For every great film adaptation of a book, comic book and board game (yes, that is a thing now), there are a ton more sloppy, uninspiring renditions to meet them. Oh yes for every Fellowship of the Ring there is an endless tide of Eragon, Seventh Son, Inkheart, The Golden Compass and I Am Legend to meet its success with flounder and failure. Let’s even begin to touch on the mess of video game to film adaptations, I’m getting panic attacks from just thinking about Sands of Time. On the bright side though, sometimes such egregious affronts to the original source material can spur scorned fans of the adaptation to do more than just rant on Reddit. Sometimes, they take action and produce fan films that are leaps and bounds better than big studio attempts at bringing their beloved property to life. Outrage isn’t the only motivating factor here. Other times, fans may just want to honour or pay homage to a franchise that they love which is awesome too!
There are a plethora of fan films that made their way into YouTube, and we’ve selected some of the very best ones we feel should be picked up by studios and made into full-fledged feature films a’la Deadpool. So rip up your blank Disney cheques and grab your Canon 500D cause we’re taking a look at five amazing fan projects with big screen potential.
The Dark Knight Legacy
Made as a sort of fan sequel to Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight Legacy sees the events following the aftermath of former film. Crime bosses all over Gotham, notably the Penguin and The Ventriloquist along with is mobster alter ego Scarface, have met to consolidate their power over the now Bat-less city. In place of Batman, however, comes a new and deadlier vigilante in the form of a former Robin who goes by the name Red Hood. He has no qualms about murder and is frankly quite good at it. .After a bloody massacre, he leaves a banner claiming to be the new Batman. Another Robin turned solo hero, Nightwing is not having it though as he will work with authorities to bring to bring this pretender to justice.
The idea here is pure gold! Imagine, two ex-Robins battling to be heir to the Dark Knight, two sons vying for their father’s mantle. That has the makings of an epic comic book film and it’s a chance for us to see a different side of Batman. He was both their leader and father figure. As an amateur attempt, the execution is pretty damn good to me. You can really tell that the actors really got into the role and at no point did it feel hammy or unexpressive. The action and camerawork use a particular nifty plot device that nicely covers up some of the flaws in the trickier stunts while showcasing the more impressive sequences in a flashy manner. I can easily picture this fitting into the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) with some minor tweaking to the plot. If Ben Affleck’s Batman ever bites it, Warner Bros’ should seriously consider adding this to the franchise.
Darth Maul: Apprentice
Unless you’re well acquainted with the Clone Wars and Rebels TV series, I imagine not much of the horned Sith Assassin Darth Maul is known to you. Making his debut in the very first of Lucas’ prequel film, Maul was revealed to be an apprentice to the future emperor and Sith Lord Darth Sidious. There were a lot of things that fans hate about Phantom Menace from its noticeably campy tone to its notoriously bad acting to the pod racing. Darth Maul is not of them. Though a man, or Zabrak, of few words, he proved to be a formidable foe for duo Obi Wan and Qui Gon. It’s a shame he was cut down in his prime without us knowing much about him then. Fans of the tattooed warrior weren’t having it so in 2016, Studio T7pro created a 17-minute long short film showcasing how much of a badass Maul truly is.
The film has him on a planet-hunting five Jedis as part of a test by Darth Sidious to see if the young assassin’s training is truly complete. Though light on story, the film does a stellar job of giving us the full extent of Maul’s power and ferocity. They even managed to capture the high flying acrobatics of the prequel films and have it look completely practical. The effects on the Force powers used here don’t look too shabby either so that’s plus in my book. This could be exactly what this new era of the Star Wars film franchise needs, a call back to basics. Forget trying to cram pointless backstory into beloved characters or tying every single instalment of the past films together with intermission films nobody asked for. Give us a Predator-like film of Maul ruthlessly hunting Padawans in a forest and simply let the character speak for himself through his deathly art.
Predator: Dark Ages
Speaking of Predator, the film franchise is seeing its latest instalment come September this year. It looks like it’ll be returning to its barebone premise of a member of the alien race of Yautja aka Predators hunting humans in a forested area. So far it I’m on the fence about the film seeing that the film is trying to incorporate a human-Predator hybrid story arc that frankly sounds awful. So while we wait for the verdict to be out on 2018’s Predator, a YouTube fan film entitled Predator: Dark Ages has certainly had the online community excited. Set in the Dark Ages, the film follows a group of Knight Templars and a Saracine as they must down a monster that has been terrifying a local village. This monster, however, is no demon they’ve ever faced, it is a creature quite literally of another world. Now Muslim and Christian must put aside their differences if they wish to survive this hunt.
The idea of taking the Predators to new and exotic locales and even time settings is certainly a welcomed one. I’m tired of seeing these armed alien warriors confined to the concrete jungle of cities or the canopy of tropical forests. The costume design here is fairly well done, both the alien and humans alike. How about the action? Classic blood and gore that we’ve come to expect from the Predators franchise. If Predators is looking for an opportunity to diversify their property, Predator: Dark Ages would be a prime candidate. It would be like Kingdom of Heaven with aliens! Picture if you will, mounted cavalry soldiers from both the Crusaders and Saracens closing in a group of Predators. Only to have their ranks utterly decimated by the Yautjas’ superior technology and combat skills. Make it happen now Fox Studios!
Power Rangers By Joseph Kahn
In 2017, we saw the release of Saban’s Power Rangers by Lionsgate Studios, a film that was meant to bring back your childhood nostalgia while updating the property for a new generation. Does it succeed in what it sets out do? Sad to say it was underwhelming. If Lionsgate should choose to reboot the franchise, I’d highly recommend director Joseph Kahn’s vision of it seen in his 2015 short film, Power Rangers. The short picks up years after the Rangers lost the war against the Machine Empire and disbanded. None of them are in a particularly good place. Some of them defected over to the side of Machines, choosing to hunt down their ex-comrades. Others tried to find solace in returning back to a civilian life only to find that there’s nothing left for them. The most notable of the lot, Tommy the Green Ranger is a wanted fugitive and has yet to end his war with the machines…and an old nemesis.
Never thought I’d say this about a film about the Power Rangers but be warned Kahn’s take on it is pretty grim and violent! I don’t mean edgy or dark like Titans, I mean some of the stuff here is hard to watch and I love it. Distributed and funded by Adi Shankar’s Bootleg Universe Studios, it’s clear to see that they spared no expense on production value here. The visuals of this darker world of Power Rangers is jaw-dropping. From the updated and more realistic looking armours the Rangers sport to the dystopian future tech that they use. That sabre fight between Tommy and Rocky, the former Red Ranger and leader of the team, had me shaking with glee. Now that’s how you do it! Even Battlestar Galactica actress, Kathy Sackhoff made an appearance in the film. Reboots are not uncommon in this industry. So if Lionsgate should decide to kill their waning film series, they should seriously consider getting Kahn on to make the Power Rangers great again.
Nathan Fillion’s Uncharted Fan Film
Last and most definitely not least on this list director Allan Ungar’s Uncharted fan film, starring Nathan Fillion. At the risk of sounding overly optimistic, I’ve gotta say this may be it. Oh yes, this just may have it takes to break the video game film curse. Quick recap for anyone who has played, or heard of, an Uncharted game, it’s basically the best Indiana Jones simulator anyone could ever ask for. You play Nathan Drake, explorer extraordinaire and treasure hunter as he goes on crazy adventures to discover secret artefacts and sometimes save the world. The film opens up with Nathan Drake being tied and interrogated for information regarding a rare artefact. Little does his captors know that this was all part of the plan. Soon he frees himself and makes a daring escape out of enemy compound with a bit of help from his trusty and cantankerous mentor, Sully played by Terra Nova actor Stephen Lang. But not before swiping another key to his treasure hunt.
Nathan Fillion was born to play smooth-talking, handsome, lovable scoundrels. And guess what Nathan Drake is. That’s right, a smooth-talking handsome lovable scoundrel. Hell, they even have the same first name! In the short span of 14 minutes, the film perfectly captures everything fans love about the Uncharted games. The dialogue feels like it could easily fit into a cutscene in the games and they just nailed the fun, adventurous tone of that the series embodies. Beyond the reverence and care the film shows for characters of the games, the inclusion of the signature third-person perspective when it comes to aiming weapons was what truly revealed its sheer dedication to adapting the games to film. They’re not messing around here and I have no doubt that it’s only a matter of time before a studio picks this one up. As long as they keep Fillion, Lang and Ungar on board, they’ll have full support. Come on Hollywood, break the curse!
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