Published: Apr 21, 2009
Flight 666 reviews are starting to hit the press - we'll bring you the best from around the world here...
You saw the jet, the livery emblazoned on the side like some medieval standard - Eddie's zombie visage a cloud-breaking figurehead that seemed to scream to the world in a demonic voice: "Iron Maiden are coming for you!"
If a heart beats within you, then you know you wish you were on that fucking plane. That's because Iron Maiden's Somewhere Back In Time tour last year wasn't just some token jaunt through rock and metal's well-trodden byways. It was a modern conquest of the path less taken - a continent-jumping, fire-breathing monster of a trek that saw a band now into their fourth decade circling the globe in a jet piloted by their own frontman in an exuberant fuck you to those who doubted their ability to captivate and enthrall audiences the world over. And how they came: Tokyo, Bogota, Mumbai - fans around the world spoke with a single voice of appreciation, and they sold out stadiums.
It helps that Bruce Dickinson and company are on top form, that their first seven album-spanning setlist is a metalligasm of headbanging joy. So how to document it all? Look no further than filmmaking duo Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen, already known for 2007's thrilling documentary, Metal: A Headbanger's Journey. They climbed aboard for 21 cities and 50,000 miles of that epic sojourn and, from more than 500 hours of footage, pared it down to the bare essence of what that tour, and indeed Iron Maiden, are all about: the fans.
This is more than just a breathtaking view from the cockpit of Ed Force One, or a stunning, pro-shot recording of Iron Maiden's thrilling live show. Flight 666 gives you all the fly-on-the-wall observations that put you in the pants of some lucky bastard Iron Maiden have asked along for the ride - the candid backstage chats, the roadie-eye view. But - as Sam Dunn recently stated in these very pages - to make a Maiden film without the fans would be farcical, and their depictions even outweigh Tom Morello or Lars Ulrich's gushing accounts of their love for Maiden in LA at the start of the film.
Where Flight 666 truly soars is its depiction of the fan on his way to the Mumbai show who, in a tradition repeated by so many brothers and sisters in fanhood, admits it was the artwork that got his interest, and the music that made him stay. Or, take the portrayal of the Brazilian priest who bases his sermons on Maiden lyrics and sports a torso covered in Maiden tattoos, or the Colombian fans who - after nine days in a makeshift tent city erected outside the venue - leave their shoes at security and sprint toward the stage to secure a view. Flight 666 is a monumental tribute to the greatest band of all time, a unique insight into the global fraternity of Iron Maiden fanatics, and it'll put an ear-to-ear grin on your face guaran-fucking-teed. Up The Irons, Flight 666 rules. (10/10)
- Alexander Milas
Buffalo News (New York) - April 17, 2009 Friday
Maiden voyage; Heavy metal's finest goes airborne in inspired documentary
BY JEFF MIERS - News Pop Music Critic
If you're looking for "Spinal Tap" jokes, you won't find them here. Sure, that "mock-umentary" did a great job nailing the vacuous hilarity at the heart of bloated '80s heavy metal, and it made just about every rock documentary that followed in its wake seem like at least a bit of a joke.
Iron Maiden, however, has never fit the accepted mold, nor followed the rules. And with its brilliant new "road movie" "Flight 666," the band shows no sign of doing so -- now or ever.
From its tongue-in-cheek title to its killer blend of sound and vision, "Flight 666" is the sort of documentary only Maiden -- as viewed through the cameras of Toronto filmmakers and Maiden maniacs Scott McFadyen and Sam Dunn -- could produce. That's because it's much more than a concert movie, though the performance sequences are stellar throughout. The film is at once a tribute to the iconoclastic British metal band and to its rabid international fan base.
It would've been a great story, even if Dunn and McFadyen hadn't been there to film it. The script pretty much wrote itself.
Maiden's Bruce Dickinson has been many things over the years, including a world-renowned singer and a professional fencer. He also happens to be a fully credentialed pilot, one driven by what seems to be a combination of fearlessness and endless energy. It was Dickinson's idea to buy a Boeing 757; customize it for band, crew and families; and convert half of it into storage space for all of the musicians' personal gear and the considerable amount of production equipment needed. There is no precedent for this "do it yourself" mode of international touring. To make matters even more interesting, the band would fly to 13 disparate points on the globe, perform in 23 stadiums, and make it back home within 45 days.
Oh, and Dickinson himself would be flying the plane, by the way.
That the band lived through this experience might in itself seem impressive, but what surely stuns the viewer as the film unfolds is the depth and breadth of the band's popularity around the world. India, Costa Rica, Brazil, Chile, Toronto, Mexico -- at every stop on the tour, a similar scene erupts: Male and female fans of various ages fill the streets, chant the band's name, surround them as they enter hotels or deplane at airports, sleep outside for several days leading up to the concert in hopes of claiming a space near the front of the stage and generally behave as if Iron Maiden's arrival in their city is one of the greatest things that will ever happen in their lives.
It's a metal equivalent of Beatlemania, the unlikely stars of the show a quintet of humble, down-to-earth family men/musicians in their 50s who still seem uncomfortable with celebrity.
Yes, it's mostly about the music. Maiden's epic blend of richly layered guitar harmonies, supple rhythm-section propulsion, grandiose vocals and prog-rock virtuosity remains metal's most adventurous sound some 30 years into the band's career.
But "Flight 666" is more concerned with just what that music has meant to a few generations of music lovers around the planet. The film's most moving scene depicts a young South American Maiden fan clutching a pair of drummer Nicko McBrain's drumsticks, clinging to the barricade well after the band has left the stage and the lights have come up, and weeping uncontrollably. We understand that these are tears of grateful joy and release.
Explaining the appeal of Maiden's music is pretty useless. But this highly entertaining film suggests that, after 30 years doggedly pursuing its own brand of musical, professional and personal integrity, Iron Maiden has come to represent something profound to millions of people from diverse cultures. That speaks volumes. (4/4)