Robert Paul’s The RockTronix – “Magnificent Obsession” is a documentary about The Rocktronix, a band consisting of drummer Wayne Viar, guitarist Chris Blackwell and bassist Joseph Patrick Moore. We’re introduced to the band, given some history and hear their music. Mostly groove-friendly instrumentals, though the music does dance in various genres, you’re given copious opportunity to enjoy the sound for yourself as the film is full of it, following along with the band as they rehearse, perform and ultimately record an album over three days in the studio.
As someone unfamiliar with The Rocktronix, I do think the film does a good job of introducing you to their sound, but there isn’t much else there to offer narrative heft for the documentary. The recording of an album is a common music documentary narrative arc to offer up, but there isn’t much drama here. You get a small sense of the band members’ personalities, but no one is given too much of a history or a compelling look. In other words, as a documentary that allows for an audience to engage with more of a story than just the obvious, the film comes up short.
It does work as a promotional film, and that’s probably the purpose here. Fans of the band will get the music they enjoy, and you get enough of a broad overview of things to learn quickly and easily about the band. Promo-wise, the film is far more successful.
That said, forty-something minutes, even for promo, is pushing things. You could easily make a fifteen to twenty minute cut of this film that could potentially get more traction, eyes and ears. It comes down to intention and goals, though. Running time doesn’t really matter if you consider someone watching for promotional purposes; if that person doesn’t like the music, they probably won’t finish the film anyway.
If you’re into the music, though, the film sustains its running time. If their groove is not your thing, however, then the documentary does not offer up anything else to keep your interest. No band drama to speak of, no conflicts in the recording studio, no crazy rock star behavior; it’s all very sedate and well-adjusted. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s also not always entertaining.
This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.