Sound — 10
Logistically, the setup of Iron Maiden's 2008 Somewhere Back In Time World Tour was not going to be easy. After all, the legendary metal band opted to tour 21 cities in about 45 days, racking up 50,000 miles along the way. But thanks to vocalist Bruce Dickinson's skills as an airline pilot, the lofty goal became accessible via a Boeing 757 (Ed Force One), plenty of stamina, and a full airline crew (often donning Iron Maiden t-shirts as their uniforms). The new DVD Flight 666 follows Iron Maiden as the band hit everywhere from India and Australia to Japan and Brazil, and this is one documentary that has a very distinct feel about it. Had the film crew followed a long list of other metal bands that shall remain unnamed, there might have been drama from minute one and onward. But chronicling the day-to-day lives of Dickinson and bandmates, it's obvious that you don't need conflict to make for a historic, memorable event. Featuring 2 DVDs (the documentary film on disk one and 17 live performances on disk two), Flight 666 delivers Maiden at its best. The Somewhere Back In Time World Tour essentially revisited the band's 1984-1985 World Slavery Tour, which featured such key songs as The Trooper, The Number of the Beast, Wasted Time, and Fear of the Dark. During the DVD, Dickinson points out that this was not a tour put on for the sake of nostalgia, but rather, a gift to younger fans who had not yet had a chance to experience the older material live. Yes, the band might be a little older, but it soon becomes obvious that neither energy nor top-notch performances are an issue. This is one band that could still teach a lesson in live performance to today's younger metal musicians. Because the band is able to hit so many countries/cities in a short period of time, Flight 666 provides an in-depth and often emotional glimpse at the band's effect on the world. Each country has its own unique way of welcoming Maiden into their home, but there is one constant: Overall hysteria. Some are crazier (in a good way) than others, but the film relays just how essential one metal band has become in their fans' lives. The most extreme examples come in areas like Colombia, where tears of joy are shed before and after the concert. Another example comes in the form of a Brazilian priest dubbed Father Iron Maiden, who not only has 50-plus Maiden tattoos, he also delivers sermons relating to the lyrics of his favorite band. The chemistry within Iron Maiden has never been more cohesive and powerful, with every single member being on the same page musically. The second disk delivers full performances of 17 tracks from various cities, and the band doesn't disappoint on any of them. In terms of backstage antics, the grueling tour could have made for conflicts galore, but Iron Maiden is a band that consists of pretty easy-going guys. The biggest issue along the way? When drummer Nicko McBrain is hit in the arm with a golf ball (and there is plenty of golfing footage, by the way), there is a slight worry that the big Costa Rica date will be canceled. Luckily tragedy was averted and the show goes on, but no real feathers are ruffled through it all. It's an exhausting tour, but the guys in Maiden rarely let it show.
Content — 9
The documentary portion of Flight 666 gives you the figurative backstage pass, and you see the members in every aspect of life. Vignettes include Adrian Smith in his own personal pre-performance rehearsal, Dickinson tackling his piloting duties, lots and lots of golf with Nicko McBrain, and a variety of interviews with fans throughout the world. The members of Maiden are pretty low-key for the most part, but that mellow energy is balanced quite well with the passionate, super-fans in areas like Japan and Latin America. The performance footage is amazing, and it's astounding that the band sounds so solid after 30-plus years.
Production Quality — 10
Some viewers who saw the film in theaters have commented that the editing is slightly frantic, but in comparison with some other DVDs/music videos, Flight 666's live performances are quite thorough in terms of the camera time they gives to each member. Full attention is given to the guitar team of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith at all the appropriate times (Hallowed Be Thy Name is a big highlight), and every other member has plenty of time in the spotlight as well. In terms of the documentary, you get a well-rounded cultural glimpse of each city, whether you are viewing the general concert shots or the in-the-streets interviews. And not to be outdone, Iron Maiden's Flight 666 was filmed in the always beautiful Hi-Def, making for awe-inspiring shots of places like Brazil and Mexico.
Overall Impression — 10
If you're an Iron Maiden fan, you will be far from disappointed with Flight 666. Not only do you have an opportunity to relive songs like Run to the Hills and Can I Play With Madness (with Dickinson still sounding like the monster vocalist he was in his 20's), you also can't help but feel a connection with some of the fans interviewed throughout the film. In one of the last moments of the DVD, Dickinson looks back on Maiden's effect on the world and the possibility of truly having achieved something with his life. For anybody that doubts the power of metal, you just have to see Flight 666 to be full cognizant that Dickinson's quote is likely an understatement. Just ask Father Iron Maiden I'm sure he could churn out a sermon or two on that very topic.