DIO: Dreamers Never Die (Documentary Review)

Ronnie James Dio, often singularly referenced as Dio, defines Heavy Metal. A loaded statement that Metal fans may or may not agree with, there is no denying the significant impact of Dio on heavy music in general. Possessing as powerful and dynamic a voice as we have ever heard, he is a man who began his professional music career all the way back in 1957. Beginning in Rock-n-Roll prior to Beatlemania, Dio would later go on to lead his band Elf, before joining forces with Ritchie Blackmore in Rainbow, then taking the place of Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath, and inevitably starting his own powerhouse band, Dio.

It is a historical story many fans know, but it has been a long twelve years since Dio’s life was cut short at the age of sixty-seven by cancer. A tragic loss, many recall the time well – Dio was on a roll touring with his mates in Black Sabbath (under the name Heaven & Hell), and there were even talks of a new album. Then in late November of 2009 news came down that Dio had stomach cancer and like a swift blow to the heart of everyone, he was gone six short months later. In truth, death can feel so abrupt and final, but if we look deep within ourselves, we know our loved ones never really die… as long as we keep them alive inside. The same goes for Ronnie James Dio and to help remind us of this is the brand-new life spanning documentary, DIO: Dreamers Never Die.

Financed solely by BMG, the new film directed by Don Argott (Last Days Here 2011, Believer 2018) and Demian Fenton (Last Days Here 2011), produced by Argott and Sheena Joyce, and executive produced by Wendy Dio and Kathy Rivkin Daum, is available for limited theatrical viewing thanks to Trafalgar Releasing; two days only, on Wednesday, September 28th and Sunday, October 2nd. Authorized by Dio’s widow, Wendy, the first thing you should know is this is not a hack job documentary; it has never-before-seen footage and personal photos of Dio’s career, as well as legitimate interview clips. Speaking of the interviews, you get reflections on Dio from the people who knew him best; whether they be family, former bandmates, or those who just admired his work. These interviews include Wendy Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Glenn Hughes, Vinny Appice, Lita Ford, Rob Halford, Sebastian Bach, Eddie Trunk, plus more. Together with the well-placed interviews mixed in with the music of Dio’s career, and a compelling storyline, you have a stellar retrospective that never grows boring.

Adding more interest to the film are some cool staged retro video clips. What does this mean? It means that a theatrical element is added to the reality of the biography where brief little movies help give you a more colorful visual; think of History channel production where dramatic reenactments are often blended into a documentary. Something that could come off as cheesy, or take you out of the film, what adds to it in DIO: Dreamers Never Die is the fact that the clips have a legitimate vintage quality. 

All these things said, DIO: Dreamers Never Die gives lifelong fans a compacted film to reflect on the life and times of the artist. Offering insight into his origins, all the way back to childhood, the most impactful aspects of the film lay in touching commentary within the select interviews, but most of all archived clips of Dio himself articulating his objectives.

Which leads us back to the original statement – Dio defines Heavy Metal. For those who want to argue, let us leave you with this, Ronnie James Dio was a fighter. He was a man who stood by his convictions, knew what he wanted, made it happen, but also was as genuine as they come. He was not a saint, he was a human being, but his instilled goodness with care for others is undeniable. He truly cared about others, and this is something every fan who had met him, or every musician who worked with him, knew. Depending on what you think Heavy Metal is, in the eyes of the purest heart, all these character attributes define it. Inspiring, full of hope, and reminding us never to give up, Cryptic Rock gives DIO: Dreamers Never Die 5 out of 5 stars.

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