Blu-ray
Worth a Look
3 stars
List Price
$22.98
Amazon
$11.75 (49%)
3rd Party
$0.10
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»
Overall Grade
3 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
3 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
5 Stars
Supplements
1.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Worth a Look

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Street Date:
May 13th, 2011
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
May 11th, 2011
Movie Release Year:
2011
Studio:
Paramount
Length:
105 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated G
Release Country
United States

Introduction

I know you just read the score for the Movie Itself and said "Whaaaaaaa?!" Well, before you lead an angry mob to my house, make sure to read the review. Hopefully, that'll convince you to put down your pitchforks and torches.

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

I don't particularly enjoy Justin Bieber's brand of pubescent pop songs, which have been strategically written to make teenage girls swoon and hand over their hard-earned allowances for concert tickets, CDs, and all sorts of Bieber-flavored merchandise. I find his music as generic as pop music comes. Catchy choruses that get stuck in your head for days, because they've been engineered to latch onto your brain like leeches. Tunes covering broad subjects like love, matters of the heart, and getting jiggy with it. His music isn't for me, let's just leave it at that. So, is that reason enough for me to shut Bieber's movie 'Never Say Never' out? Is not being a fan of his music enough cause for me to completly write off the documentary about the kid who sings it? Not so fast.

I, like many other American men, have culled an unfounded hate for a kid I hardly know. He's rich, famous, and talented I'm not. It's that simple, right? He's got it all. He's living the life. It's easy to begrudge him his success. After watching 'Never Say Never' my tone is changing just a little bit. So what if the kid is successful. Don't we all want to be successful doing something that we love?

The reason why 'Never Say Never' works (yes I said works) as a movie is that it's an honest to goodness documentary. Sure Bieber's concert footage is sprinkled in here and there, but this documentary was actually well thought out. It isn't just an advertisement for Bieber Mania, which it easily could have been. 'Never Say Never' works on a few levels.

This isn't just a movie about a kid who became rich and famous overnight, there are many weightier subjects at work here. Take for example the power of social media, and if used right, how it can indeed create worldwide superstars. Justin Bieber isn't powered by Disney or Nickelodeon, but through social media he was able to rise to popularity faster than most musical acts. The power of YouTube is an amazing thing. The internet made Bieber's music available to the world, then the pre-teen girls spread it like wild fire, and before we knew it we had a new music superstar.

The movie counts down the days until Bieber's big Madison Square Garden concert. As his poppy songs blare in the background we get a glimpse of what he was like as a kid. Here's where some respect has got to be paid to him. Most of these pop singers nowadays couldn't play an instrument if their lives depended on it. Most of them have decent vocals, a pretty face and that's it. Bieber is actually, believe it or not, a respectable musician by any measure. Yes he dances around on stage to music that sounds reminiscent of The Backstreet Boys, but we're soon shown that young Bieber was playing guitar, drums, piano and singing at a very young age. The kid was born with musical talent, that much is true.

'Never Say Never' also touches on the dangers of childhood celebrity. How does a 16 year-old kid deal with ultra-fame? When do the rigors of that lifestyle begin to wear someone out? We get a glimpse of the toll it's taken on him after he has to cancel shows because of swollen vocal chords. Eighty plus shows in a year will do that to you, I guess. I don't sing, but even I think that many shows would wreak havoc on vocal chords that haven't quite finished going through puberty yet.

I'm not a Bieber apologist by any means. Hate him, love him, that's completely up to you. The one thing you shouldn't do though is write 'Never Say Never' off as just another money grab from a teenage icon who's cashing in on his celebrity. While a bit of the film feels like a promo reel of why we should all have Bieber Fever, the rest of it actually raises some important questions and attempts to answer them truthfully. Heaven help me, but 'Justin Bieber: Never Say Never' is a good movie.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

There's all sorts of source material used for 'Never Say Never', which creates a mixed bag visually, but it's understandable given the different pieces of video that are used. From home videos, to YouTube videos, to noisy darkened footage of a blacked out concert venue, 'Never Say Never' sure runs the gamut when it comes to video presentations. The YouTube videos are blocky as you would suspect, while the home video footage looks like, well, home video footage. However, when the movie switches over to the present day everything becomes much more clear, vibrant, and pleasing to look at.

The movie does suffer some of the main problems that other concert-centric Blu-rays face, namely micro-blocking and aliasing due to the tiny pixels on the gigantic lighted screens behind the stage. There are times where the camera will pan across the stage and the screens behind Bieber will ebb and flow with aliasing lines. Fine detail is optimum though. Each and every teen tear that dribbles down a girl's cheek is visible.

Overall, this film looks great in high-definition.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Would you expect this disc to be anything less that demo-worthy audio material? 'Never Say Never' has been afforded a rocking DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that will rumble the house.

First off, the dialogue is presented cleanly through the front and center channels. When Bieber isn't belting out sappy lyrics, the movie takes on a more monotone documentary aspect, which I expected. Still, when the concert footage comes on the sound stage really comes to life. Surrounds are alive with the thundering chants from thousands of Bieber's rabid fans. LFE thumps along with Bieber's numerous pop songs that require an underlying heavy bass beat. His vocals fill the listening environment enveloping you.

If you're a fan of Bieber then you'll be pleased to hear that this Blu-ray has top-notch audio that will get you that much closer to feeling like you're right there next to your teen idol.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Concert Dance Off (HD, 3 min.) — This is a short bit of footage during a concert where Bieber and his dancers showing off their moves.
  • Favorite Girl (HD, 2 min.) — Most of this scene you can see in the film, but this just shows the entirety of Bieber performing his fan-favorite song while floating above the audience in a giant scaffolding-looking heart.
  • R.I.P. Hair Flip (HD, 3 min.) — The story of a haircut Bieber once got. Fascinating stuff.
  • Giving Back (HD, 8 min.) — This shows a bit more of what Bieber's managers do before concerts. You see them doing this in the movie, but you get to see more teary-eyed teenage girls accepting front row tickets without knowing beforehand that they'd get them.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no Blu-ray exclusives provided.

Final Thoughts

Yes there are times where Bieber seems like a tool – him constantly pulling up his skinny jeans comes to mind – but, there's really nothing here that I see worthy of hating the youngster for. He's much more successful than I am and probably gets to take baths in piles of money every night, but I shouldn't begrudge him that. I was surprised by the amount of raw musical talent that he possesses. I wonder if we'd think of him differently if he was signing alternative punk rock rather than doughy pop songs. Even so, 'Never Say Never' kept me strangely intrigued. I never felt like I was watching a 90 minute long commercial for the world's newest superstar. This documentary actually raised some important questions about how Americans view celebrities, what we expect from them, and how social media has changed our world forever. The video and audio are both excellent. Fans will buy this movie no matter what, but (and I feel extremely weird saying this) I would recommend it to anyone.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Pack

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.78:1

Audio Formats

  • English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Supplements

  • Concert Dance-Off – Justin and his crew showcase their incredible dance moves
  • Favorite Girl – Live performance from Madison Square Garden
  • Giving Back – An extended look at Justin's team surprising lucky fans with free concert tickets
  • R.I.P. Hair Flip – The cameras were rolling when Justin cut his famous hair

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List Price
$22.98
Amazon
$11.75 (49%)
3rd Party
$0.10
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»

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