I admit it, concerts and audio performances on Blu-Ray are amongst the discs that I find represent the best of what High Definition provides; it brings us into the concert, backstage, and the lives of artists who give us music we love. Outside of the Beatles, very few artists have as lengthy and varied catalog as The Rolling Stones. Crossfire Hurricane presents a really unique view of the Stones, which I found interesting, unique and rewarding.
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, English PCM 2.0
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 51 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 05/21/2013
Crossfire Hurricane, the official documentary to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stones has a pretty tough road ahead of it. The Stones have been the subject of numerous documentaries, behind the scenes exposes, and so much is already known that it has the difficult and unenviable task of presenting a lot of this information again, and coming up with a way to set itself apart.
The Production Rating: 4/5
When you have excellent product out there like Gimme Shelter, you have to find a way to show a lot of that content, tell your story, and make it unique. One of the ways that Crossfire Hurricane does this is through the use of lesser known films and performances, including fairly rare performances of Jumping Jack Flash, Australian concert moments, and most notably, large draws from the 1972 behind the scenes film "Cocksucker Blues". Several other sources also make appearances, but it is the use of content from Cocksucker Blues that provides the strongest moments in the film, documenting the rise to celebrity of the 60s and 70s for the Rolling Stones.
This look at the Stones will leave some who want a music-oriented documentary feeling a bit left out; but if you are interested in history and haven't seen either the BBC2's documentary or Cocksucker Blues, you'll find this an intriguing and thoughtful documentary that lays it all out there; from Brian Jones to the ups and downs of the Stones.
Ranking video on something like Crossfire Hurricane is difficult because of the fact that the source material varies so wildly; from 8mm film to shot for HD content, the film moves back and forth in a manner that is not always the most pleasing to the viewer. It's hard to think of a better way to do this, but it can be distracting. More importantly, some of the content, specifically the BBC2 lifted content was obviously always planned in interlaced format, and so when presented in this format it can be distracting.
Video Rating: 3.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The reason why I rank this lower isn't because of the makeup of the content, which is beyond the creator control, it's the choices made in how it's presented and the encode itself. Presented in AVC @ an AWBR of 31.4Mbps, this encode should not present digital artifacts int he way that it does. It's expected that some problems occur when you mix media, but I found some issues were simply not up to the expectations I have of a 50th anniversary documentary.
Presented in 5.1 DTS-MA as well as 2.0 LPCM, you would think a film such as this would really give you some theater worthy moments to show off the Stones. But the DTS-MA mix provided on this disc is one of the flattest, most lifeless presentations I've heard in any concert oriented disc. It's obvious that most of the sources mixed into this were mono or stereo only, and the conversion to 5.1 seems to have thinned out the presentation, making it seem weak and at times foggy in comparison to what you expect.
Audio Rating: 2.5/5
In contrast, the 2.0 LPCM mix, while not perfect, is definitely the choice to make. While the DTS-MA mix seems lifeless, the 2.0 LPCM mix at least has a natural, though not always rewarding feel to it.
Films like this have an audience expectation of great moments that rock your living room. I think a lot of Stones fans will find the audio mix here fairly disappointing.
Most of the extras on this disc are all lumped together, in a 480I presentation running 26 minutes.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
NME Poll Winners 1964 (480i), Not Fade Away, I Just Wanna Make Love to You and I'm All Right ;
NME Poll Winners 1965 (480i), Pain in My Heart and The Last Time;
Live in Germany 1965 (480i), Satisfaction and I'm All Right;
The Arthur Haynes Show 1964 (480i), I Wanna Be Your Man and You Better Move On.
Interview with Director Brett Morgen (1080i; 10:48). Look at the choice of directors and how Mick Jagger became involved in this project.
I found these extras to be some of the most enjoyable moments on the disc, and it touches upon the origin story for the Stones. But there really isn't a lot here considering the overwhelming catalog of material that should be available for a band such as The Stones.
I wanted to strongly recommend this documentary. I know a lot of Rolling Stones fans will be eager to have this as part of their collection. But after I spent the weekend thinking about this film, over and over again, I find it hard to really recommend this as a must buy, in large part because the way in which this film is compiled is simply not rewarding enough for hardcore Stones fans, and it isn't done well enough to compensate for the flaws.
Overall Rating: 1/5
I think what is most bothersome about this documentary is that in comparison to BBC2's excellent 25x5 documentary... 25 years ago, Crossfire Hurricane feels as though it is a thin retread that doesn't provide us a greater look into what has happened in the 25 years since then. Most Stones fans will find that almost all of what is provided are simply excerpts from other films. With the Stones refusing to get on camera and providing voice overs, the film seems to lose a lot of the strength that the BBC2 documentary had.
Rolling Stones completists will grab this immediately. But my gut tells me that for most, their simply isn't enough here to merit a quick buy.
It's sad, because with a career as significant as the Stones, you'd hope that the last 25 years could have provided some really unique looks at material that could have taken 25x5 to a whole knew level. But this title just isn't it. In the end, I predict a lot of Stones fans will buy this title - and spend a lot of time grousing about what it "could" and "should" have been.
Reviewed By: MattCR
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