Monday, December 5, 2016

TK-436: A Stormtrooper Story







I'll just be honest here... I think Fan Films go in the same general bin as Fan Fiction. 

Yes, I'll acknowledge that the genre as a whole seems like a good starting place to flex some creative and technical muscles. They're also a nice venue to create the type of stories and character representations that you usually don't get to see in the more mainstream versions. I can also see how they might be a fun distraction too, 

Maybe.

However, I also believe they're ultimately a creative dead-end, and more often than not, they're just flat-out not worth your time as a consumer. 

Discussions related to this kind of stuff comes up somewhat often in some of the circles I run in, and so, of course, I have an opinion on it, but I don't want it to seem like I came to this decision without being at least somewhat informed on the subject. Sounds reasonable, right? Also, the worlds of fan-created art is a pretty fast moving one, so if you don't check in now and then, you can get left behind pretty quickly, so even if you were familiar with the stuff a few years ago, you might not be now.

Which brings us to my little project...

Y'see, I've been watching a bunch of Fan Films lately, specifically for the purpose of seeing whether or not my beliefs still held true, and let me tell you right now, the films I've seen over the past few weeks have not done much to dissuade me from my previously held opinions. Not much at all. In fact, it's been a bit of a slog. You can see what I've been through by clicking here. And now, finally, this is it. This is the last Star Wars fan film I sought out. 

After this, I'm done.


The last Star Wars Fan Film I watched is entitled TK-436: A Stormtrooper Story. It was Written and Directed by Samgoma and Samtubia Edwards and this is pretty much their first big thing ever. That is often a Red Flag in the short film world, but right away we have two big reasons to be excited to check this one out. 

1. TK-436 won the Official Star Wars Fan Film Award for Best Fan Film 2016 over at Starwars.com.

2. I'm assuming this one doesn't focus on god damn Jedi. 

Here's the synopsis: The gritty tale of an Imperial stormtrooper who is forced to confront his past in the heat of a battle.

Uh oh... a "gritty tale", huh?

Shit. That's a Red Flag...



Hmmm...

Not bad. Not good.

There seems to be two basic problems when it comes to these fan films. They're either just hands down fucking terrible, or they are excessively "grim 'n gritty" and bogged down with way too much unearned pathos. This film is pretty much the latter. It looks good, it's "well done", but it's got tons of problems, and they all boil down to the same thing: It just takes itself waaaaaay too seriously, and none of the crying or clenched teeth has a strong enough character foundation to give it any emotional weight at all, and that is what makes it kind of dull.

But...

Like I said, the film looked pretty good, for the most part anyway. There were some really great shots, with the diving TIE fighters, and the smoke and the Stormtroopers walking and shooting beneath the AT-ATs (pronounced AT-AT, always). All that kind of stuff looked great. Ultimately, I like what they were going for too. I'm a fan of exploring who the Stormtroopers are, who the galactic citizens are, and how they view the Empire and the Rebellion, that's interesting to me.

But...

This time out, at least, it just didn't work for me. On one hand, you have the tragic romance, but the motivations of the two characters and why they split between the Empire and the Rebellion is never clear, mostly because the female character is a complete non-presence. Then you have the whole fireside declaration of badassery, which is just plain old ill-advised to begin with, and really, like the old saw says, it would've been a lot more interesting shown instead of told.

So, while there are some definite pluses, ultimately the cons weighed it down too much.

Not bad. Not good.

Free at last,
Jon



Thursday, December 1, 2016

TROOPS





As an experiment, I've been watching a lot of Fan Films lately, and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. There's only a few left in the queue. I will finish this. I will not let these "films" defeat me. I will not.

To bear witness to my trials, click here.

Today's Fan Film is a much needed reprieve. It's an oldie, but a goodie, an ancient artifact from those halcyon days before the Prequels existed, from a time when Trump was just this weird, semi-famous, orange-skinned, creepy rich asshole and not the latest form of Gozer the Gozerian, from an age when everything in the world wasn't shit. It's called TROOPS, and it's a classic of the Fan Film world, a riff on the TV show Cops, and a pretty entertaining watch. Which means, yes, I've seen it before, so this isn't going to be the usual watch and respond song and dance. Today, I'm going to do this a little differently. Blame the last three fan films, those fuckers almost broke me.

Here we go...

Synopsis: TROOPS is a fanfilm directed by Kevin Rubio that had its premiere at the Comic Con International convention in San Diego, CA, on July 18, 1997, before becoming more widely available on the Internet later that summer. The film is shot in a documentary (or mockumentary) style, parodying primarily A New Hope and the television series COPS, as well as Fargo and Mystery Science Theater 3000 (by featuring Tom Servo). In the film, Stormtroopers from the infamous Black Sheep Squadron on patrol run into some very familiar characters while being filmed for the hit Imperial TV show TROOPS. The running time is approximately 10 minutes. It was filmed at El Mirage, California, in late March of 1997.

Man, that is a terribly written synopsis...

1997? Holy crap, this thing is almost 20 years old.

Anyway, let's do this.



Yep. A classic. Sure, the Owen/Beru scene goes on a little too long, and it gets kind of creepy toward the end, but it's mostly good stuff. Plus, all of the parts where the Stormtroopers are talking to the camera are really great, and it was clever enough to use events from the first movie. Also, the crappy video feel really adds to the whole aesthetic, but that could actually be due to simple age, and not the result of an artistic choice, I can't remember if it was like that the first time I saw it. That makes sense, I guess, it's been almost 20 years.

Either way, I still love it.
Jon

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

FALL OF THE JEDI


Great. More Jedis...

Okay, so here's the deal, I've been watching a bunch of Fan Films lately, because sometimes I make bad decisions, and man, let me tell you, this particular decision has turned out to be a rough one. Y'see, after years of working at several different movie theatres, and a couple of video stores, there's one simple truth I learned a long time ago: Most movies are terrible. There's a lot of good ones too, of course, but the overwhelming majority...? Terrible. And after watching several of these fan films for the last few weeks, I have discovered that they aren't all different of a situation, except for the part about there being lots of good ones...

Don't believe me, take a look here.

Today's short film is called STAR WARS: FALL OF THE JEDI zzzzzzzzzzsnort! Huh, what? Sorry, I fell asleep there for a moment... Anyway, today's fan film has... hmmmm... let's just say, there's a few of the traditional Red Flags, but you know what? Fuck it. Forget it.

Let's just get into it.

Here's the synopsis: Years after the Galactic Civil War, Kylo Ren has killed the new generation of Jedi that his mentor and uncle Luke Skywalker was training. Padawan siblings Carena and Donta managed to escape the massacre, but are soon forced to once again fight against the ever growing temptation of the dark side.

Great... a sidequel...



Holy shit. Those were some uber nerds.

Okay, so here's the thing... this fan film was terrible. Embarrassingly terrible. I mean, the line delivery? The fight choreography? The girl in the evil corset? The way the heroes apparently decide to go for a angst-fueled run immediately after landing? And how they then just kind of run into a pair of bad guys randomly choking some dude to death in a field? I mean, yeah, that was total shit.

But...

This particular train wreck was apparently made by a bunch of 1st Year "Screenology" students, which I guess is a film school in England, so I feel kind of bad ripping on it too much. Also, it answers my question as to whether or not those accents were fake. I was pretty sure that they were, but they were not, supposedly. So, the point is... wowsers, that was bad, but hey, they tried. I think. Either way, I'm not going to rip it up too much. God bless you, you nerdy little bastards.

But seriously though, you know that kid in the white face paint totally wears a trilby and a long scarf thrown back over his shoulder like, all the time. You know he does.

Terrible,
Jon

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Star Wars: Emergence





As an experiment, I've been watching a bunch of Fan Films lately, and let me tell you, this little experiment is real close to breaking me. Why, you ask?

Well, click here to see how it's been going so far.

Today's fan film is called Star Wars: Emergence, and guess what... it's about god damn Jedi... again. Emergence is Directed by Jacob Watson and Bryson Alley, and Written by Bryson Alley and Chelsea Alley, and this is basically the first time out of the gate for all of them, personal film project-wise. So, let me just say good luck to them right here at the start of things, mostly because I'm assuming that the long hours of devotion, of slaving away at the thankless task of trying to get this film off the ground, has resulted in a love triangle forming between the three of them, despite the fact that two of them are most likely married. It's sad, but unfortunately, logic can't stop the heart when it sees something it wants, even if realizing this desire can only mean tears and broken hearts and shattered bonds that were once so, so strong, truly a tale as old as time. No one wants something like this to happen, of course, but artists--especially young ones--are a passionate people.

Alas...

But whatever... here's the synopsis: Alenna, a Jedi Padawan, is blinded in an ambush designed to leave her dead. Facing inner demons and dangerous foes, she must rediscover her purpose and identity as a Jedi Knight.

Oh, fantastic... another blind Jedi. I guess we all know what's coming, huh?

Well, lets get to it.



This is a good example of some of fandom's biggest problems.

To begin with, the film is trying way too hard to be considered a serious piece of art, and it just ends up looking silly. It's a short film, people, and yet it seems to completely lack any awareness of the constraints of its budget, length, or capability, so what we end up with is a story with no context, and what little narrative we do know centers on space wizards, so this deep well of emotional weight the film is striving for just ends up seeming shallow and unearned. The film also spends so much time trying to get us to feel the main character's incredible pain and loss and the steely determination with which she overcomes her obstacles, that it forgets (or never realized) that the character is a complete stranger to the audience, someone we just met like, 46 seconds ago. It just doesn't work. And to top it all off, in the end, right as we finally reach the crescendo, right before we get to the actual fun stuff, the big pay-off of all that weeping and melodrama... Roll credits.

What's the point?

Jon


Monday, November 28, 2016

Star Wars Revengant



First things first... What the fuck is a Revengant?

So, as some of you no doubt will recall, lately I've been watching a lot of fan films. I honestly don't know why at this point, maybe I feel like I deserve to be punished, maybe I think I need to do atonement for past sins, I don't know. I don't know why I've been subjecting myself to this torture, flagellating myself as I trudge along on this lonely back road of the genre world... but here I am.

Anyway, you can see some of the fan films I've been watching here.

Okay, so, today's fan film is called Star Wars: Revengant... for some reason, and there's a lot of red flags going on here right from the start. First, there's no IMDB page, just a Vimeo page. Second, on the Facebook page, the Writer, Director, and Producer, a man named Marc Ferdinand Korner, lists himself in several different places in the credits, but changes his name around each time... Oh ho! How droll! Thirdly, there's almost no pictures of this film to be found on-line, and of the few that there are, most of them are behind-the-scenes stuff, there's almost none of the actual film. Last, but certainly not least, this film was apparently made in a week's time. Now, this is something I would normally point to as perhaps the biggest red flag of all...

But then I read the synopsis: KYLO REN is on the HUNT for a ancient SITH HOLOCRON that the Resistance gathered on the planet DAHENDOR in the Outer Rim. Will KANE ALTIS be able to rescue himself before the HOLOCRON is found by KYLO REN and his REVENGANT?

Oh great, so  basically this thing is both a fan film AND a Prequel?

At least it isn't totally about Jedi...



This fan film was... It was just a mess. I mean, sure, it was made in a week, but, man... Literally nothing made any sense here, not why any of the characters were where they were, both in relation to each other, or why they were even there in the first place, or why they were even doing what they were doing. The story was practically nonexistent, and most of its telling was left to the crawl. And maybe worst of all, at one point, 90s Hair Guy goes from hiding behind a tree to lose a Drone, to finding his girlfriend being murdered about 10 feet from him, simply by looking to his left. I mean... utilize some space, man. While watching this, I made a joke about the film being confined to someone's mom's backyard, but it might really be the case here.

Also, after reading the synopsis, you'd probably assume the answer to whatever the fuck a Revengant is will be answered in the film. You assumed wrong.

I guess there's really nothing else to say about this film, except to point out that including a third rate Kylo Ren, and that someone involved actually bought Poe's Jacket from somewhere (presumably on-line), somehow made this whole thing even worse,

Woof. This is a low point in my fan film experiment.

I sincerely apologize to anyone I got to watch this,
Jon


Friday, November 18, 2016

Call of the Empire






Yep, more Star Wars fan films.

I told you, there's no end to these things. Believe me, I've been watching them lately, there is literally no end, and I will swear under Oath that I am not misusing the word "literally". This shouldn't surprise you, really. After all, this god damn franchise is the backbone of nerdom,

Anyway, today's fan film is called Call of the Empire. It was created and directed by a man named Trevor Kerr, who describes himself as "a 3D Generalist and designer with FX/Environment experience." I don't know if that's a real description or what, but who cares? Either way, that's about it as far as this fan film's net-presence is concerned. There's no easily found website, no IMDB, no facebook link, nothing. Also, the credits on Vimeo do not credit anyone as the writer, which could perhaps be considered a bad sign.

The synopsis goes like this: Call of the Empire is a non-profit short film produced for the sole purpose of personal enjoyment of the cast, crew and all Star Wars fans. Please enjoy this addition to the Star Wars universe.

Okay, so... lots of red flags right at the start, but at two and a half minutes, how bad could it be?

Let's find out...


Ah... I see...

This was more like an Effects Reel, than it was a short film.

There's really not too much to say about this. It looked good, for the most part. The perspective on the dive (up? down?) into the clouds was a bit wonky, but otherwise, sure, it looked good. One problem I had, I'm not sure where this is supposed to take place or when. At first, I thought it was the wreckage of the Imperial presense on Endor, and this was set after the events in Return to the Jedi, but then there's a Death Star hanging in the sky, so what's that mean? I don't know. Also, a quibble... in the beginning, the titles say that there are those who are "forever loyal to Lord Vader" and shouldn't that say The Emporer? 

Whatever. This was quick and painless, more of a blink then a short film.
Jon

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Jakku: First Wave






I've been watching a lot of Fan Films lately, and I've been sharing them with you all. I figure, why should I carry this burden alone, right? You can find them here.

So, while on this journey, I have discovered that apparently 60% of all fan films are of Star Wars stuff. After that, maybe 45% is Batman (and man, you want to talk about bad? I may not even share any of the Batman fan films... Oofta...). The last 5% of fan films are so god damn random, I would designate that percentage as the place where the truly devoted fans live. I mean, it's easy to be a fan of Star Wars or Batman, and then go out and make a short film, but when you make a Predator short film? That's some real fan devotion right there. Like, who's watching that, besides you and your friends, and me of course... Anyway, the point is, here's yet another Star Wars fan film, but as a nice silver-lining, this is one of the rare few that has nothing to do with the Jedi, the Sith, or the Force, so thankfully, that means it doesn't feature any Community Theatre Second-stringers running around their mom's backyard Force-Parkouring their sweaty asses off.

Thank the Maker for small favors, amirite?

Anyway, as some of you may recall, the Force Awakens came out last year, and people loved the shit out of it, despite the fact it was a terrible movie that coasted on nostalgia, had no story to speak of, made no sense, didn't earn a single big moment, and pretty much wasted some legitimately good new characters. So, one of the film's main problems was that it introduced a buttload of new Star Wars history, but provided almost no context or explanation.

Enter the fan film.,,

Which brings us to taody's offering. It's called Jakku: First Wave.

Y'see, in the Force Awakens, it opens on a planet that looks and acts almost exactly like Tatooine, but it is not Tatooine, despite having almost exactly the same features. No, this planet is called Jakku, and at some point between the end of Return of the Jedi and the beginning of The Force Awakens, there was a battle there. The result of that battle is apparently the only economy on the entire planet.

Because, no context... Like I said.

Anyway, Jakku: First Wave is an attempt to fill in some of that narrative gap, all told from the point of view of a trio of Stormtroopers who are heading into battle. It was written and directed by Benjamin Eck. He has a lot of Crew experience, and some short films under his belt.

Let's see how he does with this one...



I liked that.

It was simple, direct, and it took an interesting angle that you don't see often. I really liked how these guys were presented as just regular citizens with believable motivations for joining the Empire. To the characters, the Empire isn't this obviously evil organization that makes no sense why anyone normal would join up, let alone support. I like how it's presented as a regular facet of their lives. It's just the Government, just a fact of life, and these characters were people have a different point of view on the greater conflict then we normally see. That's good stuff. I like that. Plus, this short film, while obviously not its original intent, actually has a lot to say about our current election.

I like that too.

Y'see, while these characters may have different points of view, and are maybe not intentional monsters, and have maybe not-evil reasons for joining, in the end, they are still Stormtroopers. Despite their intent, they are still genocidal monsters, still willingly part of a murderous and oppressive regime. Still on the wrong side of galactic history.

Yeah, not bad. 

This was a surprisingly interesting and well-executed idea. 

Also, I'm a fan of any short film that is able to make something like this, a film that is a clever and believable part of a much larger sci-fi epic, all while working with an almost non-existent budget, and yet not advertising that fact. 

Well done.
Jon

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Hoshino








Another day, another Star Wars Fan Film...

There seems to be no end to Star Wars Fan Films, and for some reason, they all seem to be about Jedi. I should know too, because I've been watching a ton of these things lately, and all so that I could share them with you lucky bastards.

You can find the others here.

I'm going to be honest with you people, the Jedi bore the shit out of me now. The Jedi, the Sith, the Force... it's all so overdone at this point, isn't it? I mean, come on, how much "Parkour Fencing" can people watch? At this point, it seems like people can't get enough of it. At every opportunity, they're like "give me more spinning and jumping! No! MORE! MORE, I said!!!" I'm so over it. I hate to say that before sitting down and watching a short film that is obviously all about Jedi stuff, but it's true. It's always the same... boring. This is one of the main reasons why I'm so interested in the up-coming Star Wars side-film Rogue One... there's no god damn Jedi in it, or at least, not as many as usual. Hopefully. Besides, Vader, of course. Seriously though, I swear, if Jyn Erso turns out to be yet another "The One" force-user, I'm done with the whole franchise.

But I digress...

So, today's fan film is called Hoshino. It was directed by Stephen Vitale, written by Eric Carrasco, and neither of them have much of an on-line presence. At least, not like usual. This particular fan film isn't even listed on IMDB. So, I can't tell you much about them, or judge their work too much. As per tradition, before viewing the film, the people behind it, and their product, are almost a complete mystery to me. It looks like Vitale has made a lot of short films, and apparently Carrasco has written an episode of Supergirl, though, so that's cool. Also, the film stars Anna Akana, who has been in a lot of things, including the movie Ant-Man apparently. She's listed as "The Writer". I think that means that she was the woman at the end of the film who connects Anthony Mackie's Falcon to Michael Pena's Luis, and ultimately Paul Rudd's Scott Lang, which led to Ant-Man appearing in Civil War, and so on and so on, yadda, yadda, yadda...

But once again, I digress...

The synopsis of Hoshino is a simple one: The tale of blind Jedi Master Ko Hoshino and her journey to become one with the force. Now, a word of warning, it's been my experience that when the synopsis is this vague, that's a red flag.

So, on that note, let's see what we got here.

Good luck to us both...



That wasn't too bad.

On the whole, the film was well shot, and decently written. Yeah... Not bad. The Master/Padawan relationship is a little cliched, but well enough, I guess. The effects are decent, and they serve the story well. I really liked the way the present day part of the story implied the greater war going on.

Not bad.

On the other hand, the reveal of the cause of her blindness is maybe a little underwhelming, and focusing on it so much, and her time before she was blind, only ends up like they're ignoring her journey from headstrong upstart to bad ass zatoichi Jedi, which is honestly the meat of the character. Also, and this is coming from someone who has hopefully made his stance on Parkour Fencing clear, a little bit more of the fight at the end would've made the film much more satisfying on the whole. I mean, I know David Mamet says "show up late and leave early", but shit, man... don't leave THAT early.

All in all, not too bad. Good, but not great.
Jon

Monday, November 14, 2016

NaNoWriMo


Okay, so, there's a lot of ground to cover here.

A lot of things have changed concerning all of this NANoWriMo stuff, as my intentions that started out in one place, have already ended up in another, and it's only been a couple of weeks. Y'see, when I was first planning to do a blog about my participation in this year's NaNoWriMo challenge, it was two weeks ago. It was still October then. Everything was still wonderful then. The very air smelled of hope and possibilities. The world was still bright and green and beautiful, children danced and sang; Nothing had gone to shit yet.

But that was then...


I've told you about this, right?

In case you missed it, NaNoWriMo is the incredibly stupid, needlessly difficult to say, acronym for the National Novel Writing Month Challenge. It takes place in November, and the idea is probably pretty self-evident: You write a novel over the course of the month. Or at least 50,000 words of one. That was my goal, at least. If I averaged about 1600-some words a day, at the end of the month, I would have reached my goal. A nearly complete, maybe almost two-thirds done, first draft of a novel. It's a fun and scary prospect with the hardest part being, not only coming up with a story, but maintaining discipline and forward momentum, maintaining somehow keeping yourself from stopping and editing and obsessing, maintaining somehow keeping yourself continually writing. In a nutshell, You can fix it later is the mantra. It's not an easy thing to do.

This year, I decided to try it out for the first time...


And I failed.

Mostly, I'm blaming Trump, because, well... fuck him. However, the real truth is that with everything that was going on, I got off schedule. I fell behind on my word count. Now I'll never make 50,000 words by the end of the month. It's just not going to happen, especially when you consider the fact that Thanksgiving is right around the corner as well, which, seriously... why the fuck didn't anyone thing of that? Why not put the challenge in January? It makes no sense... Anyway, like I said, with the holidays coming up, on top of everything else, yeah... It's not going to happen.

But that's okay, I'm still going to finish the book.


Thanks, Kermit.

I'm almost 8000 words into it now. I like what I've got so far. It's a simple idea, but one that can hold a lot more thematically then you would think at first glance, so that's good. I also know how it ends, and I have plenty of things to throw in there to make it to about 80,000-ish words total, maybe. There's a lot of elements that have been floating around my Idea Folder for awhile that I'm excited to use as well. All things considered, I feel like I'm in a good spot. I'm feeling pretty strong too, writing-wise. So, I'm just going to go on as originally intended, try to write every day with the same word-count goal in mind, except now, without any of the pressure. So that's nice. 

Here's my NaNoWriMo page, if you're interested.

And here's a link to the WIP itself.


So, right off the bat... yeah, I know, the working title is bad, super bad, and it might already be taken. And, yes, the picture doesn't really capture what the story is about. I know. I honestly have no idea what it's from either, I just found it on a random Google Image search, and figured... close enough. Also, the synopsis isn't that tight either. Believe me, I'm aware of all this stuff. How could I not be? I mean, Hellevator? Come on. But like I said, it's a working title. I'll worry about refining that stuff when I'm done. For now, I'm just writing.

I'll fix it later.

Jon

Friday, October 28, 2016

Darth Maul: Apprentice





"Fan Film"

That corner of fandom that can't help but get kind of creepy in a "way too much love, way too intensely" kind of way. Driven by obsession and zealotry, it's a scene that can sometimes create some surprising and interesting pieces of art, but is perhaps more likely to pump out some unbelievably wrong-headed garbage that gives new meaning to the phrase "lack of self-awareness".

I've been curious about fan films lately, so I've been watching them. Now I'm sharing them with you.

Oh crap, today's fan film features Darth Maul!

God help us all...

Darth Maul is often called the best part of the movie Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. This always reminds me of the scene in Monty Python's Holy Grail where Arthur rides by and one peasant says: "He must be a King," The other peasant says: "How do you know?" And the first peasant says: "He doesn't have shit all over him."

Finding out a Darth Maul fan film exists is like... the least surprising thing in the entire universe.

I bet the guy who plays Darth Maul was already dressed like this when his buddies called his Mom's house and were like: "Dude, do you want to be in our Darth Maul fan film?" And all he says, in a whispered monotone, is: "My whole life has led me to this moment." I kid, I kid, don't mind me. I'm sure he has a very nice Basement apartment...

Anyway, Darth Maul: Apprentice was Written and Directed by Shawn Bu, who has mostly worked on other short films that I'm not familiar with, as far as I can tell. The film's synopsis goes a little something like thus: With his training almost complete, Darth Maul must face six Jedi in order to reach his true potential, and become a Dark Lord of the Sith. Six against one, huh? Uh oh... This is a "fight" fan film, I guess. You all know what that means, right? I think we're about to watch a buttload of Nerds doing some not very impressive kung fu.

Brace yourselves.



Well...

That was a lot better than I expected.

The production values were a lot higher than I was expecting, as was the fighting. Sure, there was a ton of unnecessary flipping, but that's true with all Jedi fights. That's what makes them kind of dumb. And yes, some of the actors were better at interacting with the CGI than others, but what're you gonna do? That's simply the level of talent you're working with on projects like these. They also managed to craft a decent--albeit small and simple--arc for the main character, and yet got it to fit nicely with the established canon. The make-up looked good too, and I liked how they made each Jedi a somewhat distinct archetype. Plus, I also liked how they only had a couple of aliens, and the ones they did have, they put effort into their look, but didn't try to overdo it. This tells me they were aware of their limitations and tried to work within them. I appreciate that about a smaller film-maker.

All in all, this was a surprisingly good job, I'm sorry I poked fun at them earlier in the post.

Well... not THAT sorry.

You know what else? Honestly, this is exactly the type of scene Maul needed in Phantom Menace, something that should have happened early in the movie in order to establish him and his bad ass credit. If you insert something like this, suddenly his first fight doesn't end with him dying at the end, like a big false alarm, and then he doesn't feel like such a one-off throwaway characater. This wouldn't have fixed the movie, of course, it still would've been basically unwatchable garbage, but at least the character wouldn't have been a complete whiff.

Not bad,
Jon


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Exile









"Fan Films"

The security blanket of creative endeavors. I guess I can understand the appeal somewhat. The pre-made, already well known--and often beloved universes, characters, and relationships--basically all the hard work already done, that's a lot of pressure taken off before you even get started. It must seem like a fast and easy way to get right to the "fun" of the story. I get that. Writing isn't easy, especially world and character building. It can be intimidating, and maybe you just want to practice story-telling? I can see that, I guess. However, if you stay under that security blanket too long, people are never going to look at you as anything other than a baby.

Anyway... fan films, I've been watching them lately, and then sharing them with you.

STAR WARS EXILE is supposedly just the first episode of a longer work, however, a very quick --and admittedly not that interested--search didn't reveal any later ones, so who knows if this project is till rolling or not. Either way, today's fan film was Directed by Noel Braham and Pokey Spears. They both star in it as well. Plus, truly a triple threat, it was written by Noel Braham too, and George Lucas apparently, at least according to the credits.

...I'm sure he appreciates the acknowledgment.

The Synopsis goes like this: Jedi around the galaxy are being viciously hunted and killed by the evil Galactic Empire. Aware of the imminent danger, Jedi Master Boemana Tora and her Padawan Makal Lori, flee to the outer rim systems close to the planet of Lothal.

That sounds all right, I guess, but it's yet another example of Star Wars and its fandom leaning way too hard on the Jedi crutch, so that's a little old and dull at this point. There's other non-Jedi shit that goes on in the far, far away galaxy, right? Can't tell by looking... Ten bucks says this film centers around a young Jedi Knight resisting the pull of the Darkside... again. Well, at least it takes place in a time period of the Star Wars Universe that I'm interested in (Just before A New Hope). The biggest plus of this fan film though, at least for me, is that it looks like there's a lot of POC involved in this particular project, and that does interest me.

So all right then, let's check it out...


Well, the opening was fun.

It was nice seeing an economical use of Darth Vader. That was well done. It shows a nice sense of control and self-awareness on the part of the Director. Plus, on a side note, they get bonus points from me for the chubby Stormtrooper. Gotta love local talent. Seriously though, the opening crawl and the slow pan down to the planet all felt very Star Wars-y, so as far as the first half is concerned, they did a very good job there.

But after that... things kind of fell apart.

I thought it was interesting that they linked it to the Rebels cartoon, but in what turned out to be kind of a trend, they stopped too short. It was odd that they chose to set this film on a planet "near Lothal" instead of just "on Lothal". Especially with the recognizable skyline in the background. Why do that? Also, why does the planet they were on not get a name?

I also really didn't like the designs and stylistic choices of the Sith Inquisitor. To me, there's a very boring, very cliched way of playing the "pure evil" guy, and this was basically it. Every single facet of the character was just Community Theatre level bad choices. It felt too much like a first thoughts character sketch. Too familiar. Too dull. All around uninspired.

Honestly, pretty much everything about the back half of this film felt off. The dialogue was stilted and way too wordy, and all of it was the kind of wordy nonsense that's better let unsaid and shown, rather then having a character say through clenched teeth, y'know? The fighting was also stiff and clunky, which isn't really surprising for this level of thing, but then the overall oddly paced and choreographed encounter was. The motivation of the two Jedis in general was basically unclear. I get that they're on the run, and that this is supposed to be the first episode of a larger story, but it was all too vague. Why were they even there in the first place? Where were they going? Also, did the Jedi Master turn evil at the end? What was that? It was too hard to tell without any concrete interaction.

All in all, I felt like there was too much focus on what they thought they needed to tell in order to start this story, and not enough of what they actually needed. It ended up being such a weird contrast to the first half of the film in terms of quality.

Plus, didn't it look like the young Jedi flew off in a Colonial Viper in the end?

That was weird.

Disappointed,
Jon