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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - October, 2012

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“Rock of Ages” (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Tyler Stripko

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Synopsis

Hoping to fulfill her dream of becoming a singer, Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) heads to Hollywood to make it big.   Right after getting off the bus, her precious collection of records is stolen by a street thug.   To the fair maiden’s rescue comes Drew Boley (Diego Boneta), who consoles Sherrie and also manages to get her a job at the local palace of Rock and Roll – the Bourbon Club.  The Bourbon Club is unfortunately in a tough position.  Issues with back taxes and the mayor’s wife (Catherine Zeta Jones) looking to shut them down hover menacingly over the Bourbon Club.  In a last effort to raise the money needed, owner Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) rests all his hopes on a monster concert by the band Arsenal, led by the uber-star Stacey Jaxx (Tom Cruise).  Will the Bourbon Club survive?  Will Sherrie and Drew find true love?  Will Stacey Jaxx ever stop drinking?

Specifications

Warner Bros. Pictures

2012, Color, Rated: R, 2 Hr 3 min (theatrical cut)

Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1

1080p

Codec: AVC

English, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Starring: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Malin Akerman, Mary J. Blige, Alec Baldwin, and Tom Cruise

Directed by Adam Shankman

Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: None
  • Sex: Suggestive behavior
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

I almost felt like reviewing this film as two separate entities.  The first half, which focuses on Sherrie and Drew, was simply terrible.    I felt like they tried to force as many 80’s rock songs into the first 45 minutes of the movie as possible and did nothing to work on the development of the characters or their relationships.  It all felt very rushed to me.  Then they tried to jam the plotline with the mayor’s wife into things, which just further diluted the little bit of character development taking place.  To further degrade the experience we are forced to endure multiple instances of Hough’s singing, which sounds something like a chipmunk trying to imitate Britney Spears.  Seriously, her voice is THAT annoying. 

The second half of the film, focusing on Stacey Jaxx, his sleazy agent (Paul Giamatti), and the Bourbon Club’s issues, is excellent.  Tom Cruise absolutely owns the role of the rock god Stacey Jaxx.   Every scene with him in it shined.  While Cruise did a great job on the vocals, I do wish that they had him put just a bit more screech and scream into his songs, which would have been more fitting for the music.  Paul Giamatti’s role as Paul Gill, the stereotypical scum-bag Hollywood agent, was superbly portrayed as well.  You really end up hating the guy by the end of the film.  Alec Baldwin was a joy to watch as the Bourbon Club manager, though Russell Brand as the club manager Lonny was a little over-the-top.  I’d also recommend watching the theatrical cut of the film.  The extended cut adds 13 minutes to the film but the extra footage just makes the movie drag on a bit too long.  Being a child of the 80’s and a lover of rock (yes, even glam-rock), I still found the movie enjoyable but it could have been so much better. 

Technical

I was very impressed with the picture quality on this disc.  Colors were natural, yet vibrant and there was great “pop” to the image due to deep black levels and excellent contrast.    The image is very sharp, without the distractions of edge enhancement or any other apparent artificial sharpening.  The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is more of a mixed bag.  On the plus side, the musical numbers sound fantastic.  The 80’s rock tracks hit hard, with great dynamics and excellent clarity.  Bass is potent and most of the vocals are very clear.   I did notice that Julianne Hough’s vocals were mixed a few dB lower than the other actors, making her lines blend in more with the music.  Perhaps they were trying to hide her less than stellar voice?   Thank heavens for small favors.  For the non-musical parts of the film I found myself raising the volume a bit to hear dialogue clearly.  Surround usage was minimal throughout the entire film and bass is practically non-existent except during the songs. 

Extras

Included on this blu-ray disc are the theatrical and extended versions of the film, “Legends of the Sunset Strip,” “Defining a Decade,” “The Stories We Sing,” the “Any Way You Want It” music featurette, and a presentation of the musical numbers.  “Legends of the Sunset Strip” and “The Stories We Sing” are the best of the lot here as they both feature the real-life rockers describing what were truly decadent times.