"Marley" Is A Muscular But Hardly Challenging Biography Review

Kevin MacDonald's Marley has all the earmarks of a definitive look at one of the world's most iconic artists of the last century, whose face had adorned many a college dorm room - Bob Marley, musician, husband, father, womanizer, peacemaker, soccer fanatic, and so much else. Marley's life, musical career and untimely death at the age of 36 are all explored in a muscular 240 minutes, which include interviews with a rotating chorus of friends, bandmates, music executives, wives, girlfriends, children, and fellow musicians (Jimmy Cliff speaks briefly). The resulting film is a clear-eyed look at an imperfect man, made all the better by its use of (restored?) footage of Marley’s performances at home and around the world, as well as his formative days in Jamaica.

If there’s one strike to be leveled against MacDonald’s earnest bio-doc, it’s that for all the summing up of the man’s life, it does little else. It’s an impressive historical document, but as far as insights go, neither the director nor the people interviewed offer much that deviates from the general consensus on Marley. It’s admittedly immature to look for a juicy tidbit or a teary-eyed confession of some unheard-of misdeed, but one can’t help but feel the polished doc reaffirms Marley’s champion status without attempting to dig deeper. The resulting picture still gets a solid recommendation but primarily as a vibrant, occasionally moving but altogether unsurprising boilerplate doc.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

A commentary with MacDonald and Ziggy Marley addresses the construction of the doc and makes you appreciate the planning behind getting Marley's loved ones, bandmates and business partners to appear in the film. Eighteen-minute featurette "Around the World" expands on the scenes seen in the credits, traversing the globe to show the musician's impact on his generation and beyond. An extended interview with Bunny Wailer is a terrific addition that lets us spend time with one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking subjects in the film. Also included are extended interviews with Marley’s children, a featurette that has several subjects listen to Marley’s “I’m Loose,” a still gallery, the film’s trailer, a preview for a Ziggy Marley show, TV Spots and a Jamaica tourist ad.


"Marley" is on sale August 7, 2012 and is rated PG13. Documentary. Directed by Kevin Macdonald. Written by N/A. Starring Bob Marley.

Mark Zhuravsky • Staff Writer

I'm a prolific blogger, writer and editor who loves film.


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