Starring: Eric Zala, Chris Strompolos, Jayson Lamb
Director: Jeremy Coon, Tim Skousen
Running Time: 106 mins
Raiders!: The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made is an American documentary about the story of a group of friends who spent six years making a shot-for-shot remake of Raiders Of The Lost Ark during their childhood.
If you love Raiders Of The Lost Ark, then you’ll love this brilliant documentary. Expertly playing on the near-universal adoration for the film, this is a crowd-pleasing and delightful tale, featuring both great nostalgia for the original film, as well as an impressively heartfelt and engrossing look at the personal lives of the fan movie’s protagonists.
First things first, I want to touch on how well the film uses nostalgia for Raiders Of The Lost Ark to make its own story so fascinating. This film knows how much you love that movie, and is full of clips from and allusions to the Spielberg classic from start to finish. However, there’s more to it than just making you feel all gooey about the movie, because it plays an integral role in developing a strong affection for the main personalities here.
If the film had jumped right into the stories of the various relationships involved during the making of this fan movie, it wouldn’t have been at all interesting. However, as the film starts off with nostalgia for Raiders, childhood and imagination at the forefront, it’s very easy to get off on a good footing with these guys, and as a result care a lot more about their own lives when it comes to it later on.
However, for starters, the way the film depicts the adventures of filming a fan movie as a kid is brilliant. Fantastically contrasted with an attempt thirty years later to recreate one more scene from Raiders, the first forty minutes of this film are all about the excitement and wonder of recreating one of your favourite movies with your friends.
Making movies was something I loved as a kid, and I think anyone else who ever did it too will get an extra-special delight from this documentary. However, the way that this film goes about introducing the kids’ enthusiasm and love for such an outlandish project is hugely uplifting to see.
As the story unfolds and we see the protagonists progress in their movie making, the film starts to introduce a lot more of their personal lives into the story. As I said, this wouldn’t have been so interesting earlier on, but because the first half of the movie makes such a point of you becoming friends with these guys who share a love for Raiders and movie making, it’s actually really engrossing, and the emotional payoff is surprisingly effective.
Although there are moments when you just want to get back to the wonder of the kids’ mad project, I was hugely impressed by this documentary’s ability to portray ordinary people in such a fascinating and extraordinary light, making for a hugely interesting and entertaining watch throughout, which is why I’ll give this a 7.9 overall.