Judge Dylan Charles is reapplying for the job of best reviewer in the whole wide world.
"We're back—reapplying for the job of best band in the world."—Bono
During the 1990s, U2 suffered several blows to its credibility as the greatest band in the whole wide world, if not the universe. Two questionable albums and a cataclysmic flop of a movie can do that to a band's reputation. As the new millennium approached, everyone heralded the end of U2, but U2 surprised everyone by releasing not one, but two, critically and publically acclaimed albums. It gave them the boost they needed to reclaim their title as World's Bestest Band.
The Rebirth of Cool: U2 in the Third Millenium has claimed the honor of having the longest title of any film I've ever reviewed. That's the only thing it has going for it.
As far as unauthorized documentaries go, it's not terrible. Considering the closest they get to interviewing the band is a sound engineer and some clips from old interviews, it could have been a lot worse. There is a lot of interesting facts and analysis here, provided by music reviewers and even the odd sociology professor, some of which might even be new to the diehard fan.
It's just kind of thrown together, though. While it follows a basic chronology, it has a tendency to bounce around the timeline a bit, leaving the Aughts (or Naughts) to return back to the hedonistic and terrifying 1980s and back again. There's even a lengthy musical intermission provided by A-Ha because one of the critics happens to mention a similarity between one of their songs and "A Beautiful Day." There also didn't need to be quite so much discussion about U2's failed movie, The Million Dollar Hotel. It was bad, no one liked it, let's move on now to their music. For only an hour, The Rebirth of Cool dragged at times.
They also chose to display some of the archival interviews in an odd way, shrinking them down and framing it on a blurry backdrop of a U2 album cover. Some of them were hard enough to watch, due to lower quality audio without making the visuals more difficult to decipher to boot.
The extras also leave something to desire. There's a featurette about the new U2 live shows, but it contains no real information. One of the critics talks about how amazing they are and different and unmemorable at the same time, but fails to give a specific example of what the devil he's talking about. Do they sacrifice live goats on stage? Do they crack out the lasers? How can they both be unusual wonderments and unmemorable at the same time?
There's also an interactive quiz that I failed miserably and extended bios on all the participants interviewed.
All in all, Rebirth of Cool is not really for people like me, casual fans of U2 who raise an eyebrow at hyperbolic exaltations of the U2 god. It's so specific in its focus that they'd get lost in this rather jumbled presentation of U2's rebirth. Diehard fans, rent it and see if there's anything for you, but I suggest just popping The Joshua Tree into the old tape deck and getting your U2 fix that way.
The Rebirth of Cool: U2 in the Third Millenium is fined $500 for excessive use of words in its title.
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