The Light Side short film review

★★★

Directed by #RyanEbner

Starring #JosephRagno

Film review by Nathanial Eker

What if the most evil man in the galaxy decided to mend his ways? The Light Side explores the emotional development of a familiar force user in this bizarre short film. Interestingly enough, it is The Light Side's own unspoken selling point that distracts from its core conflict and ultimately harms the film's wider integrity.


A Sith lord who has done much harm to his galaxy becomes stranded on our Earth. After growing old and reflecting on his years of evil deeds, he finally starts to realise the consequences of his actions and attempts to assimilate himself into society.


Let's get the bantha out of the room first, shall we? Yes, The Light Side is clearly using a Lucasfilm character, as well as years of established lore to frame its story. While actor Joseph Ragno does a fine job imitating Ian McDiarmid's Emperor Palpatine, things get confusing when he reveals his lightsaber; a perfect match for one angsty dark side teen, Kylo Ren. The film doesn't commit to a firm answer on whether this is an elderly Kylo Ren or Palpatine himself, and it gives off the impression that the question doesn't matter.


However, when its comedy comes from the audience being aware of the backstory, I would argue that it matters very much. Regardless of how the might of Disney's copyright lawyers were negotiated with in pursuit of this picture (I suspect via its classification as a loose parody), this is a Star Wars story. A comedic one with a more adult tone, but a Star Wars story nonetheless. After the half way mark, the film drops all pretences and shows toast being cooked using a lightsaber and a fencing class gone wrong thanks to the Sith's short temper and 'force choke' ability.


The Light Side is inarguably funny thanks to a wonderful lead performance, a tight script, and the general subversion of putting such a powerful character in such a trivial position. Yet it also seems to want to inspire a level of pathos and perhaps act as an allegory for regretful old men slowing down and reflecting on their life. Unfortunately, regardless of whether we're following Kylo or Palps, this Star Wars parody is too confused to be as emotionally impactful as it seems to want to be.


#NathanialEker