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review written 2/23/2003

Dark Skies—the title doesn't really make much sense, but I guess it's meant to imply dark Skywalker. Of course, the movie itself doesn't make sense. We know Amidala wasn't a Jedi. We know full well this could not have happened on the Star Wars timeline.

If this had been a bad fan film, I might have gotten annoyed with this unneccesary futzing with the SW universe. As it stands, though, David Nutley helms this adventure with such skill and spirit that I shrug and go along for the ride.

The special effects are nothing short of astounding. Photo-realistic down to the last pixel and perfectly integrated into the real world. This real world is a forest, but a nice forest. The children's white costumes and Amidala's purple robe stands out well against the green, and the campfire sequence puts our typical forest world in a new light (literally light—how often do you see a fan film shoot at night with this sort of quality?).

The actors—actually, the casting is kind of interesting. Nutley used his friends and family (mostly family, resulting in his mother-in-law (I think) playing Palpatine, which might be the greatest inside joke ever). And nobody really looks like their original SW counterpart. The English accents don't help the sound match, either.

In fact, the only character who looks 'right' is Vader, when he slips on his mask and speaks (courtesy of Ben Fletcher) just as we know Vader does and makes it his goal to convert his son to the dark side.

And, bam! We're back on the SW timeline again.

And perhaps then the SkyWalker family of this alternate universe goes back to the Skywalkers.

In a curious way, the off-kilter casting helps establish the non-canonism of all this. (And, of course, gives Nutley a chance to spend time with his family.) It's almost a joke that Luke and Leia wear the exact same costumes at this young and tender age that they wear in ANH ten-fifteen years later.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into all this. But apparently Nutley ran into a lot of people who threw fits over Dark Skies thumbing its nose at canon. Well, he picked a darn good nose to thumb.

I'd like to interview Jack and Sophie about this film in a few years and see what they think of all this. Remind me.

Anyway, let's wrap it up. This is a fan film full of wonderful moments—quiet ones (Amidala explaining things to her children), action-packed ones (lightsabers!) and ones with Vader in them (always a treat). And it was made by a guy with great skills, and not only that, an all-around great guy.

I hope the skies remain dark—dark enough so that I can still see a Storm Ahead...