U2 has been around forever, they have conquered the pop music world and cemented their position in music history. They may not be the greatest band ever to make noise on the airwaves, but they have spawned their fair share of great songs. I was a slow adopter of their music, going from hating them as a child when I was in my hair metal phase in the late 1980′s, to finally broadening my tastes and discovering that they weren’t nearly as bad as I had believed them to be in my younger years. That brings me to the review of this unauthorized documentary that has arrived on DVD.
This is one of a bunch of recent DVD releases featuring retitled documentaries, other releases include Green Day: Suburbia Bomb and Metallica: Out of the Loop. This one was previously released under the title U2: The Unforgettable Journey. I’ve watched a few of these releases, and this is one of the better ones. But that is not to say it is good, or even recommended, but it does have some more of the band than those others, plus the stories are, at times, moderately enlightening.
As is the norm, the disk is full of the talking heads. There is a collection of past friends and acquaintances, people who knew the band back in the early days, or may have even booked their performances. In addition to those talking heads, we get a lot of old still photos of the band through the years, from the early days in Dublin to their days filling arenas. Even better still, there is some, not much, interview footage with the band strewn through it’s 60 minute runtime.
Their are a number of pitfalls surrounding this release. One is the lack of any U2 music, as with all unauthorized documentaries. That is a big detriment to any documentary that fans may want. What is a documentary about a musical act if you can’t have any of the bands music in it? In it’s place there is some awful sound alike music trying to mimic their sound, and it is played at every opportunity.
Next there is band footage, of which there is very little. There is a a small bit of onstage footage, accompanied by that copycat music. There are old interview clips, bits a pieces, primarily with Bono, and never really revealing all that much.
Lastly there is the credibility of the talking heads, who are these people? Old friends? Classmates? Are the most interesting places they could be interviewed include sitting on a couch, or standing in front of a basketball hoop? Odd choices if you ask me. To be fair, some of what they say is mildly interesting, but nothing you probably couldn’t find on a good fan site.
The film is narrated by Sian Jones, who seems to be the voice of all of these releases. This time she actually seems to fit in a bit better with her British accent. Although, she still comes across as little on the proper side, as if she is reading from the page as opposed as really narrating.
Bottomline. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this. Perhaps if you are a collector who wants to have everything related to U2, and don’t have the earlier release, this may be worthwhile. Sadly, this a lack of any real in depth material here. There is no music, and only old interview clips to float by on. My recommendation is to pass on this in favor of one of their concert albums.