Star Wars: Visions, on Disney+
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Caution: potential spoilers.
This is an animated anthology series of short films based on the Star Wars franchise. Unlike volume one, which consisted of shorts produced by various Japanese anime studios, volume two consists of shorts made by different animation studios from around the world. I really enjoy the voice acting in all of the shorts, as well as the music, and the different art styles, and how every short has a distinctive feel of the country it was made in. I've also quite enjoyed the Filmmaker Focus bonus features about each short.
Sith (14 minutes; produced by El Guiri Studios, Spain)
I'm pretty sure this is CGI, but it looks like an animated painting, which is awesome. A former Sith named Lola is living in hiding with her droid, E2, just wanting to live in peace and use the Force to paint. Then her old Sith master shows up wanting her to rejoin him, and they battle each other. That's all I want to reveal of the story, but it's pretty cool.
Screecher's Reach (13 minutes; produced by Cartoon Saloon, Ireland)
I was already a fan of this studio for a couple of their movies, and I believe this short lives up to their usual standards of animation and storytelling. There's a girl named Daal, who works in a workhouse. She and a few friends steal some speeders one day to go to a haunted cave, where Daal faces a test of courage in the form of a ghost (or more like a banshee... with a lightsaber). But when we learn who has assigned her this test, with the promise of a new life... well, I don't think that person (voiced by Anjelica Huston) should be trusted. I don't want to say any more, but the whole short has a sort of melancholy feel, especially the ending. But it's a really good story, nevertheless.
In the Stars (16 minutes; produced by Punkrobot Studio, Chile)
This looks like stop-motion, but I'm pretty sure it's CGI. It's set on a world the Empire has occupied to steal its water and resources, causing pollution and killing off the indigenous people. The story follows a woman named Koten and her young sister Tichina, whose mother, a force-user of some kind, had died fighting the Empire. Now the two sisters are the last of their kind, and Tichina wants to fight the Empire like their mother, but Koten just wants her to stay hidden and safe while she goes to steal water for them both from the Empire. Unfortunately, Tichina disobeys Koten and follows her, putting them both in danger. That's all I want to say about the plot, except that there's a happy ending. And there were some really neat paint-like visuals when Tichina was painting, even if it was just to deliver exposition.
I Am Your Mother (12 minutes; produced by Aardman, UK)
This is stop-motion, which Aardman is famous for. It's about a Twi'lek girl named Anni who decides not to tell her "embarrassing" mother, Kalina, about a family racing event (hosted by Wedge Antilles, who is actually voiced by Denis Lawson). But when her mum finds out about the race accidentally, they join the event after all. It's a pretty sweet and amusing short film, with a happy ending. And I like the title, which is obviously a tweaked nod to a famous line from The Empire Strikes Back.
Journey to the Dark Head (18 minutes; produced by Studio Mir, South Korea)
A girl named Ara lives on a world where the people interpret visions that appear when rain falls on stones. She wants to share her people's knowledge with the Jedi to help in their war against the Sith, but an elder of her people refuses. Meanwhile, a Jedi padawan named Toul sees his master killed by a Sith named Bichan (Daniel Dae Kim), who encourages him to join the Dark Side. Years later, Ara visits the Jedi Council, asking them to help her with a mission to cut off the head of one of two statues on her world (one dark and one light), hoping it will hurt the Sith in some way. The Council sends Toul with her on this mission, but the two of them bicker a lot. Then Bichan ends up following them and battles Toul, once again trying to tempt him to join the Sith, while Ara continues on with her plan to blow up the dark head. However, things get complicated, and she has to abandon her mission to save Toul. Well, I feel like I've said too much about the plot, but it's a really good story, with great animation (which, as is common with South Korean animation, looks like anime), nice action, and some fun humor. And I really liked the main characters.
The Spy Dancer (17 minutes; produced by Studio La Cachette, France)
A dancer named Loi'e at a cabaret frequented by stormtroopers, on a planet the Empire had invaded 20 years earlier, is a spy for the Rebellion. She puts on a stunning performance, while placing trackers on stormtroopers. When she sees a familiar figure in the audience, an Imperial officer, she tells her coworkers, including a girl named Hétis, to escape and meet up with her contact, a mechanic named Jon, while she stays behind to kill the officer. But she stops when it turns out he's not who she thought. When the officer realizes she was about to kill him, he orders all the stormtroopers in the audience to attack, but Loi'e turns out to be quite the elegant badass. Eventually a dramatic plot twist is revealed, which I won't spoil. But it's a powerful and emotional short film.
The Bandits of Golak (17 minutes; produced by 88 Pictures, India)
This is CGI. It begins on a train, with a boy named Charuk and his Force-sensitive younger sister, Rani, traveling away from home after it had been attacked by the Empire. Rani is seen using the Force, which brings some unwanted attention from stormtroopers. The two children manage to get away when the Imperial forces are distracted by a raid from local Rebels, and after the train reaches its stop, they go to a dhaba to hide out and get something to eat. Unfortunately, an Inquisitor soon shows up looking for Rani, but she is protected by an old Jedi woman named Rugal. She defeats the Inquisitor, but there were a couple of black-armored stormtroopers with him, and I never saw anything happen to them, so... I don't know why they didn't remain a problem. Maybe I just missed something. Anyway, I don't want to say what happens after Rugal's battle with the Inquisitor, but it was a bittersweet ending.
The Pit (17 minutes; produced by D’art Shtajio, Japan & Lucasfilm, USA)
The Empire forces a group of prisoners to dig a massive pit, to mine for kyber crystals. Once all the crystals have been obtained, the stormtroopers leave the prisoners stranded in the pit. One prisoner, a man named Crux (Daveed Diggs), gives some words of encouragement to his young daughter, Livy, before climbing out of the pit and going to a nearby city to beg the citizens for help rescuing the others. That's all I want to say, but there's a (mostly) happy ending which demonstrates the good in people's hearts, though the story is not without a tragic loss. There's also a post-credits scene.
Aau's Song (16 minutes; produced by Triggerfish, South Africa)
This is CGI, but it has a very stop-motion feel to it, and the characters actually look like felt puppets, which is very cute. There's a young girl named Aau, who lives on a planet rich in kyber crystals, but those crystals were corrupted by the Sith. Now Aau's people, including her father, Abat, mine the crystals, which are then purified by Jedi such as Kratu (Cynthia Erivo), when they come to the planet. Aau rarely uses her voice, because it has a strange effect on kyber (and I suspect there's an interesting story in how she and her father first learned that, but it's a story that I don't suppose will ever be told). But she hears kyber crystals calling to her in song, so she explores a tunnel in the mine where Abat works, and starts to sing. When Abat interrupts her singing, they crystals react violently, causing a cave-in that nearly kills Aau and Abat, but they are saved by Kratu. It is then discovered that Aau's song can purify kyber, so Kratu offers to take her away and train her. Well, I definitely feel like I've said too much this time, but at least I won't say whether Aau chooses to go with Kratu or not.