Today in geek news, we take some time to look at fan made movies.

Fan productions can be a bit of a touchy subject.  To some people they stand as a tribute to a particular work of genre fiction, a way to give something back to a story that has provided countless hours of joy.  A very good fan production has the capacity to go beyond self-gratification, standing as an example of how the professionals ought to do things.  In the case of a certain game studio that shall not be named, fan productions represent the voice of devotees who want a group of lazy gits to hurry up and finish the Half-Life trilogy.

But for every well acted and well written fan project there are those other ones; the ones that feel like plagiarism of the highest order.  The ones that seem like fetish pieces designed to edify the producers’ kooky views instead of honouring their source material.  The only benefit to these crappy productions is that they are easy enough to ignore.

In that light, I thought that it would be fun to use today’s geek news to show off some of the better entries in the world of fan made movies.

#1 TryForce Productions – Gears of War 3 Live Action Trailer

Why it’s awesome:  The amount of work that went into the set shows a clear respect for the Gears of War mythology.  While the costumes don’t look quite like what you’d expect to see for gears in full armour, they are suitably dirty and hodge-podge for a world where the last human city was just sunk into planet’s outer crust.  There’s no doubt in my mind that the music in this fan-made trailer carried a hell of a lot more emotion than the recent use of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs in the actual Gears of War 3 trailer.

#2 Wayside Creations – Fallout: Nuka Break

Why it’s awesome: Fallout: Nuka Break revels in the dark humour that is an essential part of the Fallout mythology.  Maybe the actors aren’t quite grimy enough given their lives in the wasteland.  Perhaps bare midriffs and short shorts aren’t the most functional for UV protection.  However the ruined landscapes and fatigued props, all of which are accurate renderings from the Fallout series, make up for a lack of hair loss from prolonged exposure to radiation.

#3 The Purchase Brothers – Half-Life: Escape from City 17

Why it’s awesome: The brothers Purchase have done an impressive job of importing SFX from the Half-Life games into their movie.  Although the audio isn’t quite perfect; the detail in the costuming is fantastic.  Of all the Half-Life fan movies floating around the internet, Escape from City 17 does the Combine’s Overwatch the best.  I’m also rather impressed with the skilful use of  shaky-cam.  Normally, I hate camera shake.  In this movie it seems fitting.  The only problem, and I use the word very loosely, is that Half-Life fan movies are usually done by people younger than myself.  As such, the actors seem impossibly young given the fact that The Combine’s suppression field stops all human conception.  Not really a big deal, but the hardcore Half-Life fans are apt to complain about this fact.

#4 Infectious Designer – Beyond Black Mesa

Why it’s awesome:  Where Escape from City 17 works as a gritty vignette, Beyond Black Mesa offers a slightly more cinematic experience.  The movie boasts impressive visuals, a fantastic soundtrack and very slick special effects.  While I find the Combine Overwatch less impressive in this film than I do in City 17, there’s nothing bad per se about their design.  The only real flaw here is that there are zombies running about without headcrabs affixed to their noggins.  I guess we can chalk that one up to budgets and concern for actor well being.  At least we can console ourselves with the fact that the zombie make-up job is first rate.

#5 Angelo Licata and Davide Bigazzi – Star Wars: Dark Resurrection

Why it’s awesome:  Grown up actors with what appears to be an impressive budget set out to make a high quality Star Wars movie.  Written and directed by Angelo Licata, this Italian language Star Wars fan film is pure genius.  The special effects, costumes and location shots in this fan movie look better than what Lucas turned out in any of the last three films.  Perhaps it has something to do with not shooting the entire movie in front of a green screen?  Although the subtitles do get a little wonky, the movie is well worth watching if you’re interested in a Star Wars story that is reminiscent of the tone set in The Empire Strikes Back.

Five movies, five wins.  Awesome.

And that, Earth-Humans, is your geek news for June 2, 2011.  Force be with you.