Film Review: HBO’s ‘Mr Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown’

HBO will present its newest documentary about the late and great James Brown entitled, “Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown.” 

This film focuses not on who this great musical innovator was but rather on the how he became such a moving force in the music industry. The film starts off with Brown’s early life, describing the factors that led to his success such as him wanting to rise to stardom, and for him to do that in the time period he was in meant he had to work two or three times as hard as some of the other talented singers of his generation. Later, this film describes his journey in becoming a huge success and maintaining that level of success while touring the country. Being a force that created new genres of music such as funk and even beginning the hip hop era, this documentary goes into vivid detail about how these groundbreaking sounds were conceived and made. Having testimonies from people from his big band such as Martha High, Fred Wesley, and Mick Jagger gave viewers more insight into what it was like touring with the James Brown band and who James Brown was as a person.

What this film did well was that it was as honest as it could possibly be.  James Brown was larger than life. This documentary focuses on not only what he did right, but some of the things he did wrong.  This documentary tells the famous story of James Brown from all possible angles, and that brutal honesty actually makes Brown seem even more endearing.  Who wants to watch a documentary about some perfect person?  Rather, this film said, “James Brown was such a great innovator, but he was also very much human and had his flaws.”  This documentary also showed viewers exclusive clips and photos of James Brown era such as videos from some of his concerts.  These exclusive, never before seen photos and videos of James Brown, were a true treat.

But James Brown wasn’t only known for his music.  He was also a political activist and had his hand in politics towards the middle stages of his career.  He advocated for the beauty of being black in a time when African Americans were treated with extreme injustice. His voice was important for the community.  The documentary shines a light on how Brown used his music to not only entertain people but to also help people.  He was a great man who had great ideas and has paved the way for both the progression of music as well as the betterment of people in general. This documentary tells that story just as well as the story of his music success.

This documentary did a lot right when telling the whole story of James Brown.  It talks about his rise to fame, what life was like traveling with Brown, how he started a new movement of music, and how his music helped inspire so many people.  This documentary is incredible and is a must see.  “Mr. Dynamite” will premiere on HBO on October 27, 2014 at 9 p.m.