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Rock of Ages(2012)
A small town girl and a city boy meet on the Sunset Strip, while pursuing their Hollywood dreams.
For more about Rock of Ages and the Rock of Ages Blu-ray release, see Rock of Ages Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 7, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Julianne Hough, Russell Brand, Bryan Cranston
Director: Adam Shankman
» See full cast & crew
Rock of Ages Blu-ray Review
Nothin' but a Good Time...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 7, 2012
Rock of Ages tries. It tries so hard. Tries to have it all, tries to live it up, tries to cram a be-all end-all compilation of '80s hard rock hits under the roof of a sensible musical, tries to revel in the excess of the decade, tries to evoke the erratic Pour Some Sugar on Me spirit of hair metal, tries to rock you like a hurricane, tries for laughs, tries for swoons, tries for satire, tries for awwws, tries for yeeeah!s... tries, tries, tries. But like poor Drew Boley, the juke box hero of the film who loves rock n' roll but discovers every rose has its thorn, Rock of Ages hit me with its best shot and did little more than harden my heart. (Fun with song titles. Woo! Moving on.) It succeeds and fails in equal measure, delivering the goods -- casting, killer songs and... erm, casting -- as often as it comes apart at the movie musical seams. It mostly gets high on silly spoofing, bad hair and flashbulb nostalgia, though, stumbling from scene to scene, musical number to musical number, without a sense of what it hopes to accomplish.
West Hollywood, 1987. Upstart singer Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough, the 2011 Footloose remake) moves to Los Angeles, falls for a humble rock star hopeful named Drew Boley (Diego Boneta, the 90210 reboot), and scores a job at The Bourbon Room, a hot Sunset Strip nightclub run by grizzled owner Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock) and his dim-witted second-in-command Lonny Barnett (Russell Brand, Get Him to the Greek). The happy couple is just that, happy, until legendary rocker Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise, Jack Reacher) rolls into town and upsets the delicate balance of Sherrie and Drew's love. And that's not the only chaos Jaxx leaves in his drunken, destructive wake. He enrages and seduces Rolling Stone reporter Constance Sack (Malin Åkerman, Watchmen), leaves the Bourbon Room in dire financial straits no thanks to his sleazy manager Paul Gill (Paul Giamatti, Cosmopolis), and ignites a firestorm of protests from moral crusader Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago), who just so happens to be married to the mayor (Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad). Before the star-struck lovers know what him 'em, Paul scouts Drew and leads him into the depths of Boy Band Hell, Sherrie finds a new job at a strip joint run by a woman named Justice Charlier (Mary J. Blige, I Can Do Bad All by Myself) and Stacee begins to awaken from his fame-induced coma.
The real fun to be had with Rock of Ages? Watching Cruise, Baldwin, Giamatti, and Zeta-Jones work. Cruise is all at once a force of over-the-top, oversexed, over-rocked nature and completely in control of his craft. He doesn't just steal the show; he walks right out the front door with it, and without much of a fight from Hough or Boneta, the film's supposed leads. Director Adam Shankman describes Cruise's Stacee, high-reaching hair metal singing voice and all, as a "brilliant mashup of Axl Rose, Keith Richards and Jim Morrison," a bold claim that couldn't be closer to the truth. Baldwin, meanwhile, is an absolute blast, digging through his bag of SNL tricks to earn some of the biggest laughs of the bunch. Rock of Ages lost me, but give me a Bourbon Room spin-off with Dupree, Barnett and frequent guests Jaxx, Gill and Mayor Whitmore, and I'm in. Giamatti chews through every scene that comes his way too, and does so with such silver-tongued ease and vicious glee it's a wonder someone hasn't cast him as a supervillain in a comicbook movie. Then there's Zeta-Jones, who looks more alive than she has in years as a feisty, rhetoric-spewing censorship zealot on a mission. Their songs come fast and easy (minus Giamatti, who's spared singing duties), with Cruise again storming center stage.
It's just a shame Hough and Boneta, the bulk of the remaining supporting cast, and screenwriters Justin Theroux, Chris D'Arienzo and Allan Loeb's teetering, tottering script aren't up to snuff. Hough is as flat as her Proactive print ads, Boneta is less of a character than The Bourbon Room, Åkerman is one of the least convincing Rolling Stone journalists ever committed to film (not to mention a listless love interest and a lifeless sex object), Brand's own daffiness gets in the way of Lonny's daffiness, Cranston is wasted, and Blige is as stiff as one of the stripper poles in The Venus Club. I know, I know. Stop sugar-coating, tell us what you really think. The screenplay is an even bigger issue, not only because it makes dramatic and often unnecessary departures from the 2006 musical of the same name -- Jaxx is a redeemable antagonist granted a central arc and a triple-stacked happy ending, Sherrie is far more innocent, and the story and songs have been repurposed and rearranged, just to name a few -- but because it rests its hopes on some unabashedly excruciating lines of dialogue. Then there are the musical numbers, which feel plastered into a flimsy story fashioned to bend, break and bow in service of song lyrics written more than twenty-five years ago. And therein lies Rock of Ages' downfall. The adaptation, the movie, the musical, the characters, the performances, the script... it isn't a monument to the music. It's a prisoner of the music, and it does whatever it's told.
Rock of Ages Blu-ray, Video Quality
Everything serves Warner's stunning 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer, though. There isn't many issues to be had. Bojan Bazelli's late-80s palette is bold, brilliant and beautiful, with dazzling splashes of color, electrifying primaries, gorgeous fleshtones and deep, satisfying black levels. Detail is remarkable too, from the golden locks spilling down Sherrie's shoulders to the beads of sweat pooling on Stacee's skin, the errant hairs in Dupree's mangy beard, the dials on an electric guitar, the faded print of any given '80s T-shirt, and every stitch, stud, seam, rip, snag, sequin, pattern and swatch of fur adorning Rita Ryack's costumes, most of which represent the culmination of an entire decade of hard rock and hair metal fashion. Textures are refined and rewarding (albeit a touch hyper-sharpened at times), edges are crisp and clean (without any significant ringing), and shadow delineation is excellent. And the encode? Just as strong. No artifacting, banding, aliasing or unwieldy noise. Rock of Ages looks terrific.
Rock of Ages Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Rock of Ages' DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track rocks when the music kicks in. The heavy dom ta tum dom ta tum and climbing guitars of "Wanted Dead or Alive," the soaring synth melodies of "I Want to Know What Love Is," the dug da da daaaah dug da da daaaah of "I Wanna Rock," the driving strums and call and response of "We Built This City" / "We're Not Gonna Take It," the dips, rises and dives of "Paradise City"... there isn't a song in the film that isn't given the full support of Warner's lossless mix. If I only I could be as enthusiastic about the rest of the soundscape. Dialogue is reasonably clear and intelligible but woefully misprioritized. Don't adjust your volume to suit the actors' speaking voices; the next song might just send you scrambling for your remote, clutching at your ears. Then there's the rear speakers, which chime in but rarely with the purpose or presence you might expect from such an energetic musical. And the LFE channel follows suit, backing drums and bass guitars far more commendably than it does anything else. That's not to say Rock of Ages doesn't sound the part. It just doesn't do so with the same prowess, precision or power of a more capable hard-rock Master Audio track.
Rock of Ages Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Rock of Ages Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Rock of Ages may scream "We Built This City!" at the top of its lungs, but filmfans, musical junkies and '80s rock connoisseurs would do well to bark back "We're Not Gonna Take It." Ironic, considering the movie's metal lovers belt out the former and its shortsighted moral crusaders respond with the latter. Unfortunately, director Adam Shankman's film is a mess from top to bottom, and only skirts by on scene-chewing performances from the likes of Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Paul Giamatti and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Warner's Blu-ray release is better, particularly in the video department, but its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is decent but flawed and its supplemental package is solid but sorely in need of a commentary or two and a better production documentary. Ultimately, with all of the talent Shankman packs on stage, Rock of Ages should be ten times the movie musical it is.
Rock of Ages: Other Editions
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Rock of Ages Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Rock of Ages Extended Cut Blu-ray - August 25, 2012
Warner Home Entertainment has officially announced that it will release a combo pack edition of director Adam Shankman's Rock of Ages (2012), starring Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Alec Baldwin. The release, which will contain ...
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