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It’s Halloween 1998 and four Star Wars fanboys, Linus (Chris Marquette), Hutch (Dan Fogler), Windows (Jay Baruchel) and Eric (Sam Huntington), along with one fangirl, Zoe (Kristen Bell), hatch a plan to drive cross country to George Lucas’s Skywalker ranch, break in and ultimately see an early cut of the most anticipated movie of all time, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace six months before its release. Simply put, there you have a subject for a movie that has me buying a ticket before I’ve even seen a cast listing, trailer or anything.

 Fanboys
Fanboys hits the ground running with the majority of the cast dressed up as Stormtroopers and Jay Baruchel rocking a Vader costume. The dialogue is heavy handed, the visual references to the Star Wars Saga are ripe and there’s no fooling around in regards to where this movie's going, but when we discover that the character of Linus has cancer and seemingly isn’t responding well to the medication the story gets a little deeper and the balls out comedy becomes a little more meaningful.  

However it’s not until an argument between Linus and old friend Eric about whether Luke and Leia would have sensed they were brother and sister that Fanboys escalates from a bit of fun to something with a bit more clout. The straightforward dialogue that starts with Eric confronting Linus with a “Who cares about this shit?!” and the beautifully simple return from Linus “I do!” just makes Fanboys shine for me. That simple reply suddenly takes Fanboys out of the spoof on fandom I thought it was going to be and makes it feel like the genuine article and suddenly I’m on this road trip with the foursome (soon to be fivesome when Kristen Bell catches up with them) to achieve the greatest mission of all time.

 Fanboys
As the trip takes a few short stops along the way, ranging from a weird gay bar scene (The Mantina) to a badass Harry Knowles (played by Ethan Suplee) kicking the fanboys asses, the movie has highs and lows of being effective. The primary cast all hold it together well with some finely layered Star Wars dialogue and references peppered over the more obvious ones. Cameos begin to shine with Seth Rogan playing a great Star Trek nerd as well as a vegas pimp with a Jar Jar Binks tattoo on his back (and he even pops up in a smaller Klingon moment). William Shatner has a chucklesome appearance, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes have a great little scene, and we even get a couple of tiny Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams moments to keep the connection to The Saga tighter. Also there’s another great moment for fandom where Carrie Fisher playing a doctor tells the fanboys how seriously ill their friend is and when asking “So what’s so important (about this road trip)? Kristen Bell with totally geek confidence says “ Star Wars!”. (I know , I know, it’s a small thing but as a Star Wars fan I dig the commitment).

Fanboys really comes to life in its final act when the Fanboys reach their goal. Skywalker Ranch, a place every Star Wars fan wants to visit right? Once they get in those walls the fantasy of what’s inside just makes me grin. Blast doors into memorabilia rooms, Death Star security alarms and of course the Lucastrash trash compactor are all touches that put a smile on my face and when the security are revealed as all being kitted out in full on THX 1138 guard uniforms and there’s even a gag about Willow and other Lucasfilm projects, the sense of nostalgia and... well the joy of being a fanboy myself is fantastic.

 Fanboys
As the movie draws to a close and the short and sweet cameo from Danny McBride makes me chuckle some more and the simple sight of Ray Park dropping some Maul moves make me think even if Jay Baruchel won an Oscar it wouldn’t top the fact he’d just had a lightsaber face off with Maul, the last few scenes of the movie really ramp up just how great a story idea this is for a Star Wars fan. Director Kyle Newman really celebrates just how important an event The Phantom Menace was for a whole bunch of people and all without getting into whether it delivered to everyone. In the last few scenes he makes this experience personal to his characters and it really anchors this little road trip comedy to a far more emotional place that just makes me smile and think about just how great a time the build up to Episode I was.

Video
Let’s get the good parts out of the way first. Fanboys has some solid blacks and generally speaking this helps the movie look pretty great in HD. However there’s not too much else going on. Detail just isn’t really there unless we get in close to actors' faces and the image can feel a bit hazy in places with levels of grain varying from scene to scene.

 Fanboys
Skin tones can get a bit pink in areas and colours don’t really pop like they seemingly could but to be honest all of these issues are never bad. The image still feels HD (even if only just about in places) and Fanboys still has a nice bright look about it and honestly this is a small movie about Star Wars geeks making a trip across country to break into Skywalker ranch, it’s not exactly epic (though in my mind the journey really would be).

Audio


Once again this is a fairly timid affair with the DTS HD Master Audio track doing all it needs to without showing off. Actually it shows off once during a drug induced hallucination scene with Danny Trejo and the audio bounces around speakers making for a more dynamic and bassy event.

However on the whole this is a simple frontal affair with the odd piece of the music on the soundtrack or sound effect filling out the rears for effect and lifting this straight forward track out of straightforwardsville from time to time.

 Fanboys

Extras


‘Star Wars Parallels’ (05:17 HD), ‘Truth About Fanboys’ (05:48 HD), '4 Fanboys and 1 Fangirl' (08:48 HD) are all EPK puff pieces that repeat themselves. Lots of talk about the respect of the  Star Wars movies and the movie's characters are covered but really there’s nothing too exciting here.

‘The Choreography’ (03:39 HD) features the dance scene at the Mantina and not the Ray Park bits—so it’s a bit dull as are the deleted scenes (07:50) where the biggest highlight is a slight extension to the Smith/Mewes scene.

‘Disturbances in the Force’ (11:38 HD—ooh, a very fitting run-time) is a series of webisodes made during the making of the movie. It’s a lot of the cast and crew mucking about on set and not really much else and finishing up is the International trailer (02:09 HD).

 Fanboys

Overall


After multiple viewing over the last year or so, I’m pretty much in love with Fanboys, if only for the grin it puts on my face and inner geekiness it gives a warm wookie hug to. I know deep down it probably could have been better in places but honestly its small approach and likeable characters give it a certain charm I wouldn’t change for the world.

The subject of the build up to Episode I’s release is an area that could generate a million great stories as far as I'm concerned and Fanboys is a great way to celebrate one of the most exciting times in recent movie history, so any Star Wars fans out there who haven’t checked this out yet... get on it (even if the disc is a little bit lacklustre when compared to other Blu-rays).

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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