HTS Moderator , Reviewer
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9441[/img]Title: Rock of Ages
Starring: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Tom Cruise, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Directed by: Adam Shankman
Written by: Justin Theroux
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 136 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: October 9th, 2012
HTS Overall Score:76
As a child of the 80's, I was absolutely thrilled to hear that “Rock of Ages” was coming out as a motion picture; a decent Broadway hit, the musical was quite entertaining and definitely had an intriguing pull to me. I'll grant you this: “Rock of Ages” tries its very hard to pull you in and rock you like a hurricane. It gives it all, heart and soul, and begs you to hit it with your best shot. The problem is that it tries JUST a little too hard. The music is there, the actors are there, the heart is there, but for some strange reason it never fully coalesces into something truly memorable. We have an incredible ensemble cast, and some absolutely AMAZING music, but the main focus of the movie - the two young aspiring stars - just never fully blossom on stage.
Sherrie (Julianne Hough), a young country girl, gets on a bus and travels to Los Angeles to seek fame and fortune; unfortunately for Sherrie, her visit is tarnished by the misfortune of having her luggage stolen. Coming to her rescue is Drew Boley (Diego Boneta), who offers to set her up with a job at the Bourbon Room, Las Angeles’ premier rock-and-roll night club. Drew, an aspiring singer, finds out that Sherrie is an aspiring songstress, and the two fall head over heels in love. As with all love stories that start this early in the movie, there is bound to be some trouble: Stacee Jacxx (Tom Cruise), lead singer of the band “Arsenal” comes to the Bourbon Room and, with his wild and shameless ways, causes a rift between the two young lovers.
At the same time, Rolling Stones has sent a young reporter named Constance (Malin Ackerman) to interview Stacee. Gutting him to his core, Constance reminds Stacee of his roots, who he was before he became famous, and why he started his music career in the first place. Adding to the mayhem are a politician running for re-election (an underutilized Bryan Cranston) and his conniving wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who are attacking the Bourbon Room for reasons of their own: Mayor Whitmore is running for re-election on a “moral” ticket, and his wife is out for vengeance against Stacee Jaxx for some undisclosed (as of yet) reason. Between Stacie Jaxx’s over the top, selfish behavior, his connicing manager Paul Gill (Paul Giamatti), and the Whitmore’s blatant war against Rock N’ Roll, the Bourbon Room is in some serious trouble.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9443[/img]As I said, “Rock of Ages” tries just a little TOO hard to be all that and the kitchen sink. It tells you that it built this city on rock and roll; it defiantly stands up against all odds and tells you that it’s not going to take it (see where I’m going ); but its main flaw is in the two leads. We have star crossed lovers who are separated due to a ridiculous misunderstanding (it’s amazing how many films would be rendered obsolete if the two main characters would just communicate), and they are completely outshone by the other actors. Sherrie and Drew play their parts well, but they don’t really stand out from any other young stars in the film industry. They’re pretty and both have excellent singing voices, but they are completely upstaged by the more veteran actors. Alec Baldwin plays the Bourbon Room’s goofy manager, with Russell Brand as his assistant manager/sidekick. Alec plays his role just as skillfully and screwy as he does in 30 Rock, definitely pulling in quite a few laughs, but Tom Cruise completely shocked me, let me tell you. I enjoy Tom Cruise; he’s a fun actor. I've seen him in everything from “Mission Impossible” to “Cocktail” to “Knight and Day”, and he’s always impressed me. However, in this role, Tom surpassed his previous accomplishments; I didn't see Tom Cruise hamming it up to convey a spoiled celebrity, but rather saw the over–indulgent, self-centered, egotistical rock star on stage. Tom completely absorbed himself into the role of Stacee Jaxx, obliterating the typical “Tom Cruise” image that he’s portrayed for the last 20 to 30 years. It left me in awe. Stacee Jaxx didn't just upstage our young stars - rather, stole the show straight from under them! Every scene in which Stacee appeared sizzled with a sort of electricity that completely draws one in and makes you forget that you’re watching a movie. I hadn’t heard Tom sing before, but he did an incredible job. Channeling Axel Rose and Brett Michaels, he rocked his way from beginning to end, and rumor has it (just rumor mind you), I actually may have ended up singing along and playing a little air guitar. Again, so we're clear: rumor.
Now, mind you, these movie star actors are all well and good, but there is one star that completely outshone EVERYONE: the music. As much as fun as this musical was, it was blatantly a vehicle for the incredible rock 'n roll of the 80's and early 90’s. From Van Halen to Def Leppard, the scenes rocked from beginning to end with 80’s hair music and some good ol' heavy metal. As a child of the 80’s, I just couldn't help but revel in the sheer love of the music, hearing my favorite childhood tunes redone and mashed up on the silver screen.
While not a perfect movie, “Rock of Ages” was definitely enjoyable from beginning to end. Whether it was demonstrating the sheer excess and ridiculousness of a rock star to just basking in the music, this film put a smile on my face and made me take a stroll down memory lane.
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, suggestive dancing, some heavy drinking, and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9442[/img]Warner has been knocking them out of the park lately with their video transfers. Warner used to be known as the studio of low bitrates and mediocre video scores. Lately, it’s been outshining many of the other studios in the picture department, especially in terms of consistency. As with its recent predecessors, “Rock of Ages” sports a shiny and glitzy 2.35:1 AVC encoded picture. Being that it’s an 80’s centered period piece, the colors are bright and garish - as they should be. Club scenes are smoky and dark, but rich with reds and blues and wild outfits for both men and women. Blacks are excellent, deep and inky, without nary a hint of the dreaded black crush to smear all that wonderful detail away. Facial detail is incredible: Stacee Jaxx’s five o’clock shadow is just as detailed as the 80’s sequins. Every stud, seam, and leather jacket is marvelously reproduced for us in the modern age. I noticed no artifacting, and only the occasional banding that knocked it down half a star. Overall, a very impressive encode, which goes to show that Warner has stepped up their game.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9440[/img]I was slightly disappointed in the audio track for “Rock of Ages”. While it was full and rich during the songs, the dialogue suffered. Where in one scene we’d be straining to hear what Sherrie and Drew were talking about, the next scene we’d be scrabbling for the remote as the speakers erupt with “We’re Not Going to Take It." It seems that the songs were recorded at different volumes from the rest of the track, and as a result, the remote control is constantly being turned up and down. The good thing is that the dialogue itself is nice and clean, a little low, but crisp nonetheless. Vocals are centered in the mid channel and don’t stray into the other areas of the film. Unfortunately for us, the surrounds aren't used extensively; most of the sound appears to be mainly two channel and centered around the music. LFE is nice, nothing to call home to Mama about, but definitely there when the music starts. Mainly focused in the music, it kicks in to accentuate the 80’s hair metal and vanishes when the rest of the dialogue takes over. While it is very serviceable, I was slightly disappointed that Warner hadn't delivered a truly stunning track, especially in a film where audio is the main pull.
• Legends of the Sunset Strip
• Behind the Scenes: Defining a Decade
• The Stories We Sing
• "Any Way you Want it" music video
• Musical Numbers
• Visit Florida (promo spot)
“Rock of Ages" is NOT a perfect movie by any means, and at time tries a little too hard for its own good. It’s flawed, but for some strange reason, it caused me to grin and sing along with every tune as if I was visiting a childhood friend. Viewers from a younger generation may not get all of the film references and thus not jive with the film as well, but for those of us who grew up in the 80’s, it’s a trip down memory lane and a reminder of what rock n’ roll used to be. Couple that with some fantastic picture quality and solid audio, I definitely recommend a view for all you rock aficionados.
Buy Rock of Ages on Blu-Ray
Recommendation: Watch It