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


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