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CINEVOLVE STUDIOS

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Tariq Jalil
Cast:
Various
Writing Credits:
Tariq Jalil

Synopsis:
1977: Star Wars premieres at Mann's Chinese Theater. It triggers a pop culture phenomenon that has lasted to this day. 1999: fans eagerly anticipate the release of Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Galaxy features interviews with hundred of fans, movie executives and high profile celebrities shedding new light on the film trilogy that has captivated generations of moviegoers. It takes us to Star Wars conventions, to nationwide premieres, into the homes of devoted fans showing off their treasures and to the 42 days of waiting in lines in the spring of 1999. The complete, often hilarious exploration of the phenomenon brings together a group of interesting, hysterical and often touching fans. Yet it is not just a movie about zealous fans. Galaxy offers new insight into the reasons these fast-paced science fiction films struck a mysterious and powerful chord with all races, genders and generations.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Monaural
Subtitles:
None
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 64 min.
Price: $19.95
Release Date: 4/21/2009

Bonus:
• Video Commentary with Director Tariq Jalil and Producer Terry Tocantins
• Audio Commentary with Director Tariq Jalil, Producer Terry Tocantins, Editor Mikee Schwinn and Cameraman Jeremy Idea.
• 10th Anniversary Interviews with Director Tariq Jalil and Producer Terry Tocantins
• Trailers
• Deleted Scenes
• Photo Gallery
• Easter Egg


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


A Galaxy Far Far Away: 10th Anniversary Special Edition (2001)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 16, 2009)

Am I the only one who feels a little dumbfounded that it’s already been 10 years since The Phantom Menace hit the screens? Given how long Star Wars fans waited for it, I find it startling to realize so much time has passed since we finally got the restart of the franchise.

And I think it’s even more difficult to comprehend the insanely high levels of hype and expectation that greeted Menace. For a look back at those heady days, we go to 2001’s A Galaxy Far, Far Away. Narrated by director Tariq Jalil, the documentary visits a number of settings. We see fans in line for Menace as well as at sci-fi conventions.

We also meet some who specialize in various areas like music, and we get soundbites from a mix of notables. We get comments from folks like actors Robert Loggia, Joe Pesci, Andy Garcia, James Duvall, and Meat Loaf, producer Roger Corman and author Christopher Vogler.

For decades, there’s been a “Star Wars vs. Star Trek” rivalry, and that extends to the perception of the fans. Maybe I’m biased since I prefer Star Wars, but I think Trek attracts a kookier, nerdier gang. Oh, you can find tons of oddballs who love Wars, but I think they tend to be more social and more in on the joke. When you see the idiots who lined up for six weeks to see Menace, at least most of them recognize that their quest is absurd; I think similar Trek fans wouldn’t have the same level of ironic distance.

And that’s part of the reason movies like Trekkies will always be more entertaining than anything like Galaxy. You just don’t find the same number of mind-boggling weirdos in the Star Wars universe, so don’t expect the same level of head-shaking strangeness here. Even when we see nuts here, they often seem to be there mostly for publicity than anything else.

The awkward, amateurish construction of Galaxy doesn’t help. Even with a natural framework – the buildup to the release of Menace - the flick often feels random and incoherent. The flick jumps from different participants and locations with no apparent logic, and it never goes anywhere. A more interesting sibling like Trekkies focuses on a few locations and characters, so it manages to take a loose concept and turn it into something reasonably concise.

That’s just not apparent in the “throw everything at the wall” approach found in Galaxy, and the lack of any “central characters” really hurts it. When you leave Trekkies, you clearly remember a few of its participants. The same effect fails to materialize here, as I don’t remember anyone in particular from Galaxy. We get hit and run segments with moderate oddballs and that’s about it. There’s no logic, flow or theme.

Well, except for condescension, perhaps. Before I saw Galaxy, I checked out some comments about it. I got the impression that folks thought it was more objectively and less eager to mock its subjects than the Trekkies flicks.

I think those impressions were incorrect. If anything, Galaxy seems more interested in lampooning the super-fans. This becomes particularly obvious when we see the first night sales of the Menace action figures, but that’s not the only instance. The movie features an attitude of smug superiority that makes it less appealing.

If that was the only problem I found here, I might excuse it. Unfortunately, Galaxy just lacks any vision or coherence. It aspires to investigate the nature of the Star Wars phenomenon – and it tries to throw out pathos and insight at its end - but instead it just makes fun of some nerds.


The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio C-/ Bonus B

A Galaxy Far Far Away appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Galaxy looked decent but it showed its roots.

Sharpness often took a hit. Simple interview close-ups looked fine, but anything more distant than that tended to display varying levels of softness. I came away with the general impression of mediocre definition. Mild instances of jagged edges and shimmering appeared, and a little edge enhancement also appeared.

Actual source flaws weren’t really a concern, though some video artifacts appeared. A few distractions stemmed from the “on the fly” nature of the photography as well; I noticed crud like rain and hairs on the lens at times. Those were inevitable, so I didn’t have a problem with them.

Obviously colors went with natural tones, as the flick didn’t attempt to alter the hues in any way. As usually occurs with videotape programs of this sort, Galaxy presented fairly bland colors. At times, I thought the hues were decent, but they usually came across as flat and drab. Blacks were decent but unexceptional, and shadows tended to be murky and muddy. Given the circumstances under which it was shot, I thought Galaxy looked acceptable.

Similar thoughts greeted the monaural audio of Galaxy. Speech varied a lot due to the different recording circumstances. The lines usually remained intelligible, and if the quality was compromised, the filmmakers provided subtitles. I thought dialogue was fine given the conditions under which it was recorded.

Effects fell into the same category. Documentaries like this don’t emphasize effects, of course, and what we heard came from the source footage. These elements lacked much range, but they sounded fine. Music fared best of all, as the added tunes were pretty good. They didn’t present terrific range, but they showed nice depth and punch. All of this was good enough for a “C-“.

Galaxy came with a bunch of extras. We open with a video commentary from director Tariq Jalil and producer Terry Tocantins. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific MST3K-style presentation; it puts their silhouettes at the bottom of the screen as they watch the film. They offer general comments about the flick such as thoughts about various subjects as well as elements of its production.

And they say very little of interest across the movie’s 64 minutes. They joke and provide few actual insights or useful anecdotes. The video format adds nothing to the experience. The track can also be found under “All New Audio Commentary”; it’s the same material just without the useless visuals. I hope the other commentary proves to be more effective, as this one is a dull waste of time.

What “other commentary” do I mean? That would be the original audio commentary from the film’s 2002 DVD. It features Jalil, Tocantins, editor Mikee Schwinn and cameraman Jeremy Idea. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific look at themes and the film’s tone, the various participants and locations, editing and music, and a few general production notes.

While clearly superior to the borderline useless video commentary, this track still comes with some problems. Most of those stem from the prevalence of snarky, sarcastic cracks throughout the piece; these give the commentary the feeling of an “in joke” that doesn’t do much for me. Still, we get a better view at the goals and processes of the production. Heck, Jalil even tries his best to convince us the movie has a structure, though he acknowledges many have criticized it as formless. This is an up and down commentary but still one with reasonable information.

If you can’t get enough of Jalil and Tocantins, head to the 10th Anniversary Interviews with Producer and Director. In this 17-minute and 54-second piece, they discuss the project’s origins, the low-budget “guerrilla” filmmaking behind it, the shoot and post-production, and some reflections on the flick. You’ll hear a few of the same stories told elsewhere here, and the snarky jokey tone continues. Nonetheless, we find a smattering of interesting thoughts; watch this instead of the video interview.

Two trailers appear. There’s a “new trailer” (2:20), and an “old trailer” (0:37). Neither seems to be too interesting. More ads appear in Coming Attractions. That area includes promos for The Town That Was, Goodbye Baby, Becoming Family, 12 in a Box and El Tinte De La Fama.

Eight Deleted Scenes run a total of 15 minutes, four seconds. These include “Yet Another Montage” (2:58), “Secret Asian Man” (1:59), “I, Saul” (0:45), “Nothin’ But a Melrose G’ Thang” (1:13), “Nothin’ But a Jay Thang” (1:20), “Psycho, They Call Him” (0:52), “Park City Interview” (3:00) and “Santa Barbara Interview” (2:55). The first six provide actual footage shot for Galaxy but not included, while the last two show press appearances by Jalil and Tocantins.

Elsewhere we learn how many thousands of hours Jalil and company shot for Galaxy. All that footage and the disc gives us only nine minutes of crap? The clips featured here are uniformly awful. The interviews are slightly more interesting, though Jalil and Tocantins remain glib. I do like the distinctly uncomfortable look the female “Park City” host shows when Jalil hits on her. Hey, good for you, man – she’s cute, so why not give it a shot?

A running Photo Gallery gives us shots from the movie. It provides 12 images of various participants. It seems fairly pointless to me, especially since all the “photos” just appear to be grabs from the video footage.

Finally, an Easter Egg appears. Go to the “Interviews and Commentary” screen and click left from “10th Anniversary Video Commentary”. This highlights an egg; press “enter” for a short clip in which Jalil and Tocantins offer brief advice about making a “guerrilla documentary”. Yes, it’s tongue in cheek.

If you want to find an interesting exploration of super-fans, look to Trekkies. If you want to see a borderline incoherent attempt to make fun of super-fans, look to A Galaxy Far, Far Away. Forgettable and amateurish, Galaxy meanders for its brief running time and doesn’t ever become particularly involving. The DVD provides acceptable picture and audio along with an erratic but occasionally interesting set of extras. I have no complaints about this release, but the movie itself leaves me cold.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main