I SAW THE BEST movie I've ever seen at a Man... or Astroman? show. It was a remake of Star Wars, shot on video, using Star Wars action figures as actors. Using a watered down story taken from a children's book, and the largest assemblage of figures I've seen since my friend Brad wowed the fourth grade by owning both the Millennium Falcon and the AT-AT Walker, the obviously gifted filmmakers re-create the sci-fi epic in all its grandiose detail, and add a few touches of their own, like the occasional shots of hands holding the figures by the feet and moving them around. Han and Chewie pilot the Falcon through the construction paper blackness of space in between scenes, and when the time comes to attack the Death Star, the filmmakers simply videotape someone playing the Star Wars arcade game, and overdub narration -- truly a cinematic classic for the ages, as well as the perfect intro to a Man... or Astroman? show. The same Ed Wood production values and unyielding dedication to cheesy source material that elevate the Star Wars remake also drive Astroman to transcend mere surf rock.

Any band can go up on stage and play noisy and derivative surf music. Astroman's greatness lies in the fact that they play it dressed up as spacemen, surrounded by a stageful of fake futuristic crap, while telling tales of outer space and throwing Nutty Bars into the audience. (I'm not entirely sure how the Nutty Bars fit into the whole spaceman routine, but mmm, they're good.)

Similarly themed side project Servotron stays so relentlessly in character, you become convinced that their highest priority is, in fact, to destroy human life and conquer Earth with their cybernetic agenda. But Astroman's foremost agenda is obvious the moment the candy hits the crowd: They're here to have fun. And between the costumes, the chocolate, and just plain rocking out, they have plenty of it.

Man... or Astroman? Are, in Fact, the 'Droids You're Looking For

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