Shortfilm Review: EXILE (2016)

2016 appears to be the continuance of an era of Star Wars fandom as of late. With filmmaker J.J. Abrams at the helm of a new fan film contest between now and April, expect to see plenty of these gems going viral this year with one such project currently screening until its official release on Sunday.

Filmmaker and actor Noel Braham makes his stellar return to the film fray after a small hiatus a few years ago, now with his newest contribution to sci-fi, Exile. Braham stars as Makal Lori, a Padawan in-training on the lam with Master Boemana Tora in the wake of the Empire's campaign led by a Sith Inquistor against the Jedi and anyone sensitive to the Force. And amid all this, a love story blooms that not only affects Tora, but ultimately forces our protagonist to make the only choice he has left.

The project runs close to about fifteen minutes and so not a lot is accomplished in terms of development in certain areas, but it does an adequate job of establishing all the necessary central themes to a Star Wars fan story. Apart from the sci-fi gloss, you get duality, questions of faith and one's own destiny, all founded on equally notable and inspired performances by Braham and actress Georginna Savoye who plays Tora.
One of the biggest caveats here, of course, is to have great make-up and costuming, and Exile does notable work on that end too, specifically actor and producer Pokey Spears who plays the Inquistor. It's a pretty simple look with much more detail in the face and the eyes while Spears himself lends not only one of the most haunting performances as a Sith I've seen, but does so, in turn, with what looks like the most gruesome kill I've seen in any Star Wars shortfilm. It happens pretty quick and you don't catch it right away, but it's not for the faint of heart.

And at the heart of all this lies the action with two sequences throughout Exile with Sal Perales and Bria Roberts among our cast in the opening sequence. That sequence gets things off to a robust start and you'll see a few memorable helmets as well, whereas the second is a bit more dialogue-heavy than desired before the cliffhanger at the end.

Like most fan films of any franchise, Exile isn't perfect. Nevertheless, it's a sharper feat and hugely watchable for any sci-fi fan with great visuals and ingredients to service anyone fond of the franchise in some capacity. Granted, a mini-webseries would certainly do a project like Exile justice as it not only adds more intriguing characters to the vast interplanetary millieu of Star Wars, but also gives us a filmmaker who clearly showcases the muscle and means to deliver potentially worthwhile, quality work from here on out.

Exile premieres online this Sunday!


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