Rock of Ages Blu-ray Review
ROCK OF AGES is a slight variation of movies we’ve seen before, most recently with BURLESQUE, which was basically a remake of SHOWGIRLS. In this case, Julianne Hough plays Sherrie, a small-town girl looking for fame and fortune in LA in 1987. Predictably, she gets robbed right away and then meets up with a struggling musician named Drew (Diego Boneta) who gets her a job at the legendary rock club, The Bourbon. The Bourbon is owned by Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin), who’s struggling to pay his taxes and so he’s forced to pin his hopes on a big concert from legendary rocker Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise). All the while, the Mayor’s wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is hell bent on shutting the club down in an effort to clean up the city.
Believe it or not, the three intertwining storylines all work well together. I was less interested in the plights of Sherrie and Drew (more on that later), but the other two more than made up for it. The movie succeeds for two main reasons; Tom Cruise and good music. Tom Cruise shines in a role that is completely out of character for him, but as usual, he carries every scene he’s in and his moments alone are enough to make the film worthwhile. Jaxx is really the only character I could get behind and I was pleasantly surprised by how much depth they were able to convey in his limited screen time. I was as nervous as the next guy when it came to hearing Tom Cruise sing an old Bon Jovi song, but, dare I say, he rocked it. He wasn’t alone in nailing his performance, supporting actors like Zeta-Jones, Baldwin, Russell Brand and Malin Akerman all did a fantastic job with their acting and their musical numbers. Sure, some of them were cheesier than others, but it fit in well with the overall vibe of the film.
As much as I enjoyed ROCK OF AGES, I can’t help but think it would have been so much better with two stronger leads. Shankman attempted to make up for the inexperience of his two leads by surrounding them with top talent, but it didn’t change the fact that the story revolved around the two most bland characters in the movie. Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta can sing and dance adequately, but neither are movie stars. Any time they were on screen (singing or not), I found myself waiting for their scene to be over so we could get to the more interesting characters and more charismatic actors. Shankman would have done well to cut one or two of their numbers down in order to keep the pacing up.
Although he continues to try, Adam Shankman just isn’t a very talented director. The pacing felt off as we hit high points too early on in the film and then we’re left with a somewhat anti-climatic ending. If we took the musical numbers by themselves, he and choreographer Mia Michaels should be commended for what they put together, but the construct of the film as a whole felt choppy at times. I also understand that Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” is an uplifting, feel-good song, but after ‘Glee’, ‘The Sopranos’ and countless other shows, the song has been played out. To cap the movie with such an overplayed song is just lazy, regardless of what was used in the original musical.
ROCK OF AGES isn’t for everyone. If you don’t like or don’t know 80’s rock ‘n roll, then you might struggle to get into the film. I would hope Cruise’s performance would be enjoyable to you regardless, but if you’re not a Cruise fan, he may not win you over with this. Overall though, I think anyone that grew up in the 80’s and appreciates a good musical will have a good time with ROCK OF AGES.
Video: The video transfer looked great with colors popping out on screen. I was impressed with the quality all around, especially in some of the lower-lit scenes where colors still managed to pop.
Audio: There’s nothing like hearing Tom Cruise belting out ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ in surround sound. The audio was fantastic all around.
Rock of Ages: Legends of the Sunset Strip Hosted by Bret Michaels (29:54): Forgotten 80’s rockers like Def leppard and Whitesnake share their memories of the Sunset Strip in the 80’s. I enjoyed seeing some of my favorite bands today and hearing them talk about their heyday, but Bret Michaels gets on my nerves.
The Stories We Sing (12:51): This was great and could easily have been a little longer. I don’t think there’s anything too exciting here, but it’s nice to learn the backstory about some of the classic 80’s songs as told by the people that originally sung them.
Defining a Decade (35:48): You can watch the below seven featurettes from ROCK OF AGES either all together or separate:
The ’80s Look (03:55): This is just a quick featurette on the costumes in ROCK OF AGES and the research involved with putting them together.
It’s All About the Moves (07:34): Adam Shankman had fellow ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ alum Mia Michaels do the choreography for ROCK OF AGES and this featurette focuses on her and what she was trying to do.
Stripping Miami (04:39): This compares the strip in Miami to the one in LA during the 80’s. I never went to the Sunset Strip in LA in the 80’s, but the strip in Miami doesn’t remind me at all of LA.
The Tease (04:11): The thing we remember most about the 80’s is the big hair. This featurette looks at some of the crazy styles.
If You Build It, They Will Rock It (03:04): The Bourbon bar in ROCK OF AGES is pretty much an exact, larger replica of the real club Whiskey A Go Go, but this featurette tries to get you to believe other clubs inspired it as well.
Connection to the Music (04:30): The cast from ROCK OF AGES shows up to talk about the music, what it means to them and when they first heard some of their favorite songs.
So it Started in a Bar (07:13): This featurette talks about the Rock of Ages musical and how it came to be.
There’s also a travel video for Florida and a music video for Any Way You Want It