Review: ‘Breaking A Monster’ By Unlocking The Truth
‘Breaking A Monster’ gives audiences a behind the scenes look at the inner workings of the music industry, but the film bombards audiences with advertising and comes off a bit more like a promotional video than a proper documentary.
When a 7th grade African-American heavy metal trio from New York, Unlocking the Truth, makes the leap from street performers to landing a major record deal, the teenage boys are suddenly dropped into a very adult world of money and industry politics in Luke Meyer’s enlightening yet ad-like documentary.
Youthful, yet experienced beyond their years, the thrash-metal band has generated a substantial buzz from their energetic “Big Apple” street performances to their viral YouTube clip. In ‘Breaking A Monster’ the story picks up when just as band’s buzz catches the attention of an eccentric 70 year-old industry expert and manager who begins to navigate the trio through turbulent industry waters and onto a $1.8 million record deal.
Documentary Score – 3
In ‘Breaking A Monster’ we follow the green trio as they are exposed to a cold and often unsavory business minded world that uses race, youth and mass appeal as a marketing tool. Shot during the band’s transition to the professional stage, the film captures the teen’s turbulent early months as they transcend from one-hit YouTube wonders to an up and coming Metal trio.
Although Luke Meyer manages to expose the cold and harsh inner workings of the highly competitive and fast moving music industry, the film often comes across more as a promotional video than a proper movie. Meyer starts off by taking the audience through the upbringing of the musically inclined trio, exploring the band’s inception, parental involvement and motivations. Although often thought-provoking, the presentation is somewhat repetitive and suffers from a lack of purpose.
It is not the editing, camera work or even the overall tone that makes Luke Meyer’s documentary interesting, rather it’s the film’s ability to capture a glimpse of the cut throat and high-tension filled music business and a young band of musicians who, only being between 12 and 13 years old, are naive and ill equipped for the menial and “hurry up and wait” mentality that becoming a rockstar requires.
Comprised of guitarist and vocalist Malcolm Brickhouse, bassist Alec Atkins and drummer Jarad Dawkins, Unlocking The Truth is the real deal in terms of their pursuit for musical greatness.
The patchwork of home video, live performances, exclusive internal executive meetings and one-on-one interviews paints a dark picture. Watching the naive trio get rapidly indoctrinated into an adult world of sex, big money and heavy responsibility and seeing the cold and grueling road to success for the music market was both interesting and informative.
While Meyer starts off with what seems like a interesting lifestyle meets think-piece about the ‘Breaking’ of innocence, the faux-documentary quickly devolves into an, at times, shameless marketing for the band that seems like just another promotional concept concocted by the band’s manager.
Beyond the palatable music and the endearing character profiles, the entertainment quality of the film is stifled by the insertion of far too much of a promotional feel to fully engage the audience. In the end, all of the buildup and development is rendered disingenuous as it feels the same marketing methods used in the film are now being used on the audience.
Ultimately, there is certainly some amusement and edification to take away, and I can see fans of the band going back for the exclusive performances. At the same time, it’s hard to ignore that the film feels more like it’s selling you the band rather than doing a movie about them.
Watch the official trailer for ‘Breaking A Monster’ below:
- Documentary Score
'Breaking A Monster' tells the underdog tale of an teenage trio with dreams of rock-stardom rising above race and societal preconceptions to break into the highly competitive music industry. While the kid rockers are highly endearing and the music provides a palatable soundtrack (at least for fans of Metal music), Meyer's 'Breaking A Monster' feels more like a promotional video than a docu-film.
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