Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made Review: An Incredibly Involving Documentary

A wonderful and inspiring look at fandom, friendship, and childhood dreams come true, no matter what the cost.
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The power of film has its perks: you're able to collect anything and everything about film, you find and make friends with people who feel the same way about film as you do, and you become apart of a very special community that is passionate about this ongoing medium. Fandom can take a whole new life of its own, whether you're a trekkie, star wars fan, or comic book lover. If you're Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala and Jayson Lamb, you go even further and you make a shot-by-shot remake of an all-time classic film, Steven Spielberg's 1981 masterpiece, Raiders of the Lost Ark. This revealing journey by filmmakers Tim Skousen and Jeremy Coonm depicts the often blistering challenge of making your childhood dreams come true, even when there are damaging obstacles in the way. 

Through interviews with Strompolos, Zala, and Lamb, as well as their parents, fellow crew members who worked with them on the adaptation, and co-star from the original film, John Rhys Davies, you're given exclusive access to footage of the production, as well as the 1981 film that takes you into the blood, sweat and, tears of Strompolos, Zala, and Lamb's determination of paying tribute to Spielberg's classic. However, even when you're trying to make your fandom come true, there are going to be some pretty tramatic effects of making that happen. There are also personal details into their childhood, such as having interesting hobbies, being children of divorces, and having families of their own. With money troubles, family issues, and their complicated friendship, their journey to finishing their film is no less affecting, especially to people who are also thinking about taking their love of film to great lengths.

One of the many reasons why this particular documentary stands out is because it is really about people and their passion for the movies that they love and are inspired by. It also really goes deeper into a friendship that with all of its trials and tribulations, still manages to thrive and last a lifetime. Some of my favorite moments include horror director and fan Eli Roth talking about why the remake needs to be seen and why it so important to many people. Other moments include archive talk-show interviews with Strompolos, Zala, and Lamb discussing why they wanted to remake Raiders. Probably the greatest moment is when they finally got to meet Spielberg, who loved the film and wanted to meet them. With these and other sequences, and with humor and insight, you're allowed to see why movies have the power to change the lives of people who will live and die for them.

The special features of the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy edition from Drafthouse Films are great, because you get to see what when into not just the documentary itself, but also how adaptation was finally finished. There are two amazing commentaries: the first with directors Skousen and Coon, and the other with Strompolos and Zala; deleted scenes; outtakes from the Raiders fan film, Q & A from the 2003 premiere of the adaptation at Alamo Drafthouse, and trailers. There is also a digital copy and 16-page booklet with the original storyboards of the fan film.

I was incredibly involved in this documentary because it is really about the passion and lengths people will go through to make their dreams a reality, and how the magic of movies can change us all. I have to give this film a gigantic recommendation, and if you are a true film fanatic and lover, you must see this film. I bet you will even be inspired to make your own adaptation of any film you love.

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