Shine a Light

Critics Consensus

It may offer little new for fans, but Martin Scorsese's document of the Rolling Stones' electrifying live show should provide satisfaction to audiences.



Total Count: 124


Audience Score

User Ratings: 37,307
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Movie Info

This Rolling Stones documentary focuses on the two concerts from the group's current "A Bigger Bang" tour and includes scenes from a recent concert in Austin, Texas. It also includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews.

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Critic Reviews for Shine a Light

All Critics (124) | Top Critics (42)

  • It's hard to imagine, I know, but Shine A Light gives us the Rolling Stones in a fresh way.

    Jun 8, 2008 | Full Review…
  • The effect was intense and overwhelming, but I mean that in a good way.

    Apr 7, 2008
  • At times, the cutting shifts from the hasty to the impatient to the borderline epileptic, and, while never doubting Scorsese's ardor for the Stones, I got the distinct impression of a style in search of a subject.

    Apr 7, 2008 | Full Review…
  • The genius of Scorsese's film, which is being shown in IMAX in 93 theaters, is that it reveals the Stones' mortality while celebrating all that makes them more than mere mortals.

    Apr 4, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It's showbiz, after all. And the band still rocks like none other, true to their creed that if their adored blues masters can play into their dotage, then so can they.

    Apr 4, 2008 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Close-ups detail the etched faces of the Stones, but they've never seemed more ageless. Their music and spirit are still brash and youthful.

    Apr 4, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Shine a Light

  • Jun 16, 2012
    Wow, Martin Scorsese can make a short music documentary after all. Instead of spending three-and-a-half hours talking about someone's life and career, we only have to sit through two hours of... a documentary on one concert. Seriously man, "The Last Play at Shea" was not only covering a Billy Joel concert, but also his life and the history of a baseball stadium, and even it was only just a little over an hour-and-a-half, which, actually, was too short, yet eitherway, the fact is that Scorsese is going to figure out some way to make a rockumentary relatively longer than you think it should be... only for it to come out seeming reasonably tight. Hey, as much as he loves the Stones' song "Gimme Shelter", maybe this is just him trying to compensate for not directing the documentary "Gimme Shelter", which of course makes this film a great companion piece to "Shelter", because that film was also pretty much something hurried out there for some alterior motive, because if that film had no other point, it was "Go buy the record!" Actually, looking at it that way, Scorsese has no need to compensate for not making the "Gimme Shelter" documentary, because as much as he's crowbarred in the titular song into some of his most highly regarded films, a reasonably big chunk of his career has been dedicated to selling the song "Gimme Shelter". Another big chunk of his career has been making music documentaries, an aspect in his body of work that I know he doesn't emphasize too much, yet most of his music documentaries run about half as long as his career has spanned. Hey, he does them fairly well, and this film is no exception, so I'm not going to complain too much about his making documentaries, though I'm certainly going to complain about aspects within the documentaries, themselves. The opening to the documentary, in which we see Scorsese preparing the concert and the band preparing for the concert... with Bill Clinton, takes much too long and is riddled with excess footage that, after a while, will have you checking your watch, and after an extra while, leave you to fall out of the film before it's even kicked-off. Once the concert commences, however, oh boy, you better believe that, after a while, you're going to be begging for some more excess behind-the-scenes footage. I love a good concert, which is of course why they invented concert films and TV, because it really is like going to a concert, except for the fact that, as put best by Daniel Tosh - though in reference to actually going to a baseball game (Something I wouldn't be caught dead doing, even it is what kills me) -, you're stting really far away, it's super hot and nothing is in HD; not to mention the fact that a bunch of obnoxious people are drowning out the music and blocking out the band that you payed almost as much money to "see" for one day than you do to see them and whatever or whoever else in the world you want in the comfort of your own home each month. That said, this is an awesome concert and awesome presentation of the concert, yet the problem is that the production is too well translated for cinematic audiences, boasting a red hot theatrical intensity that would work consistent wonders if they were to go in and out of the of concert. The problem is that the film will spend way too much time focusing on the concert, to the point of making it overbearing, and when they do incorporate third-party footage, it's so brief, yet just long enough for to drive unevenness within the film. This documentary, such as it is, if a bloated one indeed, and after a while (How many times have I said after a while?), it's hard to not get burned out, though, to me, never to where you fall out. The film gets to be chaos, but it's always controlled chaos, with extreme competense and raw entertainment value, both on the stage and in cinematic translation, thus making the final product rewarding, especially when it comes to style. Again, the theatrical stylizing of the film doesn't completely gel with the relentlessness of the concert footage, making it a bit overwhelming after a while (Ah, I said it again), and yet, come on, this is Robert Richardson doing the cinematography, and I've always felt that the guy could shoot a concert and make it look absolutely breathtaking. Well, sure enough, the cinematography on this non-film is phenomenal, with Richardson's trademark masterful manipulation of color and lighting that doesn't simply take your breath away, but really grips at you, pulling you into the flash and dazzle of the concert experience, making this presentation a deeply immersive one, and the sound design certainly doesn't hurt. Something else that doesn't hurt the quality of the concert experience is simply the fact that, well, it's just a really good concert, Sure, certain songs are weaker than others, with Jack White accompanying one of, if not the weakest performance, and I mention that, because it's "such a big surprise". People that's sarcasm, because that more thick-necked young Johnny Depp-looking "rocker" ruins everything (except "Walk Hard", when he had that awesome cameo as Elvis), yet outside of his appearance, on the whole, The Rolling Stones are as good as they've ever been, which may not be saying the most in the world, seeing as they're actually not the best in the world. Oh, hush up, people, they're really good, but they're not that blasted good, though you wouldn't have guessed that from seeing this testament to their still having it, because they're still rockin' and a-rollin' Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba-Barbara Ann (Oh man, I'm too old to be this young), and jumpin' Jack Flash, it's a gas-gas-gas to see them go at it, even if it does get to be too much aft...- following a releatively extended period of time. As for the archival footage and that one behind-the-scenes bit at the beginning, they're slam-banged in, yet give the film some texture and character, spicing up the dish perhaps more than diluting it. Again, the film stands to be more comfortable in its flow, with less theatrics and more evenness, yet the final product still comes out well worth the watch, whether you're a Stones fan or not, as it still stands as quite an example of awesome concert filmmaking. As the lights die down, you're left exhausted by the sometimes overwhelmingly intense theatrics in the production over the unrelenting concert footage that's being broken up by occasional and brief third-party footage - almost entirely archival - gives the film some unevenness, yet more than that, you're exhausted by the general high quality of the prevalent concert footage, made all the sharper by top-notch technical value and some nifty intercuts of the aforementioned problematically uneven, yet still fairly texturing third-party footage, thus leaving "Shine a Light" to stand as a thoroughly entertaining tribute and testament to the still very much alive rocking abilities of The Rolling Stones, even with its faults. 3/5 - Good
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • May 28, 2012
    The beauty of this musical documentary of the Rolling Stones circa 2006 is that you don't really realize the technical brilliance that goes on behind the scenes; and brilliant it is - seamless editing and whirlwind use of hundred of cameras make this Scorscese effort a joy to watch. Anything else you may want to say about the film is strictly about performance, and here the Stones give a pretty darned good accounting of themselves, with Mick still Jumping Jack Flash, in perpetual motion while the band chugs along in their loose, "it's only rock and roll" garage band way. What really comes through here is the brilliance of Keith Richard's supporting guitar play. He is such an expert at nailing the backbeat, which is the soul of the Stones sound. I was also impressed that Charlie Watts - almost 70 I believe, was still bringing it on drums, even at the end of the over 2 hour performance - especially on Brown Sugar. The cameo appearances are fun, with the Jagger duet with Christine Aguilara especially ripping, though I felt that the jam with Buddy Guy lacked focus (and it was obvious that the band struggled with the odd blues progression). Marty interspersed the affair with some archival interview footage that was only occasionally enlightening, with the most entertaining bits concerning bandmate statements about longevity from the 60's. In all - I found this to be entertaining and a true insight into the power of the band - much more intimate than the concert footage from say the Steel Wheels Tour. You don't have to be a Stones fan to dig this - but having an appreciation for music will help.
    paul s Super Reviewer
  • Oct 28, 2011
    Grandpa's tearing shit up.
    Graham J Super Reviewer
  • Jun 20, 2011
    If you're not a fan of the Stones, and most certainly if you're not much for classic rock, you'll probably not get much out of this film. However, if you enjoy both the former and the latter, "Shine A Light" offers an electrifying concert film experience. Intricately shot with lots of camera movement, the visuals more intimate than any other live-show-to-video I've ever seen. The only complaint I have is that the music guest stars are largely hit and miss, but a pleasant surprise is Christina Aguilera's duet with Mick on "Live With Me". Oh yeah - the band sounds great too.
    Matt F Super Reviewer

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