With several hours on my hands sitting in a car, I started on a rather unhealthy binge of Star Wars fan films. I found a LOT of bad ones out there, most of which were an excuse to put together a lightsaber fight but I was surprised to find that there was actually a decent amount of well done ones scattered through YouTube. It seems like after the announcement of Disney purchasing Lucasfilms and continuing the saga, a lot of fans came out of the woodwork the past couple of years to add their take on the Star Wars universe. Some of these have been around for a few years now and have built up some notoriety but the majority I found were posted in 2016 or later. So I’m here to boil down that long list to the top 10 Star Wars fan films on the internet right now and rank them in what I think is the best of the best.
10. Star Wars: The Lesser Evil
This is your pretty standard Star Wars fan film, but thats not to say we aren’t starting this list off strong. It has a Jedi and Padawan facing off in a lightsaber fight against an evil Sith Lord. The Jedi are joined by a mysterious person who helps them take down this foe and reveals himself in a shocking twist at the end. The lightsaber fights are good and the sound effects really add to the action. This short was even chosen by Kathleen Kennedy in 2015 for the Filmmaker Select Award of the Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards!
9. Star Wars: The Force And The Fury
This one ultimately made the list because it starts off feeling less like a Star Wars fan film and more like a short film. It has a very cinematic vibe, the audio is incredible and the location puts you in the middle of a jungle. My big complaint, however, is that we are plopped right into the middle of a story and are unfortunately not given any resolution. I really wish the filmmakers behind this would have given us a definitive conclusion as we’ll never get to know how this all began or how it plays out in the end.
Man, this fan film starts off so strong and is incredibly impressive in the graphics department for what is presumably indie low budget. I feel like I’m watching a PS5 sequel to Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. Unfortunately this film falls apart within the last couple of minutes when it reveals its Mary Sue. I wish writer and director Joe Sill refrained from the temptation of going the Jedi route and made this more about the X-Wing pilot. It could have easily been higher up on this arbitrary unofficial nerd site’s list. Regardless, hats off to Whitelist Productions for their impressive digital air battle.
7. Exile – Episode 1
“Exile” is another story that starts off really strong. It’s clearly well produced and tells the beginning tale of Jedi on the run from the empire. We get to see two canon characters, Quinlan Vos and a brief appearance from none other than Darth Vader. The names Ahsoka Tano and Kanan Jarrus are also featured. The main antagonist, a Sith Inquisitor, is pretty brutal and has one of the most vicious murders in any of the Star Wars fan films I’ve seen. While they are clearly trying to stay true to canon, there are a couple of flubs; the biggest being the Jedi master knowing of Kanan’s existence. While it ends on a confusing cliffhanger, this is labeled as Episode 1, so presumably this story will continue to unfold in the coming years.
6. Jedi Code
I initially missed the opening sequence setting everything up and thought I was getting a story about Dash Rendar due to the YT-2400. Unfortunately that wasn’t the Outrider I was seeing, but fortunately this was still a well thought out revenge story with an unconventional Jedi named Kai Arclighter. I really enjoyed the use of traditional Star Wars transitions and thought the lightsaber fights had an intensity most other fan films don’t bring to the table. With a strong beginning, I would gladly welcome this journey to continue in future stories.
Centered around a Jedi master training his Padawan, “Hoshino” gives us a teacher managing an inexperienced and frustrated student. The cinematography is gorgeous and several scenes beautifully pay homage to classic samurai films. Adjacent her journey, another story unfolds after she has become a master herself. All six minutes of the story is wonderfully done, but similarly to “The Force and the Fury,” I wish another minute had been added to the end. It builds up to an epic duel between herself and several other lightsaber-wielding baddies, but the film comes to a conclusion before the battle begins. I thought watching lightsaber fight after lightsaber fight would have desensitized me, but this is the one instance I would have absolutely welcomed one.
4. TIE Fighter
This is a fan film that has been around for a couple of years and became an instant classic. The 80’s Japanese animation style is incredible and the soundtrack rocks so hard. It makes me wish Lucasfilm would put out a TV series similar to this and get away from the Saturday morning Disney cartoon. If you have yet to get started in Star Wars fan films or know someone who would like to, theres no better place to spend your 7 1/2 minutes.
3. Star Wars: Destroyer
Like the one before this, “Star Wars: Destroyer” is told from the perspective of the workhorses of the Galactic Civil War. This is the most visually impressive fan film out of the group and I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around how amateur filmmakers managed to pull this spectacle off. I think if they could have gotten this out before the release of Rogue One, it would have gained much more traction. This is a perfect example of why a live action Star Wars TV show would work and Lucasfilm needs to get on it ASAP.
2. Darth Maul: Apprentice
By far the most viewed Star Wars fan film on the internet, “Darth Maul: Apprentice” is an incredibly impressive feat in the indie filmmaking world. The choreography is superb and the attention to detail is second to none. They even released a few “making of” videos that only enhance your future viewings. I personally consider this as close to canon as a film gets without coming from Disney–I’ve even make it a part of my pre-Phantom Menace viewing ritual. My only complaint is wanting this film to tell more of a story than Darth Maul hunting down “intruding” Jedi. Regardless, if you’ve never seen “Darth Maul: Apprentice,” you need to set aside what you’re doing right now and watch it.
1. A Light In The Darkness
I may get a little Bantha fodder thrown my way for this number 1 pick, but hear me out. “A Light in the Darkness” is an ambitious project that hits big on the most important aspect: it tells a different and compelling story. It’s not about a Jedi or his Padawan. Its not about an inquisitor or bounty hunter. This is a story about regular people and the effect the Empire has on their lives. The acting can be kind of bad at times, and the green screen can really fall flat, but they were also doing this about five years before any other film on this list. They also do what almost no other fan film does: they incorporate species OTHER than humans (or very humanlike). Darth Maul looked fantastic in “Apprentice,” but it’s also some face makeup with prosthetic horns and teeth. A Togruta made a couple of appearances, but the majority of antagonists had their face painted one color or the other. These guys went the extra step and created full prosthetic heads. While almost all of the other films were on location in a forest, these guys built actual full on sets for a lot of the scenes. The whole package was giving me a Firefly vibe. Thats why I consider this the best Star Wars fan film on the internet today. “Darkness” is fairly long at about 40 minutes, but can be viewed individually in its original three parts if you’d prefer.
Honorable Mentions: If you enjoyed the top 10 list and are looking for more fan films to watch, here’s a list of several contenders that didn’t quite make the cut.
Scout: A Star Wars Story is an intense confrontation between a Rebel and Scout Trooper during the battle of Endor. What’s really cool is they actually went to the Redwood Forest where the scenes for Return of the Jedi were filmed.
Rebel Scum is another story taking place around the original trilogy. A Rebel pilot’s snow speeder crash lands during the attack on Hoth and is left on the planet when the Rebel Alliance retreats. They minimized their use of CGI by using on-set locations as well as stop-motion animation.
Star Wars Versus: The Way to Shadow really turned me off with its excessive use of swearing. It really doesnt fit to the genre in my eyes. It’s also fairly long to dedicate in one sitting. However, there is a lot of impressive CGI and incorporates dozens, sometimes hundreds of Clonetroopers on screen at one time. If nothing else this is worth skipping around to the good parts.
If there are any glaring omissions or any films you were glad got brought to your attention, let us know in the comments.
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