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  • 6 Theatrical trailer - Thumb Wars, Frankenthumb,Bat Thumb, Thumbtanic, The Godthumb, The Blair Thumb
  • Audio commentary - Director Steve Oedekerk and producer Paul Marshal
  • 1 Interviews - Gabba the Butt
  • Storyboards
  • Filmographies - Loke Groundrunner, Princess Bunhead and others

Thumb Wars I - The Phantom Cuticle

Warner Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 29 mins . PG . PAL


Whilst the end of the world might come and go while we wait for the original holy trilogy to be released on our beloved format, one of the raft of rather amusing Episode IV piss-takes has arrived on DVD to amuse us in the mean time. Produced in glorious ‘Thumbation’ and originally airing on the Fox network, Thumb Wars is the brainchild of one Steve Oedekerk; the writer behind hit comedies The Nutty Professor, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and more recently Jimmy Neutron.

Thumb Wars, loosely based on the events of the fourth Star Wars saga A New Hope, follows the exploits of whiney farm boy Loke Groundrunner (Oedekerk) and the beautiful Princess Bunhead (Andrea Fears), as they attempt to defeat the dreaded Black Helmet Man (Mark DeCarlo) and his Evil Thumbpire. Enlisting the help of the old hermit Oobedoob Benubi (Rob Paulsen), space pirate Han Duet (Ross Schaefer) and his hairy sidekick Crunchy (Jim Jackman), they race to destroy the Thumbpire’s ‘big dangerous weapon thingy’ and save the Thumbellion resistance. The kicker, of course, is that all these characters are human thumbs. Not your plain garden variety thumbs, oh no, these thumbs have been digitally endowed with real human eyes and mouths. Creepy really. But funny. Very, very funny.

Reportedly produced on a shoestring budget, and made possible through the proliferation of cheap digital effects, the love of the producers for the original material is evident from the very first frame. The thumbs, donning wigs and tiny costumes, inhabit a plethora of exquisitely detailed miniature sets, do battle in beautifully crafted models, and spout wry, insider dialogue. The visual effects, from laser beams to explosions to the thumbs themselves, are of surprisingly high quality and do the original films (the original films mind you) justice. Similarly, the CG work to be found during the final attack on the space station is particularly effective (especially the final trench run). The influence of the thumb-universe too shows itself in every prop and line of dialogue; with all manner of vehicles and even the Thumbpire’s dreaded space station re-imagined with an exceedingly digit-based theme. Indeed, in the thumbing of our favourite space saga, the producers show impressive attention to detail. I was particularly impressed by how many of the familiar creatures from that famous cantina could be rendered using weird combinations of human digits!

But more importantly than all these things is the distinctive charm of the thumbs themselves. Once you get past the initial shock of it all, each of the thumb ‘actors’ becomes almost believably real; and it is a credit to Oedekerk and his team that each thumb manages to develop and maintain a characteristic comedic personality. The result is a hilarious spoof that, depending on your disposition, will likely appeal to fans of the original trilogy. Certainly I laughed my arse off the whole way through but, then again, I don’t take the trilogy quite as seriously as some...


It may come as no surprise that, with a whole half an hour of full-frame footage to ‘cram’ onto a single sided disc, Image Entertainment’s PAL transfer of Thumb Wars looks pretty darned good. Despite some initial macro blocking during a hastily tacked-on Oedekerk intro sequence, when the feature finally begins it’s quality all the way. The image, beautifully sharp and completely free of aliasing, displays a wealth of detail from the sets, costumes and, where possible, thumb-prints. Meanwhile, colours are faithfully rendered (as indicated by the perfect erm skin tones) and are supported by deep solid blacks and impressive shadow detail. Compression or film-to-video artefacts are nowhere to be seen, and only the tiniest flicker of film or video grain (I can’t tell which) can be discerned from time to time. Basically, apart from the initial problems, this is nothing short of a perfect transfer!


In terms of audio, living as we do in a desert outpost on the rim of the galaxy, we in Region 4 must forego the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix afforded other regions and satisfy ourselves with meagre Dolby Digital surround sound. Still, whilst falling short of the soundtracks being created by Skywalker sound for the current raft of Star Wars films, Thumb Wars certainly tries its best to emulate the sound experience of A New Hope, and the results are quite impressive indeed. Displaying good channel separation, the balance between the front and rear channels is perfect; the score and effects surrounding you to create an immersive viewing experience. And with all the original film’s key sonic elements replicated here in some watered down form or another, from a dramatic opening theme to thundering space ships and the jazzy cantina, there’s more than enough to satisfy your ears, and more importantly, to help sell the spoof. If you vague out completely, or maybe drink a few more beers, you can almost believe you are watching a real Star Wars film. Almost. Basically, Thumb Wars provides quite a reasonable listening experience. It’s not perfect by any means, but given the content and limited budget, it’s easy to forgive the few shortcomings.


Given the miniscule nature of the feature presentation, I didn't expect Thumb Wars to be an extras bonanza. Nevertheless, Image have thrown quite a bit of material onto this shiny little disc (what the hell, there's space right?) although most will be of only passing interest:

  • Commentary - director Steve Oedekerk & producer Paul Marshal: The pair talk for the entire length of the feature (wow!), not so much about the technical aspects but about the gags, the acting, and which bits they like the best. Whilst not very informative, the pair's wry, self-deprecating approach is fairly entertaining.

  • Gabba the Butt Interview: (2:38) A funny piece in which Gabba talks to camera about his burgeoning career and his future Hollywood prospects. Full-frame and funny.

  • Storyboards: 37 storyboard images taken from all major scenes in no particular order. Of only minor interest.

  • Thumbographies: Funny one page summaries of nine of the central Thumb Wars characters including Lode, Bunhead, Duet and Crunchy (my favourite).

  • Trailers: for Thumb Wars as well as five other Thumbation productions: Frankenthumb, Bat Thumb, Thumbtanic, The Godthumb and The Blair Thumb. They all look as piss-funny as this one.


Whilst a bloody good cack at the holy trilogy’s expense, at only 29 minutes I have to say that Thumb Wars doesn’t quite warrant a DVD release in its own right. If only Image Entertainment could have collected several of Oedekerk’s Thumbation productions onto a single disc, (from the trailers they all look a scream) then that would be a disc worth owning! As it stands, however, and at the current retail price, I just can't bring myself to recommend purchasing Thumb Wars. But by all means, go out and rent it until the aforementioned compilation disc arrives - you'll love it.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2049
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      And I quote...
    "Whilst a bloody good cack at the holy trilogy’s expense, at only 29 minutes Thumb Wars doesn’t quite warrant a DVD release in its own right."
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • TV:
          Panasonic TC-68P90A TAU (80cm)
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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