Sunday, December 4, 2022

Dio: Dreamers Never Die

We were finally able to get a screener of the documentary on legendary Heavy Metal singer Ronnie James Dio. The movie has been out in the U.S.A. for several months, and Universal is supposed to be releasing it in Europe at some point, but the date is still up in the air and France doesn't seem to be included in their plans...

We were very worried that this film would be a low-budget affair. Let's face it: Dio has been underrated and under appreciated for a long time, and we were afraid that this would be another one of those cheap fan-made documentaries that seem barely professional. After all, every D-list band has had their documentary, and it's always the same story of rags-to-riches, follow your dreams, blah blah blah. It worked for the Anvil movie, but we do not need to see that template replicated a thousand fold with every band to have picked up an instrument.

While the angle is still roughly the same, we are happy to report that this movie has actual production value, thanks in part to the guests that have agreed to talk about the man and his music: his bandmates from Black Sabbath and Dio, Jack Black, Lita Ford, Rob Halford from Judas Priest, Roger Glover or Deep Purple and Rainbow...

If you are a fan of Dio, Sabbath, Metal or Rock in general, or if you just like well-made, uplifting music documentaries, this is a good one. The only reservation is the needlessly aggrandizing tone of some of the scenes. We understand that it's hard to present an admirable musician without turning the whole thing into an overly reverent hagiography, but some of the accolades border on the ridiculous. Dio's career and accomplishments are impressive enough that we shouldn't have to resort to such extreme laudations. Despite his name, Dio wasn't a god.

Unlike his autobiography that came out two years ago, the movie covers his entire career, and if it seems somewhat superficial at times it's because it's hard to sum up a half century career in a hundred minutes. The psst interesting thing about the book was Ronnie's early days, when he was in a small local band in the pre-Beatles days. It was a fascinating glimpse of 1950's suburban America, from the point of view of a struggling musician.

The movie doesn't dwell much on that era, and consequently the best moments, beyond the concert footage of course, are the Ronnie interview footage where he always appears friendly, earnest and driven. Having met him, I can attest to the man's warmth and it's easy to understand why he was so loved by his fans.

The end is of course pretty emotional but without the cheap sentimentality that usually plagues such documentaries, and as a whole, the movie is pretty uplifting. Hopefully this documentary will help raise Ronnie's profile and help him get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This would be a fitting coda to an extraordinary life and career.


  1. I've seen the doc about Dio on a satellite channel, and though I don't really follow his music, I am a rock&roll fan. I found the movie interesting and informative and recommend it to anyone who loves rock!

    1. Hopefully the movie compelled you to check out the man's music. If you're looking for a starting point, we have a great playlist which covers his entire career here:


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