The fifth animated short film in Lucasfilm’s innovative anthology project Star Wars: Visions for Disney+ is from South Korea’s Studio Mir (animators of The Legend of Korra, Voltron: Legendary Defender, and The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, among others), and is entitled “Journey to the Dark Head.” This short centers around a fairly generic (when it comes to Star Wars) battle between the forces of good and evil, Jedi and Sith.
“Journey to the Dark Head” begins in a secluded temple where children are taught to read prophecies created by drops of rainwater falling down onto rocks– okay, this part is definitely not generic, which I appreciated, but it steadily gets much more recognizable from here. A young girl named Ara (voiced by actress Jang Ye Na, for which Star Wars: Visions is the only credit on IMDb) wishes to climb to the top of the temple and cut off the head one of two statues representing the dark and light sides of the Force, believing that it will help turn the tide of the endless war between the Jedi and the Sith. Later in life, Ara visits the Jedi temple and convinces the Masters there that this is a good strategy, so they partner her up with a youthful Padawan named Toul (Lookism’s Lee Kyung Tae) to travel back to that first planet and lop off the dark-side statue’s head.
Along the way they encounter… you guessed it– a Sith Lord (Yun Yong Sik, who looks to be another newcomer) with a red lightsaber, and of course he and Toul must do battle while Ara runs around this giant ring thing that connects the statues and tries to accomplish her goal. Look, this short has a pretty fantastic visual style to it, but the story just came across as so bland to me I kinda tuned out by the end of both times I watched it. I’m not against the concept of Jedi vs. Sith, and certainly the Star Wars franchise has gotten plenty of good mileage out of that concept, but at the same time it’s just been done to death. This is the short from Visions Vol. 2 that reminded me the most of the first volume, and not only because it originated from East Asia. On its own “Journey to the Dark Head” is incredibly well-made, but as part of the bigger picture it feels too much like we’ve been there and done that already.
My Vol. 2 ranking so far:
1 – “I Am Your Mother”
2 – “Screecher’s Reach”
3 – “In the Stars”
4 – “Sith”
5 – “Journey to the Dark Head”
Star Wars: Visions Vol. 2 is now available to stream in its entirety, exclusively via Disney+.