Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 REVIEW: Love-letter to animation
Updated: May 4
This marks the return of Star Wars: Visions, which was released in 2021. It's a brilliant concept that allows animation studios from around the world to take their own stab at one of the biggest franchises of all time, Star Wars. While the first season had some stand-out moments ("The Duel" for example), it also had some forgettable episodes, making it an experimentation with mixed results. However, I was clearly excited when they announced Volume 2 because it opens the door for more creativity within the Star Wars universe. The new season starts with a solid episode that sets the path for the rest of the season.
This is a non-spoiler review.
El Guiri Studios is the first studio to contribute to Volume 2 with the fantastic "Sith". While I won't delve into the episode's details, I can say that it was brilliantly executed by using art to push the narrative and clearly demonstrating their understanding of the essence of Star Wars in a short amount of time. It's equally dark and colorful just playing with the balance in a smart way. I have no major criticisms of this opening episode, which immediately piqued my curiosity for the next short film.
The next episode, "Screecher's Reach," reflects some of the weaknesses of the previous season. It's not a bad episode at all, as it does have some cool horror elements, but it's definitely a step down in terms of storytelling compared to the previous one, which reminded me of the highs and lows of Volume 1. Nevertheless, it's still visually stunning and well-animated, making the series worth watching for fans of Star Wars or animation, even if it's not always successful. The episode is followed by another good but not great stop-motion episode. It's refreshing to see different animation styles brought to life, and "In The Stars" is a great showcase of the talent behind the camera. However, some of the episodes suffer from weak storylines and writing.
There's an extremely sweet, funny, and charming claymation episode titled "I Am Your Mother" that works perfectly as a love letter to our moms. It might not work for everyone but the comedic timing is genius, the execution was fantastic in my book. The episode includes great comedic moments, and it's evident that it was created purely out of love. It's sure to warm your soul.
It's not until "Journey to the Dark Head" that we get another truly fantastic chapter, which happens to be my favorite episode of Volume 2. Anime-Star Wars is a match made in heaven in this gorgeously crafted piece of art. The fight between light and darkness is beautifully brought to life with a poetic flow from the Korean studio, Studio Mir. It's also the best-written episode of the entire Star Wars: Visions project.
One technical aspect that stands out in almost every episode is the great work from the composers on the music. They all bring some heart to their Star Wars music, but once again, "Journey to the Dark Head" takes it to another level in that department as well. So much can be said about this one, but I won't spoil it. Hang on to your seatbelts.
"The Sith" and "Journey To The Dark Head" are clearly the standouts, as the rest of the episodes are not quite able to capture the magic of these two. However, there is still fun to be had with the French-influenced "The Spy Dancer," which incorporates elements of la belle époque in a space cabaret, and the CG-animated, Bollywood-infused train adventure "The Bandits Of Golak." Despite the different animation styles and themes, they manage to work well together.
They finish it with a magical episode ("Aau's Song") which reminded me of Kubo And The Two Strings with its use of music and stop-motion animation. It ends Volume 2 on a positive note with a thrilling adventure. Overall, the level of artistry mixed with homages to Star Wars is a successful recipe with every episode bringing their grain of salt to the melting pot.
1) Ep. 5: Journey To The Dark Head (10/10)
2) Ep. 1: The Sith (9/10)
3) Ep. 4: I Am Your Mother (8/10)
4) Ep. 9: Aau's Song (8/10)
5) Ep. 7: The Bandits Of Golak (7/10)
6) Ep. 3: In The Stars (6.5/10)
7) Ep. 6: The Spy Dancer (6.5/10)
8) Ep. 2: Screecher's Reach (6/10)
9) Ep. 8: The Pit (5/10)
EDIT: Really important PSA about Chapter 5: Journey To The Dark Head, it needs to be played in the original Korean dub, NOT in English. I was so disappointed to see they play it in English by default, this was sent to us in the original Korean dub.
Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 premieres on Disney+ on May 4th