Photo Credit: [Rogue One: A Star Wars Story]LucasfilmBefore I get into too much detail, let me just say that as far as fan films go, Vader Episode 1: Shards of the Past is definitely one of the better ones. If you’re a Star Wars fan and haven’t seen it yet, I’d highly recommend checking it out.
The run time of it tops out around 16 minutes, and is definitely a very high quality production. Vader’s suit in particular looks like a lot of care went into it, as it appears to be near movie quality. With all that said, let’s get into some detail on the story.
Be Warned: SPOILERS AHEAD
The fan film takes place eight months after the events of Revenge of the Sith, and follow’s Darth Vader’s inner struggles as he is haunted by the memories of his previous life as Anakin Skywalker, and still mourns for his late wife Padme.
The beginning of the film to me is its highlight.
Starting off in the middle of a brutal action sequence, akin to his scene at the end of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Vader is in the Emperor’s chambers on board a Star Destroyer, being attacked by several clone troopers as he attempts to kill his master Darth Sidious. Vader fights off a number of clones seemingly effortlessly, deflecting their blaster shots with his ligthsaber, taking them all out one by one while he force chokes the Emperor with the other.
Reinforcements soon arrive wielding mini-gun blasters, strong enough to knock Vader’s lightsaber from his hand, but not enough to really faze him. In what was my favorite action piece of the film, Vader uses the force to hold all the blaster shots in mid-air, similar to when Kylo Ren did it in Episode VII, but on a much larger scale. After stopping several dozen of the blaster shots, he fires them right back at the clone troopers, taking them all out, allowing him to focus his attention back on the emperor.
Vader shouts at Sidious, blaming him for Padme’s death and for ruining his life, while Sidious says it was his own fault and that mourning for his wife keeps him from attaining his true potential. The Emperor eventually uses force lightning on Vader and takes the upper hand on him.
This brings me to my main critique of the film. While the action is good and entertaining, some of the effects are a bit jarring. While I didn’t go into it expecting to get the same quality as we get in the movies, some scenes were certainly better than others.
The low point for me was the force lightning used by the Emperor while Vader uses the force on a dead imperial guard body to shield himself. The scene depicts a long shot of the room, showing both the Emperor using his lightning, and Vader trying to hold his ground, and it just appears cartoonish and sticks out when compared to some other scenes from the film.
Despite this, it doesn’t take away from the rest of the fan film, especially since the scene helps to set up Vader’s mental state so well.
During this fight, Vader eventually regains the upper hand, and uses the force to draw the emperor close and break his neck. As he examines Sidious’s body, he finds the necklace he gave Padme when he first met her as a child, and Vader visualizes Padme speaking to him and she closes her eyes as he hugs her.
When he let’s go of her, Padme’s eyes open and are a dark yellow like a Sith Lord’s. She speaks with the Emperor’s voice and says “and that is why you’ll never defeat me.” Vader looks up and now sees Sidious in front of him laughing, and says that as long as he hangs onto his feelings, Vader will remain weaker than him. Sidious once again strikes him down with lightning while Vader hears Padme shout his old name “Anakin” in his head.
He wakes up, out of his armor and being examined by a medical droid. It was all a dream.