Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Movie Ever Made is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us fan films, angry birds, murders by appliances, Elvis, and more.
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Movies were a huge part of my childhood.  I have all sorts of fond memories of going to the cinema and watching them on TV.  My parents were early adopters to the Beta and VHS home-movie formats and nearly every weekend we’d wind up at the rental place finding something to watch. As a teenager, I thought my parents were completely lame and I didn’t get along with them most of the time, but I still went with them to the movies regularly.  It was the one way in which we could enjoy each others company.  

But I never went beyond that.  Sure, I used to pretend I was Luke Skywalker and Superman as a kid.  Mom would tie a towel around my neck as a cape and I’d grab a stick that acted as a light saber, but beyond that my imagination never got more sophisticated.  I never made my own Cloud City or directed by own home movies.  I didn’t even know that was a possibility as a kid.  Even as an adult when video cameras are cheap and editing software is readily available, I’ve never attempted to make a video, not even for laughs.  I’m just not that guy.  I don’t have whatever it is that drives people to make those sorts of things.

Chris Strompolos, Jason Lamb, and Eric Zala are exactly those sorts of people.  After watching Raiders of the Lost Ark in the early '80s, they spent seven years painstakingly recreating the film, shot by shot, in their own low budget, low-fi way.  The only scene they were never able to do was the famous plane battle where the shirt-less muscle guy gets chopped to bits by the propeller.  The filmmakers (just teenagers at the time) didn’t have the budget to get a real plane and they refused to do it in any lesser way.

Years later, director Elio Roth obtained a copy of this fan-film (lovingly called Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation) and showed it at Harry Knowles’ Butt-Numb-A-Thon film festival.  Fans loved it and even Steven Spielberg himself sent the filmmakers a kind letter.  The letter reunited the boys, who had gone on to live separate lives, and in 2014 they started a fund-raising campaign to be able to shoot the missing scene.

Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made is a documentary about their attempt to make the final scenes, about why they made the film in the first place, and about the nature of film itself.  It's made some good waves around the film circuit, garnered some nice reviews and looks like a lot of fun.

I might not have ever made a fan film myself as a kid, but I can sure get behind others doing that which is why Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made is my pick of the week. [Read Davy's review.]

Also out this week that looks interesting:

Gotham: The Complete Second Season:  When Season One came out, I wrote in my Pick of the Week column that I was excited to give this show a good watching.  Since then I’ve only seen three or four episodes so I can’t say that I’ve exactly been enamored with it, but I do like it.  It's deeply flawed but so far there is enough to like to keep me watching.  Here’s hoping it gets better into the subsequent episodes and seasons.

Elvis the Movie:  Two years after Elvis Presley died, John Carpenter teamed up with Kurt Russell in this TV biopic.  That’s something I just got to see.

Microwave Massacre:  Arrow Video continues to put out high class editions of low class films.  Expect a review of this one from me soon. With a title like this, I expect to give it raves.

The Angry Birds Movie:  Why anyone thought they could make a full-length movie from a very simple game is beyond me.  But I guess movie execs saw the millions of dollars the game has made and figured they could squeeze a little bit out of it. The really crazy part is they talked folks like Hannibal Buress, Peter Dinklage, Bill Hader, and Jason Sudeikis into acting in it.

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