Gibney with a two hour runtime only scratches at the brilliance and ongoing influence of James Brown. From his humble beginnings to his mainstream success the film tracks his rise but is more than just a celebratory puff piece. Though not hard hitting the film does expose his megalomaniac tendencies, his greed and his abuse of women. In the end though this is a film about the power and influence of his music.
Since the movie is about the rise of James Brown, you don't get the fall, which means it avoids following a tired music documentary narrative structure. Much of the history and his complicated character has been covered in other places, but the archival footage is tremendous. At times the talking heads approach slows it down a bit, but they are generally insightful because they are former members of his band.