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Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who

Universal Home Video
Movie B+
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 6.5 (out of 10)

The Who have long been my favorite band, so, consequently, The Kids Are Alright is one of my favorite rock biographies. Released shortly after the death of original drummer Keith Moon, it has a special place with Who fans, because it sort of counts as Moon's last hurrah. It even features footage from Moon's last performance with the band.

This film, Amazing Journey, starts with the band's bluesy origins and leads right up to the present day, where the surviving members of the original quartet (Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend) continue to perform as The Who.

The story of the band might be more complete here, but it's missing some of the pop that Kids contained. That movie also qualified as a concert film, with the aforementioned final Moon performance containing stunning renditions of "Baba O'Reilly" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" (the latter featuring the iconic shot of Daltrey bathed in laser lights).

This film is more about talking heads, but two of those heads are Daltrey and Townshend, who gave the project their blessing and provided candid interviews. There are further glimpses of Moon's final concerts, and incredible footage of the band when they first started as The High Numbers (with Daltrey wearing shades and blasting out growling blues vocals). Some familiar stories are told, such as Townshend's first instance smashing a guitar, and Daltrey punching Pete in the face.

While fans of the band might find this inferior to prior biographies on Townshend and friends, those unfamiliar with the band are encouraged to pick this up and get indoctrinated. There's a reason why The Who has long held the title of Best Live Rock Band, and the documentary definitely backs up the claim. It's sad to see band members like Moon and bassist John Entwistle gone from the fray, but as long as Townshend still windmills on his guitar, it's still The Who.

Special Features: The two-hour movie comes with another disc full of features called Six Quick Ones, and additional stories in Scrapbook. Six Quick Ones features individual looks at each member of the original band. There's also an excellent short film of The Who in the studio for the first time in many years recording the song "Real Good Looking Boy" with drummer Zak Starkey (son of Ringo Starr). If you purchase your copy at Best Buy, you get an exclusive disc featuring a 1979 concert where Townshend looks really wrecked.

Metalocalypse: Season One

Warner Home Video
Show A-
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)

This fictional cartoon death-metal band on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim actually makes decent music. Created in part by Brendon Small, it chronicles the post-apocalyptic power of Dethklok, the world's greatest band. The animation is quite good for Adult Swim; the music is surprisingly competent; and the 20 episodes are very funny.

Episodes include "Dethtroll," in which the band accidentally summons a lake troll that destroys Finland, and "The Curse of Dethklok," in which we are introduced to the likes of William Murderface and Pickles, members of the band. This show is supposed to be a joke about the absurdity of death metal, but I think it will actually stoke the popularity of death metal.

Dethklok rocks!

Special Features: There are special features, but they are not readily accessible. You have to move your cursor around the menu page and look for highlighted stuff. When you click on them, you'll see deleted scenes, cartoon nudity, guitar lessons and band interviews.


Movie A-
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

The Beatles were damn fine movie stars. This, their second film, is a blast. Ringo gets a hold of some sort of ring used in human sacrifices, a plot that gives the band a silly platform to sing and deliver their special brand of British humor, which predated Monty Python.

The film, directed by Richard Lester (who also did A Hard Day's Night), features some highly inventive pieces, including the bizarre house that the band lives in. John Lennon sleeps on the floor; Ringo eats from vending machines; and Paul pounds away on his organ. The band members, especially Lennon, were great comic actors. Lennon's droll, dry delivery is so perfect, it's a wonder he wasn't a bigger movie star.

Watching the film, I was reminded of how amazingly fast the Beatles phenomenon played out. This film came out just one year after Night, making Help! the second great movie from a band that was just a little more than a year old. Allegedly, the band had started smoking a lot of pot on set, which could explain why they often seemed so aloof. As for the music, the title track, George Harrison's excellent contribution "I Need You" and "Ticket to Ride" are among seven songs featured.

Special Features: The recently released two-disc set features newly remastered film and a making-of documentary. There's also a missing scene, theatrical trailers and radio ads for the movie.