Review: Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
By John Corrado
★★★★ (out of 4)
Watching Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made gave me the same feeling I had seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time as a kid. And that’s no small praise of this genuine crowdpleaser that is finally being released after playing at last year’s Hot Docs, and scoring the second place spot on my list of the best documentaries of 2015.
Back in 1982, young friends Eric Zala, Chris Strompolos and Jayson Lamb became so enamoured with Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, that they embarked on creating a shot-for-shot remake, using their youthful ingenuity and limited resources to craft their own version of the cinematic classic.
The project spanned seven summers, and took them through the entire second half of their childhoods in Mississippi, providing an escape from the various hardships of their family lives. But when a falling out happened between them, and unforeseen circumstances caused the three boys to drift apart, a single scene remained incomplete. So with better resources and renewed faith in their childhood dream, the estranged friends reunited as adults to finally shoot their elaborately staged recreation of the famous airplane sequence, and finish the project once and for all.
Directors Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen have crafted a behind the scenes look at this impressive and unique project, beautifully capturing the ups and downs of both creativity and friendship. Filled with dramatic twists and turns, and the sheer joy of witnessing movie magic come together, their remarkable story makes for a wildly entertaining and incredibly inspirational film, that resonates with the shining power of cinema. As a lifelong fan of Indiana Jones, I loved every second of Raiders!, and left the theatre with a huge, childish grin on my face. This is something truly special.
Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made is now playing in limited release at Cineplex Yonge-Dundas in Toronto, and at other theatres across Canada.