Of course, everyone is going to compare the new Beyoncé film to the other concert movie put out this fall by a heavily-sequined pop megastar with one of the biggest tours of the century. Forget Taylor Swift, though.
Better comparisons for "Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé" might be to "Captain Marvel," "Spider-Man," "Ant-Man" and "Guardians of the Galaxy." This one is a superhero movie all the way.
There are shiny, body-enhancing costumes, high-flying stunts, constant action, robotic creatures, high-tech gadgets and a climactic finale of the hero riding on screen atop a sparkling horse. There's even an origin story in "Renaissance" — a pretty good one, too.
Directed by Beyoncé herself and filmed throughout her 56-show Renaissance Tour — alas, there doesn't appear to be any footage from July's date at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis — the movie is about three-quarters a concert film and one-quarter a behind-the-scenes documentary.
The concert scenes are eye-popping and heart-pounding. Granted, making Beyoncé look good on camera is probably as easy a job for a filmmaker as making Nazis look bad, but the 42-year-old singer absolutely glows and captivates throughout the film.
On top of her natural charisma, she goes through a department store's worth of costume changes in the movie — even including different outfits during the same song. That happens thanks to footage from different cities being spliced together. Those sudden changes are a bit disjointed and lessen the "live" aspect of the film, but you're often too busy marveling at the alternating outfits to care.
The cameras probably could have stayed squarely aimed at Beyoncé for the whole film and no one would have complained, but all the other people and scenery shown on screen make it an even better concert movie.
Those extras include scenes showing off dance rehearsals and the technology behind her hi-fi production and the daunting grunt work of the stage crew assembling the massive show. That stage crew, by the way, was unusually loaded with women.
Best of all — and this is one quality Bey's movie has over Taylor's — audience members are also prominently featured in all the concert scenes. There might not be a more inspiringly diverse crowd than the Beyhive, and seeing those fans having the time of their lives together might be an even more beautiful site than the Queen herself.
As for the origin story, old footage is dropped in here and there from Beyoncé's childhood in Houston and her early work as a performer. Even sweeter, she gives screen time to two of the big things that inspired her "Renaissance" album: The LGBTQ ballroom and drag dance community and her late gay uncle and former co-stylist — Uncle Jonny from her song "Heated."
Along with new footage of Beyonce with her three kids and husband — daughter Blue Ivy gets way more screen time than Jay-Z, another smart move — the non-concert footage actually does serve to explain what's happening onstage. The scenes with Blue Ivy, in particular, wind up being some of the most poignant in explaining who and what runs Beyoncé's world.
It's all a lot to cram into one film, and ultimately the 2-hour, 48-minute run time does seem about a half-hour too much. But hey, isn't every superhero movie too long these days?
'Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé'
3½ stars out of 4
Rated: Not rated.
Where: In theaters Friday.