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Epic 'Star Wars' fan film made by college football player

"Retribution" crosses the "Star Wars" universe with the University of Georgia in a fan film that gives the prequels a run for their money.

"Retribution" still
Chris Conley takes on a couple of Jedi. Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

University of Georgia senior Chris Conley may be best known as a football wide receiver, but he's just staked a convincing claim to be heralded as a sci-fi filmmaker. "Retribution," a short film he started work on in 2013, has made its YouTube debut and it's a doozy. Conley wrote and directed the movie as a tribute to his beloved "Star Wars." He also takes on one of the lead roles as a Sith lord with top-notch fighting skills and a dastardly plan.

This is no "five minutes and you're done" fare. The short film goes on for nearly half an hour. There's plenty of action to keep you engaged and it doesn't drag on like the prequels.

The production values are way beyond what you might expect. Conley delivers pitch-perfect sound effects, sizzling lightsabers, and sharp special effects. He made the wise decision to simply embrace the setting on the University of Georgia, using locations like the student union, Sanford Stadium, and typical hangouts around the campus. He just tosses "Star Wars" right in there and blends it up.

There are some classic cheesy space-opera lines like, "So, you have returned," "I can smell his fear," and "Darkness will fall." Conley himself cuts an impressive figure as the Sith Khari Vion with a wonderfully creepy metallic face mask, red eyes, and a scar across his forehead.

Naturally, there are several epic lightsaber battles, one of which takes place right on the turf of the stadium. There's plenty for "Star Wars" fans to embrace here, from the appearance of a Jawa to a whole posse of Stormtroopers. University of Georgia fans will find just as much to love, including an entertaining cameo appearance by head football coach Mark Richt.

"Retribution" should help tide all of us over until the new "Star Wars" film arrives in late 2015. Whether Conley decides to pursue athletics or filmmaking after his college career, it's clear the Force is strong with this one.