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Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey DVD Review

Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey (2013) movie poster Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey

Theatrical Release: March 8, 2013 / Running Time: 105 Minutes / Rating: R

Writer/Director: Ramona S. Diaz

Cast: Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Ross Valory, Deen Castronovo, Arnel Pineda, John Baruck, Cherry Pineda, Erik Pineda, Noel Gomez, John Toomey, Tim Rozner, Yul Session, Jason Scheff, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Katherine Heigl

Buy Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey from Amazon.com: DVD • Instant Video

Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" is a pop music rarity: a song that seems to grow more popular with time. Thanks to "The Sopranos", Bedtime Stories, Shrek the Halls, and, most of all, "Glee", the eminently singable upbeat anthem somehow continues to crack best-selling charts around the globe and
outpace the vast majority of new songs as well as every single 20th century composition in paid downloads. It's only natural that the song's title would be feature in Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey, a new documentary about the band's unusual selection for a replacement lead singer.

In 2007, the band that peaked in the late '70s and early '80s began searching for a new frontman. Longtime lead vocalist Steve Perry had split in 1998 and his successor, Steve Augeri, was dropped after eight years amidst persistent vocal problems. The band's search would end with the discovery, via YouTube, of Arnel Pineda, a talented and versatile cover singer based in Manila. Pineda and the fan who uploaded the performances recall their disbelief at guitarist Neal Schon reaching out to them. Sure enough, after a week of auditioning, Pineda was picked to be the new lead singer of Journey.

Arnel Pineda covers Journey in one of the YouTube videos that got him discovered. Journey's bass guitarist Ross Valory shows off his band's numerous platinum records.

To hear Pineda describe it, the obviously daunting prospect of becoming the center of a band he long admired from afar sounds downright nerve-wracking. Nonetheless, the Filipino singer, then 40 but looking much younger, demonstrates he's up to that challenge, starting with an energetic performance in Chile full of running and jumping. The film then proceeds to reflect both on Journey and on Pineda, making sense of the strange paths that united them.

Pineda refreshingly maintains a level head and an astute perspective on his big break, which he rightfully describes as living in a fairytale. He recalls a challenging upbringing in which he, sometimes homeless, always poor and hungry, became his family's breadwinner after his mother died at a young age. By comparison, his adult woes, including battles with drinking and drugs, relationship break-ups, and failure for his original songs to be taken seriously, seem mild.

Arnel Pineda, the Filipino lead singer of Journey, is the subject of the documentary feature "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey."

It's an incredible opportunity for Pineda, a fact that clearly isn't lost on him. And it seems to be a story well worth telling, as Journey enjoys the biggest resurgence of their career. Their phenomenal success finds them playing to excited crowds of 20,000 every few days. Remember, this was a full year before "Glee" made the band familiar to younger generations.

Written, directed, and produced by Ramona S. Díaz, Everyman's Journey is a tad overlong. Once the extraordinary premise is established, there isn't much story to tell.
Pineda plays through a cold at least once, while Journey develops a passionate Filipino following. Wikipedia's mention of "an undercurrent of racism among some Journey fans" isn't touched upon beyond some online negativity and one beer-drinking concert attendee voicing her preference for an American-sourced lead, a stance with which two of her friends disagree.

The film struggles to reach its 105-minute runtime with purpose, but still easily holds us at attention with its candid footage of the band on tour. One doesn't get the sense that the tour is terribly different from those of other rock bands who have endured a few decades with some popularity intact. Still, unless you happen to be one of the select few who know that lifestyle first-hand, that perspective serves up a fascinating revelation.

Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English/Tagalog)
Subtitles: None
Movie Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled or Captioned
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.95
Clear Slim Hard Plastic Case
Also available on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

DVD presents Don't Stop Believin' in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and makes it look pretty good. The film judiciously subtitles the remarks of Pineda and other foreigners, who repeatedly bounce between English and Tagalog. Those burned-in subtitles, the disc's only kind, are subject to faint ringing around them, the most glaring compression artifacts of the transfer. Besides that, the picture quality varies based on the source material, ranging from blurry YouTube vids to perfectly nice new interview footage.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack opens up slightly for some concert performances, but doesn't ever really grab your attention. Though the package claims the disc is closed captioned, I couldn't access them via DVD-ROM (and they're useless on a Blu-ray player connected by HDMI).

Find out about writer/director/producer Ramona S. Diaz with this filmmaker bio. Arnel Pineda uses a nebulizer to help beat a cold in this extended segment.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Bonus features begin with one-paragraph/page biographies of director
Ramona S. Diaz and executive producers Capella Fahoome Brogden and Josh Green.

The platter's video extras are viewable individually or in one 32¼-minute lump sum with a "Play All" option.

The first eight listings (24:56) are essentially segments produced for the film but unused or shortened. They profile the work of head of security Chuck Miller and wardrobe stylist Jennifer Blanchard, show us Journey members trying out clothing options pre-concert, a security team meeting, another one of Arnel's fan meet and greets, backstage glimpses of Arnel treating himself with a nebulizer, Deen Castronovo getting his hair done, Arnel's wife recounting how they met, and a discussion of Arnel's fans (affectionately dubbed "plokkers"). A number of these bits are interesting, but their absence is understandable given the film's already excessive length

Journey and their documentarians introduce the film at its Tribeca Film Festival premiere. The DVD's static menu goes without the sound of Journey music.

As you could guess, "Tribeca Premiere" (5:11) covers the film's premiere at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. It shares footage of red carpet arrivals and pre-screening remarks from Diaz and Pinedal, who treats the audience to a little singing.

Finally, Don't Stop Believin''s trailer (2:07) is fittingly included.

The static, silent menus recycle the packaging's stylish artwork.

Don't Stop Believin' is housed in what appear to be the tall, less breakable, more secure cousin of the jewel case: a hard, predominantly clear rounded plastic shell that is the same height as and ever so slightly wider than a standard DVD keepcase. The cover art is actually the front page of a 4-page booklet that is oddly void of content. No other inserts are supplied.

A young Arnel Pineda sings American songs with a colorfully dressed group of Filipino boys. Though shorter and younger than his bandmates, Arnel fits right in with Journey.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Ramona S. Diaz's Don't Stop Believin' is a fun but slightly bloated look at how a Filipino man became the face of one of rock music's most unusually enduring acts. Though the documentary may not be timely, tagging along in 2008, it hasn't become outdated, as Arnel Pineda remains the band's lead singer. Fans of the band who have accepted the current frontman will not want to miss this.

Buy Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey from Amazon.com: DVD / Instant Video

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Reviewed August 19, 2013.



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