Morgan Spurlock has been associated with controversy in the past, no stranger to tackling hot topics like the US obesity epidemic and Al-Qaeda, so his latest project came as a bit of a surprise. When it was announced he would be in the director’s chair for ‘One Direction: This Is Us 3D’, you wouldn’t be alone in thinking he would open our eyes to a different, maybe darker, side to the world’s biggest boy band, going deep beneath their glossy exterior. Instead of his usual exploratory mindset going to extremes with his subject matter, he takes a step back going fully behind the camera to portray the famous five as likeable, hard working lads taking their massively lucky break in their stride.
Heavily produced by Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment, perhaps there was a hint of restriction in place when it came to the what could be shown and which footage should be cut and shuffled away, never to see the light of day. Cowell himself has a talking head part where he sits smug behind an executive table, taking all the plaudits for the manufacture of the group and their worldwide success. Other guest appearances come unexpectedly from Chris Rock and Martin Scorsese, both in attendance at their colossal Madison Square Garden concert, signifying their breakthrough across the Atlantic.
In justifying his career choice to venture into music documentary film-making, Spurlock explained that the huge budget and use of 3D drew him to the piece and after unsuccessful attempts at helming the Justin Bieber and Katy Perry tour docs, he finally has his chance to play around and experiment with the capabilities of extra dimensions. The gig recording is fun, and the songs have catchy pop choruses but in terms of camera work, it goes as expected bar a scattering of flashy graphics and one coolly executed effect which transforms each of the boys into action hero figures in primary colours. A few of the lesser known tracks tend to drag, and the behind the scenes sections are far more engaging. During the gaps in between the all singing all dancing concert footage, we follow the gang on their world tour and look back at their humble beginnings, where their parents deliver heartfelt messages on how their lives have changed since One Direction’s X-Factor journey and we bear witness to the chummy camaraderie between the fivesome as they express their individual personalities, play youthful pranks and thank the obsessively dedicated fan base they possess, who stalk them around the globe like blood thirsty zombies.
This Is Us gives a brief insight into life on the road for a group of youngsters experiencing the closest superstardom to Beatlemania and kept my attention throughout but unfortunately does so without delving into too much detail, which goes against the trademarks of the director. For the hordes of adoring fans, or the Directioners as I believe they like to be known as, this serves as a perfect slice of pop propaganda and will sit nicely in DVD cases stacked from floor to ceiling in the ever-growing string of 1D World stores across the planet.