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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » American Massive
American Massive
Moonshine Movies // Unrated // September 24, 2002
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Phillip Duncan | posted October 4, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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In its title American Massive is billed as Sex, Drugs, Rave and Roll—Portrait of a New Generation. In actuality it is far from the eye-opening look at the rave scene it promises and seems like an extended promotion for Moonshine music artists, although an interesting one.

Conceived by Steve and Jon Levy—owners of Moonshine Music—as a documentary of this new American musical movement. This is an interesting concept that doesn't actually show its head until halfway through the film.

Director Thomas Trail and crew followed the Moonshine OverAmerica 2000 tour from town to town. Documenting the entire process, both good and bad, Trail starts with footage that seems to be strictly promotional. DJs and groups like Carl Cox, Cirrus, D:Fuse, Dara, Micro, Frankie Bones, John Kelley and Keoki are featured on the road. The film seems to lack focus and strives to provide an overall picture of the tour, concertgoers and problems that both face. The 80-minute running time is too short to provide and adequate look at anyone aspect, let alone three.

The artists themselves talk about the reasons they do what they do and what it feels like on the road. Very rarely do any of them complain, except in a few of the deleted scenes. Likewise, the people who attend the raves are focused on shortly and little is provided to change the common perception of them as well. They are shown denying those perceptions and little else. When the movie shifts its focus to the problems at some raves, the kids/teens are shown vehemently defending their practices but little evidence is shown to prove either side was right.

With the footage the team must have, a coherent documentary and meaningful documentary could have been assembled. Instead, all the relevant and interesting subjects are merely touched upon and left unfulfilled. It's works more as a promotional piece for Moonshine seems as if they were afraid to offer up an opinion, or enough material for the viewer to form one, on the subject that supports them.

Video: Considering this was filmed on the road, the video looks exceptional. The color, especially in the dimly lit raves, looks bright and vivid when contrasted with the often-dark backgrounds. The full-frame video looks great. There are little to no print flaws or grain visible and the transfer is well done.

Audio: The stereo mix is crisp, but there is little in the way of music included in the film. There should have been more live, or recorded music, included in the film to show off Moonshine's good catalog and the audio capabilities of DVD. The filmmakers have done a great job of recording the live audio and the vocals are always audible.

Extras: There are four deleted scenes that are relatively short. They add very little to the film or the tone of the movie and were rightly deleted. The longest of the four is a short 5-10 minute limo ride with the DJs where they ramble on about instances from their past. Unfortunately, it's all rather uninteresting stuff.

Overall: Moonshine had honorable goals, but they have fallen short with the total package. Coming across as more of a promotional film that a solid documentary, the footage is edited together in short segments that merely touch upon the important topics without revealing enough information to come to a final opinion. As it is, American Massive is interesting but too short to provide any insight into the culture it proclaims it does.

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