James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.
Cole Clay // Film Critic
RAIDERS! THE STORY OF THE GREATEST FAN FICTION FILM EVER MADE | 104 min | Rated UR
Director: Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen
Cast: Eric Zala, Chris Strompolos, Jayson Lamb, Eli Roth, John Rhys-Davies and Harry Jay Knowles
Fan fiction has existed for many years where fans created their own versions of specific properties, but never has the re-telling grabbed the attention of the film community quite like the RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: THE ADAPTATION has. After the lost tape was screened at the annual Butt-Numb-A-Thon in Austin, Texas some ten years ago the shot-for-shot adaptation of Steven Spielberg’s classic film has become somewhat of a relic.
RAIDERS!: THE STORY OF THE GREATEST FAN FILM EVER MADE chronicles the three children (now in their 40s) who spent seven years trying to complete the film and the one set piece that they weren’t able to complete. Documentarians Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen employ a time capsule technique to tell the story by showing the idealism of the three friends (Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala and Jayson Lamb) and what the production of the film and the (quasi) fame did to their once tight knit friendship.
Basing the film with the emotional core sometimes lacks the panache to bring any true feelings of wonder or astonishment from their project. RAIDERS! has a gut-wrenching second and third act that features talking-head interviews from one Eli Roth, Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League, Harry Knowles (Butt-Numb-A-Thon curator) and several film critics that explain the importance of this project– as well as relatable problems that a regular 40-something male would have.
At one point Eric Zala begs his boss for two extra days off of work, or be let go from his job. This isn’t the the same 12-year-old kid who thought rolling boulders and face-melting Nazi’s was cool, this is a man with a family to provide for and a mortgage to pay. RAIDERS! taps into the fleeting idealism that we once had in our lives and how to preserve that feeling one day at a time.
RAIDERS! screened at the Dallas International Film Festival, but should be hitting streaming platforms later this year.