IMAGINE an Imperial storm-trooper with a homespun Minnesota accent steeped in the routine of daily outpost life: droid-stealing Jawas, domestic abuse calls and a runaway kid named Luke Skywalker.
Imagine a derivative confluence of “Star Wars” and “Cops” with a “Fargo” soundtrack and you have “Troops, ” a 10-minute independent film that has Hollywood guffawing and has inspired its own pirate industry.
This twisted collision of popular culture and trashy television docudrama has created an alternate universe that appropriately makes its home on cyberspace.
It was created by 30-year-old creator Kevin Rubio, who posted the film on a Web site devoted to all things “Star Wars” (www.theforce.net) to thwart sales of bootlegged videos.
Site traffic quickly increased by 500 percent and will surely skyrocket now that “Troops” has gotten a two-page spread in Friday’s “Entertainment Weekly.”
Rubio says he got the idea from his friends Steve Melching and Dave Hardgrove as the three watched the re-release of “The Empire Strikes Back.” His friends, who had been working on a comic parody of “Tales of the Bounty Hunter” for a sci-fi magazine, suggested how funny it would be to cross “Star Wars” with “Cops.”
While most would just laugh off the insanity, the Gilroy native mulled the concept over and enlisted a talented crew, including “Babylon Five” effects supervisors Shant Jordan and Pat Perez. Six months and $1,200 later, the crew finished up a reel intended to showcase their talents last July.
The piddling budget doesn’t include the donated time and equipment, from homemade stormtrooper outfits to post-production expertise. While movie studios have spoken to the young filmmaker, it’s still just talk at this stage. “I haven’t given up my day job, ” notes Rubio, who works as an animation archivist at Fox Kids Network.
Besides Rubio’s warning not to sell or purchase the video (“If you do I will hunt you down and kill you”), the film credits thank George Lucas for his inspiring trilogy and for not suing him.
“Yes, we thought Troops’ was a lot of fun, ” confirms Lynne Hale, director of communication for Lucasfilm Ltd.
If you want to see it yourself, be prepared for long waits, and be sure you have the computer arsenal to download it, or you’ll find yourself pulling one of those all-night obsessive and ultimately fruitless ventures. Even the technologically endowed will find downloading the movies up to a whopping 20.1 megabytes daunting. The “Troops” page lists other sites that may allow quicker access, but most are limited to 10 users at a time.
If you are successful you’ll access five movie files, and this is what you’ll see:
- File 1: Opening sequence collage and song (“Bad boys, bad boys, what’cha gonna do? What’cha gonna do when they come for you?”)
- File 2: Captain Jyanix Bauch’s profile on how he joined the Dark Side (“I can remember as a kid watching the holographic images and being excited about the new direction the galaxy was taking “).
- File 3: Captain Bauch and his stormtrooping colleagues intercept two Jawas. The hooded thugs try to make a run for it, but their short legs are no match for the Imperial guns.
- File 4: Officer Daemond Mott attempts to resolve a domestic dispute between Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen after nephew Luke Skywalker has run off.
- File 5: The domestic dispute turns ugly when thermal detonators become involved.
This article originally appeared in the Contra Costa Times