Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Jedi Junkies

Title: Jedi Junkies
Director: Mark Edlitz
Released: 2010
Starring: Eduardo Sanchez, Ray Park, Peter Mayhew, Olivia Munn, John Bardy

Plot: A documentary exploring the lasting appeal of "Star Wars" and the various ways the fanbase choose to celebrate this love, from collectors and cosplayers through to fan film directors the documentary meets them all.

Review: Star Wars fans have always been something of a curiosity, even to a lifelong member like myself. As possibly one of the first groups, to actively voice their love for a series which essentially for the longest time told only the second half of a story. Before Trekies (and certainly well before Trekker’s ), ringers the Star Wars fans were voicing their love for their franchise while finding new and ever inventive ways to promote this love. Despite this these fans have never had a real fanbase name (as far as I know) though each documentary which comes along to explore the passion of these fans has tried to brand them unsuccessfully with one name or another, as previously seen with “Star Woids” and now with this latest documentary…sorry if you though this was going to be the Star Wars version of Trainspotting.

Unlike the aforementioned “Star Woids” this film seemingly has no real interest in finding out what the lasting appeal of Star Wars is but rather sets out to look at the some of the various groups of fans and collectors who share an undying love for the saga, which seemingly even two questionable prequels and Jar Jar Binks have still not killed off. Unsurprisingly though by just reviewing the current landscape of the fan community there is little to be seen which hasn’t essentially wasn’t known by anyone whose happened to go to a sci-fi convention recently. So hence we get to look through the collections of obsessional collectors, whose obsession is so great that they can’t stop at having one boxed X-Wing and aren’t happy unless they can boast a whole squadron. Interestingly amongst these obsessional collectors is Eduardo Sanchez who directed “The Blair Witch Project” so if anyone who’s been wondering what he’s been doing since then, it would seem the answer is amassing an impressive Star Wars collection, which he is more than happy to show off like all the collectors featured here, which also serves to remind us that.

Elsewhere a whole different kind of fan dedication is seen with the guys who constructed a life sized Millennium Falcon in their backyard which was used in the fan film “Stuck On Star Wars” filling me with a slight twinge of jealously especially as I couldn’t figure out a way to convince my wife to put such a thing in my own yard, while it is equally heart breaking that it is later revealed to have been destroyed in a storm. Needless to say lightsabers play a big part in this documentary from the New York based performance group who put on lightsaber displays, through to the a closer look at the construction of these lightsabers which equally serves to show the level of detail which the fans are willing to bring to their own creations. Equally at the same time its hard to tell if such focus and naming of this particular brand of custom saber isn't just some advert sneaked in under the geise of cosplay.

Now I know that the one question you’re all dying to know and that’s if “Leia’s Metal Bikini” are featured and I can happily report that they are, while the iconic costume itself receives a fair amount of attention, as the documentary not only look at the members of the group, but also those who use it for the basis for other Star Wars activities including Leia Burlesque and even Leia belly dancing, while Olivia Munn from “Attack of the Show” highlights the downside to wearing this fan favourite at conventions.  Sadly these ladies are the only real insight we get on the female fan community, as the only other female contributions given to this documentary are with the snippets of general fan love that provide the filler between segments, outside of this it is from with any other female insight coming from the wives of the collectors or are psychologists attempting to explain the obsessions of the collectors.  As such it only further highlights the frequent feeling in the fan community that women are largely invisible unless providing some form of fan service via a revealing costume, something only further reinforced by having one of the Leia girls on the cover, no doubt to catch the attention of those skimming through their Netflix list.

Unsurprisingly while the documentary does not feature interviews with member of the Star Wars cast it isn’t with any of the big three (Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford or Carrie Fisher) or even George Lucas, but instead with Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and the always enthusiastic Ray Park (Darth Maul) who even joins in on the discussion as to who would win in a fight between Darth Maul and Darth Vader. Unsurprisingly Park feels that Maul would somehow have the upper hand, but it’s nice to see him still enthusiastic about the role, especially when so many of the cast are just about sick of talking about it. One of the main downsides for me here is the overwhelming focus on Fan films the documentary has, more so the fact that it chooses to focus on several rather uninteresting additions to this genre, in particular “Tremors of the Force” which gets given way too much attention, while its director John Bardy seemingly believes it to be a lot bigger than it is. Needless to say if you were going to look at fan films there are countless better examples out there such as “George Lucas In Love” , the valley girl antics of “Pink 5” or just the rapid fire humour of “Cheap Seats” to name but a few better examples of the fan film.

Unquestionably this is a films which will only appear to the established fans, as the noticeable absence of voice over, while the general structure of the film feels very thrown together with no real order or flow to how the footage has been pieced together, especially when the film looks at collectors only to then later in the film to return to the same collectors again with no real difference of insight than was given the last time we see them. In the end I was left with a slightly hollow feeling, seeing how the documentary fails to shed any really light on the fan community or at the same time show us anything new. With this in mind I would recommend hunting down “Star Woids” or a much more rounded insight into the cult of Star Wars, even if it lacks the psychological insight that this film attempts to bring, only to end up being at best a one watch documentary and one which barely provides anything to deserve a second watch.

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