freemaker Adventures, The Emperor behaves very much like a spoiled child.
Naare (Grey Griffin, pictured in the middle) has a greater complexity as to what she represents. She’s a shifty agent working for the Empire and she is far more dangerous than Vader. When the Freemakers meet her, they thought she could be trusted and bring her in. Sadly her betrayal is more than any of them can accept. Early in the series, she is like any other Force-user trying to lay low in the wake of Order 66. But when she meets Rowan and sees him one with The Force, her offer to train him comes at a cost. She wants to make use of the boy to find the fabled Kyber Saber, a weapon forged from a single pure crystal (shattered into seven pieces, a spiritually significant number) and it’s a one-of-a-kind artifact.
The Lord of the Rings style of adventures this group have fondly revisits the worlds seen from the original trilogy. The emotional betrayal Rowan feels and his character development had me tuning in every week when this series was broadcast. With this animated series, the narrative core is in how the Freemaker family stays together instead of being ripped apart (either because of Rowan not wanting to see his siblings hurt by running away or being taken away by Naare).
This series will soon be available on video come December 5th (you can preorder the Blu-ray on Amazon). As much as I like to see further adventures, I do not think a second season will be made. To end a journey on a high note is better in the long run, especially when considering this series is non-canon.