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One Direction: This Is Us(2013)
An intimate all-access look at life on the road for the global music phenomenon. Weaved with stunning live concert footage, this inspiring feature film tells the remarkable story of Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry and Louis' meteoric rise to fame, from their humble hometown beginnings and competing on the X-Factor, to conquering the world and performing at London's famed O2 Arena. Hear it from the boys themselves and see through their own eyes what it's really like to be One Direction.
For more about One Direction: This Is Us and the One Direction: This Is Us Blu-ray release, see One Direction: This Is Us Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 20, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson
Director: Morgan Spurlock
» See full cast & crew
One Direction: This Is Us Blu-ray Review
Structurally bland but culturally interesting and even emotionally satisfying.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 20, 2013
The Liebman family's introduction to the boy band One Direction came courtesy of a rather good Pepsi commercial starting the band opposite NFL Quarterback Drew Brees. Ever notice how something can be so big yet so completely invisible to people who don't particularly stay on top of popular culture and, suddenly, there's a veritable avalanche of the thing or the person or people from which one cannot escape? That's what seemed to happen with One Direction. Suddenly, the band was everywhere -- not their music, just this presence -- and felt completely overwhelming in a manner similar to the sudden explosions of "twerking" and "tweeting" that took over the globe in the last few years. Friends and relatives talked the band up. It appeared all over the television. One Direction haunted dreams! (OK, not really). But they just wouldn't go away, and for a family that, frankly, doesn't listen to much modern popular music, it was just "ok, another overexposed boy band, here today and gone tomorrow, soon to be replaced by another foursome or quintet with even more hair gel and even higher voices." One Direction: This Is Us provided an opportunity to finally sit down with the group, to hear some of its music, to learn from whence it has come and where it is it's going, and why there's this huge, massive following for this unstoppable boy band force. Now that the movie's over, it's safe to say the Liebman family won't be lining up for tickets, redecorating the Christmas tree with 1D ornaments and photos of the band, or screaming for the boys at the airport, but the film does paint them in a positive, likable fashion, enough so that they've earned a good bit of respect from a family that's hard to please and, maybe, an iTunes download or two.
One Direction: This Is Us follows the band -- Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik -- as it plays to sold-out venues on a worldwide tour. The film chronicles the band's rise to stardom, beginning with individual appearances on The X Factor and continuing with Judge Simon Cowell's gathering of the boys, the group's formation, its loss on another episode of The X Factor, and the fans' and social media's push to elevate them to superstardom. Since, they've reached #1 in 35 countries, and at this stage of their career, they're bigger than the Beatles. In the film, the boys share their thoughts on boy bands and their efforts to break away from stereotype. The picture examines the light rock influence in their music, the boys' relationships with one another and their families, the process of recording a new album, and life on the road while dealing with fans from all around the globe, including the United States, Japan, Mexico, and most of Europe.
On the surface, One Direction: This Is Us sports a typical Concert film/Documentary hybrid construction. Director Morgan Spurlock (POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Super Size Me) fails to find even a thread of structural originality as he plods through everything from the obligatory time-lapse stage construction shots to dazzling, from-every-angle concert footage, from glimpses of life backstage to plenty of shots of screaming fans. He shows a montage of the boys' younger days and photographs the boys in wardrobe, in the recording studio, in stores, on the tour bus, and wandering about foreign lands, all interspersed between the high-energy concert clips. For as generic as the structure may be, this is where diehard One Direction fans will find the most value. While they've read about the boys' pasts, heard all the songs, and probably seen something like the concert performances, they'll enjoy the fresh access to the band behind-the-scenes, and for them, any footage is better than no footage, even if it's assembled in a rather linear fashion that lacks any sort of advanced creativity.
Some may be quick to judge One Direction: This Is Us as a "bad film" based solely on the band's -- or, perhaps better said, modern musical culture and/or the backlash against boy bands from non-fans in a broader sense -- mere existence and the reputation that precedes it, and that's their prerogative. Certainly, the film's detractors, some of whom probably haven't even watched the movie, won't find a whole lot here to persuade them to join the other camp. This isn't a film to convert the masses but rather satisfy a core audience. In that sense, reviews and reaction will be skewered based on the audience doing the reviewing and the reacting, and a down-the-middle review may be a little harder to come by. In the film's defense, and in an effort to be fair, One Direction: This Is Us does what it needs to do well enough. Certainly the thoughtless structure doesn't help, but this a film that's almost 100% about content and 0% about style, at least style from behind the camera. One Direction provides nearly all of the entertainment value, and that the camera is pointed at them and that it catches some different perspectives in the concert is all it really needs.
With the focus completely on the band, then, it's imperative that Harry, Niall, Liam, Louis, and Zayn acquit themselves as well as possible, and they do just that. While any film of this style certainly wouldn't show anything truly disparaging or harmful to the band's image and/or reputation, the members do come across as fairly warm people and as "real" as they can be under the circumstances, chief amongst those circumstances the grueling (albeit very well-paying) life on the road for several years straight with so few days at home following their first appearance on The X Factor that they could count them on one or two hands. The boys seem genuinely surprised and consistently awed by their stardom, showing a real respect for both the business and the fans that got them to where they are and understanding what it means to be performing at Madison Square Garden, to greet fans in far-off lands, or to perform to a humongous crowd at a massive open-air stadium in Mexico City. Most important, they bring real joy to their fans (and the film even takes a moment to explore the science behind fans' reactions to the band) and, in a world that seems to only want to pile on sorrow and hardship and bad news, that joy suddenly becomes a priceless commodity. If a film, an album, a song, a poster, a glimpse of someone can bring so many people so much happiness -- even if the rest of the world believes it to be misguided happiness -- then all of the 1D overexposure that simply cannot be escaped suddenly seems worth it.
One Direction: This Is Us Blu-ray, Video Quality
One Direction: This Is Us features a dependable high definition transfer. The HD video source material sometimes allows for a flat, slightly glossy appearance, the latter of which, at least, compliments the "boy band" bubble gum feel. It also shows some occasional noise and blacks that are a bit paler than desired, though there are more instances of deep, accurate blacks than there are troubled blacks. As one might expect of a new HD title, colors are bold and details strong. The palette shows a wide variety of bright hues on hand-drawn signs, stage lighting, and clothing. Image clarity is superb and aids in the depiction of excellent facial textures, clothing seams, and general in-frame objects from the tour bus to a bakery. It's not quite like being there with the band, but fans will feel plenty close with Sony's rock-solid picture quality presentation.
One Direction: This Is Us Blu-ray, Audio Quality
One Direction: This Is Us explodes onto Blu-ray with the expectedly stellar DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The presentation delivers a startlingly intense and exciting listen during concerts, where crowd noise packs the stage and spreads through all of the speakers but is overpowered by deep, intense bass and wonderful instrumental and vocal placement, separation, and clarity. The concert footage is certainly of reference audio quality for its big, almost overpowering realism. The rest of the track is unsurprisingly straightforward. There's perhaps a slight shortage of enveloping ambient sound in places, particularly when the film follows the band backstage or out in the city (ambience, that is, beyond throngs of cheering fans, of course, which does provide a quality room-filling experience). Mostly, these moments are defined by straightforward dialogue, which plays evenly and crisply from the center. Fans, particularly fans with a higher end sound system, are going to fall in love with this track.
One Direction: This Is Us Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
One Direction: This Is Us contains a hodgepodge of fluffy extras.
One Direction: This Is Us Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
One Direction: This Is Us is a generically constructed but toe-tapping and emotionally satisfying good time. It's a basic concert/documentary hybrid, and its strength, then, is found in the souls of the stars, not the soulless digital hard drive on which the film was pieced together. It's good enough to please the open-minded newcomer and it'll certainly excite the dedicated 1D fanatic. Audiences who have their minds set on disparaging the film based solely on the faces on the poster likely won't be persuaded to enjoy it, and for them it might be smart to just move on to greener pastures rather than expose themselves to something they're predisposed to loathe. Sony's Blu-ray 2D release of One Direction: This Is Us features strong video, amazing audio, and several supplements. This family-friendly release is a must-own for diehard 1D fans and it comes recommended as at least a rental to audiences curious what all the hubbub is about.
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One Direction: This Is Us Blu-ray, News and Updates
• One Direction: This Is Us Blu-ray - October 21, 2013
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has officially announced and detailed its upcoming combo pack edition of One Direction: This Is Us, a captivating and intimate all-access look at life on the road for the global music phenomenon. The release will be available for ...
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