Directed and Written by #PhilHawkins
Short Film Review by Jack Bottomley
Fan films are a source of contention for some. In a business all about creation, many see fan films as a lesser form of it, something less respected and more of a hobby than art. Whereas many others see them as an exciting reflection of somebody’s connection to an established movie license and a showcase for what filmmakers are capable of when they use what they love as a creative launch pad. This writer personally respects the effort that goes into making any film but there is no doubt that some fan films do carry great ambition that comes undone by the confines of budget. This is especially the case when you are drawing inspiration from something as massive as Star Wars, a movie juggernaut that carries great spectacle and wonder, one hard to replicate on most budgets big or small. However watching director/writer #PhilHawkins’ short Star Wars: Origins at this year’s #StarburstInternationalFilmFestival showed that anything is indeed possible.
Inspired by the entire Star Wars saga (even last December’s The Rise of Skywalker), this film blends reality and movie myth, as it sets its action in 1944, across the reaching sands of the Sahara Desert, as two archaeologists make a remarkable discovery that could not only unite our world but expand it.
A homage to Indiana Jones also, this is a throwback offering, born and bred on ‘80s cinema spectacle. The spirit of discovery and dreamlike looking up to the stars is felt in Hawkins’ adventurous screenplay, which is a love letter to fans of a galaxy far, far away. The bringing of Star Wars lore to our own world is an ambitious plot device but there is more than meets the eye to this impressively crafted action film. The narrative reaches a moment of revelation, not unlike one particular classic Star Wars film, and it is a fun expectation defying twist that brings the story closer to home. The references to Star Wars do sometimes land very much on the nose and there are moments when you are practically finishing character’s sentences and know precisely where they’re going next.
However, this is a remarkable achievement of production values, which shows a filmmaker and crew going all out in doing justice to a series they visibly adore. Filmed on location and throwing everything possible at the screen, with some incredible special effects, a Williams adoring score, authentic props and artistic enthralling sets (a cave location in particular is absolutely engrossing and rather magical), Star Wars: Origins very much feels big and wondrous but - like the Star Wars films - doesn’t forget to be soulful and heartfelt.
The villains may be a little cookie-cutter from the genre but the acting is excellent, with #JamieCosta as Walter striking that Solo-esque defiance and Luke-like bravery and #MarieEverett’s Ellie capturing that Rey and Leia-like soul and spark. While #HadrianHoward does offer a menacing edge in his part as Saif, the aggressive leader of a mysterious and extreme group sworn to their cause.
This is a fun twist on what you may expect from a Star Wars fan film and Phil Hawkins shows not only his adoration for the movies and their lore but (refreshingly) for their maker, and with Star Wars: Origins he goes all in to do justice in respecting this franchise and showing what he can do with the resources at hand. A bigger budget future may lie ahead because the force is strong with this one.
Star Wars: Origins is on YouTube Now!