All Access: Backstage
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted July 25, 2001
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The Movie:

Ok, so it's nothing classic. But after seeing some IMAX movies that shouldn't have even been allowed in theaters, "All Access" is a pleasure.

Personally, I'm always irritated when I go to IMAX theaters and shell out nine bucks at any time of the day (even at a 9:45am show, like this morning) and walk out completely unsatisfied - with few exceptions (Everest). There's also some IMAX films that I've found on DVD that I've enjoyed that translate well to the small screen("Beavers", "Dolphins"), but I seem to always end up dissapointed when visiting the local IMAX theater.

For those who haven't heard of "All Access" it's a concert documentary/interview, featuring folks like Sting/Cheb Mami, Kid Rock, Moby, Macy Grey, Dave Matthews Band and Sheryl Crow - the film is a mix of interview footage and a song (or, unfortunately, not quite a full song once or twice).

The interviews are not hugely insightful, but do have some very interesting moments as the participants discuss the state of music today. Although there are some standouts (Moby, a particularly energetic Kid Rock, Sting & Cheb Mami performing "Desert Rose"), all of the performers are at least extremely energetic during their performances of their songs.

There are some other little concerns. The stage and "club" for some of the performances seems to have been built for the film and crowds hired - thankfully, the camera keeps away from the crowds for the most part, with only few exceptions that show their dopey/silly attempts to act excited. There's other parts though, that are superbly filmed outdoors - the Dave Matthews Band performance with Al Green at Chicago's Soldier Field at night is stunningly filmed, with a particularly beautiful shot of the Chicago skyline part-way through. The parts with what looks to be a built club are somewhat understandable, as the producers must have wanted to be able to easy move the giant IMAX cameras around easily. Particularly dissapointing is having Moby play a great live version of "Porcelain" and having the large closing credits occasionally come up throughout his performance as the film ends.

Speaking of technical aspects, the film is nothing less than outstanding. The film's sound mix is absolutely phenomenal - the mixture of seeing these performers on a massive IMAX screen and a sound presentation that's fantastically enveloping easily felt as exciting as being at a concert. Camera work is absolutely top-notch, with wonderful compositions in the scenes outside the stadium/club and also, very strong editing.

It's not perfect - there's some things I had problems with (and I almost forgot to mention, see if you can spot the logo of Certs, the film's sponsor, occasionally throughout the film - it's sort of like a mini "Where's Waldo?" game for the movie), but I can easily say this ranks among the most entertaining IMAX features I've seen - definitely catch it on the big screen.

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