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DVD Review

DVD cover

A Galaxy Far Far Away
10th Anniversary Special Edition (Region 1 Edition)

Narrated by: Tariq Jalil
Cinevolve Studios
RRP: £12.99, US $19.95
Certificate: Not Rated
Available 21 April 2009

In 1977 Star Wars premiered at Mann's Chinese Theatre. It triggered a pop culture phenomenon that has lasted to this day. In 1999 fans anticipated the release of Episode I: The Phantom Menace. A Galaxy Far Far Away features interviews with hundreds of fans, movie executives and high profile celebrities, shedding new light on the film trilogy that has captivated generations of devoted fans showing off their treasures and to the box office ticket lines of die-hard fans who waited eagerly for 42 days in the spring of 1999. The complete, often hilarious exploration of the phenomenon brings together a group of interesting, hysterical and often touching fans. Not just a movie about zealous fans, Galaxy offers new insight into the reasons these faced-paced science fiction films struck a mysterious and powerful chord amongst the races, genres and generations...

If you haven't already seen A Galaxy Far Far Away, then you're in for a bit of a treat as this film captures Star Wars mania as it swept America in 1999.

Over a month before Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace was due to be released in cinemas, people started camping outside of the famous Man's Chinese Theatre (now known as Grauman's Chinese Theatre) in Hollywood. Tariq Jalil, who grew up on the original Star Wars trilogy, couldn't quite understand why ordinary people would camp outside a cinema for over 40 days just so that they could be amongst the first to see a movie. So he decided to film the people in the queue as well as getting numerous independent film makers from across America to go out and talk to any die-hard fanatics in their region.

Highlights in this movie include the guy who thinks that the people waiting in line for over 40 days are idiots. He doesn't quite get the irony of the fact he's just as idiotic, by inflicting his obsession on his poor son who he's named Anakin; the appearance of the Star Trek and the Jesus protesters (go figure) outside Mann's Chinese Theatre on the night before the movie is due to open; the crazy situation that ensued when Toy R Us got the first shipment of toys in store - 300 men queuing outside to buy what are essentially dolls; Adam Corolla and Jimmy Kimmel making total fools of themselves by thinking it would be funny to cut in line - er... it wasn't and caught on camera Kimmel acts like a complete jerk. His gag backfired, shame he couldn't see the funny side when people got annoyed and called the police. For someone who makes his living playing pranks, he's not a very good sport.

Like Jalil, I too was a fan of the original trilogy. I even went to the cinema in the '90s to see Lucas's re-releases of the original trilogy with additional scenes and CGI effects - I fell asleep through A New Hope. It was after that showing I realised that Star Wars was a great film when I was a kid, but it's nowhere near as great when you're an adult. Although I have to come clean and admit that in the '90s I also purchased a number of replica Star Wars helmets - for reasons I still can't fathom and my friends never understood either.

So, I never was expecting the three prequels to be anything other than special effects laden kid's movies - which is exactly what they are. Well, I say that but I can't verify it personally as I've tried to watch Episode II four times now. The first time I fell asleep, and the second, third and forth time I got so bored I just switched off. I've still to see Episode III. The biggest problem with the new movies is that there are too many characters, some awful acting and the end result is that you don't really have time to really care about the characters.

I sat through Galaxy chuckling to myself as I already knew that The Phantom Menace was a mediocre kid's flick. Obviously, as the film hadn't opened when these poor individuals were being interviewed, they had no idea that they were waiting in line for over 40 days to see the biggest anticlimax of their lives.

What's great about this is that almost everyone who queued admitted that the film wasn't what they were expecting. But that they enjoyed the experience of queuing with other fans for over 40 days.

Throughout this film you do start to wonder whether some of the people interviewed should be locked up for their own good. The majority of people appear to have something missing in their lives - usually absent or unloving fathers. While religion fills this gap for most, Star Wars has become a lot of people's religion. Actually, that reminds me. I have to come clean and admit that when I filled in my 2001 UK Census form I was one of the many individuals who thought it would be funny to put "Jedi" as my religion. Like many others, I also did this as a two fingers up to the system which was threatening a £1000 fine to those household which didn't complete it. As a consequence Jedi was, on paper at least, the fourth biggest religion here in the UK in 2001. I can't help but smile when I think of how in the future it will be taken as gospel that many UK residents were practicing Jedis at the start of the 21st century.

Extras include 10th Anniversary Interviews with Producer and Director (17 min, 58 sec retrospective tongue in cheek interview with Terry Tocantins and Tariq Jalil. Highlights include them revealing that the Superman guy starred in the porn movie Flesh Gordon; that they actually had a hard time finding anyone that liked The Phantom Menace; and the fact that Trekkies came out just before Galaxy, totally stealing their thunder); 10th Anniversary Video Commentary with Producer and Director (which is really not that enlightening); All New Audio Commentary (the previous video commentary but without the silhouettes of Jalil and Tocantins); Original Audio Commentary (which is the one to listen to if you're only going to listen to one of the commentaries); New Trailer; Old Trailer; trailers for other releases; Deleted Scenes (15 min, 07 sec) and Photo Gallery.

For those that got caught up in the hype surrounding the release of Episode I, Galaxy is an interesting look back at the run up to the film's rather disappointing opening.


Darren Rea

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