Bernard McMahon’s Becoming Led Zeppelin, which I saw late last night, is a pleasing, at times rousing doc about a great ’60s and ’70s band. It plants a grin on your face, gets your foot tapping and delivers ecstatic memory throttles from time to time. Speaking as a longtime Zep fan, I was
happy fine with it as far as it went.
Twenty words: It’s highly enjoyable but a bit under-nourishing due to control-freak conditions imposed by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.
Becoming starts out fine and then it gets really good once the band starts playing gigs. But then the lack of texture and honesty by way of varied viewpoints becomes more and more noticable as it goes along and especially during the last 20 or 25 minutes.
This is an agreeable, enjoyable rock doc, but it’s too sanitized. Dishonest by way of omission. But I still liked it.
The first hour relates the individual paths of the three remaining Zeppers, and straight from the mouths — Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones (all currently in their 70s and in good spirits) as well as the late John Bonham, who is heard speaking to a journalist about this and that.
The second hour is about the launch of Led Zeppelin — the early play dates, the creation of the first two albums, the acclaim, the power and the glory. It’s basically about good times, and there’s nothing “wrong” with that.
The problem is that it doesn’t dig in. It’s not even slightly inquisitive. It’s way too obliging, almost feeing like an infomercial at times. It offers, in short, a really restricted portrait, and around the 110-minute mark I started to mind this.
From Owen Gleiberman’s Variety review: