Review by James Lindorf
It has been twelve years since Justin Beiber released his first single, “One Time,” in 2009. In that time, he has sold 150 million records, won 2 Grammys, 21 Billboard Awards, and 18 American Music Awards, not to mention racking up a personal net worth estimated at nearly 300 million dollars. As 2020 drew to a close, Justin wanted to unite his fans worldwide who were struggling due to the pandemic. The way to do that was to put on his first full concert in three years. With Covid running rampant, it would have to be like no concert he or anyone else had ever done. The former King of Teen Pop planned an electrifying performance on the rooftop of the Beverly Hilton Hotel for 240 guests and millions of fans across the globe watching via livestream. Thanks to Amazon, anyone who missed out has a second chance when the documentary “Justin Bieber: Our World” begins streaming exclusively on Prime Video on October 8th.
When Beiber first burst onto the scene, he was a floppy-haired 15-year-old kid. Pretty much the exact opposite of what I was looking for in music at that time in my life. Now at 27, Justin has spent the last 12 years evolving as a musician and an individual. He has acknowledged any mistakes he made while adjusting to extreme levels of fame as a kid. He has publicly battled depression and anxiety and has emerged as someone who seems genuinely happy and comfortable with who he is. As he has become more complex and experienced in life, it has been reflected in his music. Nowadays, I am more likely to turn the radio up than change the station.
“Our World” is very much the classic concert film at an unconventional time. The high-energy concert scenes are intercut with Justin and his team planning the event and candid time with the superstar and his wife, Hailey. They begin with a song to get you into a good mood before rewinding to 30 days before the big event. Each scene away from the music is there to teach us something about Justin, the person and not the performer, and of the unique challenges of planning and executing a concert mid-Covid. The film’s tone is very light and happy, but it lacks emotional depth, which leaves it in the realm of pure entertainment.
“Our World” can’t stand up against recent emotional or thought-provoking concert films like Demi Lavato’s “Dancing with the Devil” or J Balvin’s “The Boy From Medellín.” Those two movies showed their subjects tackling personal demons or social pressure and justice. They offered more substance in 20 minutes than can be found in these 94 minutes. However, something light and joyous may be just what Our World needs more right now. Like the concert director, Michael D. Ratner delivered a high-energy, well-constructed, and beautiful event. “Justin Bieber: Our World” is a 4 out of 5 and may make a Belieber out of you.
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