Although many amateur films can be just that -- amateurish -- this one, which debuts Monday, is worth watching.
By TISH WELLS
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
WASHINGTON -- In the original "Star Wars," the Imperial military leader Grand Moff Tarkin tells head baddie Darth Vader, "The Jedi are extinct; their fire has gone out of the universe."
Not for the makers of "Star Wars Revelations," an amateur fan film to be released Monday over the Internet. It's part of a growing video genre produced by devoted viewers and made possible by affordable cameras, computer graphics and editing technologies. All are labors of love and viewable free since they're based on intellectual property that belongs to the copyright owners, in this case "Star Wars" creator George Lucas and Lucasfilm.
"Star Wars Revelations," a 40-minute feature that's sophisticated by fan-film standards, is based on the "Star Wars" universe. Thanks to a solid plot, interesting characters, superb special effects and an unexpected ending, it's accessible even to viewers who can't tell a lightsaber from a flashlight.
"Revelations" is a provocative prelude to the May 19 release of the sixth Lucas film in the "Star Wars" series, "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith." The fan film picks up on the expectation that the Jedi, the good guys, will fall to their enemies, the Sith, epitomized by black-helmeted Darth Vader.
In "Revelations," Vader's Imperial Forces are hunting down escaping Jedi. A former Jedi turned Imperial agent, Zhanna, is pursing an artifact that will help her find and destroy her former comrades.
Opposing her is a fugitive Jedi heroine, Taryn Anwar, working through an old friend and smuggler, Declan, and another ex-Jedi, Cade, who has control of the artifact. Taryn and Zhanna vie for the artifact in a series of starship chases and lightsaber battles.
"Revelations" lacks the mega-bucks polish of a Lucasfilm production, but it catches the otherworldly excitement of a summer science-fiction blockbuster.
Director-actor Shane Felux as Cade, Frank Hernandez as Declan and Gina Hernandez as Taryn deliver smooth performances. The complicated plot moves along briskly despite uneven dialogue and an occasional clunky line.
The computer-graphics special effects are retina-blasters. They include a chase through space-based starship construction yards and a night on the town in Corellia city, whose Central Park, minus the orange tint, looks much like New York's.
Felux, who maxed out his credit cards and took a home equity loan to make "Revelations," acknowledges that the film "got bigger than even I thought it would. We just never really tried to limit ourselves."
"Star Wars Revelations" is due to be released Monday over the Internet by Panic Struck Productions, at www.panicstruckpro.com.