In this day and age, just about everyone is a fan of something, whether it be an NBA team, musical group, TV show, or even just their favourite food. Whatever the case, fandom is a pretty natural and accepted part of our culture-driven lives, and an important aspect of how we define ourselves. There are always those people who feel the need to take things a little bit further than the norm... maybe they buy Yankees season tickets, collect Pearl Jam bootlegs, or take part in vigorous online discussions analyzing every episode of Desperate Housewives. And then there are science-fiction and fantasy fanatics, who quite often belong in a whole other category of their own.
Ringers: Lord of the Fans is an attempt to document a group of people that may very well have started the entire concept of cult fandom; a community of followers who both immerse themselves in a work of fiction and express themselves through it. Way before Star Wars came along and made imaginary worlds cool, J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings was captivating the minds of readers and inspiring an underground movement. Sci-fi and fantasy weren't very mainstream in those days, and it was difficult for enthusiasts to come across other like-minded individuals.
Fortunately, the ideas were so compelling that they persisted, and the genre has blossomed into the huge market that it is today. The thing is, Ringers doesn't delve into the idea of this original subculture as much as it claims to, and for a movie that is supposed to be all about the fans, we don't really get to know any of them very well.
Narrated by Dominic Monaghan ("Merry" in the LOTR films), perhaps part of the problem with Ringers is the fact that it has a hard time separating itself from Peter Jackson's blockbuster movies in order to explore the roots of the phenomenon, which is, of course, the books. While the temptation to tie things in with the enormously successful movies is hard to resist, the end result is that this feels like something that should have been an extra on one of the Lord of the Rings DVD box sets, rather than a standalone feature.