Fan films have been made before, but they are not always as ambitious as the Swedish Threads of Destiny; a feature-length chapter of Star Wars, complete with laser swords and tons of CGI.
Written, filmed and edited over several years, Threads of Destiny is made by Swedish amateurs, volunteers and fans, with the help of equally budgetless friends from around the world. The budget was literally one or two monthly salaries, in other words practically zero in the context of a science fiction film. This is important to tell you up front, so you don’t go into the movie expecting a half-assed low budget Syfy or Asylum knock-off. The budget and technical resources for Threads of Destiny were waaay below the cheapest movie Syfy ever made!
That said, movies like this can not be compared to “real movies” in terms of technology or professionalism. There’s something else at work here, and the dedication shown by the creators, the attention to details attempted by the crew, and the ambitions of everyone involved is – given their lack of resources – very high for a lengthy fan film. Evidently, much thought has gone into the story, characters, costumes, props, sets, digital effects, music, and sounds – even if they don’t always hit the mark. The film is 100% aligned to the official Star Wars universe, not only in the story but also in the overall visual design and feeling of the film. I clearly get a true Star Wars vibe, at least the kind of vibe I got from the second trilogy, which this film is closer to in most respects. That may not be a good thing in some people’s eyes, but assuming that that was a goal with the project, they definitely succeeded wether personal taste approves or not.
The story is also what I would call a typical Star Wars story; set a century after Return of the Jedi, the story takes place as the Jedi order and the Republic are once again active. The planet Coreign produces a special ore that can power an entire city, but the Skenvi empire is interested in its potential for supreme spaceship armor. That’s the framework though, as the actual action focuses on Skenvi’s Lord Siege’s kidnapping of Princess Arianna and the efforts of the Jedi knights to get her back.
Probably the first ever full-length Star Wars fan film, Threads of Destiny does indeed include everything you expect from a film in the franchise, except perhaps a wookie. That is also a weakness, as so many things are copied from George Lucas’ trilogies. One older and one younger Jedi, the cantina sequence, a princess in peril (who also falls in love with a Jedi), a space ship race through an asteroid belt, storm trooper fights, even the scene wipes, to name a few. Patrik Hont, who plays the young Jedi knight Raven Darkham, is also incredibly Hayden Christensen-looking. Certain things must of course be present to qualify a film as part of a franchise, but some creative choices do not cost money and I was hoping to be surprised once or twice. Now the film appears to be more concerned about fitting in and delivering the goods than surprising viewers. Even though the surprise is perhaps the fact that they managed to stitch everything together, the level of ambition seems higher than that.
It also takes a while before any exciting action takes place. There’s a lot of dialogue, introductions and preparatory events, but the pacing of a film is important, and consideration should not just be given to exposition, set-up and explanations. Perhaps a few hints of what to come, or more compressed dialogue in the beginning would help. The film clocks in at 107 minutes, which is shorter than the official Star Wars films but longer than most low budget films that can only afford to shoot dialogue. That should ring some bells in the editing bay – more than one sequence feel as a repeat, or drawn out. Even though it might be part of the budgetary restraints to have less action, it is an important part of film making to be able to kill your darlings.
What about the CGI then? There’s lots of it, especially for such an extremely low budget production. Some of the scenes work well; at first glance, they look like well produced computer games or medium budgeted films. In other scenes, the CG images are muddy or blurred, and the greenscreen capture sometimes remind me of bluescreen technology from the 80s. Seeing that some scenes are well executed from a CGI point of view, it appears unnecessary that other scenes are of such poor quality.
As far as I can see, all the actors are unpaid volunteers and only hobby thespians, which has resulted in virtually all dialogue being spoken in a thick Swedish accent. This has annoyed many Swedish viewers, either because they are used to flawless English from Angloamerican movies, or Swedish actors speaking in Swedish. Granted, the actors’ English is not the best, but acting is more than tone and pronounciation; it is also about body language, mimicry, timing and focus. And overall, for a fan film, the cast does a pretty good job.
All things considered, and taking into account that you can watch the film for free (Lucasfilm allows fan films as long as they are not generating any income), Threads of Destiny is a film the makers can be proud of, as they have achieved something few people have done before them. The entertainment value depends on how forgiving you are of the nonexiseant budget and the amateur actors.
Rated 5 of 10.
Directed by Rasmus Tirzitis.