James Cole Clay// Film Critic
Getting a firsthand look at seeing larger than life figures develop their sound and a slight glimpse as to what makes the enigma tick– rock docs, or “rockumentaries,” have always been a favorite sub-genre of mine.
For better or for worse, OASIS: SUPERSONIC profiles the maligned group through strange feuds and lots of drugs. The documentary has similar lyrics to a melody you’ve already heard before, yet director Mat Whitecross (THE ROAD TO GUANTANAMO) delivers a fascinating film that lives up to the band’s rebellious persona.
In the ’90s, the masses still cared about rock-n-roll and the British alternative band Oasis aimed to capitalize on that market. The crown was up for grabs following the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.
Brothers Liam (frontman) and Noel (music and lyrics) Gallagher dubbed themselves as “the greatest band on the planet,” and at one point they were objectively correct. (This sort of braggadocios behavior came early and often for these guys.) Whitecross strictly profiles the band’s early years focusing on their inception in 1991 through their first two classic albums “Definitely, Maybe” and “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?”
Much like last year’s deeply affecting doc AMY — which shares the same producing team as OASIS:SUPERSONIC — we are introduced to the band through extensive home video footage when the lads had nothing more than a couple of quid and a dream.
One doesn’t need a deep knowledge of the Oasis catalogue to get sucked into the atmosphere of this borderline insane music group, who just so happen to be pouring out melodies that greatly impacted a generation. I try to relent using such hyperbole, but when a band plays “Wonderwall” for 250k people at the height of their success in 1996, it’s impossible to deny the impact. Fans in the theater were casually singing along to songs of their rough, yet indelible early performances. This rarified unity in a tiny blackened theater was a special occasion to behold. The Gallagher brothers actually meant something much deeper to Oasis fans outside of their take no sh*t approach to the music industry.
The main attraction for me going into OASIS: SUPERSONIC was the eccentric, on-going feud between Liam and Noel. So, in a nutshell, it’s all about insecurity and Whitecross dials in on the sibling rivalry with respect to the family and enough conflict to make audiences members, such as myself, salivate. Noel after joining the band late (per alleged permission from Liam), became the chief songwriter and de facto boss of the group much to his young brother’s chagrin. No matter how much sex appeal Liam had, he knew that he could never write a song as beautiful as “Wonderwall” and this ate him up with jealousy. But Whitecross brilliantly shows there are two sides to every story. What could have just been a flimsy story about brothers fighting has become a rock-n-roll urban legend. The stories go so far as Noel tricking Liam into believing in ghosts.
As far as rock docs go OASIS: SUPERSONIC goes down with the best of the best from METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER, all the way back to Bob Dylan’s early days in DON’T LOOK BACK. While the film is a tad long and doesn’t give us all the dirt on the Gallaghers, it celebrates a group of guys who followed and achieved their dreams 1,000 times over.
OASIS: SUPERSONIC is now available on iTunes, Amazon and various other digital formats.