Kylo Ren: The Awakening Review

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By Ben Wright (@iamzavagno | www.xgeeks.co.uk)

For what seems like an eternity now, we have been eagerly awaiting the release of Kylo Ren: The Awakening. But after so many months of waiting, this joint collaboration between Blind Wave Productions and Antoine Bandele has finally been released.

I’m confident if you are reading this review, then you have already seen the film, if not be sure to check it out below before reading any further!

The film’s opening sequence felt like it was ripped straight from The Force Awakens and the visual effects, from the Star Destroyers to the crashed A-Wing, looked stunning. The rotoscoping of the lightsabers looked great. And after my eleventh or even thirteenth viewing, I still could not find any issues with any of the visual effects used within the film. None of the effects used looked out of place, which can be a pitfall for some when making any fan film.

The sound effects and soundtrack really helped to add another layer to the film. Some fan films sometimes overuse the sound effects and try to put as much in as they can. In Kylo Ren: The Awakening, they were used at the right times and for the right reasons. They were there to accompany the visuals and give it an extra push, when needed, to elevate the action.
The main score during the battle was a truly beautiful piece of music, and really gave the film the gravitas it deserved. It was very similar to something you would find in The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit movies.

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You can have all the great looking visual and sound effects as you want, but if you cannot deliver on the lightsaber duel then everything else is just window dressing. The core of any great Star Wars lightsaber duel is the choreography. Having seen both Blind Wave’s and Antoine’s previous work, it came as no surprise that the main fight more than lived up to my expectations.

The fight itself was put together very quickly, as the shoot was only over a couple of days. And while in terms of complexity it was a little more self-contained than some of their previous work, that takes nothing away from the on-screen action. The fight was full of intensity and aggression, all building at a very satisfying pace until the final climax. They didn’t give away all their moves early on, nor did they use them all on a big finish. The varying styles and moves were expertly placed throughout the fight which overall enhanced the enjoyment of the duel.

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While the different fighting styles complemented each other, it was Kylo’s moves in particular that were the most fascinating. Given that filming began before The Force Awakens was released, it’s safe to say this Kylo was a lot more impressive in battle. From the moment the first trailer dropped and we saw Kylo’s crossguard lightsaber, everyone wanted to see how it would be used in battle. But when he finally did use it in the film, you always felt you never really got to see it’s full potential. Thankfully in Kylo Ren: The Awakening we get to see some truly outstanding new and unique fighting styles with the crossguard lightsaber.

In terms of the story, it was nicely put together. There was no over-complicated backstory to understand, it was perfectly set up and established from the beginning. The final reveal that Kylo was searching for Vader’s funeral pyre was a great way to end the film.

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Did the film have any issues? Not really. The film was beautifully shot and composed, with near-flawless choreography. The time, care and attention to detail is there for all to see. If I am going to be extremely, extremely picky, there was one slight thing I noticed that stood out. During Antoine’s reveal at the beginning of the film it felt like the pacing, from putting his hand on the tree before coming in to frame, was a little slower than it should have been. Did it take me out of the action? No. Did it affect my viewing experience of the film? No. I just want to point out at least one slightly negative thing in this film that could be critiqued without me being accused of full on ‘fanboying’ our friends at Blind Wave. Like I said, it’s really picky and has no significance on the film itself.

Overall, Kylo Ren: The Awakening is a Star Wars fan film of the highest calibre, expertly crafted and flawlessly executed. Beautifully scored and full of unique and original fighting styles and sequences, this film should be used as a benchmark for fan films in regards to quality and originality. With a well-told story and an impeccable ending, Kylo Ren: The Awakening is sure to be a great success with Star Wars fans.

If you liked what you saw and want, even more, be sure to check out both Blind Wave and Antoine and give them the love they’ve earned.

What did you think about Kylo Ren: The Awakening? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

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