Of all the novelties the digital age has brought us, fan films remain the most peculiar. It takes a rare—and devoted—crew to spend their time and energy crafting stories based on existing ideas and universes.
Fan films usually fall into two categories: original stories based on existing characters and situations or parodies set in existing worlds. Star Wars Episode IV.V: The Unknown Discovery falls into the latter category.
Falling somewhere in the second act of George Lucas’s first Star Wars film—Episode IV: A New Hope for all you fad crazy, new school geeks out there—The Unknown Discovery begins with two Stormtroopers tracking a lead to an apartment on Alderaan, the planet Grand Moff Tarkin has ordered the Death Star to destroy unless Princess Leia reveals the whereabouts of the Death Star plans.
The entire short film is a word-for-word remake of the Ezekiel 25:17 scene from Pulp Fiction, complete with the Big Kahuna burger bit, only replacing Samuel L. Jackson and Travolta with Stormtroopers and altering the occasional line for a Star Wars reference (“What ain’t no planet I ever heard of. They speak basic on What?”).
The film may have worked as a two or three minute short, but clocking in at over ten minutes, and failing to skew the Pulp Fiction parody with a more original take, this short winds up working as a longwinded, one-trick pony.
Still, it is mildly amusing—watching a Stormtrooper eat a burger and slurp a drink through his helmet saved this piece from a worse rating. Maybe next time, the men who cooked up Star Wars Episode IV.V: The Unknown Discovery can take the time to add a little absurdity into their parodies—or to simply stray farther from the source material.
The acting is above average in terms of fan films, but the short’s premise—a Star Wars take on Pulp Fiction—is so misused that nothing good comes of it. So many opportunities are missed here. Instead of sticking to Tarantino’s script, writers David Cottingham and
Russell Johnson should have spent more time throwing in jokes and less time copying the dialogue straight from the paperback edition of the Pulp Fiction screenplay.
Hence the problem with most fan films: their creators, devout fans, spend so much time absorbing, and attempting to create, worlds that inspire them that they loose track of what makes a short film work: a unique spin; originality that transcends the parody/fan film genre and becomes as inspiring as the films and literary properties that inspired the short in the first place.