"A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
Tariq Jalil as HIMSELF
Star Wars Geeks as THEMSELVES
Directed by: Tariq Jalil
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Back in 1999, filmmaker Tariq Jalil found himself flummoxed by the fandom surrounding the release of “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.” In order to better understand the phenomenon, Jalil sought to make a documentary about the fan experience. He partnered with various filmmakers around the country who documented “Star Wars” fans waiting in line for the new movie, some camping out for more than 40 days. Throughout the film, Jalil interviewed various “Star Wars” fans during the wait and ended up documenting their reaction to “Episode I” when they finally saw it.
WHAT I LIKED
I have been a “Star Wars” fan since the original film came out in 1977. I was hooked the moment I saw it at age five, and I haven’t looked back. Now, I didn’t wait in line for six weeks to see “Episode I.” I do have a life and job, after all. However, I do know quite a few fanboys who have that level of excitement for “Star Wars” and various other science fiction franchises.
There was a certain nostalgia I felt watching this film, considering that I know plenty of people like the ones profiled in “A Galaxy Far Far Away.” With at least one foot in fanboydom, I do enjoy watching a spotlight on my sci-fi peeps.
And finally, even through all of my reservations documented below, I did appreciate the way the filmmakers and the folks in line busted out jerks like Adam Corolla and Jimmy Kimmel. Good thing I’m not a fan of their show.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Some might liken “A Galaxy Far Far Away” to the classic fanboy profile “Trekkies.” Even the filmmakers draw that comparison in the bonus features. However, “Trekkies” was made with a decent amount of heart. In “Trekkies,” while the fans are not always shown in the best light, you could feel the love from the filmmakers for the subjects.
With “A Galaxy Far Far Away,” I felt a distinct lack of respect for director Tariq Jalil and producer Terry Tocantins. By Jalil’s own admission, he never quite understood the “Star Wars” phenomenon, which might explain why he treats much of the subjects as freaks. Plus, the filmmakers seemed to have purposely not picked the most balanced subject matter.
Sure, it’s fun to watch the “professional” hip-hop Boba Fett impersonator, or the gay Stormtrooper break-dancer, or the emotionally brittle alcoholic in a Superman suit, but they all seem really off. I happen to know plenty of “Star Wars” fans – even the types that troll through the convention circuit in full costume – and I know that Jalil could have picked better subjects. Sadly, Jalil seems to be victimizing the same people that he shows as victims to the jeering public passing the theater lines.
Ultimately, on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” Triumph the Insult Comic Dog did a far better job – and actually a more sensitive job – with the fans waiting outside for the start of “Episode II.”
The 10th Anniversary release of “A Galaxy Far Far Away” comes with a slew of commentaries and interviews. As much as I’ve criticized the filmmakers, they have given even more into this new release. There’s a new trailer, in addition to the original theatrical trailer, along with other coming attractions.
Tariq Jalil and Terry Tocantins show up for a new interview, along with a new audio commentary and a video commentary to go along with their original commentary track. About thirty minutes of deleted scenes are also included.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People who enjoy making fun of sci-fi geeks.