Big Rock
All Access (Large Format 2-D)
Review by Ross Anthony

"All Access" takes you backstage, on stage and front row center for a varied collection of rock artists - namely:

  1. Sting with Cheb Mami "Desert Rose" (middle-eastern melody fused into rock)
  2. George Clinton with Mary J. Blige and Parliament Funkadelic "Flashlight/One Nation Under A Groove/Atomic Dog" (funk medley)
  3. Kid Rock "Bawitdaba" (rap/rock)
  4. Sheryl Crow "If It Makes You Happy" (solo acoustic pop rock)
  5. B.B. King with The Roots, Phish and Trey Anastasio, "Rock Me Baby" (blues)
  6. Macy Gray "I can't wait to Meetchu" (R&B Soul)
  7. Santana with Rob Thomas "Smooth" (classic rock/alt rock)
  8. Dave Matthews Band and Al Green "Take Me To The River" (blues/rock)
  9. Moby "Porcelain" (moody rock)

A small back door opens, we follow the broad-shouldered security guy through the tunnel-like halls below the stage until he lets us out on stage as the roadies set up, the filmmakers prepare their eq, and the artists quip. Sting sings to an empty stadium in the strong light of day. This is the way to watch a musician! You can even see the worn paint and varnish on the back of his bass' neck.

Next we join George Clinton filling another stage with eighties costuming (captain's hat, rainbow wig, silver cape) and muchos funk - a good time. Next a cam backs Kid Rock, the edit durations shorten as the cuts quicken. Sheryl, whose contribution is shot on a sound stage, replaces Kid. Unfortunately, the obviously pre-recorded music robs the scene of any coziness or intimacy it definitely should have had. A close on the six string is too close and the a/v sync unacceptable. Her mood and that of the track clash instead of sing. Additionally, intermittently inserted (throughout the film) interview bites of Crow are shot on a lower grade film stock that looks soft focus. I did like the cut to her song on the radio of the IMAX truck as a means of wiping out of her sequence.

B.B. King, "These guys are half my age, but they find notes, I don't find on my guitar!" He and Phish rock! Speaking their minds with fingers on steel strings. Fantastic sound mix, great separation and panning. Later, their off-stage interviews are strung together mimicking the musical dialogue they'd enjoyed prior. Great touch, but ill-placed on top of the music. B.B., in a brown pin strip suit, has such an awesome smile, watch the music envelop his face. This huge film format takes you there. You can even read "Lucille" on his ax.

Macy Gray does that Motown thing, then Rob Thomas and Santana rip up that huge IMAX screen into little shreds. Shot well, aside from a momentary and unnecessary split image digital effect that tastes like catsup on filet mignon. Let music speak for itself. Good sound separation.

Finally, after setting up in-between the other acts, Dave Matthews and Al Green rock Chicago "Take Me to The River." Green has a great voice, but he slightly over does the scream and patronage to Chicago. Additionally, the Dave Matthews band is comprised of excellent musicians unable to showcase their real talents on this safely played staple.

Toning down the pace for the ending, Moby sways back and forth with his baldhead and street clothes while the credits roll.

Overall, a good time. This is the way to see a concert! No waiting in long lines, no rushing for the best seats, nobody spilling beer on you. You can see the expressions of the musicians as the music moves them. Perhaps best of all, you can hear the music exactly as intended, without echo, or lopsided distribution. The IMAX sound system blasts! Improvements and suggestions, of course: stay away from close ups (especially on instruments), keep longer cuts, interviews are nice, but we're here for the music!

Already out, "Rolling Stones" and "'Nsync" in Large Format. I look forward to a large selection of pictures dedicated to a single group, so that we can all go see our favorite artists in concert in the theater. Choosing a letter grade for "All Access" will be an even more subjective matter than usual. If you don't enjoy any type of rock, I wouldn't recommend this picture. But for those of us that are fans of more than half of the artists named ... I'll venture a "B+". On the other hand, if you're one of the lucky few that just happens to love them all, then definitely an "A" is in line.

  • All Access (Large Format 2-D). Copyright © 2001.
  • Directed by Martyn Atkins
  • Produced by Jon and Peter Shapiro at IMAX/Certs?Newmarket/Ideal Ent.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:21:10 PDT