On the way in to see Control Room at the ICA, there was a photocopied sign which told me that I would also be able to see the documentary on BBC2 on Saturday 21st August. This was ten days ago so I think I might have been able to hold my fire to save the six quid. (Mind you, it would be on TV and we all know how rubbish I am at watching TV). Still you would think that if they were going to give us this information at all, it might be better served at he ticket selling point, rather than at cinema door, after I had bought the tickets. But of course, this has no bearing on the quality of the film.

The current rash of cinema documentaries was kicked of by some truly exceptional pieces of cinema, One Day In September springs to mind as both something which was fascinating to watch and had a taut, well thought out structure. Bowling For Columbine may have been more scattershot but did illustrate its own point in an audience friendly way. However now box office can be demonstrated for documentary, we are starting to get stuff which probably would have been better on television, inflated to feature length. Control Room is one such piece. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fascinating 85 minutes in the life of Al-Jazeera and CentCom, but it lacks the focus and structure I expected when I went in.

It is billed as the story of Al-Jazeera during the Iraqi war, and for the most part it sticks to this. In a strictly chronological way we are shown the problems Al-Jazeera’s journalists have, what they are accused of by the US government and how they interact with the main US media centre CentCom. Then about halfway through the film, the directors seem to fall in love with CentCom more. Here we have all tghese big name journalists, wrestling with the propagandaist, all are joining Al-Jazeera in a battle for truth. And there is a great documentary in the machinations of CentCom (not least because in thoughtful Lt Rushing makes for a sympathetic baddie), but this is not that documentary. As suddenly the interest is wrested back to Al-Jazeera due to tragedy, it feels lopsided. The film fell out of love with them, and now has to get back to its original agenda.

None of this is to say that Control Room is not full of great characters and moments, though it offers a lot less information about any of its subjects than you might imagine. The media war, however important, is still more boys in offices playing with computers, a step away from the actual conflict. But it did seem overly inflated at its length and – despite some excellent subtitling – less worthy of a cinema release than many documentaries around. Watch it on Saturday (10pm BBC2), it probably works better on the box.