Rock Of Ages: Extended Edition (2012/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)
B- & C Sound: B & C+ Extras: C Film: C-
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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