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WWE: The Epic Journey of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson(2012)
He electrified a generation of sports entertainment fans with his brash style, superb athleticism, and uproarious interviews. He held the WWE Championship a record seven times, and was known for legendary battles with ''Stone Cold'' Steve Austin, Triple H, Mick Foley, Undertaker, and more. And at the peak of his popularity, he made a move to conquer a new industry, becoming an enormous movie star. Now, he's back in WWE, ready to main event the biggest WrestleMania in history, ''The People's WrestleMania.'' In the exciting buildup to WrestleMania XVIII, fans can, for the first time ever, relive the exciting life and times of the Rock. Packed with brand new interviews as well as a selection of the Rock's biggest career-spanning bouts, moments, and promos, this DVD/Blu-Ray set will electrify every member of Team Bring It!
For more about WWE: The Epic Journey of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and the WWE: The Epic Journey of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Blu-ray release, see WWE: The Epic Journey of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on February 23, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Mick Foley, Vince McMahon, Steve Austin
» See full cast & crew
WWE: The Epic Journey of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Blu-ray Review
The Rock says know your role and pick up the people's Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, February 23, 2012
He was a natural right off the bat.
The WWE seems to have a hit on its hands with these Blu-ray multi-disc career retrospectives of current and former Superstars. The Epic Journey of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson compares very favorably to both the Randy Orton and Stone Cold Steve Austin sets, the latter nothing short of the current gold standard for WWE home video releases, whether considering these Documentaries or the outfit's compilations or event-based packages. Aside from pouring through the life and career of The Rock, which this set does remarkably well, the underlying theme that runs throughout this film is the idea that professional wrestling isn't about the action, but rather the characters. Surely to become a great character one must be a great wrestler -- there's no getting around that -- but even the most physically-gifted combatant won't enjoy the spotlight to the level of a Hogan, an Austin, a Cena, a Rock without more than a little swagger, audience appeal, even acting ability, the latter of which boosted The Rock's career and ultimately almost doomed his wrestling days, but that's a discussion for another paragraph. Certainly, however, audiences will catch some inside analysis of the business and come to see that it's definitely one's ringside presence that truly defines a career in the WWE; swagger, charm quick wit, and a total embrace of the role is what it takes and what The Rock has done better than anyone in wrestling history, and does he ever know his damn role, a role he knows to the tune of astronomical ratings and a movement of professional wrestling further into the mainstream consciousness than it had ever before seen.
Dwayne Johnson's lineage all but guaranteed him athletic greatness. A legacy wrestler with not one but two Hall-of-Fame Superstars in his family -- grandfather "High Chief" Peter Maivia and father Rocky Johnson, a member of the first all-African American tag team to win a WWE Championship -- Dwayne grew up around the sport; how couldn't he, considering. Yet his career didn't always point to wrestling. He excelled in athletics and attended the University of Miami where he starred on the football team. Though his skill on the field didn't yield any time in the NFL, he played professionally in Canada before succumbing to the injury bug, forcing him to seek out a new line of work. Naturally, he turned to professional wrestling, initially against is father's wishes. But train him in the ways of professional wrestling Rocky Johnson did, and with further help from former wrestler Pat Patterson, Johnson quickly rose to prominence, garnered the attention of none other than Vince McMahon, and was soon propelled not only into the world of professional wrestling, but to its pinnacle. Johnson debuted at Madison Square Garden, making a big splash at Survivor Series on November 17, 1996. Within three months, he was Intercontinental Champion and on his way to stardom -- if he could only sort out how to relate with audiences and win their respect. Johnson's "The Rock" persona emerged while a part of the "Nation of Domination," usurping power, stealing the spotlight, trash talking, finding his stride, embracing the character he was destined to be, and yes, finding favor with audiences. It was only up from there, but that's merely the beginning of the story.
With his rise to prominence came unfathomable popularity. It seemed that The Rock was at the center of every major WWE event and constantly in the ring with the sport's biggest superstars. Johnson would battle three opponents with regularity throughout his heyday in the mid-to-late 1990s, beginning with an in-character feud with the formidable and daunting Triple H, a wrestler of great stature and skill, a man dedicated to shaping himself into the ultimate heel. He was the perfect foil for the crowd-favorite Johnson. Yet even with the accolades and roaring crowds behind him, Johnson took a chance and turned heel himself when he was dubbed "The Corporate Champion," siding with the ultimate villain Vince McMahon, and creating an opening for his rivalries with Mick Foley and Steve Austin. As was the case with Triple H, The Rock's on-stage conflicts with Mick Foley -- then wrestling under his "Mankind" persona -- proved again the perfect foil to Johnson's brash ways, attention to detail, power wrestling, muscular physique, and charm. Foley, wearing extra weight, mangled clothes, and unkempt hair; donning a leathery Hannibal Lecter-like mask; and making his trademark a smelly sweat sock which he wore on his hand, couldn't have been any further from The Rock in terms of look and style even if he tried. It was the perfect match, the outwardly sloppy and seemingly invincible glutton for punishment against the slick Johnson, yet for as entertaining and hardcore as their matches may have been, still waiting atop the wrestling world was Austin, himself a counter to Johnson but not to the extreme demonstrated by Foley. Austin represented the everyman. The physically gifted to be sure but also the beer-guzzling, no-nonsense, speak-his-mind, unabashed hero of the ordinary man clashed with "The People's Champion" in what would become the greatest rivalry professional wrestling had ever seen, driving ratings and creating pandemonium in fan bases long with the WWE and the legions of newcomers tuning in to see what the fuss that had invaded the mainstream was all about.
Though he had absolutely conquered the wrestling stage -- ascending so high that even his role as a villain absolutely won over audiences -- and cemented himself as one of the all-time greats, an even larger playground beckoned Johnson: Hollywood. The Rock got his big-screen break with a minor role in The Mummy Returns, which produced the spin-off film The Scorpion King in which he starred and that led to a fairly significant presence in the moviemaking industry. But as Johnson worked in Tinseltwon and came-and-went seemingly as he pleased in the wrestling world, that same fan base that before couldn't get enough of his catchphrases, eyebrow raises, long gazes, and wrestling that amazes, began to turn on its hero. Yet it was things like an emotional "icon vs. icon" match at WrestleMania X8 between The Rock and the legendary Hulk Hogan and a pairing with former rival Mick Foley as the "Rock 'N' Sock Connection" that saw the star both maintain and regain some of his luster, but soon "The Rock" would disappear almost altogether in favor of the Hollywood-sleek Dwayne Johnson who would go on to find success -- but never true stardom -- on the big screen. In 2011 Johnson made his return to professional wrestling, entering into a world where his former nemeses -- save for Triple H -- were little more than fond memories and where a new generation had emerged to carry the torch, and he wanted -- needed -- to be a part of that world again. The announcement that The Rock would guest Host WrestleMania XXVII delighted audiences, and his return to the ring and budding rivalry with the WWE's current megastar John Cena -- leading to a headlining match at the upcoming WrestleMania XXVIII -- just goes to show that family is always welcome back home.
As with most WWE releases, The Epic Journey of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson oozes quality. The main two-hour feature is very well done, playing with a strong and commanding narrative -- though one that's not quite as absolutely engaging as the Steve Austin Documentary -- that goes through the expected paces of Johnson's life and career but tells the story with enthusiasm, never succumbing to dry Documentary techniques. Of course, wrestling by its very nature is a kinetic activity, and combined with the Rock's intoxicating personality, this is a subject that's hard to get wrong. The material effortlessly builds and builds, each layer a dynamic individual entity contributing to an even more impressive whole. In many ways that's The Rock in a nutshell. There's an unmistakable core and exterior, yet for all the "cool" there seems to be always something new, another piece of the puzzle that before seemed unnecessary but that afterwards appears as a keystone cog. An "elder" Johnson speaks of his career in retrospect with affection for his family, peers, fans, and the sport, appearing honest and removed from the persona and reflecting on his career with a maturity and understanding of where he's been and how he got there that's befitting a star of his stature. The piece makes great use of family photos, interviews, and plenty of highlight reel clips from Johnson's career (see the supplements section for the numerous full-length moments and matches included which are truly more a part of the narrative than they are "extras") to tell the story. Pat Patterson, Vince McMahon, Mick Foley, and even Johnson's Miami teammate Warren Sapp offer their thoughts on the WWE Superstar. To be sure, there's nothing groundbreaking here, no dirty laundry, nothing the diehard fans didn't already know, but that doesn't make it any less of an amazing presentation. This is a safe, comfortable, and oftentimes exhilarating look into the life of one of wrestling's most talented performers and perhaps its most dynamic character.
WWE: The Epic Journey of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Epic Journey of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson presents viewers with a sturdy Blu-ray image that's made mostly of throwback 1.33:1 images from The Rock's 1990s/early 2000s career. These segments expectedly suffer from any number of technical problems but aren't exactly eyesores, at least when thought of contextually rather scrutinized literally. While edge halos, softness, compression artifacts, less-than-stellar detailing, sloppy colors, and the like are prevalent, the material manages to hold up well enough in its upconverted state, and the narrative quality of both the entire presentation and the individual clips in their respective bubbles allow audiences to absorb them without shocking their eyeballs. As always, this material doesn't factor into the overall score. This release does also contain numerous high-definition images, found primarily in static interview clips and in the newer-vintage 2011 wrestling footage. The interview shots are fine, stable and pleasant, offering viewers good definition on faces and clothing with only light background artifacts present. There's a mystery white pixel just about dead-center that appears only in the Warren Sapp interview segments that disappears elsewhere. It's noticeable, but not a backbreaker. The image truly shines with the newer wrestling footage. The image captures some truly astonishing details; pores and skin textures look incredibly complex and crisp, with facial close-ups revealing an insane level of raw detail. Colors, too, prove natural and vibrant, notably evidenced by John Cena's colorful purple and yellow garb. Compression artifacts are few and these shots represent pretty much the finest-looking WWE action yet, which certainly bodes well for new releases down the line.
WWE: The Epic Journey of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Epic Journey of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson features a streamlined but generally effective Dolby Digital 5.1 lossless soundtrack. There's not much of a dynamic element to this one; it's steady and focuses almost exclusively on dialogue and music. The latter enjoys adequate clarity and a fair sense of space, including something of a light surround support structure. In several instances the track yields a little more body and robustness, for instance playing with a good, solid bass line in the scene featuring Johnson discussing his University of Miami days. Otherwise, this one is made up almost exclusively of dialogue. The interview segments dominate, featuring steady, clear, and satisfying dialogue that stays focused like a laser straight up the middle of the soundstage. The various wrestling action clips feature both commentators and wrestlers speaking with adequate clarity, with ambient crowd noise evident (though never truly enveloping) and supporting, but not playing over, the spoken word and the general mood of the arena. This is certainly not an action-packed release, and the lossy 5.1 track proves an adequate vessel for the film's needs.
WWE: The Epic Journey of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Both discs of The Epic Journey of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson contain numerous bonus matches and highlight moments from The Rock's career. This release marks the first time his 2011 return to WWE has been thoroughly chronicled on Blu-ray.
Disc One Bonus Full-Length Matches (1080i/1.33:1/2:23:17 total runtime):
Disc Two Bonus Full-Length Matches and Moments (1080i/1.33:1&1.78:1/2:35:29 total runtime):
Disc Two Blu-ray Exclusive Full Length Matches and Moments (1080i/1.78:1/1:28:57 total runtime):
WWE: The Epic Journey of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Epic Journey of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson tells the tale of one of the most important figures in WWE history. A man at the top of the WWE pyramid at arguably the sport's zenith in the mid-to-late 1990s "Attitude Era," The Rock's impact on the sports entertainment landscape can't be measured by a paper resumé alone. His is a dynamic and often enthralling story of a rise to incredible heights and stardom quite unlike the sport had seen before or has seen since, with the possible exception of Hulk Hogan. This Documentary is well made and moves quickly, even at two hours in length. The action highlights are great and the interview segments honest. WWE's even provided hours of full-length matches and moments form the Rock's career, this set's only downfall being that fans could probably think of enough worthy added events to pack at least one more disc. As it is, this package is thorough and sports fine video and audio qualities. The Rock transcends wrestling, and those fans he's gained from his time on the silver screen owe it to themselves to take a closer look at the career that got him to where he is today. And of course, WWE fans will want to add this one to their collections as quickly as possible. Recommended!
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