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Revelations: Not Necessarily Star Wars
Korval

[table of contents]
Conclusion
And now we've learned why this kind of Star Wars fan film is exceedingly rare. Not only is a dramatic fan film very expensive to pull off, with special effects and so forth, it's really easy to get wrong.

This is amateur hour in more ways than one. There are fan fics better written than this. The Last Airbender film had better writing and acting than this, and that is not something one says lightly. It may be too grave of an insult to say, but the general quality of the writing and plotting is approaching Metroid: Other M territory.

And that's really not a place you want to be.

The blue-screen effects are terrible, and yet they're used in over half the scenes. The characters have no arc; they're bland and lifeless. The actors can't act. The writing is anemic and boring; there are sporadic moments of competence, but nothing comes of it. The plot is so thin it's transparent. The space battles work OK, but they forget about their characters altogether. The fight choreography is laughably bad in places; seriously, when two guys named Ryan and Dorkman are doing a better job than you, seek help. And the climax is a nightmare netherworld where logic and reason go to die.

The biggest storyline failure of this film is the lack of through development of anything at all. The plot is wafer thin: the Trio are going to take a Holocron to a temple somewhere in order to find out something that will do something of importance. It's a typical MacGuffin plot. And that's fine.

The problem is that there's no character development for anyone. This is a 40 minute film, so it's easiest to liken this to a television episode. The pilot for a Star Wars TV series. And it actually could work as that, especially given the ending. It introduces characters.

But a pilot has to do more than just introduce a situation. There's a reason why most modern TV serieses these days have two-part pilots; because one hour isn't enough to introduce a situation and develop characters. This story could have worked if it were feature-length. But given its current running time, it just tries to do too much and only manages to do nothing at all.

What they really needed to do was focus on one character. Namely, Taryn, the main character. The only hint of a character arc was her relationship with Zhanna and feelings of betrayal. They needed to focus more on that, to the exclusion of all else. Because there's just not enough time for anything else. They needed to treat this like it's a character-specific episode of a TV series.

Declan needs to exist because it's his ship and his presence gives Taryn someone to talk to. But why does Cade exist as a character? What purpose does he serve to the story? Not much. He's Raux's boyfriend and someone for Taryn to exposite to. But little more than that. Yes, Vader is cool, but he's not an integral part of the story. So either the story needs to be changed to integrate him, or the story needs to exclude him.

This story needed to be about Taryn's trip towards the Dark Side. It needed to be about a Jedi who had been through pain and tragedies, and then learned to overcome them and keep from falling. And it needed to stay focused on that character arc: of a Jedi on the edge, barely able to hold it together while being hunted by her nemesis.

Treatment

What follows is a rough outline of a much better story that would follow the same basic structure as this movie, but actually manage to be about something.

It begins pretty much as the film does, with Taryn heading to Corellia, only this time, she's already on board Declan's ship. There, she meets with an old friend, Cade, a Jedi in hiding much like herself. They exchange pleasantries. Cade asked her to come because he found a temple on Quarran 3 that promises great power to those who can find its secrets. He needs a Seer in order to activate it, so he was glad when he found her still alive. His contact on another world has discovered the artifact that is the key to getting into the temple, so he's sending her to retrieve it.

The subject of Zhanna comes up, and Taryn displays thinly-disguised rage. The more perceptive and calm Cade gets her to open up as to the source of these feelings. Here, we get the backstory about Zhanna using Taryn visions to track down Jedi so that she could kill them. But the thing that makes Taryn angriest is that Zhanna presumably killed the sister Taryn charged to her care.

Cade offers words of wisdom, that she won't be able to find justice for these crimes until she can take her personal feelings out of the equation. This does little to calm her down, but she agrees to the mission and leaves. Then Zhanna arrives, so that she and Cade can fight. She quickly dispatches him, wielding her rage like a weapon, then she contacts the orbiting fleet to tell them to spring the trap.

Taryn senses Cade's death, and she feels the presence of Zhanna. That makes her want to go back, but Declan convinces her to follow Cade's mission, which wasn't to fight Zhanna. So there's a space battle and they make good their escape.

We see Zhanna talking to someone via vid link that we can't see but we can hear. She asks if the artifact is secure, and the person says that it is. Zhanna then tells the person to wait for her, that she's on her way. There's also exposition that lets us know that Zhanna knows that the artifact is the key to power, but she doesn't know where the temple it goes in is.

Cut to Taryn and Declan landing on the planet. Taryn has Declan wait at the ship, as she might need pickup. Through her powers, she can see Zhanna on the world, talking to someone, but she can't see who it is.

After a bit, she finds Cade's contact, who turns out to be Raux, very much not dead. Taryn embraces her, but Raux is less apparently joyful. She hands over the artifact and asks where the temple is. Taryn tells her, and then we get the other reveal. Raux lets slip that she's actually Zhanna's apprentice, that Zhanna turned her to the Dark Side.

Raux says that she hates the Jedi for casting her out, for refusing to train her just because of what she is. She also hates Taryn for refusing to train her in secret herself, instead foisting her off on someone else. Ironically, the only one who's always been there for her is Zhanna.

A bunch of Storm Troopers appear, and Raux requests that Taryn return the artifact. Naturally, Taryn refuses and has to flee, but not before declaring that she will murder Zhanna for this. Declan drops in with his ship to make the save, and they escape.

On the ship, Taryn is naturally uber-pissed at Zhanna. Declan tries to calm her down, but she doesn't want to be calm. She recalls Cade's words about finding justice, but she accepts that she doesn't want to let go of her feelings. Naturally, this makes Declan nervous.

Zhanna meets with Raux on a ship, demanding that Raux explain how the artifact was stolen. Raux tells her that she gave it to Taryn, which is when Zhanna finds out that Taryn is the one they're tracking. She tells Zhanna that Taryn told her were the temple was, and that only Taryn is a powerful enough Seer to activate it. So the plan is to follow them, let them acquire the information, and then kill them afterwards. Zhanna then tells Raux not to fight Taryn, that Taryn is hers.

Cut to Quarran 3. Taryn and Declan find the temple. They set some charges in the area, so that they can destroy the temple after getting the information. Taryn then uses the Holocron to activate the temple. They find pretty much what the movie had: a tagging program that allows the tracking of any Jedi.

Naturally Zhanna and Raux appear. Taryn practically throws herself at Zhanna, while Raux quickly subdues Declan. Zhanna is losing, but she also isn't fighting her best. Zhanna tells her about the power of her rage and how Zhanna can teach her how to master it. How it will make her invincible. Taryn simply declares that she's already invincible and uses her rage to break Zhanna's defenses, putting her blade to Zhanna's throat.

Raux looks on with approval, and Taryn sees this. Taryn realizes that she's becoming like her sister and backs off. This gives Zhanna the chance to attack, and she's not holding back this time. Taryn is eventually beaten and as Zhanna moves in for the kill...

Raux strikes her down instead. But Raux makes it clear that it wasn't to save Taryn; this was all her plan from the start. She declares herself the Emperor's Hand, and with the information she has, she will annihilate the Order that dared to cast her out. Taryn stands up and says that, though it may break her heart to do it, she will stop Raux. Because that's what it means to be a Jedi. So they fight, and it's clear that Taryn isn't angry or using rage. At this point, she is a Jedi again. And that's enough for Taryn to beat her.

Raux escapes by detonating one of the charges prematurely to cover her escape. But that still lets Taryn and Declan download a copy of the info for themselves. So just as before, the movie ends on a race to find Jedi. Taryn naturally feels the sting of Raux betrayal, but Declan reminds her that she did save Taryn, that there may still be good left in her. So Taryn decides that if there is, she will find it and save her.

See? A much more focused story for the same length. It's not exactly a work of art. But this story fits the time constraints a lot better than the story they tried to tell. Cade is reduced to a minor character that gets killed off to show that the villain has skills. Pointless Vader cameos are nowhere to be seen. Raux is a part of the plot, playing her master like a fiddle until she literally stabs her in the back. And there is actual through character development here.

23rd Jul '12 10:13:13 AM flag for mods
comments
"There's a reason why most modern TV serieses these days have two-part pilots; because one hour isn't enough to introduce a situation and develop characters."

I know this is horribly nitpicky, but this is really not true. Even if we disregard comedies (though you said "TV series" not "TV dramas"), most shows DO have a one-hour pilot from what I can tell. The ones that do get a two-hour pilot are in the minority and tend to only be the shows the network is really pinning their hopes on.
LordSeth 31st Jul 12
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