Paramount // 2008 // 121 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // August 21st, 2008
It's time to rock!
One of the world's greatest rock 'n' roll bands finally gets the concert movie it deserves!
Martin Scorsese (The Departed) shot Shine a Light during the two vibrant concerts the Rolling Stones gave at the legendary Beacon Theatre in New York in the fall of 2006. Complete with archival footage and interviews with band members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and Charlie Watts, the movie captures the energy and talent of the rock stars on stage, thrusting fans into an exceptional musical experience that will light up TV screens for two explosive hours. Let's rock out!
As far as concert movies go, Shine a Light is right up there with the best, offering viewers exactly what they're expecting in the first place: A lineup of thrilling musical performances. After all, this is not really a documentary about the Rolling Stones' extraordinary career. On the contrary, the flick is a sincere tribute to the success of their music and their obvious joy to perform on stage. Especially hilarious are the first 10 minutes of the film, which follow Marty and his team as gear up for the concert, struggle to figure out where to put the cameras, and try to lay a hand on the set list for the show. "It would be good to have a camera that moves," Scorsese says in one of the segment's funniest scenes.
We then jump straight into the middle of the action, with Bill Clinton introducing the band before they take the beautiful Beacon Theatre stage and start to rock. What follows is a wonderful collection of captivating footage from the two concerts held in New York that fall. Fans of the Rolling Stones will likely approve of the set list, which includes great tracks such as "Jumping Jack Flash," "Sympathy for the Devil," "As Tears Go By," "Start Me Up," and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." The Stones also invited some guests to perform with them on stage, notably Jack White, Christina Aguilera, and Buddy Guy.
In between some of the songs, Scorsese added a selection of clips showcasing several of the band's past interviews and television coverage. Interestingly enough, not all of the footage takes us back to the glorious success of the Rolling Stones. Some interviews, for instance, center on the band's several controversies over the years, including Mick's and Keith's arrests. Eventually, the choice of the footage is quite appropriate because it gives viewers a glimpse of every side of the Stones' past lifestyles. I know the inclusion of this material makes the film sound more like a documentary, but the music clearly dominates and these short clips merely serve as a transition between some of their acts on stage.
Most importantly, though, Shine a Light is a feast for the eyes. Scorsese gathered a marvelous team of cinematographers (including Oscar winners John Toll and Robert Richardson) for the shoot of the film, and the effort surely paid off. I've rarely seen a concert movie in which the action on stage is captured so brilliantly. I find it marvelous how they managed to capture the electrifying energy of Mick and his band with several handheld cameras and some mounted on a crane. According to the movie's production notes, they used more than eighteen cameras at the Beacon. The result speaks for itself, pulling viewers straight into the crowd cheering for their rock stars.
I really enjoyed the disc's 2.35:1 non-anamorphic widescreen transfer, although select scenes are a little too grainy for my taste. It's not a real problem and only applies to the movie's beginning and some of the clips between the songs, but it's definitely noticeable. Other than that, the footage of the concert itself looks dazzling, filled with sharp images and glorious colors. The film's most important technical aspect -- the audio transfer -- is flawless. In fact, it's so strong, if you've got a solid enough sound system and turn it up loud enough, your living room instantly transforms into your own private concert hall. Good stuff.
As far as special features are concerned, the disc includes four bonus performances from the concert that eventually didn't make the cut. They are: "Undercover of the Night," "Paint It Black," "Little T & A," and "I'm Free." Also included in the bonus material is a 15-minute supplemental featurette, which boasts the same material as the feature film: archived clips, interviews, and select scenes from rehearsals.
Whether you're a hardcore Rolling Stones fan or someone who just appreciates their music, Shine a Light will have you singing and dancing along with Mick and his band in a matter of minutes. If you missed the film in IMAX and plan to own it on DVD, I definitely recommend the Blu-Ray version. It may not offer you the Stones on a massive screen, but at least you'll get to see them rock in perfect high-definition quality. The Stones know what they're doing, and so does Martin Scorsese. The result of their collaboration here is sensational, and I promise you'll end up getting your satisfaction.
Review content copyright © 2008 Franck Tabouring; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (Widescreen)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 121 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Four Bonus Performances
* Behind-The-Scenes Featurette
* Official Site