Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Musical > Backstage > Comedy > Teens > Satire > Rock Music > Sex > Scandal > Camp > Satire > Rock Of Ages: Extended Edition (2012/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)

Rock Of Ages: Extended Edition (2012/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)


Picture: B- & C     Sound: B & C+     Extras: C     Film: C-



A few years ago, the sometimes capable director Adam Shankman pulled off a fine film adaptation of the stage musical version of Hairspray (see our coverage of the great Blu-ray elsewhere on this site), so when I heard he was adapting a recent hit musical called Rock Of Ages, I was hoping it would be as good or at least be fun.  It had a mix of unknowns and some name actors.  Not knowing what music was being used, I figured I would allow myself to be surprised.  Well, I was, when it turned out to be a very much total disaster.


Julianne Hough is Sherry (in the Steve Perry world, not the Four Seasons) taking a bus to the Sunset Strip to follow her dreams of singing and being part of the music and world of performers she loves.  She meets a young man (Diego Boneta) who works the bar, but also has music talent and has to convince the bar owner (Alec Baldwin, whose hair and finger nails seem to be left over from the early evil days part of his performance in The Shadow) that she could perform at his place and make money.  At least she lands a job there at first.  He is more concerned about booking a top rock act, but that popular singer (a miscast Tom Cruise) is drunk, on an ego trip, arrogant and burned out.  He is also the target of a moralist and senator’s wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones, trying to recapture her Chicago energy as a Tipper Gore variant) who wants him censored for all time.


We also get Russell Brand as Baldwin’s assistant, the underrated Paul Giamatti as a slightly sleazy agent and a cast of mostly other unknowns in a musical that wants to be about the 1980s, but is clueless about it or too afraid to really take on the subject, so the resulting work in either its theatrical or extended cuts is a mess that wants to have it several ways to please a broad audience, but lands up pleasing no one, which is why it was a box office dud.


For one thing, the remakes of the period songs, most of which are silly fluff from Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister, Whitesnake, Guns N Roses, Starship, Journey, Extreme, so-so songs by the Scorpions, Foreigner and (ironically being songs by females) more important songs of the time by Quarterflash and Pat Benatar are remade so badly, you would think this was a joke and as silly as the purposely campy side of what we get here, yet they are doing this seriously enough that they are definitely trying to convince the audience that these are good performances and they should actually like, enjoy and even sing to them.  Yikes!


This is made more obvious when the only real professional singer turns up here, Mary J. Blige, reminding us what real singing is all about.  Cruise does try to sing his songs, but it never works, even when he is doing something as overly simple and clichéd as Jon Bon Jovi vocals.  The result is that this is a silly mess, but that becomes more complicated when it also becomes a confused mess.


It is confused about the period in many ways.  Historically, Rock was not just hair bands and bad Pop passed off as Rock that landed up killing Rock and severely crippling the major music labels, even with Hip Hop as a successor.  The only Rap and Hip here does not come from African Americans or even a competent act in the Beastie Boys mode (Blige’s character, the only major African American here, runs a pole dancing business with prostitution implied and then some, so talk about negative stereotypes) but from a prefabricated boy band (a New Kids On The Block clone whop looks like they stole some of their clothes from Michael J, Fox in Back To The Future 2) in a putdown of the genre as if to say both that music and the arrival of African American ruined the decade, music and the country.


Then you have the sexual politics where we get a supposedly liberal discourse and world in the film that Rock equals freedom, yet it is a lie since this is about a world (imaginary at that, i.e. the 1980s) where minorities, homosexuals and women are secondary to white males from the strange objectivity of the women here (even when they are supposedly empowered, which you could do a separate essay on) to this imaginary 1980s which never really existed as a paradise for White male Nationalism.  Even when we get gay males, it is a joke, which considering the director is very odd.


And then the idea that this is real Rock music or the real Rock world is as believable as Peter Frampton and The Bee Gees in that awful Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band film in 1978.  Yes, it is that kind of a mess.  Shankman and company were trying to be so overtly commercial that this fails in almost every way you can think, also expressed in some changes in songs form the Broadway version; one whose cast does a superior job on these songs.  So bad, I had to see it again to remind me of just how bad, but if you have a few hours of your life to waste, see it for yourself.  Bryan Cranston also stars.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is authentic as this was an HD shoot and we get more moments of motion blur and other visual issues than expected.  The budget on this was only so high, so I give them points for their production design (they rebuilt a classic Sunset Strip in Florida!) and color can look good, but this is more flawed than a new release should be despite the talents of Director of Photography Bojan Bazelli, A.S.C., who lensed Hairspray for Shankman.  That earlier film was shot on 35mm film and this should have been too.  The anamorphically enhanced DVD version is much softer and often hard to watch.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is sometimes more towards the front speakers than I would have liked, but the soundfield and recording are usually fine for the most part and you can (unfortunately?) hear the vocal songs well in every scene.  The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD version is weaker, but tolerable.


Extras include Ultraviolent Copy, a bad Music Video and three Making Of featurettes: Legends Of The Sunset Strip, The Stories We Sing and Defining A Decade, the latter of which this never does.  Can’t wait to see the home video response to this one.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com