By Rory L. Aronsky | July 21, 2003

No doubt that with the many movies we watch, characters will come along that either make us feel like s**t about our lives or make us feel that we’re doing fine as we are. Case in point, a character named Darth Brooks (Scott Clarkson). He used to be a filmmaker but joined the side of evil known as The Phantom Filmmaker (Ehren Ziegler) and in return, he was transformed into a powerful film critic. Powerful? My a*s he is! “Your performance sucked,” he says to our heroine, OB/GYN Mary Ellen (Kymberly Tubbs) at one point. He uses the word “sucked” so many times and repeated so many basic derogatory words such as “lame”, “stupid”, and “awful” that he instantly lost credibility with me. How does this make me feel better about my own life? Well, compared to that jackass, I am a better critic.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the goods…the real good ones. The short films I have seen before this have mainly been short bursts of energy and punches of humor that are very enjoyable. “Attack of the Returning Phantom Filmmaker’s New Empire” (Don’t make me repeat that again) is one of the longer shorts (Oxymoron for sure, but very true) that turn out to be one of the best out of this entire batch of films nominated for the Star Wars Fan Film Awards.
OB/GYN Mary Ellen receives a message from The Hologram (Gabrielle Maisels), located inside a figurine of R2-D2, requesting help because The Phantom Filmmaker has come up with the “Ultimate Fan Film” that has the power to destroy all other Fan Films. Right off the bat, there is a nod to Princess Leia’s message located inside R2-D2, only this time, the filmmaker’s hologram needs $.25 cents to continue recording her hologram, but she doesn’t have it.
Our brave heroine goes out to find The Phantom Filmmaker and encounters three inept Clones (Eugene Solfanelli, three times over) that are insanely funny. The battle is over with them before it has begun. There are other great moments in store, such as a jab at the holiday TV specials that starred the Ewoks. While the encounter between OB/GYN Mary Ellen and The Phantom Filmmaker is comical, producer Kymberly Tubbs and director Ehren Ziegler also make it intriguing with their performances and the well-written dialogue. Besides that, there are also other great surprises in store in the midst of that and after.
This is, without a doubt, not only one of the best of the 2003 batch, but also one of the best Star Wars fan films period.

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