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WisFilmFest2007: Schabow on "Heart of an Empire"

Post by Adam Schabow on 4/13/2007 4:00pm

heartofanempire0401307.jpgThe second movie I saw last night at the Wisconsin Film Festival was "Heart of an Empire," a documentary about The Fighting 501st, a group of fanatic Star Wars lovers (the movie, not the missile defense system) which nerdishly dresses up in Storm Trooper outfits to spread good deeds around the world.

When people would ask me what my favorite movie was, I always used to reply quickly with "The Empire Strikes Back." Even though that is probably not true anymore, I like to think that it is. Because when I hear the words "Star Wars," I think about my childhood and the time in my life where my imagination ran as free as a wild Bantha. That is why The Fighting 501st is such a great idea and great way to help children.

There are three main stories that revolve around kids fighting their terminal illness and the good the 501st did for those children and their families. Now, even though the stories are truly inspiring, sweet and sometimes heartbreaking, the movie just isn't that good. It's not well made, not that entertaining and in parts you even feel a bit manipulated in the process. It's essentially "Extreme Makeover: The Movie 'Nerd Style'" which I am sure is a fine television program, but it is not meant to be a two-hour movie.

It's always really hard for me to write bad reviews, but for this movie, it's even harder because of the purpose and heart of the film. I wanted to like it, because after all, I love the message, I am a huge Star Wars geek and I am extremely anti-kids dying, but the point is, I don't need a filmmaker purposely playing off something I already know about myself. I need more than that in a movie ... and sadly, I did not receive it. So even though at one point I had a tear rolling down my cheek (while the dad was describing his son 's death) and even though I loved seeing the Garrison Midwest 501st all dressed up outside of theater at the film fest, and even though the message was there, I just didn't think the film was very well made - which was kind of a shame.

Adam Schabow

Business Committee Member, Contributing Writer

Besides being on the Dane101 Business Committee and writing for Dane101, Adam Schabow is also a musician and frontman for two local pop groups, The Shabelles (www.theshabelles.com) and The Kites. Currently, he the co-creator and co-host of the local Madison internet talk show "DrunkDial101" (www.drunkdial101.webs.com) with fellow Dane101 contributor Joshua James.

Adam is also working on a musical called "Eat the Truth" and a documentary about dumpster diving called "Trashed". He was previously the local film critic for The Wisconsinite.

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