SXSW FILM FESTIVAL 2022 REVIEW! I couldn’t tell you when I was introduced to the wild magic of Ronnie James Dio’s music. It’s just something I feel like I’ve always known existed. That’s certainly not true, but it feels that way, so let’s roll with it. Dio is one of those metal legends with a larger-than-life quality, despite being pretty diminutive in stature during his time on Earth. The co-writers/co-directors of Dio: Dreamers Never Die, Don Argott and Demian Fenton, are definitely under Dio’s spell.
The documentary gives us a tour of the rocker’s entire life, not just his musical career, which started before The Beatles. Born Ronald James Padavona, his stage name was acquired from mobster Johnny Dio. Young Ronnie Dio started out as a trumpet player but very quickly moved on to singing. First, he was the frontman for Ronnie and the Redcaps, then in the Electric Elves. In 1968, after a horrible car accident that killed his long-time best friend and bandmate, Nicky, Dio was ready to give up hope. That is until Richie Blackmore of Deep Purple heard the band and decided he wanted them for his new project, Rainbow.
“…a tour of the rocker’s entire life, not just his musical career…“
Most people who know anything about Dio know this already. But Dio: Dreamers Never Die reads a bit like an episode of the old show on VH1, Behind The Music (also, for the record, I don’t personally find that show old, but when I googled it, I realized the original run was from 1997 to 2014. So I decided to add that word for the Gen Zs who probably aren’t reading this, but if you are, hi, hey, hello!). In an effort to distinguish itself, the filmmakers include a few short silent reenactments of important parts of his life. However, they seem out of place with the talking heads style that is predominant throughout the rest of the documentary.
However, what the film lacks in focus, it makes up for in heart. Argott, Fenton, and the interviewees obviously all loved Dio. It is always cool to see Lita Ford because I love The Runaways. Everyone in Black Sabbath, save Ozzy Osbourne, of course, is also on hand. After all, this is Dio’s story. The movie reminded me that Dokken was a band, so thanks!
"…a wholesome documentary about a surprisingly wholesome musician."