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The Force Among Us : Star Wars Documentary
Reviewed by Joe Crowe, © 2007

Format: Movie
By:   Christian and Cortney Macht
Genre:   Documentary
Review Date:   November 16, 2007
RevSF Rating:   7/10 (What Is This?)

Star Wars fans are people, too. We knew that. Well, most of us. The Force Among Us is an entertaining look at Star Wars fandom. Basically it's fans sitting around talking. But it's better than that sounds.

The best known documentary about sci-fi fandom is Trekkies. This does not try to be that for Star Wars fans (who still really need a good nickname). Actors and creators from the movies are nowhere to be seen; there are no chapters that follow weird dudes around. Sure, there are some goofballs in the movie. But the focus isn't on comedy like Trekkies.

The movie, according to creator Cristian Macht on the doc's website, "was created for both the fans AND the people that NEED to be educated about who the fans really are and why they are so passionate about the movies."

After that statement, I feared the worst. I anticipated "But we have jobs and wives!" defensiveness. I anticipated speechifying about what Star Wars should mean to everyone. But if non-fans are into it, they'd be fans. If not, no explanation will ever be good enough.

Fortunately, the movie doesn't take the path of madness. It features fans who are happy and content to show off their Star Wars love. It has a lighter touch than that website statement implies. But that's good.

The movie shines when it focuses on the collectors talking about the hunt for stuff, how they've connected with each other on the sites, and when they show off their geek hoards.

The costuming segment starts out with promise, with a fan riding a bike in full Wookiee attire. Enthusiastic costumers talk up the building and the wearing. Then it bogs down in fussing about internal politics in the 501st Legion, the prominent Star Wars costume folk. Not really the time or place.

One funny segment is when a fan says every fan loves different characters. Then a favorite-character question is posed to all the interviewees, and everyone answers Luke, Han, Vader, or Yoda.

Except for one guy, who says Jar Jar. He defends his choice in a concise, intelligent manner. Well played, sir.

But watch the face of his friend, standing in the shot next to him, when he gives the Jar Jar answer. Hilarious.

And not one says Chewbacca. That's just wrong.

When questioned about their favorite movie, one lone party says he likes the Holiday Special. To you, sir, I also say well played.

The film joins a gaggle of fans on trips to the movies' filming locations. It's like a pilgrimage to Mecca. I wanted to see much more. The trips could be their own movie.

The sights are gorgeous, and the fans wandering in Tunisia and Norway are fun. In Tunisia, the site of Tattooine is set up for Star Wars tourists. Some sets still exist, such as the podrace stadium. One fan finds a desert igloo that looks like Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru's.

In Norway, searching for Hoth, the tour leader explains, "It's not Club Med." The fans rough it in the freezing cold. They try to track down spots filmed in Empire Strikes Back, while they note that the snowfall changes the landscape constantly.

The Force Among Us nicely illustrates Star Wars fans. From the kids to the grownups, you can see their eyes gleam when they talk about the stories and their stuff.

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