A film by 30 Seconds to Mars
Review by Rob Watts
Let me preface this review by saying that I am a huge 30 Seconds to Mars fan. I own every album, I find their music to be very moving and I believe they are one of the most significant bands of this generation. So when I heard that their documentary ARTIFACT was finally seeing the light of day, I was eager to view it and review it. With that being said, I’m afraid to say that I’m left scratching my head over this release.
“Artifact” is a documentary about the recording of the band’s 2009 release “This is War”, probably the band’s most prolific album to date. Curiously though, this film documenting a four-year old album sees a major release more than six months after their current album “Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams” has been on the market. But the poor timing is something I can overlook. What I can’t seem to overlook is an hour and forty-five minutes of “Oh Woe is me!”
“This is War” and the legal fight between the band (led by Lead Vocalist and Hollywood actor Jared Leto) and their record label EMI is, by now, common knowledge throughout the music world, or at least the majority of 30 Seconds to Mars fans. ARTIFACT allows us to relive the struggle once again, along with the band. The problem is, by the half-way point in the film, it’s difficult to sympathize with them.
Yes, we all love our rock stars and want to see our favorite bands succeed, but in today’s sorry economic climate, it’s a hard sell to feel bad for a hugely popular rock band, with their rock star good looks and award winning albums, recording their new album in the beautiful Hollywood Hills, while bickering back and forth with their managers and record label over whether or not they’ll release it on their own or through EMI. I’m pretty sure that people who are in search of jobs, healthcare and money for their families would happily trade places with them in an instant.
The film does have a few memorable high points, however. The writing and recording process for “This is War” was well-captured. Even more insightful is the explanation of the royalty (or lack thereof) structure within the recording industry. The doc also features commentary from a varied number of the industries heavyweights, such as Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, Brandon Boyd of Incubus, and Amanda “I’m so fascinating” Palmer. Aside from this, the film falls flat in my opinion. I believe a better wide-release could have been a documentary about the band’s hugely successful “Into the Wild” world tour, where the band played live almost everywhere imaginable on planet Earth for two-years straight. They were recognized by Guinness Book of World Records for being the only band to tour the most amount of concert dates. Knowing this while watching their Pity Party Documentary, and seeing as many people can’t even afford take a vacation these days, it’s very difficult to relate to their crusade against the big bad record giants. We all have our own giants in the world that we fight against everyday. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have Hollywood acting careers to fall back on if our album doesn’t get released.
Agree or Disagree?