The Force Is Strong With Them.
Directed by Mark Edlitz (The Eden Myth) this documentary features a look into some of the most dedicated fans of the Star Wars franchise. It also features perspective interviews from celebrities such as Olivia Munn (The Babymakers), Ray Park (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace), Peter Mayhew (Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi), and Jeremy Bullock (Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back).
However Jedi Junkies may be a bit of a misnomer as the narrative of the film fails to follow any of the subjects detailed as to truly demonstrate an obsession. No person profiled has allowed their love of the franchise to control their lives, which goes against part of the film. Specifically there are comments from psychologists who try to explain when fascination becomes obsession, and yet nothing they say seems to actually apply to anyone Jedi Junkies interviews. The film is more like an overview of the different aspects which make up the Star Wars fandom: tattoos, cosplay, conventions, collecting, and fan works. Also included are a couple of profiles of folks who actually make a decent living employing some aspect of The Force.
Jedi Junkies suffers from a lack of cohesive narrative, however this doesn’t diminish the enjoyment one can find. What will keep people away is whether or not they are a Star Wars fan already. If they are not, this is not the film which will convert them.
Be warned since this is a fan film and not officially sanctioned, there are absolutely no clips from any of the six Star Wars movies. So those looking for tie-ins to the films will be disappointed.
However, the people whose stories are being told all make for engaging interview subjects. From the man who builds custom light sabers to the woman who belly dances as Slave Leia, everyone shows a genuine enthusiasm for what they do and it comes across on screen. While I do think it’s necessary to already be a fan of Star Wars before viewing, Jedi Junkies is fun to watch.
Sadly the video and audio qualities are surprisingly low budget. No this doesn’t have any connection to Lucasfilm, however considering how many examples of high quality fan works are out there, some of which are highlighted in Jedi Junkies itself, it is surprising to find so much grain in the video and an audible hiss on the audio track. The footage looks and sounds like mini-DV.
Special features include a commentary track as well as some deleted and extended scenes. The packaging delineates these much more than the DVD menu itself, so I ended up expecting more than I got.
The bottom line is Jedi Junkies is harmless. By refusing to either embrace or dismiss the actions of the people it profiles, the filmmakers have reduced the documentary to little more than a collection of interview clips sprinkled with fan made montages. Diehard fans will likely find Jedi Junkies a worthy addition to their film library regardless of the lack of high quality technical specs. If you love Star Wars and are an active participator in any of the aspects of fandom discussed, it’s likely you will embrace this film as a way to connect to people just like you.