Fanboys ignites a number of long-standing geek debates. Does Luke have feelings for Princess Leia? Is Boba Fett an overrated acrobat?
These are important debates… if you’re the fan base that will appreciate something as simple as Hutch (Dan Fogler) punching his van’s roof to start it up. Infamously tinkered with by Harvey Weinstein to appeal to a wider audience, the version that finally saw release may not be director Kyle Newman’s full vision, but it remains wildly entertaining.
Fanboys nails the culture, not just making blatant fun of it (unless you’re a Trekkie… err, Trekker, sorry). You can see the sheer passion these guys (and one girl) have for the ultimate sci-fi saga, and the glimmer in their eyes as they break into Skywalker Ranch to steal an early workprint of Star Wars: Episode I.
All of the references and cameos do not a good movie make, and Fanboys has plenty of them, but it also has heart. This is not just a film about a bunch of Star Wars geeks committing a crime; it’s about rekindling friendship and getting their friend Linus (Chris Marquette) to see the movie since his cancer has spread. By the end, it seems irrelevant whether or not they see the film, but whether or not these final days are spent reminiscing and being utterly and completely crazy.
The number of movie quotes and references inserted into the film is one step shy of insanity, requiring multiple viewings to appreciate them all. The reality is that they fit right into the story, not just tossed in with reckless abandon to put a smile on a fan’s face. Not everyone will understand them or “get it,” but that’s not the point. This is a film for “us,” and you know who you are.
Fanboys comes to Blu-ray from the Weinstein Company, and the results are lackluster at best. With a limited budget, there is little doubt the film stock utilized here was meager, although this AVC encode does it little favor. Immediately from the opening shots inside the home during the Halloween party at 2:11, the walls are littered with noise and artifacts, a total failure in terms of resolving the grain structure. The same goes for the office inside the car dealership at 12:28, and other scenes where solid colored walls are prominent.
Facial detail varies wildly, although it never reaches a true peak. It’s always meandering and a bit flat even at its best. The Billy Dee Williams cameo at 43:35 turns out to be one of the best moments in the film in terms of detail, and William Shatner fares all right at 54:45 too. Even in the brighter lit scenes, such as the brawl outside with Ethan Suplee playing Harry Knowles, the depth in the frame is excellent, but the texture is simply gone.
Softness is relatively dominate, the worst being inside the ER waiting room at the hour mark. Scenes in low-light suffer dramatically too, including the Skywalker Ranch as they sneak around. Black levels falter here too, as they do sporadically throughout.
Heading into Vegas at 47:14 or so, the lights deliver some vivid color if not much else. The limited definition is just a disappointment. Flesh tones are accurate, and any other colors are fine, especially the Star Trek uniforms worn by the Trekkie… err, Trekkers. Sorry again. Contrast is typically bright and satisfactory. There doesn’t seem to be anything particularly offensive here in terms of manipulation, just a weak film stock colliding with a mundane encode.
Fanboys opens on a party, and once inside, the bass of Chumbawamba blares, and the surrounds engage in plenty of guest chatter. It’s about as immersive as this movie will get, save for the casino later which performs much the same. The movie doesn’t offer much in terms of sound design for this DTS-HD mix to do.
The eventual police chase generates a pretty healthy dose of bass once the nitrous is engaged around 40-minutes in, and the van moves through the stereo channels effectively. Another jolt of bass comes after the characters inadvertently take some pot, and the text scroll pops-up on screen. Its clean and deep into the LFE. Dialogue remains firm and clear, although Kristen Bell’s opening dialogue sounds a little forced or dubbed over for some reason.
An introduction from director Kyle Newman and one of his producers that offers next to nothing in terms of info leads into an extensive, lively cast and crew commentary. A series of five dull featurettes follow, the first literally just a promo, one concerning the international reach of the film, the third on the choreography of the dance sequence, another on the characters, and the final one dealing with the Star Wars references. Six deleted scenes run 7:49, and are actually worth watching. Seven making-of webisodes are followed by a still gallery and comic.