These days it’s much easier to find a great video game than a great video game movie. Great video games are released almost every month but great video game movies are few and far between. For every Mortal Kombat or Tomb Raider there’s Street Fighter or Double Dragon (Or Doom. Or Max Payne. Or Hitman. You get the idea).

Then there are properties out there we’ll likely never see on the big screen. Super Mario Bros., for example, all but killed the chance of Nintendo ever letting anyone make movies out of their characters. Microsoft has been trying to push Halo for nearly a decade. These days we’re left with Resident Evil movies that are tangentially related to the games at best. What’s a fan to do if they want to see their favorite video game character outside of their XBox?

The answer is YouTube and the world of fan films. We’ve already seen a Portal fan film explode across the Internet, a solid series of Mortal Kombat films and now another popular character has got his due. Olan Rogers has mad a $700 fan film called Mega Man X that pushes its meager budget to its limits with a fun recreation of a game series many of us grew up with and loved. Check it out below.

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Last month I received a cryptic e-mail inviting me to a private screening of a new Star Wars film edited by Topher Grace — which is funny because I had no idea there was a new Star Wars film in the works, with or without Grace’s involvement. I was told the screening was a secret private event arranged only for friends only and was asked not to talk about it beforehand. The event was held somewhere in the Hollywood area in a a screening room filled with filmmakers, editors, actors, actresses and only a few press friends. I was told I could blog about it afterwards if I wanted, so here goes…

For those of you who don’t know, Topher Grace is a film geek. He loves the Star Wars films, the Back to the Future movies and all the same signature titles of any film geek who grew up in the 1980s. He recently became interested in the editing process and wanted to learn more about the art form. Instead of cutting a short film, he wanted to use something he was more familiar with.

His idea was to edit the Star Wars prequels into one movie, as they would provide him a lot of footage to work with. He used footage from all three prequels, a couple cuts from the original trilogy, some music from The Clone Wars television series, and even a dialogue bit from Anthony Daniels’ (C-3PO) audio book recordings. He even created a new opening text crawl to set up his version of the story.

The result is an 85-minute movie titled Star Wars: Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back. It should be noted that the Star Wars prequel trilogy is almost 7 hours in total length, and the shortest film (Episode 1) is more than 51 minutes longer than Grace’s fan cut. What this means is a lot of footage ended up on the editing room floor, and a lot of creative choices were made in the editing process. And the result? Topher Grace’s Star Wars film is probably the best possible edit of the Star Wars prequels given the footage released and available.

Whats most shocking is that with only 85 minutes of footage, Topher was able to completely tell the main narrative of Anakin Skywalker’s road from Jedi to the Sith. While I know the missing pieces and could even fill in the blanks in my head as the film raced past, none of those points were really needed. Whats better is that the character motivations are even more clear and identifiable, a real character arc not bogged down by podraces, galactic senates, Jar Jar Binks, politics or most of the needless parts of the Star Wars prequels. It not only clarifies the story, but makes the film a lot more action-packed.
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Disney has been struggling with the marketing for Andrew Stanton‘s John Carter, which opens in a couple weeks but still seems to face an uphill battle establishing itself even for audiences that should be pretty receptive to an old-school sci-fi film based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel.

There have been a couple trailers now and quite a few clips released, and while each has various charms no one trailer or clip has really hammered home what the movie is.

So a fan took a lot of the released footage and cut a non-official trailer. It’s a lot better than any of the others, both from the perspective of laying out the story, and for showing the scope of the film. After the break, you can see this John Carter edit, as well as a quick fan-made teaser for a live-action version of Akira. Read More »

Jamie Benning has made three excellent ‘making of’ documentaries — or ‘filmumentaries,’ as he calls them, about the original Star Wars trilogy. His efforts collate interviews and rare behind the scenes footage and photos in what are essentially the most detailed commentary tracks a fan could hope for.

Benning followed his Star Wars docs with Raiding the Lost Ark, which tracks the creation of the first Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. We’ve showcased the beginning of this ‘filmumentary’ in the past, but the full-length version is now available online. It’s a must-see for any Raiders or Steven Spielberg fan. No matter how much a viewer knows about the making of Raiders, I’d be very surprised if there was nothing here that is new, as Benning has incorporated everything from classic interviews to the minutia of little-seen production reports. Read More »

Odds are if you read this site, you are an incredibly huge fan of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s pretty much a given. If you love films, especially geek, genre films, then Steven Spielberg and George Lucas‘ introduction of Harrison Ford‘s Indiana Jones character is either right near, or the absolute epitome of, what this little art form we call “film” can do. It’s thrilling, it’s funny, it’s surprising, it’s pretty much perfect in every single way. Plus, it was released long before most of us were eating, drinking and sleeping our love of the art form. For that reason, whenever we can delve into the kind of trivial, behind the scenes minutia that went into making the movie, we have to call it out.

Or, you can now just get all that in one place.

Jamie Benning has been making documentaries, or “filmumentaries” as he likes to call them, based on our favorite films for quite some time. He brings together all the tiny bits of interesting insider information you’ve always heard about Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and now Raiders of the Lost Ark, and puts them in a well-edited, entertaining package that runs along side the main feature becoming almost a visual commentary on the movie. Raiding the Lost Ark is the title of his latest production and while it’s not 100% done, Benning has put the first 17 minutes online. Watch it after the jump. Read More »

Quality fan films are a needle in a haystack. A haystack made up of bad fan films. It doesn’t take much time or effort to make a bad fan film because anyone with an iPhone can shoot what they think is a Star Wars or Firefly movie. A good one, though, is rare because it’s akin to a real production. It takes dedication, money, talent and even more money. The makers of Star Wars: Dark Resurrection Vol. 0 have all of that. A prequel to a previously released fan film, the 2007 Dark Resurrection Vol. 1, this is a fan film worthy of dropping the word “fan.” Check out the epic 40-minute labor of love after the break. Read More »

VOTD: Pixar-Style ‘Rocketeer’ Short Film

Hard to believe that Disney’s live-action period action film The Rocketeer was released two decades ago. The film has come back into the public conscious a bit recently because of the anniversary, its director Joe Johnston doing another period action film (Captain America: The First Avenger) and some recent screenings including one in Hollywood with Kevin Smith hosting a Q&A. Capitalizing on the heat, and as a nod to the character’s late creator Dave Stevens, animator John Banana and his team have created this fantastic little short film. As Gizmodo said, “If Pixar made The Rocketeer, it would look like this.” Check it out after the jump. Read More »

‘Tron: Destiny’ Fan Trailer

We probably won’t see a third Tron film go into production any time soon, nevermind see a traile (however, you never know with the kind of surprises Disney likes to drop at Comic-Con). Some Tron fans have created a movie trailer for a Tron: Legacy sequel titled Tron: Destiny. I would credit them by name, but they insisted on uploading the fake trailer to YouTube, trying to claim that it might be a leaked real deal. Of course, it isn’t. The short trailer, found by ToplessRobot, features a cast of unknowns, some horrible dialogue, but is surprisingly well produced and has a couple cool moments near the end. Watch it now embedded after the jump.

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