“One Direction 3D: This is Us” continues the line of notable 3D concert/documetaries that includes “U2 3D” and “Katy Perry: Part of Me.” Through Sunday, Sept. 1, “One Direction” was the #1 movie of the three-day weekend with $15.8 million, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com. (It dropped to second when including the Monday holiday Sept. 2, moving up to $18 mil. but being surpassed by “The Butler” with $20 million over the four days of the long weekend.)
All of these movies, even including the Justin Bieber and Jonas Brothers movies, are wholesome fun with very engaging pop songs (nevermind the one direction that it seems many of these wholesome young subjects seem to take in their lives after these movies, such as Bieber and Miley Cyrus.) The 3D by RealD in “One Direction” is as good or better than the best of the others, especially since it is employed throughout instead of only during the concert footage as is sometimes the case.
Still, director Morgan Spurlock employs the 3D very well during the concerts, with the five young men of the unlikely working-class Irish singing group playing perfectly to the camera in close-ups that bring them closer those in the movie theater audience, and with the camera also moving about stadiums to angles that also accentuate the depth and distance between the audience, the stage, aerial walkways and flying objects.
In fact, the 3D provides more depth than is gleaned from the portrait of the group itself (they cannot reasonably be tagged a “boy band” since only one of them even plays an instrument occasionally — blonde Niall Horan strums a guitar on a few songs — and none of them appear to write any of the songs; thereby undercutting any comparisons to The Beatles, who wrote their own songs and each played an instrument). There are a couple of tender personal moments such as when Zayn Malik takes a cell phone call on the road from his grateful mother as she walks in the house he just bought for her, and a couple of scenes with parents of the young men lamenting their constant touring with almost no semblance of a normal teen life (three of them have since turned 20 or 21).
And there is a good summary of the way this group came together for those unfamiliar with the story — they were each losing solo contestants on Simon Cowell’s original British series of “The X Factor” when he decided to combine all five of them to continue competing as a group. After losing again — they came in second — their teen girl fan base took over and sparked a live concert tour even before the group had recorded an album.
But there is little other exploration of the personal lives of these young men, or their aspirations, only lots of praise for one another, even around a campfire (which appears to have been contrived for the movie), which is sweet and good to see but sometimes rings shallow. There appears to be an undertone of alienation regarding Zayne, who appears to be more emotionally distant than the others.
Harry Styles is portrayed as the most zany of the quintet and is seen donning a costume at one point and mingling among the pre-concert audience making disparaging remarks about the group. His and the mischievous but harmless antics of others feel real and typical of young men this age.
Interestingly, the group’s most popular current hit of this summer, “Best Song Ever,” plays only over the closing credits, presumably because it was not part of the concert tour when the movie was shot. The infectious song can’t help but leave you feeling upbeat.
— By Scott Hettrick
The overly long and silly 2 1/2-min prologue to the “Best Song Ever” music video below is unfortunately not at all emblematic or representative of the movie itself…