Revelations is a Star Wars Fan Film, released to the Internet in early 2005. It was released with some degree of fanfare, for a fan-film released in the middle of the 2000's. It was most well known for its special effects. Sure, productions like Troops and such looked pretty authentic, but none of them had the space battles and elements that Star Wars is known for.
Most fan films for Star Wars tend to fall into two categories. They are either some from of parody of Star Wars's plot, tropes, or other elements. Or they are lightsaber fights, because those are always worthwhile.
Revelations is the exceedingly rare third type of fan film: it actually dares to take itself seriously. It has a story that it wants to tell, and it has some budget (some figures suggest upwards of $20,000) and cinematography behind it. It's trying to mimic the storytelling and feel of the actual Star Wars films.
How did they do? Let's find out. The best part of this is that, since it's perfectly free, you can watch it along with me.
But first, let's lay down some ground rules.
Revelations is an amateur, budget film, from the mid-2000's. To try to compare it to a professional, big budget film from today would be silly. However, I don't believe in grading on a curve, as people who read my Avatar: The Last Airbender liveblog can attest to. I wasn't going easy on that show just because it's a kid's cartoon, so I'm definitely not going easy on Revelations just because it's an amateur production.
That being said, there are going to be rules for this review.
No Actor Attractiveness: Some of the initial commentary on this film was... disappointing to say the least. Much was said about the attractiveness of the female lead and the female antagonist, little of which could be considered nice or respectful. Basically, people talked a lot about how "ugly" the women are.
Yeah, fuck that. I don't give a damn about the fact that they didn't have professional make-up artists or other crap around on-set so that people can have their little stroke fantasies about the Emperor's Hand! As far as I'm concerned, all of that bullshit is completely out of bounds.
And people wonder why all female actresses look alike...
No Blue Screening: This film uses blue-screening. A lot of blue-screening. I'd say that 60-70% of the shots of actual actors are blue-screened. And yet, at no time in this ~45 minute production is any of it good or convincing. The best it gets is passable. Indeed, I could make this review twice as long, simply by prefacing almost every scene description with "Cut to a badly blue-screened shot of..."
In order to save time, I'll just tell you when blue-screening isn't involved. I'll only mention bad blue-screening if it's truly horrendous. I'll talk about the general quality of the special effects; don't worry. But I'm not going to keep harping on this point just because the filmmakers keep failing over and over at it.
No Continuity: Star Wars has an extensive Extended Universe continuity; indeed, they pretty much coined the term. Star Wars has a pretty rigorous system of continuity levels, based primarily on how far from George Lucas a particular work is. Being a fan work, it would be reasonable to hold it to the light of continuity; after all, that's half the point of working within a fandom.
The problem is that this movie was made before Episode 3. And it is set after Episode 3. And it's about Jedi. The writers were not in fact psychics, nor were they given access to Episode 3's script, so they get things wrong. And these aren't minor background elements either; these are pretty significant plot points that are simply wrong for what Revenge of the Sith says.
Similarly, like many fan works, this film invents continuity via the ever-popular, all-purpose Retcon. It creates pivotal plot points that have never been stated, implied, or even hinted at in the massive volume of EU material in Star Wars.
I don't care.
I'm going to judge this work as a film. Period. Yes, it's a Star Wars fanwork, but I simply don't care that it invents plot points. If those invented plot points and storyline elements make for a more entertaining work, then they're good. If they don't, then they were superfluous and therefore bad by default.
Oh, I'll snark about it. But I'm not going to hold forth at length about the lack of this film to fit perfectly into Star Wars canon. Especially considering that some of that canon came out after its release. There's no point in holding people accountable for things they couldn't possibly know.
However, in exchange for this leniency, I will be holding this film to a different standard: the standard that it would be watched by people who only know Star Wars from the films. That is, I will feel free to comment on any elements of the story that would only make sense after a trip to the Wookiepedia or if you happen to know about EU stories and continuity.
No continuity means no continuity.