Gorillaz: Reject False Icons – A Gorillazland Review

I left the movie theatre elated last night. I had just witnessed footage of my favorite band over 2 years as if I were a fly-on-the-wall. We got to see content not meant for the everyday viewer, but as fans, got the inside scoop all thanks to Denholm Hewlett. It’s almost like Denholm is a fan of the band himself, and he knew exactly the kind of stuff we’d want to see… 😏

The name, Reject False Icons, I think alludes to the fact that the film is solely about the “humanz” involved in the behemoth project that is Gorillaz. The film focuses mainly on Jamie, Damon, and the live band, however, a smattering of Jamie’s colorful art, flashy music video footage, and live visuals keeps us entertained in the transitions. One unfortunate note is that the older music video footage did not seem to be ready for a giant screen, as much of it was still low-res.

The documentary opens up with an homage of the many phases of Gorillaz, finally landing on Jamie’s post-apocalyptic/surreal art for Humanz, set to “Tranzformer.” The movie is then broken up into three acts – essentially the ‘making of’ Humanz, Humanz on tour, and The Now Now on tour. Bizarre and cool interludes from Ben Mendelsohn help break up the narrative of the film.

To call the movie a traditional documentary is a bit of a stretch. It lacked narrative and was instead a collection of clips and dialogue (with each scene being no more than about 30 seconds long), documenting the Humanz and The Now Now tours as they progressed. That being said, the film was an absolute treat for die-hard fans of the band. We got to see and hear many early demos from Humanz and The Now Now – including a beautiful rendition of Busted and Blue by Kelela, a banging version of Phoenix on the Hill recorded in Jamaica, and what’s potentially a previously-unheard TNN track, Founding Fathers.

There were also some very “meme-able” momentz coming from Mr. Albarn. I was delighted by the laugh my theatre got from watching him shuffle across the street in his pajamas, Smoggy declaring he had “a bit of a rough night.”

My wish for the next Gorillaz documentary is perhaps something more interview based, where fans can learn more about the behind-the-scenes thinking that goes into making Gorillaz. For example, how Damon and co. select collaborators, and explaining who the collaborators are to people who aren’t YET Gorillaz fans.

In comparison to Bananaz, this film comes across as far more polished and professional – reflecting a similar the journey that Gorillaz have taken these last couple of years. On the last night of the tour, Damon thanks the musicians & crew, saying their act had become “top class.” While Bananaz may have been better as a look into the process and history, Reject False Icons was an absolute feast of material for fans to geek out on.

Denholm is promising a director’s cut of the film soon, which means even MORE material to digest! Must be the holiday spirit — what a gift to fans!

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