Jeez, with "The [u]Extraordinary[/u] Story of the New York Cosmos" and now this, "[u]Amazing[/u] Journey", it would appear as though Murray Lerner and Paul Crowder love to exaggerate the quality of their documentary's subject matter, and really, "who" do they think they are by saying what we should think? Well, in all fairness, Murray Lerner is is an Oscar-winning music documentarian and Paul Crowder is an actual musician, but then again, the latter was, in some way, involved in a truly devestating tragedy, the recording of Wham!'s "Last Christmas", and after that, I would be a bit nervous about Crowder praising his own efforts, because I, like The Who, don't plan to be fooled again. Well, rest easy, folks, because you won't be getting the "summertime blues" when watching this, if you're interested in seeing a documentary about The Who, that is, because otherwise, you might be tempted to say, "I really wanna know, 'who' cares?". Well, I like The Who, so I reckon I care, and I'd imagine Jerry Bruckheimer would care as well, because that boy sure plays him some Who, or at least just during the intros to the "CSI" shows. I would say that Jerry Bruckheimer should have produced this documentary, but then again, he probably would have gotten Michael Bay feed his "teenage wasteland" of an audience by putting in a bunch of big explosions over The Who's instrument smashing sequences and beautiful women randomly being shot hardly appropriately, as well as exhaustingly overbearingness and an excessive length. Wow, looking at those last two points, now I can't help but wonder if Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky are just aliases for Michael Bay, because exhaustingly obnoxious and too long seem to fit that Metallica documentary, "Some Kind of Monster", just fine. Granted, I still like "Some Kind of Monster", and certainly more than I like Metallica, but make no mistake, this documentary is better, and yet, with that said, everyone's favorite blind, deaf, dumb, cult-leading pinball wizard, Tommy, probably wouldn't be able to miss certain shortcomings in this film.
Many, including IMBD, for whatever reason, aggregate the runtime of anything and everything featured on the DVD set through which this documentary is presented and advertize the feature as nearly four hours in length, when really, it's a mere two hours long, which isn't to say that you should get too excited about the lighter runtime, because as lively and, in many ways, tight as this film is, and although I can't quite see how they could make a documentary on The Who dance near the four-hour mark, the film explores so much and takes only so much to time to do so, hurrying out, if not just plain glossing over many points, some of which are weighty and could have added a fair bit of additional punch to the documentary, yet just end up underexplored by the film as it races along to its next bit of material. Of course, when the film does take the time to particularly meditate upon something, the focal shift is almost jarring, occurring only every so often, yet happening enough to throw you off as it cuts through one point to really explore another and leave convolution to ensue as a supplement to the exhaustingness spawned from pacing that gets to be a touch too swift for its own good. Having only two hours to meditate upon the rich history of an iconic group, whose often charged musical efforts drive almost the entirety of atmospheric pacing, this film boasts an often intense pulse and near-relentlessly swift pace, which isn't too exhaustingly overbearing, yet nonetheless bombards this film with a certain degree of freneticism that may be compensated for by the documentary's strengths, or at least diluted by the viewers' getting reasonably used to it after a while, but still stands and hurries this film along rather exhaustingly, leaving aforementioned flesh-out limitations, a degree of convolution and, of course, a degree of disengagement value to ensue. If nothing else, the pacing leaves repetition to ensue, not to the point of monotony, but certainly to the point of leaving the documentary to feel as though its walking, or rather, considering the pacing, hauling in circles with quite a bit of compensation to make it ultimately rewarding, but only so much in the way of smoothness and, for that matter, direction. The film isn't totally pointless, yet it is a bit aimless, flowing along with a limited structure and quite a bit of questionable pacing, thus emotional distance flows into play. There is quite a bit to complain about, and justly so, as this documentary holds quite a bit of potential that it lives up to more often than not, though not consistently, suffering from material limitations and pacing issues that seriously need to be compensated for. Well, sure enough, as flawed as this documentary is, there is indeed compensation that meets every misstep with a charge that keeps you sticking with the film and feeling ultimately satisfied, largely because it has quite the appealing style.
A stylistic piece powered by swift pacing that, if more mishandled than it already is, could really undercut momentum, this documentary relies heavily on editing to make or break the engagement value, and let me tell you, this film's investment in the editing department fails only to go squandered, as Paul Crowder, Pagan Harleman and David Zieff compose the final cut with clever style that arranges content slickly in a way that both dazzles and backs up the film's tone, admittedly in a problematic fashion that intensifies the freneticism that taints the final product much too much, yet not so much so that you can't appreciate the effectiveness of the editing style and attracts you to the atmosphere. Of course, it's not just the visual stimulants that stylishly appeal, but the musical stimulants, because although I wouldn't exactly consider The Who sensational on a general scale, they were indeed a talented group of strong musicians who made more than a few dynamic songs that are undeniably highly respectable as both inventive and, well, just fun to hear, particularly when they drive a film's livliness, because even though The Who's mostly intense musicality proves supplementary to the film's atmospheric overbearingness, the soundtrack is not only musically impressive, but livens up atmosphere more than it bears down on it, sparking entertainment value further and sustaining your attention, which isn't to say that the music icons need instruments to attract your investment. We're not exactly looking at Peter Bogdanovich's "Runnin' Down a Dream" here, where the quantity of interview footage is astronomical, yet many have much to discuss when it comes to The Who, and the conduction of the interviews reflect that very well, focusing on the charisma of the interviewees, particularly the true who's who of The Who, the surviving Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, who bring this material to life with a lot of colorful charm that really gets you to tap into the humanity of this documentary's subjects, while the actual in-depth material tackled takes you even further into the essence of the subject. Again, this film's material exploration value and focus are rather uneven, drawing only so much from one piece of subject matter before turning right around to absorb too much from another piece of subject matter, and such unevenness is problematic and throws off the full effectiveness and fluidity of this documentary, yet is often too thin to do all that much damage, for although this film's subject matter stands to be more comfortable in its presentation through this perhaps too short, conceptually extensive documentary, you can expect to find quite a bit of interesting material that draws much depth and color from the subjects' artistry and humanity, tapping into The Who intriguingly and, at times, resonantly. Directors Murray Lerner and Paul Crowder craft the film in an often problematic fashion that keeps things too aimless and, at times, emotionally distant, but when Lerner and Crowder do, in fact, find their grip on the composition of this documentary, they draw much genuine compellingness from atmosphere and compliment the effectiveness of the material presented with engaging inspiration. There's no denying that the film's early stages are rocky, nor is there any denying that the flaws that are arguably at their most problematic early on rarely truly dissipate at any point throughout this film, but once Lerner, Crowder and, of course, the audience get into the flow of things, you'd be hard pressed to not find yourself more emotionally invested than not. If nothing else, you can expect to be entertained thoroughly, as this film is a livley one whose style may get a touch carried away, yet generally sustains your attention, while the generally strong handling of the subject matter sustains true investment until, by the end, you find yourself truly rewarded.
At the end of this, well, just quite good journey, it's hard to not be a little exhausted by the film's relentlessly swift pace and fair degree of repetition, which make limitations in meditation upon certain aspects and a degree of unevenness in focus all the more dinconcerting, and threaten to render the final product disengaging and underwhelming, yet never fully go through as this film's downfall from a rewarding state, which goes secured by engrossingly stylish editing and clever plays with the fine soundtrack that add to the film's considerable entertainment value, as well as by the colorful interviews and generally strong directorial duet performance by Murray Lerner and Paul Crowder that compliment the effectiveness of the generally abundant wealth of intriguing material that goes into making "Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who" a thoroughly entertaining, consistently engaging and altogether ultimately satisfying study on the lively history of a legendary rock band.
3/5 - Good