By Dirk Sonniksen | June 15, 2009
Director: Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen
Writer(s): Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen
Starring: Iron Maiden
It’s February 1st, 2008, in Mumbai, India. Thousands of crazed Indian rockers bounce in unison as British metal icons Iron Maiden perform “Aces High.” This is the first show of twenty-three in a most ambitious undertaking. Filmmakers Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen are along for the ride, aboard a custom outfitted 757, complete with the band, the entire road crew, and twelve tons of equipment. They’re destined for the far reaches of the globe and, perhaps, rock n’ roll history.
Iron Maiden: Flight 666 chronicles the first leg of the band’s 2008 “Somewhere Back in Time” tour, taking them 50,000 miles around the globe, playing some of the most unlikely venues imaginable. From Bogota, Columbia to Santiago, Chile, the band set out to prove what promoters claimed was an economic and logistical impossibility—to play countries no other bands have played and do it at break-neck speed. Oh, and while we’re at it, why not have the lead vocalist pilot the plane?
Unlike Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster, or The Pixies’ loudQuietloud, both of which left me wanting to slash my wrists, Iron Maiden: Flight 666 actually had me tearing up, due not to the tragic lives of the band members or lingering drug problems, but of a comradery between six guys who just want to get out and espouse the majesty (yes, majesty) of heavy metal. Indeed, this is a feel-good heavy metal documentary, glorifying not what gives metal a bad rap at times, but how it instead brings thousands of people together with a common interest, that common interest being, well, to rock out and show off their Eddie tattoos.
Directors Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen captured incredible footage during this first leg of the band’s 2008 tour. Unlike other music documentaries (Coldplay comes to mind) that suffer from the endless back-and-forth, two- second shots of band members for the entire film, Flight 666 gives lengthy lens time to the entire band. Yes, even the drummer! We get to see juicy segments of Adrian Smith’s spot-on guitar solos, and plenty of Nicko McBrain’s thundering bare-footed work on the bass drum. The reason? Dunn and McFadyen obviously love their metal and they want you to love it, too.
While most bands of Iron Maiden’s age are tuning down so the singer doesn’t blow a vein in his forehead, Bruce Dickinson is still hitting the high-octane highs, and the band genuinely looks like like they’re having a blast, thundering through Maiden classics that have had fans like me listening for decades. Yes, I’m biased, but when you see a band like Iron Maiden at the tender age of thirteen, it leaves a lasting impression. Indeed, this film is homage to the fans, and a great look at the phenomena of a band that never had a hit and indeed doesn’t seem to particularly care. For die-hard Maiden fans, Flight 666 is a gem. It’s glorious, it’s high-definition, it’s surround sound, it’s Maiden, and it rocks!