Published Apr 26, 2015Eric Zala, Chris Strompolos and Jayson Lamb take the term "super fan" to a whole other level. From 1982 to 1989, these three Southerners spent every summer of their youth and almost every penny of their combined allowances trying to accomplish a wholly ridiculous feat: create a shot-for-shot remake of Steven Spielberg's 1981 blockbuster Raiders of the Lost Ark (in rural Mississippi, no less). After seven years of filming they nearly managed to do that, except one scene always eluded them: the famous airplane sequence (you know, the one with the big explosion at the end).
Twenty-five years later, Zala and Strompolos decide to reunite — with some sweet Kickstarter money and private funds in tow, of course — to accomplish their long-lost dream and finish the scene they could never quite capture.
On its surface, Raiders! is essentially about the filming of their final sequence and the pitfalls, arguments and trying times that resulted from it. But at its core, Raiders! is much more than that, documenting the pair's creative and arduous journey from start to finish, while also detailing their emotional, social and personal evolution alone and as friends along the way.
For the most part, Zala and Strompolos are fairly likeable subjects (they were clearly childhood outcasts, and the fact they had the wherewithal to make a fan film over seven years makes these underdogs seem more charming than they really are), but at times their underlying egos can be a bit grating. Anybody from a family that struggled to make ends meet will find it fairly irritating when Zala, a father of two, repeatedly calls his boss to request more time off from work to accomplish what is, at its core, one of the biggest documented vanity projects of all time. And watching the duo continually dismiss Lamb's original contributions to the project and refuse to settle a beef that found him falling out of their friendship decades before is both unsettling and stupid.
Although Zala and Strompolos' shot-for-shot remake is essentially their creation, Raiders! does a good job of highlighting all the other players —mothers, fathers, childhood friends, celebrities (super nerd Eli Roth among them) and co-workers — who came together over the years to make this dream of theirs a reality. Raiders!, and the film it presents, isn't so much about the unified vision of a few friends, but the ways in which the movies we watch unite, define and inspire us.
(Jeremy Coon Productions)