Review by Camden Ferrell
Jonathan McHugh is a seasoned music supervisor who has worked on many big films in his career. In his second directorial endeavor, Long Live Rock: Celebrate the Chaos, McHugh was able to explore hard rock music and its community. This documentary might be a little messy at times, but it’s a relatable tribute to a genre that will speak to and resonate with fans.
This documentary uses footage from concerts and festivals as well as interviews with fans and famous rockers in order to explore the community that is created through hard rock. The film explains the origins and significance of the genre and the many ways in which it brings together unlikely friends. It’s a really great premise especially for those who have been a part of this community at some point.
Even though this is a film that is mostly aimed at fans of hard rock, it does a fairly decent job of trying to explain its importance to an audience that may not be familiar with the music. They address the stigma around the genre, and they subsequently refute any misconceptions about the fan base that has been portrayed in the media. More than anything, the film acts as a bridge between this community and those with minimal exposure to it.
The interviews are mostly engaging. Some people have more charisma than others, and there are some occasional moments that feel out of place. There are interviews with fans as well as with members of bands like Metallica, The Offspring, Slipknot, Halestorm, and many others. They all provide their own unique perspectives and opinions about hard rock and what it means to them, and their testimonies are all interesting and personal, and it gives the film its emotional core.
While there’s a lot working in the film’s favor, there are some fairly noticeable flaws. The first half of the film is really solid, but there’s a certain turning point in the film’s narrative that doesn’t work out well. It diverts away from talking about the power of music and instead chooses to spend a fair amount of time focusing on the effects of drugs and substance abuse on musicians. Even though this is an important aspect to explore, it seems like it could have been integrated in a more effective manner.
Luckily, the film does maintain a fairly steady pace throughout its brief runtime. It doesn’t feature as much music as one would hope, but it does feature a wide variety of artists throughout. While it does try and educate everyone about the genre, it’s clear that this is a movie that will appeal significantly to those already accustomed to the music.
There’s a lot of universal themes that are explored such as how music unites and serves as an outlet for life’s frustrations. Nothing that is being said in this film is groundbreaking, but it is still resonant and relatable for many people. It’s an enjoyable film that serves as a reminder that rock will truly never die.
Long Live Rock: Celebrate the Chaos may not be perfect, but it is a fun exploration of a genre that has spanned generations. There are great interviews and some decent footage from various festivals, and it will greatly appeal to fans of these bands.
Long Live Rock: Celebrate the Chaos will have its world premiere live screening on March 11 and will be available through virtual cinemas March 12 (Screenings and times can be found here).