Time For Backstory
Well, the movie started off with a healthy dose of poorly edited action scenes. That's a good thing; it could have started with a lot of dry exposition, like so many fanfics.
Of course, we get all of that now.
After making the jump to lightspeed, Taryn starts going apeshit about who Cade is and where the artifact is. Before Cade can have a hissy fit of his own, Declan tells them to knock that shit off, saying that he's risked his ass for both of them and they should act like the Jedi they're supposed to be. You heard that; slapnuts over there is supposed to be a Jedi. Sure why not.
After Declan leaves, Taryn asks how he meet Raux, but Cade goes up her ass by asking how she worked for the Emperor's Hand. Taryn tries to remind him that Zhanna was a Jedi, but Cade throws the Seer thing back in her face, saying that she should have been more "perceptive".
You know Taryn, you have a lightsaber. You are well within your rights to take this asshole's head right here and now.
Instead of sending this bastard into the Force, she reminds him that Raux was trained by Zhanna in secret, yet she didn't know about Zhanna either. This pisses Cade off, saying that Raux was a Jedi, but Taryn reminds him that Seers were unsuitable for training. So Taryn handed her to Zhanna to train. Taryn then cryptically talks about restoring the order, but Zhanna used her for something. Then she says that she hates Zhanna more than anyone, and walks out.
That wasn't a bad scene. This is the first of a sequence of scenes in this film that exist to show character and backstory. Taryn's actress has a few too many modern mannerisms, and Cade seems more flat than he should be. But overall, the dialog sounds like an actual conversation and is delivered not entirely ineptly.
The biggest failure here is one of Taryn's last lines, "no one hates Zhanna more than I do." This should not be a small, throwaway line coming from a Jedi. Anytime a Jedi starts talking about hating something, the Dark Side should be looming in the background. This should be the beginning of a character arc about Taryn coming to grips with her hatred and feelings of betrayal. There should be some element of the temptation of the Dark Side, some notion that she is straying from the path of the Jedi.
And there isn't. Oh, there tries
to be. But there is absolutely no through development of that idea.
When Taryn leaves, Declan enters. Cade confesses that he's unnerved by what Taryn said. He used to believe in Raux, but from his perspective, she sent him to someone who was working for the Emperor's Hand. And she herself was trained by that same Hand. He's starting to wonder if he's being played.
Declan just asks if he believes in her visions, and suggests that she may have seen a larger picture.
Except for one unnatural line of dialog ("Without fail." Nobody talks like that. Not even Jedi), this scene works well too. Indeed, the idea that Raux is actually working with Zhanna sounds incredibly inviting and powerful. After all, Zhanna was in the best position to groom her into a proper Dark Side Apprentice, to mold her into a weapon.
But, as with the possibility with Taryn, there is absolute no
payoff for this. At all.
Cut to a scene that exists solely to remind us that Vader exists. No really, there's no other point to this scene. He talks to the Emperor (or rather, a guy wearing a terrible Emperor facial prosthetic), who asks him about his dealings with Zhanna. Vader just says that he's not sure she's working in their best interests, and the Emperor agrees. Then he scolds Vader for not killing enough Jedi.
Cut to what I assume is Coruscant; a ball room. Holy shit, a real, large set! Or rather, they got someone to lend them their ballroom for a few hours of shooting.
Various people in various dress are talking, punctuated by shots of droids or people in bad alien costumes. Then Zhanna appears, and the choir has an orgasm as she descends the stairs in an elegant dress. She addresses the "senators" and others, then plays a message from the Emperor. He says that he's giving control of the galactic sectors to the "Moffs." OK, what's a Moff? Yes, I
know what a Moff is, but my point is that the film never bothers to tell us
Well, it's irrelevant; what matters is that the Emperor is clearly clamping down. One of the senators starts to complain, but Vader appears from nowhere
to choke him out. A bunch of Storm Troopers appear, and Vader tell them to take the Senators to their homeworlds.
OK, what the hell was the point of that scene? Did someone just have access to the room and they wanted an excuse to shoot something there? Did they just like the way Zhanna looked in her large red dress and tried to shoehorn it in? Forget the fact that disbanding the Senate isn't supposed to happen until A New Hope; that continuity error is meaningless next to the fact that it's utterly pointless.
None of this matters to the plot, characters, or theme of the work. This entire scene is completely irrelevant to anything this story is trying to do.
The only plot-relevant thing that happens is that Zhanna meets with her apprentice, who tells her about the Corellia situation. Zhanna decides to go to Quarran 3 to take the artifact back herself.
Cut to the unnamed ship, where Taryn is in the cargo hold doing... something. Then someone (presumably Declan, but we never get a shot of his face) hands her a holorecording from Raux. She tells them to take the artifact, a Holocron, to Taryn. She says some other things to Taryn, that, "this is my choice," and such.
Taryn looks conflicted by what she's seen. Or maybe constipated; I'm kinda unclear. Cade then announces his presence. He says that Raux did that a lot, giving orders without explanation and such. Taryn likens this to the way Zhanna worked, sending her to a system without explanation and so forth. Though that doesn't make sense, as we're about to see, the way Zhanna worked was by getting Taryn to use her powers to find Jedi.
But really, it's just a clunky segue into explaining the history between the two.
When Cade gets pissy, Taryn explains that she had visions of the temple's destruction, but only Zhanna believed her. So when the temple was destroyed and Jedi were being hunted, Zhanna was a good choice to partner with. So Taryn used her Seer powers to find Jedi, assuming that they were rebuilding the Order in secret. But then Zhanna turned out to be the Emperor's Hand, so Taryn left.
Cade walks off, pissed... because why not. Then he says that all the Jedi she found for Zhanna were killed. So. Either Cade is the biggest asshole in the galaxy for thinking that she's too stupid to realize this, or he's the biggest asshole in the galaxy for thinking she needs to be reminded of it.
Die in a fire, Cade.
But rather than murdering him on the spot, our hero instead breaks down, saying, "I know." Really, we didn't need you to both start crying and
say that; one or the other would do fine.
The words in this scene are more or less OK. Taryn's acting however is becoming rather over-the-top. Her head movements during her explanation were really forced and unnatural.
Cut to random planet while evil music plays. We see people wrapped in cloth moving stones around while Storm Troopers watch. A ship lands and the Doom sound of a door opening is played. The Troopers line the slaves up for inspection as Zhanna emerges from the ship. Then we see that... Raux is alive! Wow, what a twist! Well, maybe it would be if the audience had any reason to care. They banter a bit, completely impersonally, since Zhanna trained her and all. Then Zhanna tells them to bring her on board the ship.
So, an entire set and scene just to establish that Zhanna's bring Raux along. I hope the money spent filming there was worth it.
Cut back to the unnamed ship. Cade produces the artifact, a plastic cube, I mean a Jedi Holocron. He can't access it because you have to be a Seer to get into it. So Taryn sits down, the cube starts glowing, and a message is played. And now, over halfway through the 40 minute film, we finally
start to get some idea of what this is all supposed to be about.
The message is from someone who is kind enough to dump exposition on us. He says that the Jedi had been trying to infiltrate the group of someone named Sukaal for two hundred years, and he succeeded. He stole this Holocron from them, which somehow "crippled" their group. But he's having second thoughts about delivering it to the Jedi, wondering of Sukaal and the others are right.
Cade wonders where the promised power is, and Taryn says it's on Quorran 3.
Well, enough of that scene.
Cut to the ship flying through an Asteroid Thicket
. Taryn wonders what could have caused this damage when they fly near a piece of debris among the asteroids. Declan says that this is the Empire's testing grounds. Following this is a good 45 seconds of a ship flying around asteroids until they land on the planet. Notably without any character scenes.
That last part is important, because that's all for characters in this film. No really, all character development and backstory has effectively ended. All that's left for us is the plot from here on in.