Macht Movie Productions presents
The Force Among Us (2007)
"My approach with anybody—including George Lucas—is to listen to their art."- Dick Staub
Stars: John Tenuto, Ken Gates, Dick Staub, Dan Madsen, Mark Dermul, Dustin Roberts, Chris Spice, Chris Rhoads, Patrick Read Johnson, Alphie Jimenez, Sean Hynes, John Duffy, Aimee Jorgensen, Chris Macht, Ray Schulthess, Mike Gottschalk, Josh Walden, Todd DeMartino, Mark Stensrude, Glenn Messmer, Pat Newell, Daniel Eversdyk, Marjorie Carvalho, Arnie Carvalho, Ia Brueckman, Andrew Bordoni, Dan Dudych, Colin Kenworthy, Myrna Weiss, Tyler Proctor, Matt Erickson, Chuck Hamilton, Scott Reed, Andrea Reed, Fred Chiba III, William Schulthess, Jason Crable, Scott Taillet, Michael McGrath, Christian Quast, Norma Messmer, J. Simon McDonald, Sydney Lendian-McDonald, Sarah Hamilton, Chris Hamilton, Rick Snijder, David Syzckylo, Wayne Roberts, David J. Quimby, Matthew Trottier, Kyuss Buker, Michel Lefebrve, Joseph Tocco, Tommy L'Hommedieu, W. Grant Ragain, Alex Kohlman, Conrad W. Kohlman, James Greene Jr., William Trottier, Mary Jo Tenuto, Nichola Tenuto, Gale Walden, Dale Meyers, Elaina Meyers, Noah Anakin Meyers, Ethan Jimenez, Grace Jimenez, Jennifer Loomis, Anthony Day, Toby Markham, Kathy Van Beuningen, Damian Jorgensen, Rob Schneider, Daniel Gushard, Jan Ide, Cortney Macht
Director: Cristian George Macht
Manufacturer: Disk Makers
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:26m:40s
Release Date: 0000-00-00
DVD ReviewThere aren't too many movie franchises with the same level of excessively radical fan support quite like the Star Wars universe. That's no direct slam towards Trekkies or Tolkienites or Potterheads (I made those last two up, but you get the idea), because while the fanbase for those is just as intense, there's something wacky and sometimes maybe just a little scary about those Star Wars folks.
In The Force Among Us, Cristian and Courtney Macht look at the multi-faceted world of the diehard Star Wars fan from a few different angles during the span of 86 minutes, allowing the faithful themselves to describe what floats their boat and why, in a presentation that only sometimes wanders off the trail. This is quasi-serious stuff, and though the Machts don't mock their subjects—instead allowing them to elaborate on why they like action figures, costumes or even Legos—there were a few moments where even I (a self-professed geek and action figure nerd) let out a low "whoa" when faced with some of the more intense types on display here. And when the discussion began to take on serious overtones, I could lightly gloss over author Dick Staub's comparative religion ramble between Christians and Jedis, because most of these folks seem like they're just having a good old time.
The closest The Force Among Us gets to potentially full-tilt bizarro centers around the 501st, an apparently highly-structured and bureaucratic outfit of costume-wearing fans who take things quite seriously. Very seriously. I'm all for like-minded people to get together to do their things (knit, brew beer, swing), but there's a weird whisper of power tripping on display here, yet the Machts just let them lay out their schpiel and leave it for us to decide where the weird-meter starts to move around. And then there's the guy who has adopted a half Jack Sparrow/half Stormtrooper persona, and his own personal issues with not being fully accepted by those in charge.
But the core here is mostly passionate fans doing their thing, not really harming anyone. Dan Madsen—longtime president of the Star Wars Fan Club—comes off like a genuinely nice person, as do most of the people on display here. The group that travels to the snowy and icy far flung reaches of Norway to visit where the Hoth scenes from The Empire Strikes Back were shot just to take photos with their action figures or models seems sort of appealing to me, in a this-is-a-really-unusual-but-geeky-cool-kind-of-trip. It would have been nice if all of the interview subjects were identified (only a few are), and that omission is a little sloppy from a technical standpoint, though it's not really all that essential to soak in the essence.
One of the interviewees says "it's really cool that I'm not the only one", and that is the underlying message here. The hushed talk of obtaining an authentic vinyl-caped Jawa or the myth of the rocket-firing Boba Fett action figure struck an identifiable collector chord with me, and seeing a gaggle of people with similar interests get so excited about something, in so many different directions, speaks volumes for just how far Star Wars has become larger than just six movies.
Note: The Force Among Us is limited to 1977 copies, and is only available at www.theforceamongus.com
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||no|
Image Transfer Review: The transfer is nonanamorphic widescreen, and culled from a number of interview locations, so quality varies quite a bit. Some bits look exceptionally strong—such as the Dick Staub interview—almost look as if they were lifted from another doc entirely, while most of the feature suffers from some lighting issues that turn some subjects a little dark.
For an indie doc the quality is a little spotty, but never to the point of distraction.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in 2.0 stereo, with voice quality typically clear with just occasional clipping. Like the video side, a variety of locations caused some minor fluctuations, but never to the point of being inaudible. There was never an issue understanding what an interview subject was saying, and seeing that talking heads are 98% of The Force Among Us, the end result is a mix that is simple but workable.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 1 cues and remote access
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Cristian George Macht, Courtney Macht
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Extras Review: Filmmakers Cristian George Macht and Courtney Macht deliver a commentary track that is unfortunately marred by sketchy sound quality, as if they were recorded about 15 feet away from the microphone. There's a bit of a buzz prevalent, too. Those techie beefs aside, the content is a little unfocused at first, but the Machts do provide some background on some of the interview subjects, though much of the material is about nonessential info such as where things were shot.
There's a whole slew of extras (running 48 minutes) spread a little haphazardly, most of which play out like deleted scenes and/or extended interviews, with pieces on things like which character from the Star Wars films you'd most like to be stranded on an island with or what treasured item should to go to the grave with them. Also included is some additional footage shot in Finse, Norway covering the brave souls seeking the chance to travel a great distance to set foot on the frozen land where Hoth footage for The Empire Strikes Back was shot. There's interviews from the Celebration IV convention (CIV for those in the know), a couple of automated photo galleries, a pair of promo reels (one for conventions, one for fests) and two teaser clips from the WGN news in Chicago.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsI'm not what you would classify as a drooling Star Wars geek, but I like the films and the whole mythos very much, and even more I really love exploring the world of the rabid fan. The Force Among Us looks at those who are way, way, way into the world of Jedis, Skywalkers and Vaders, all played without a hint of intentional mockery by filmmakers Cristian George Macht and Courtney Macht.
Recommended for all devotees of the Star Wars galaxy.
Rich Rosell 2007-11-02