Throughout the years, there have been a number of Star Wars fan-made films. There was TROOPS, a Star Wars based parody of COPS, and a number of other parody films. But there have also been a number of more serious works set in various different eras of the Star Wars universe. One of them is Star Wars: Threads of Destiny, directed by Rasmus Tirzitis.
Set some 94 years after Return of the Jedi, the Jedi Order and the New Republic are thriving again, though they have new enemies. The Skenvi Empire, no longer under the control of the Galactic Empire, has rushed to fill in the void and expanded dramatically. Many former officers and soldiers from the former Galactic Empire now serve the Skenvi. The Skenvi are now at war with the New Republic for domination of the galaxy, and that’s where our story begins.
We’re introduced to our main villain, Lord Siege. He is sent by Skenvi Emperor Jiles to the planet Coreign. Coreign is a planet that has yet to take sides in the current conflict. It produces a special ore than can power an entire city, but the Skenvi empire is interested in its potential for use as armor for their ships.
The New Republic, meanwhile, sends two Jedi knights, the master Soren Darr and his apprentice Raven Darkham (yes, that IS his name, I’ll get back to that a bit later), to speak with the King and Queen of Coreign and persuade them to join the New Republic instead. Once there, they meet with Princess Arianna, who is skilled with fencing and may in fact be strong with the Force. She is known to be very perceptive towards others’ feelings, and can sense others’ presence before she can hear and see them.
Soren and Raven discuss this. Raven says that she’s too old to begin training as a Jedi, which is an indication that the new Jedi order are following the same practices as the old Jedi order. They also are following the whole ‘no romantic attachments’ rule that caused problems in the prequels for Anakin and Padme. One would think that they’d have learned from the mistakes of the past.
Lord Siege meets with the Princess, and later with the King. Unfortunately, though Lord Siege is there as an ambassador, his tone and movements just scream ‘bad guy’. Say what you will about the prequels, but one thing they got right was Senator Palpatine. He was believable as a politician in the scenes where he needed to be, and an over-the-top villain in the scenes where he needed to be.
Lord Siege, on the other hand, is better at being a Sith Lord and a villain than he is at being an ambassador. He doesn’t come across as a diplomat at all, since he’s unsubtly menacing in his tone and delivery in those scenes. It’s no wonder the royal family of Coreign rejects him and his offer to join the Skenzi.
So of course come the consequences. The queen is murdered, Princess Arianna is kidnapped, and the two Jedi, assisted by the smuggler Karus Kahn, rush to rescue her. It all eventually leads back to Coreign for a showdown with Lord Siege.
Is this film any good? Well, I’ll get this out of the way first. For a fan-made production, there are a number of good visual effects. The combat and the space battle sequences are good, and the lightsaber battle between Raven and Lord Siege is, I thought, well done and on par with the lightsaber duels we’ve seen in the original movies. The scenes where Soren tells Raven not to let his emotions be too much of a distraction are decent, and in keeping with many of the Jedi Master-apprentice scenes we’ve seen in the original six movies.
But sadly, the good is overshadowed by the not-so-good. The acting is sadly wooden in many cases, and the characterization is, for many, weak.
Karus Kahn, alas, is pretty much forgettable. At least they tried to make him not seem too much like a poor man’s Han Solo, but the similairites are there. His ship’s main control center looks similiar to that of the Millenium Falcon, he runs afoul of a few shady characters not directly related to the main antagonists, and his ship has a hyperdrive that sometimes breaks down at the wrong moments. With all that in mind, we can’t help comparing him to Han Solo, and unfortunately he’s nowhere near as interesting. It might be the writing, it might be the acting, but he lacks both the wit and the charm of Han Solo, and comes across as rather dull.
Princess Arianna is, sadly, an example of the Faux Action Girl. Those who’ve been to my TV Tropes ‘Tropers’ page may have seen me list Faux Action Girl as one of my least favorite tropes, or Pet Peeve Tropes. The Faux Action Girl is pretty much a female character who at first SEEMS like she’s going to be a kick-butt Action Girl along the lines of Princess Leia, Buffy, or Xena and Gabrielle. But what separates the Faux Action Girl from the genuine Action Girls named in the previous sentence is that unlike them, she DOESN’T kick butt even though it seems like she’s set up to.
Instead, she exists to be as good as the boys in practice scenes, but when things get REAL, she’s either nowhere to be found or she’s completely helpless and needs the male heroes to rescue her. In this case, it’s the latter. Arianna is good at old-fashioned fencing in the fencing scene with Raven, but when Lord Siege kidnaps her, she’s all screaming like an old-fashioned Damsel in Distress out of an old movie. This plot device was annoying in A Kid In King Arthur’s Court (where it’s even worse — the princess is shown to be absurdly good at swordplay, but is easily kidnapped by a couple of guards), and it’s annoying here, too.
Come on, this is an independent production. You don’t need to adhere to tired Hollywood stereotypes and prejudices that were avoided in the original Star Wars films for the most part. I suppose they were trying to make Arianna a contrast with the feisty Princess Leia, but having the successor of a feisty, tough heroine be a weak and helpless type didn’t work in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and it doesn’t work here, either. The only time Princess Arianna shows any backbone outside the fencing scenes is towards the very end where she uses the Force to shove back an attacker, and even then it’s not entirely intentional.
While there are a number of visual effects impressive for a fan-made production, there are also shots that seem out of place as if they were filmed with a different filming style. A few shots seem like they come from a reality TV show with cosplayers as opposed to a movie, and are jarring when they occur.
The musical score by Justin R. Durban is decent, but it’s not in the same league as John Williams’ classic score. This, alas, shows in the closing credits medley which begins with the classic John Williams closer and then has a very jarring transition with the new music. It’s not quite as bad as, say, going from the opening portion of a Beethoven symphony directly into a techno dance club music track, but still there’s a large contrast in musical styles that doesn’t quite mesh together.
Also, I have to roll my eyes at the name they give our main protagonist (the Luke/Anakin figure). X-Men fans will recognize Raven Darkholme as the other name of frequent antagonist Mystique, and calling the protagonist of this film Raven Darkham will make them less inclined to take this film seriously. Once you get past the name, though, Raven isn’t that bad a protagonist. But still the makers of this film probably should have given him a name that wasn’t a variant of a well-known character from a well-known other franchise.
All in all, while technically this film does have some good moments, and the premise is interesting, it is sadly dragged down by its execution. There’s a lot that could have been done better. All in all, I’d say it’s worth seeing if you’re curious, but there are plenty of better films out there.
That’s it for now. Feel free to leave your comments.