AWESOME is a truly novel approach to filming a concert. First off, you’ve got the undeniable authenticity of a live performance. It throws you right in to the packed atmosphere; you don’t get the best seat in the house—you get EVERY seat in the house. It’s almost as much fun to watch the audience as it is MCA, Mike D. and Adrock. As a result, there’s a ridiculous amount of focused energy infused in every frame, so you actually feel the music as opposed to just watching it. And the concert itself lives up to the title. Despite having their share of grey hairs, the Beastie Boys have never sounded better, even when performing their early stuff. (The in-the-audience rendition of Intergalactic is nuts.) If you’re a fan of the Triple Trouble or concerts in general, AWESOME is a sure shot.
I wish I could end the review right there and give the flick five stars, but the truth is AWESOME is a great idea slightly weakened by the execution. I won’t fault the fans with the cameras for not being the best cinematographers (although if you get sick from “shaky cam,” stay far away from this movie). No, the major blame lies in the editing. With hundreds of hours of footage from 50+ cameras, I don’t deny that this movie must’ve been a bitch to cut together, but some very poor decisions were made in post-production. If you give random people cameras, naturally you’re going to end up with some dumb footage. Oddly enough, the editors made a point to keep in all the shots blocked by tall heads or people going out to the concession stand. And no joke, you even get to see a first person POV of some dude taking a leak. There’s authenticity and then there’s unnecessary. The other detracting feature is the use of filters and effects during songs. Some of it is clever (i.e. the reverse-negative effect during So What’cha Want) but a lot of it feels like a 13 year old shooting a music video. It might sound like a harmless way to liven things up, but Body Movin’, for example, is nearly ruined with some chrome filter that renders the image nearly unwatchable.
I’d like to end with a question for that girl in the front row. Yes, you. Why would you go to a Beastie Boys concert and not know the words to Paul Revere? It boggles my mind.
Insightful Band Commentary: A great track by the three MCs, complete with their trademark sense of humor. (Love the SCARFACE-inspired crawl at the beginning!) There’s some dead time during a few of the songs, but overall there’s a nice mix between joking around and honestly discussing the music and filming. And for all you aspiring filmmakers out there; don’t miss their captivating insight into the two major schools of cinema: the Pee-Pee school and the No Pee-Pee school.
A capellas: An option to watch the movie with just the vocal track and no music or audience noise. It’s a cool feature that helps you appreciate the trio’s vocal skills.
Grid Alternate Angle: Choosing this setting allows you to watch all 60 cameras AT ONCE. (Your head explodes!) I meant to just check out a few minutes of this, but ended up watching quite a bit of it. It’s pretty captivating; giving you an overwhelming sense of perspective. And it’s also fun noticing which camera operators are male by the way they keep zooming in on dancing girls in tight tops.
Detour Mode: This branching feature takes you to extra footage whenever you click on an icon in the lower right hand corner. Nothing completely essential, but you get some nice glimpses backstage as well as a handful of funny things the camera people did.
A Day in the Life of Nathanial Hörnblowér (25:35): A strange and surprisingly length extra that follows the long time Beasties collaborator and director as he goes about his day. In real life Hörnblowér is a pseudonym for Adam Yauch, but here he is played by the very funny David Cross. It’s humorous in spots, mostly thanks to Cross in lederhosen and a bad German accent, but doesn’t have much of a point.
Never Stop Rapping Yet (8:46): A compilation of fans from all over the globe taken from the Beasties’ last world tour. Plenty of love to go around, even from the likes of Jack Black and System of a Down.
Show Intros (6:13): Some very funny clips showcasing the lengths to which Mix Master Mike will go just to secure his records. The best one is a parody of 28 Days Later, complete with rage infested monkeys. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see MMM shoot Slipknot at point blank range.
Enter Jerome Crooks’ Angry World (4:33): Some “greatest hits” featuring the Beastie Boys’ irritable tour manager. What can I say—the man likes to punch the camera.
Also, two very funny, overly dramatic Trailers round out a solid disc.
Okay, no more song related puns. If you’re a fan of the Beastie Boys, AWESOME; I F*CKIN* SHOT THAT! is a no-brainer must-buy. It may suffer from some problems in the editing room, but the unique format and the great DVD extras more than make up for it.
And to the Boys themselves: I’ve got a great idea to up the ante on your next concert movie. Two words: Spike Jonze.