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Lions Gate presents
Awesome: I... Shot That! (2006)

"A lotta heat inside this building..."
- Mike D

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: August 03, 2006

Stars: Mike D, Adrock, MCA
Other Stars: Mix Master Mike, Money Mark, Alfredo Ortiz, Doug E. Fresh
Director: Nathanial Hornblower

MPAA Rating: R for language
Run Time: 01h:28m:34s
Release Date: July 25, 2006
UPC: 821575547758
Genre: hip-hop


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+BB+ A-

DVD Review

With their devoted fan base still strong, the Beastie Boys easily could have released a typical professional concert film and sold a large quantity of DVDs. However, MCA (Adam Yauch), Mike D (Mike Diamond), and Adrock (Adam Horowitz) chose the tougher route and aimed to create a unique concert film. Filmed at Madison Square Garden in New York City on October 9, 2004, Awesome: I... Shot That places the cameras into the hands of the crowd to deliver a kinetic live performance. Fifty lucky fans received Hi-8 cameras and were given brief instructions on the filming process. The completed footage was edited together by Neil Usatin and directed by Yauch (under his pseudonym Nathanial Hornblower) into a highly entertaining and original concert film.

Formed in 1979, the Beastie Boys have developed their sound well beyond the early days of Fight For Your Right to Party. Their six full-length albums move across a wide array of genres and showcase talents not initially anticipated by critics and audiences. After a six-year absence, they returned in 2004 with To the 5 Boroughs—an uneven, but still enjoyable ode to straightforward, old-school hip-hop. This concert is the final show of their Challah at Your Boy tour, and its setlist spans the Beastie Boys' entire career. Beginning with Triple Trouble, one of the better new tracks, they barely take a breath and fly through enthusiastic renditions of nearly all their memorable songs. The 88-minute running time feels extremely brief and leaves the audience (both at home and at the concert) wanting to hear a lot more.

Following the introduction, the high energy remains with two singles from 1994's Ill Communication album, Sure Shot and Root Down. Several guests join the band throughout the night, and a highlight is the appearance by hip-hop legend Doug E. Fresh, who delivers the beat-box for Time to Get Ill. This type of connection with the genre's pioneers has always lifted the Beastie Boys over imitators like Eminem or House of Pain. Although the guys' ages all hover around 40, their voices are still strong as ever, as exemplified by the lengthy individual raps of Pass the Mic. They do give themselves a minor break in the middle that allows Mix Master Mike to take the forefront. Upon their return, they dress it up and grab instruments for a mellow interlude with help from Money Mark and Alfredo Ortiz. These tunes give the fans a minor breather, and they'll have little chance for another once the upbeat songs get rolling in the show's second half.

The amateur shooting style will not be for all tastes and could alienate viewers expecting a more straightforward concert film. The cuts come very quickly, and we rarely stay with one camera for more than a few seconds. The footage also includes an intimate look at a male bathroom stop and trips to the concession stands for beer and water. These scenes are pretty quick and help to generate an immersive experience, but they also might frustrate less patient fans. Visual effects are also used periodically to create a "music video" atmosphere. Body Movin' appears with all the colors stripped out, creating intriguing white footage of the events onstage. So What'Cha Want offers crazy hues in similar fashion to the original music video and are sometimes nearly incoherent.

Awesome: I... Shot That!'s best moments involve fans going crazy and enjoying the ebullient actions of the Beastie Boys onstage. My favorite scene occurs following the conclusion of the main set. Immediately after its end, the guys quickly jump into an elevator and run down the concourses into the upper levels of the stadium. Appearing out of nowhere, they perform Intergalactic in the middle of the adoring crowd and don't miss a beat. This tune does not end the show, and another frantic race occurs back to the elevator and onto the main stage for two final songs. This enjoyable stunt once again enhances the concert's unpredictability and generates an exciting response.

Setlist: Beastie Boys (October 9, 2004)
1. Triple Trouble
2. Sure Shot
3. Root Down
4. Hello to Brooklyn
5. Time to Get Ill
6. All Lifestyles
7. Pass the Mic
8. Shake Your Rump
9. Sabrosa
10. Ricky's Theme
11. Something's Gotta Give
12. An Open Letter to NYC
13. Right Right Now Now
14. Paul Revere
15. Body Movin'
16. Three MCs and One DJ
17. Brass Monkey
18. So What'Cha Want
19. Ch-Check It Out
20. Intergalactic
21. Gratitude
22. Sabotage

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Considering that much of the film was shot on 50 digital cameras by amateurs, the picture quality obviously does not match a professional concert film. The footage contains a significant amount of grain and is often shaky, but that contributes to its charm. The added visual effects only enhance the DIY atmosphere of this release. The images could be distracting for some, but should also raise the energy level for the group's many hardcore fans.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: This release offers several audio options, mostly notably a powerful 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer that almost perfectly conveys the high-flying concert experience. The stereo track also performs solidly and should be a satisfying option for viewers without a home theater. Another treat is the A Cappella Vocal Tracks feature, which allows you to turn off all the sound except for the Beasties' microphones.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Documentaries
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by the Beastie Boys
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 0h:51m:36s

Extra Extras:
  1. Full-length Grid Alternate Angle
  2. A Cappella Vocal Tracks
  3. Hidden Detours Feature
Extras Review: This release includes a significant amount of features, through the quality isn't always high. The specifics are described below:

Commentary from the Beastie Boys
Labeled as "insightful" on the packaging and menus, this quiet track is pretty underwhelming and offers little noteworthy material. The guys don't seem to know what to say, and silent moments are mixed with obvious statements. They do have some fun with the discussion, but the charm doesn't compensate for the lack of interesting details.

Detour Mode
One of this release's most interesting features, this mode allows viewers to click on an icon at the bottom right of the screen to access brief vignettes. Examples include footage of Root Down from a single camera and an amusing count of how many times a camera operator says "Get excited!" to nearby fans. The amount of detours offered is pretty low, but it's still a worthy inclusion.

Grid Mode
This feature allows you to watch all 50 cameras at once, which offers a unique, enjoyable perspective on the concert. A few screens are sometimes blank, but the overall view remains impressive. The screen also focuses onto a specific camera or group of 16 at a time to offer larger shots of the Beastie Boys in action.

A Day in the Life of Nathanial Hornblower (25:38)
This short film is a humorous take on the fictional director Nathanial Hornblower, who is actually Beastie Boy Adam Yauch (MCA) in real life. David Cross plays the oddball figure and walks through the city on cross-country skis. He also wears lederhosen and a wig and beard, which add to the silliness. The result is entertaining, but it drags too much and would have worked much better as a 10-minute feature.

Never Stop Rapping Yet (8:45) (8:45)
This collection of quick snippets from fans, celebrities, and the band itself comes from all over the world. The comments are usually silly and don't provide much insight, but we do get to see fans and well-known personalities like Jack Black and Kid Rock acting goofy.

Intros (6:13)
Keeping with the light-hearted material, these four introductions show Mix Master Mike (MMM) performing all types of antics. The best one involves an attack from a "monkey" (a man in an ape suit) that causes MMM to shoot everyone like a crazy person. Another intro shows him stealing a record from the band Slipknot and dashing off to reach the stage.

Enter Jerome Crooks' Angry World (4:34)
This brief featurette is a collection of shots depicting Tour Manager Jerome Crooks looking frustrated. He also has fun punching the camera and placing a bet on a basketball game that involves another crew member washing his underwear.

Big-Time Hollywood Trailer (2:07)
There are actually two previews in this section, with the difference being the inclusion of a certain curse word in the title. These trailers include some silly over-the-top narration hyping the film's importance.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

Hardcore fans of the Beastie Boys will almost certainly love Awesome: I... Shot That! for providing the up-close experience of their live shows. Casual viewers could enjoy its originality, but some will probably grow frustrated with the frenetic style. Supported by impressive extras, this concert DVD is a worthy follow-up to their excellent Criterion music video release.

 


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