One needn’t groove to the formulaic pop-rock of 30 Seconds to Mars to appreciate frontman Jared Leto’s docu “Artifact,” credited to the pseudonymous Bartholomew Cubbins and chronicling the band’s epic legal battle with its label over whether and how to launch “This Is War,” its latest long-player. Nothing if not sympathetic to David in his principled tussles with the corporate-media Goliath, Leto’s aptly grungy pic screens in public only because the group’s lawyers helped annul EMI’s $30 million lawsuit, which essentially claimed that 30 Seconds had enjoyed its 15 minutes and needed to repay the label’s ample investment with interest.
Fans of the frequently scarf-clad Leto will flip for sure, yet marketing of the pic as an industry curtain-peeler a la “Dig!” will be required to draw crowds larger than those for the group’s sold-out gigs. That the indie “Artifact” plays as an expose of corporate exploitation stands to benefit the unpretentious Leto and his bandmates — suitably, as the pic makes plain the myriad reasons for record labels’ revenue decline and subsequent cash-grab tactics. Music, introduced far too late in the pic, is at least well miked.