The musical documentary is becoming quite popular in Hollywood lately. In 2011, there was Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, in which director Jon Chu gave us a first-hand account of how the young singer became one of the most famous pop-stars in the world. Just last year, the same studio, Paramount Pictures, released Katy Perry: Part of Me, which highlighted the starlet’s journey from Christian pop-singer to hitting the radio with perhaps her most famous song, I Kissed a Girl.
The boys from the band One Direction all tried out for British X Factor individually and never made it to the final cut. That hardly marked the end of the road for them, witness the new concert documentary One Direction: This Is Us.
Producer and X Factor judge Simon Cowell saw something in each of the five guys and pulled them aside individually. Cowell knew that each had talent and thought they should compete in X Factor as an all-male pop act. The group didn’t make it all the way to the end, but they did gain fans during their time on the show. Their fans took to social media to promote their songs and the group gained international fame with its track, “What Makes You Beautiful.”
Director Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) followed the group (Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne and Zayn Malik) around for their first world tour. The film showcases their concert performance in London’s renowned O2 Arena.
One Direction: This is Us is a fun movie that fans of the band will adore and even parents will find it pretty entertaining. The 3D is decent and adds to certain scenes where the guys are singing on stage, but otherwise the 2D is perfectly acceptable if you want to save a few bucks.
Spurlock and cinematographer Neil Harvey capture the concert wonderfully and as the audience we feel like we have a front row seat to the concert. However This is Us sits apart from Justin Bieber and Katy Perry’s documentaries because the film fails to capture an emotional depth that is important in films like this. There are no fan meet-and-greet scenes and there’s not much footage of the guys that feels truly organic. We see a little bit of their lives when they are home and not touring, but it’s not enough to ground the film.
We needed more heart (and less shirtless scenes of Harry) for this to appeal to a wider audience besides the Directioners. But nonetheless, the fans will love the film and Spurlock captured their performance in London beautifully.