R2-D2: Beneath the Dome

Distributed by: Lucasarts Ltd.

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            During one of the numerous anniversaries of the Star Wars saga, the Biography Channel ran a week of Biography specials featuring cast members from the original trilogy and, of course, the founder of the films, George Lucas.  I taped each episode as any true Star Wars geek would.  During the filming of Attack of the Clones, someone thought it might be fun to produce a documentary about a Star Wars star whose background had never been revealed.  Thus, R2-D2: Beneath the Dome was born.  I first saw it on FOX and new I had to own it.

            The mockumentary shows us the ups and downs of R2-D2ís life.  Born to a military family, R2-D2, or Reginald Dillingham as he was called then, simply didnít fit in.  His need to be the center of attention and his desire to prove something to his father drove R2-D2 into acting.  Of course, it would be silly to think that the Star Wars films presented his only roles.  In fact, this mockumentary reveals that R2 was a well sought after actor, particularly after appearing in A New Hope.  The documentary also visits the hard times in R2ís life, such as his lack of acceptance by his father, his drinking and drug issue and his lack of lucrative roles prior to The Phantom Menace.

            Of course, R2 is not without faults.  We discover that his audacity and vanity often created problems between himself and other actors.  Richard Dreyfuss calls him a schmuck, citing that he isnít really an actor at all.  Co-stars and production people from the prequels often complain that he tries to hog scenes and often adlibs his lines.

            Yet, there is a softer side to R2 that appeals to all.  According to Samuel Jackson, R2 was his mentor.  Christopher Lee states that he only agreed to do the prequels because it meant he would appear in them alongside R2.  Natalie Portman admits that she has had the biggest crush on R2 for years. 

            This 20 minute documentary was originally proposed by ILM Modelmaker Don Bies who wrote and co-directed the film with approval from George Lucas.  Interviews with numerous actors, directors, crewman and even Mr. Lucas himself are hilarious.  The backstory for R2-D2 is so ridiculous as to be hysterical. 

            First shown on FOX and in 2001, R2-D2: Beneath the Dome was released on DVD in 2002 with an added bonus.  The DVD contains an Easter Egg that, when unlocked, allows the viewer access to a gallery of Star Wars production photos featuring our favorite droid.  Any fan of the Star Wars saga possessing a sense of humor will love R2-D2: Beneath the Dome.  As for this Star Wars fan, I was proud to make R2-D2: Beneath the Dome a part of my DVD collection and recommend it to every Star Wars fan I meet.


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