Friday, February 11, 2011

Review - Justin Bieber Never Say Never

A documentary that follows pop superstar Justin Bieber for ten days on his sold out tour leading up to his performance at Madison Square Garden.

Like him or not Justin Bieber has become a phenom. This nearly 17 year-old teen became a sensation in just a little over two years. His story isn't unique, he came from humble beginnings and rose to fame. What is different is the path that propelled him into a elite class of performers that sell out stadiums. Bieber got there first and foremost with a whole lot of talent. No joke, the kid is incredibly talented. Not just musically or vocally, he has genuine charm and a whole lot of rhythm. Its no wonder all the girls love him. More importantly though Bieber arose to fame through the internet. He is the first You Tube sensation to make a big impact in the music industry. Someone whose fanbase and the right combination of help around him have turned the kid into superstar.

On surface the documentary tracks Justin as he prepares for his concert at Madison Square Garden. A venue that is known for defining a musician/performer as having "made it" after performing there. The film also weaves back through key moments in Justin's life growing up in Canada. Much like a bloated Behind the Music VH1 special 'Never Say Never' gives us a brief history of his obvious talent. Showing Bieber at age 5 already jamming on a drum kit or later at age 7 performing on drums at a jazz concert. The film tracks all the way through till Scooter Braun (Bieber's manager) introduces Justin to Usher. As the doc leads through the backstory and internet sensation that is Justin Bieber director Jon Chu highlights a number of hits being performed at the MSG concert.

For a concert movie, you really only get two full performances from start to finish inside Madison Square Garden. The rest of the songs are just snippets or highlights from the concert that are interlaced with documentary and day-in-the-life parts of the film. Still you see quite a lot of concert footage plus a barrage of special guests performances including Ludacris, Sean Kingston, Boys II Men, Usher, Miley Cyrus and Jayden Smith. To the credit of Jon Chu and the editing team you never feel like you spend too much time on one side or the other. There is plenty of concert footage with 3D effects at play as well as actual backstory about Bieber, his family, the sensation he created on the internet and who can forget the fanbase that have embraced him.

Director Jon Chu does a fabulous job of splicing in all of Bieber's biggest You Tube videos that continue to illustrate his raw talent. Videos that can very easily give the viewer Bieber fever. It is fitting to note how well Chu utilized social media within the doc, especially being such a pivotal aspect to Bieber's rise. Logically, Chu also spends a good portion of time on Bieber fans. The fans that made Bieber into a household name. The audience is subjected to a lots of teen girls and their love of Bieber, but again Chu wisely never spends too much time on any one aspect.

One thing that I was very interested in going into this movie was how Justin Bieber is handling the fame he has in front of him. Its easy to wonder if will he become the next child superstar turned bad. After watching this documentary I can walk away very hopeful that will not happen. Justin is pretty animate about not having his childhood robbed from him and it shows in the documentary. The superstar has a wonderful group of people around him. Not just his blood family, but his road family. It is clear that he has a group of people surrounding him that genuinely have his best interests in mind. Seeing this family dynamic on screen is incredibly moving. I got choked up a number of times while watching Justin and his grand father share an embrace or seeing that pure innocence in Justin's eyes as his dreams were coming true.

'Never Say Never' is incredibly inspiring. Maybe I'm a softy, but I love seeing stories of success. Watching this kid dream big and fulfill that fantasy filled me with joy. I really found myself swallowed up by the Bieber fever not to mention his actual talent. This kid has so much potential and ability it is incredible. He is a true showman and he's not even eighteen. I don't expect everyone to walk away loving his music, but there is no doubt you will walk away stunned by the charm, ability and energy this kid has.

The 3D really added some wonderful dimension and depth to all of the concert footage. Outside of the concert footage, the stereoscopic 3D is ultimately unnecessary. I really didn't need to see Bieber shooting hoops or getting dressed in 3D (I'm sure there are some teens that would argue that). Luckily, Jon Chu understood this leaving most of that type footage flat. In all honesty I forgot I was wearing glasses while watching the documentary except for the few times that Justin would reach out into the crowd reminding us we were in fact watching a 3D movie. Just for the experience alone, I would definitely recommend seeing 'Never Say Never' in 3D.

Its obvious that "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" has its target demographic, but this film is good enough that it breaks beyond its target audience. Seriously, throw away your preconceived notions, everyone should be able to find some small bit of inspiration within this film or at the very least walk away knowing Bieber is more than just pretty hair and a smile. My interest in seeing this movie started not because I am a Bieber fan, but because I was interested in the spectacle that is Justin Bieber. Not to mention a cleverly put together trailer that instantly had me putting 'Never Say Never' on my must see list. I walked away a fan. Not only is this a well put together documentary/concert footage film it will energize the crowd. I found myself singing along and bobbing my head more than once simply because Justin Bieber has something undeniably special.


Going to see it this weekend. Can't wait!