Fan Films are often cheap looking, self indulgent and a little messy, but every now and then one pops up to rival the very franchise it's based on. Batman Dead End comes to mind, as does Punisher: Dirty Laundry. When it comes to Star Wars fan films, the only thing that really comes to mind are the Ryan Vs Dorkman Lightsaber movies. Today a Star Wars fan film hit that crushes the rest. Without mercy. Darth Maul: Apprentice...
Darth Maul Apprentice does something most fan films neglect to do and that's add to the canon that inspired them. This movie, from director Shawn Bu, is set before the events of Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace and features Darth Maul's Sith trail, designed by his master Darth Sidious. Watch the movie below.
I think what impressed me most about this short film was its economy. Star Wars is legendarily fast and intense, well the originals were anyway, the plot moves swiftly. Darth Maul Apprentice tells a lean story set before Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace, with Darth Sidious instructing Maul to keep their plans, their very presence a secret. We see images of Maul in his holosphere, studying images relating to, among other things, battle droids and assault ships destined to invade Theed.
Before long the true story at the heart of this film is revealed. Jedi have arrived at Maul's hidden base and he must dispatch them with extreme prejudice. What follows is a fast paced,well produced action sequence that does as much for the character of Darth Maul as his entire Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace appearance. We witness his familiar aggression and ferocity, but also a surprising compassion and grudging admiration for the Jedi Padawan making her last stand.
This film sports near perfect CGI, impeccable pacing, choreography and wardrobe. In fact I much prefer the depiction of the Jedi character designs here as opposed to those in the prequels. They seem much more personal, individual. The performances are delightfully Star Wars like, just the rights side of weird. Which is not to say they are poor, this is Star Wars story telling, where clunky dialogue is delivered awkwardly, but serves the story perfectly. In short, I love this film, and I have made it part of my personal canon. I hope we get more from Shawn Bu.
When I saw this movie Monday morning the first thing I did was share it around Talk Star Wars HQ. Here are a couple of reactions: