Monday, March 11, 2013

AUDIO DRAMA REVIEW: Star Wars: Dark Empire

by Abner Senires

Synopsis: Six years after the Battle of Endor (from Return of the Jedi), the fight for freedom rages on. While Luke Skywalker delves deeper into the mysteries of the Force, Han Solo and Princess Leia, now married, struggle to protect their twin children from danger. Darth Vader is dead, but a reborn Empire—guided by a mysterious new leader—strikes back against the Rebel Alliance. But the Rebels discover that their greatest foe may be their closest friend: Luke Skywalker!

After listening to the original radio drama and Crimson Empire, I had high hopes for Dark Empire. After all, it was going to feature the main characters. Should be another slam-bang adventure, right?

Sort of.

I was rather underwhelmed.

I'll give the production points for sound design and music. Everything Star Wars-y is there, from the sound effects to the music.

Even the cast sounded like the original actors. John Cygan as Luke and Joe Hacker as Han had very similar vocal qualities to Hamill and Ford. Same goes for Andy Cowan as Ackbar and Nick Jameson as The Emperor. Jim Ward as Threepio and Ann Patricio as Leia were almost there, but not quite. Still, it sufficed.

Despite those similarities, I had issues.

Cygan's Luke lacked energy and vocal variety. Too "one-note" for me.

Hacker's Han and Patricio's Leia both hovered a few notches above "read-acting." There were several instances in which they both had the opportunity to really come alive but didn't and that was a tad disappointing.

Of the main characters, Billy Dee Williams as Lando and Nick Jameson as The Emperor were the only ones who really inhabited their characters. You can hear it in their performances. Kudos to them.

I also found it unfortunate that many of the secondary characters were more expressive and alive than our main heroes. Among these were Wedge Antilles, Shug Ninx, Salla, and Vima, not to mention the various pilots and troopers that made quick appearances. More kudos to them for making this production somewhat listenable.

Overall, though, Dark Empire was sorely lacking.

I found myself hitting the "fast forward" button trying to find good parts.

Check it out if you want, especially if you want to collect Star Wars memorabilia.

If you can find it at your local library or buy it off a clearance shelf, I recommend doing that instead.

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Next time on OtherRealms, we'll take a look at the first episode of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, brought to you by the Audio God himself, Dirk Maggs.

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