Fortunately, Director Adam Smith doesn't just aim to present the show, but also to immerse the viewer in the crowd witnessing the event. Perspectives shift, and well cut all over the place, from within a teeming throng with hands outstretched, to right above the stage looking down on the electronics rigs and performers, to the truly staggering shots that encompass the entire pavillion where the show took place. The problem is, it cuts in such a manner that it seems unfocused at first. This is generally to be expected, both for dance videos and for modern aesthetics (look at most action films these days and you'll see what I mean), but it needs to hold its images more and allow the viewer to appreciate them.
It goes without saying that this isn't for epileptics.
Beginning with a Junior Parker cover of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows," the show does not stop. Structured like a continuous mix, with elements of tracks blending in with those that precede and follow them, it feels like a combination DJ set and laser show. With each song having its own visual sensibility, you'll find a lot to experience, from the evil-looking clownthing in "Get Yourself High" (and who pops up again, to a sample from A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2, even, near the end of the show) to the gorgeous CG origami horses running all over the place in "Horse Power."
But the most visually enthralling moments in the film, for me, come in "Hey Boy Hey Girl," a great song that uses long shots of the crowd in a way that had a twofold effect on me - it made me think of U2's 3D concert film, which made me then wish that this could have been a 3D presentation- not because of the gimmicky nature of stereoscopic imagery, but because crowds of this size look amazing with that kind of dimensionality. Plus, the laser effects and sequenced images that the Chems use in their live show would be overwhelming (in a good way) in this kind of situation. Unfortunately, the frenetic cutting would be at odds with such an approach, so I have to accept the choices the filmmakers made.
The transition into "Chemical Beats" is pretty spectacular, using red-tinged shades and a relentless drum roll to build up to a crazy precipice. "Star Guitar" is just a delight, as always. The transition into "Out of Control" (one of my faves) seemed way too abrupt, though its blue-toned imagery was rather nice. And the way that "Escape Velocity" is used, and how it segues into "The Golden Path," is just overwhelming.
So if you're a Chemical Brothers fan, this really is essential viewing. For anyone who is interested in dance music, the film is worth checking out just to see how one can build a show for a crowd of this kind of size. If you can handle the sometime-disorienting edits, you're in for a grand adventure, one that will give home theatre systems a workout.
Tracklisting: "Tomorrow Never Knows", "Another World", "Do it Again", "Get Yourself High", "Horse Power", "Chemical Beats", "Swoon", "Star Guitar", "Three Little Birdies Down Beats", "Hey Boy Hey Girl", "Don’t Think", "Out of Control", "Setting Sun", "It Doesn’t Matter", "Saturate", "Believe", "Escape Velocity/ The Golden Path", "Superflash", "Leave Home" / "Galvanize", "Block Rockin’ Beats"/ "Das Spiegel"