Monday, October 24, 2005

Revelations is Revolutionary

Ok, I’ve gotta say, anyone in Charter’s area should definitely get their high speed broadband.

You just can’t argue with $20 a month.

It really is blisteringly fast. Watching streaming video with no delay whatsoever. I downloaded the Doom 3 demo (500mb) in less than a half an hour. In fact, I watched some streaming video, with a game demo downloading at 250kps in the background.

If you’ve never used a broadband connection before, I can only explain it like this. It’s a whole different internet. You just don’t realise the amount of stuff that’s available.

Anyway, I’m going to stop talking about Broadband now.

Today’s post is going to be more of a review.

I’d heard a lot of rumblings about Star Wars : Revelations, a 40 minute Star Wars fan film. Being the Star Wars geek that I am, I decided to download it and take a look.

To be perfectly honest, I usually avoid fan films like the plague, unless they’re spoofs or poke fun at the movie they’re based on. (The CG musical short ‘One Season More’, and the ‘Pink Five’ series are awesome). The reason I usually avoid fan-films is simple, 999 times out of 1000, Fan Films suck ass. Usually, they’re nothing more than a group of friends dressed in bad Halloween costumes, badly acting out a story that is totally self indulgent, crap and rarely makes sense.

Basically, geeks use them as an excuse to get dressed up and have light saber fights with their friends. Fun for them, classic movie raping eye torture for everyone else.

However, Revelations surprised the hell out of me. It was actually GOOD.

Let me get the bad stuff out of the way first.

It has to be said that the acting in it is pretty dire. One character, who is meant to be a Vader-style bad ass, recites her lines in a monotone mumble, and her facial expressions just never change. It’s almost painful to watch her. The best actor in the film is on the same level with your average daytime soap-opera.

The costumes and some of the locations are ‘off’ as well. Some scenes look like they raided the Halloween section at walmart. One scene has a Mon Calamari character who’s face is a fairly well done silicon mask, but animatronics it ain’t. No movement whatsoever. It doesn’t look like an alien, it looks like a guy in a mask. Surprisingly, the Darth Vader costume and the Storm Trooper costumes are absolutely spot-on. However, the emperor looks a lot like a plastic Micheal Moore who’s been put in a microwave.

The locations that aren’t done in Blue Screen also look a little out of place. They’re not necessarily bad, but are noticeable. Obviously, they are real world locations and haven’t been constructed and lit, and don’t look very star-warsy

However, all of this is forgivable.

This is a fan film, made by a group of people with no financial backing. They’re simply not professionals, and have paid to make this short out of their own pocket. As long as you have your expectations in the right place, it’s fine. Obviously they couldn’t afford to fly out to Tunisia to simulate a desert planet. They can’t afford a full animatronic mask for the alien characters. The best way to look at it is that some of the aliens in the Cantina scene in Episode IV didn’t look amazingly convincing either.

However, the special effects and CG work is absolutely amazing…and I don’t mean amazing for a fan-film. The modeling is done excellently, and the animation is absolutely top notch. Put it this way, if the CG scenes had been rendered in higher resolution, you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference between Revolutions and a current feature film. Only one or two scenes are a little shaky. For example, watching the TIE-Fighters launch in one scene, makes them look a little like weightless toys. However, this is one tiny fly in a big old bowl of ointment.

The chase scene through the shipyard is outstanding. The explosions look fantastic, and the new (never before seen) ships are extremely well designed. I particularly liked the main shipyard facility, a space station that has huge long fins all around, that look very similar to the Solar Panels on the side of the Tie fighter. It really helped tie in the structure to the established Star Wars Universe.

I think the best compliment I can give the makers of this film about the CG design is this: It’s new, but it looks like it actually belongs in the Star Wars universe.

The story is fairly well written. There are, however, a few holes. Two Jedi character’s fight all the way through like cat and dog. Not very ‘Jedi’ like. However, I can’t really call this a bad thing, as it’s just my interpretation of how a Jedi would act.

There are a few more slight niggles I have. For example, a lot of the light saber combat isn’t up to scratch. Some of them are well choreographed and acted, but some just look like ‘banging sticks’. Again, though, they didn’t spend months practicing with a stage fighting professional.

In the end, I can say the production quality on Revelations gives me a lot of hope for the proposed Star Wars TV series. If amateurs can make a 40 minute movie, on the budget they had, and end up with something of this quality…professionals should be able to make a TV series that kicks, rather than sucks, ass.

I’d really recommend downloading this movie. It’s obviously not up there with the ‘real’ Star Wars saga, but I don’t think any amateur, with the same budget constraints could do any better.

As long as you don’t start this movie up, expecting to see a multi-million dollar feature, I think you’ll enjoy it.

If this was a 'real' movie, I'd give it a 4 out of 10.

As it is, I'll give it a 9 out of 10.


Kato said...

I watched that a few months ago. Like you, I was impressed insofar as it was a fan film. I wasn't going to knock all their hard work and limited budget, but I would have a hard time recommending someone sitting through it. The CG was very, very well done, but the rest of it I found lacking. The acting is very flat, and I thought the story was muddled and uninspired. I also thought the audio was pretty poor--a lot of noticeable inconsistencies in volume between actors and noise in the recording.

But hey, at least it didn't have Jar Jar.

MC Etcher said...

As fan films go, it was very well done. The special effects were especially good.

Susiebadoozie said...

interesting. did you enjoy the "Thumb Wars"? just kidding. glad you like your broadband. yes, fast internet makes life so much better. i remember the dark ages of dial up. sitting there on my first computer, a mac with 8 megabytes of ram. whoa there nellie! watching the screen appear one line at a time. i lasted about 5 minutes on the internet and then i was done with that.

Paulius said...

Kato : I was impressed with Revolutions, but to be honest, I look at it more like a 'Tech Demo' than an actual movie. I just find it amazing that revolutions could be made by amateurs with consumer grade editing software, and home computers. Face it, if YOU'D made it, you'd be proud as hell.

Etcher : 'nuff said.

Susie : Actually, I loved Thumb Wars "I am a puppet!" I also liked Bat-Thumb as well. I love anything steve odekirk made(I think that's how you spell it).