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All Access

Continuing my recent trend of reviewing movies you couldn't possibly see even if you wanted to, I present a review of the new IMAX extravaganza, All Access.

IMAX is the greatest thing to hit movies since the movie screen itself. Basically, it's a really, really large movie screen. Like 6 stories high or something. They use special, totally heavy cameras and film wide-open vistas of sweeping majesty. Some of the IMAX classics include Everest (wide-open snow vistas of sweeping majesty), Amazon (wide-open jungle vistas of sweeping majesty) and Into The Deep (wide-open ocean vistas of sweeping majesty.)

They really haven't tried making actual movies yet, concentrating on documentaries for budgetary reasons. Which is a shame, because I'd sure as heck love to watch Will Smith beat the crap out of space aliens in a wide-open outer space vista of sweeping majesty.

This isn't to say they've never tried. Val Kilmer starred in Wings of Courage a while back, about a guy whose plane crashes in the Andes. This was basically an excuse to show wide-open Andes vistas of sweeping majesty. Also, Disney recently released Fantasia 2000 on IMAX screens, which was basically wide-open cartoon vistas of sweeping majesty.

So when a new IMAX flick comes around, I get all hot and excited about the possibilities of new wide-open vistas to explore.

All Access is a story about wide-open rock and roll vistas of sweeping majesty. And I can't really say if I liked it or not. Because I didn't. But that doesn't mean it wasn't good.

Let me explain.

This was, quite honestly, a bunch of concert footage bunched together with interviews. It is AMAZING concert footage. You are literally on stage with these people, rocking the house with the likes of Sting, Dave Matthews, George Clinton, Sheryl Crow, B.B. King and others. It's great concert footage, and it's six stories high. So these people have really big heads. So if big heads are your thing, then you will want to see this flick as soon as humanly possible.

But it's not really my thing. I was hoping that All Access (subtitled 'Front Row. Backstage. Live!') would give me more insight into how these concerts are put together. I want to hear from the grips and the electricians as they hoist the cables and raise the stages. I wanted to hear from the concert promoters about the bizarre troubles they have while organizing the entire tour. Instead, we get a bunch of famous musicians talking about how they all love whichever musician is next on the bill. A big, fluffy, warm fuzzy love fest.

Not that the line up isn't impressive.

1) Sting with Cheb Mami. "Desert Rose"

They start the movie off with the best number. You know the song- you probably are sick to death of the song. But the more I learn about the song, the more impressed I am. I hadn't realized that the weird background chanting voice was a guy, let alone a famous Arabian singer, let alone a singer who is basically defying his religion to be singing under fear of death. Makes the song incredibly more dramatic. Plus, watching him sing during the concert, you can just get the feeling that his eyes are scanning the crowd as he sings, expecting to be shot at for blasphemy at any moment.

2) George Clinton and Parliament with Mary J. Blige. "The Dog In Me"

George Clinton is a funky, funky man. He oozes funk out of his pores. He got the funk, and you ain't getting it from him. He is master of the funk. This segment is funky. Be warned.

3) Kid Rock with Joe C. "Bawitdaba"

If you want to see Kid Rock bang his head back and forth while barking out the lyrics to Rapper's Delight, then this is the segment for you. Otherwise, it's pretty one-note. No interviews, no glimpses of Kid's personal inner turmoil, nothing.

4) Sheryl Crow. "If It Makes You Happy"

Someone explain to me why you'd bother making a huge, 6 story movie and then just shoot Sheryl sitting on a stool in the middle of a dark stage, playing an acoustic version of this song. The camera is on a dolly and it moves slowly in on her. Sometimes you see her bare foot tapping. For excitement, they asked her to twitch unexpectedly at one point, but she refused, as she thought it would cheapen the song.

5) B.B. King and a bunch of guys. "Some Blues Riff"

This is a really cool bit. They sing the same line over and over, everyone else taking turns giving it their own personal touch. Everyone's pretty cool. And then B.B. King comes in and just smashes everyone to bits. He's so ultra-cool, it's sickening. He just sits in his folding chair while everyone else dances around him, and he couldn't be taking more focus if he was smashing his guitar against the monitor and spitting fire. Legends are legends for a reason.

6) Carlos Santana with Rob Thomas. "Smooth"

Another great song that's been played to death. What is most interesting about this number is that, according to a number of the women in the theater, Rob Thomas looks so amazingly hot that many of them had sexual experiences just watching him sing. Personally, he looked like one of the guys in drama class everyone made fun of because his clothes didn't match. But then, I'm probably not Rob Thomas' target audience.

7) Macy Gray. "I Can't Wait to Meechu"

Macy's band wearing shirts that read "Macy Gray." Macy wearing a shirt that reads "The Band." Pretty cool. And the song moves and kicks and rocks. But that voice! I don't get it. You hear her talk, you hear her sing and you think, she's the one in the music class who is handed the tambourine by the teacher.

8) Dave Matthews Band with Al Green. "Take me to the River"

This annoyed me. Because Dave Matthews doesn't sing. Al Green comes in and sings, and Dave is a glorified guitar player. True, the number is awesome- Al Green is something that has to be seen to be believed, like David Blaine trapped in ice. But when you tell me we're gonna see Dave Matthews, I wanna see Dave Matthews, end of story.

9) Moby. "Porcelain"

Apparently the makers of the flick didn't like Moby, because they stuck him at the end and ran credits over his performance. Which means that while he may be an electrifying performer, I can't help but equate him with the Key Grip, Best Boy and assistant Make-Up Artist.

All told, All Access gets all of 2 3/4 Babylons. Less if you don't give a rat's behind about concert footage, more if you live and breathe for this stuff. But then, perhaps my judgment was soured by the fact that they were giving out copies of albums from the bands in the flick and I got a Mary J. Blige disc. I can't think of a single artist in the picture whose CD I wouldn't rather have had, and I sold it, unopened, at a yard sale the next day for $2.

Editor's Note:

Once again, the movies that the SMC likes the least always make the best reviews. I've learned also that the quicker I get the review from the day he sees the movie, the better the review overall, but the more general editing I need to do. For instance, throughout this review, the SMC misspelled "Carlos Santana" like this: "Julio Inglesias". Weird.

All Access: Front Row. Back Stage. Live!
Rated: IMAX
Directed By: Martyn Atkins
Starring: Sting, Cheb Mami, George Clinton, Mary J. Blige, Kid Rock, Joe C., Sheryl Crow, B.B. King, Carlos Santana, Rob Thomas, Macy Gray, Dave Matthews, Al Green, Moby and the Heart of Rock and Roll. It's still beating.

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