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Rock of Ages: Extended Edition Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Combo Pack Review

Rock of Ages (2012) movie poster Rock of Ages

Theatrical Release: June 15, 2012 / Running Time: 123 Minutes (Theatrical), 136 Minutes (Extended) / Rating: PG-13 (Theatrical), R (Extended)

Director: Adam Shankman / Writers: Chris D'Arienzo (musical & screenplay); Justin Theroux, Allan Loeb (screenplay)

Cast: Julianne Hough (Sherrie Christian), Diego Boneta (Drew Boley), Russell Brand (Lonny Barnett), Paul Giamatti (Paul Gill), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Patricia Whitmore), Bryan Cranston (Mayor Mike Whitmore), Malin Akerman (Constance Sack), Mary J. Blige (Justice Charlier), Alec Baldwin (Dennis Dupree), Mickey (Hey Man), Tom Cruise (Stacee Jaxx), Kevin Nash (Stacee Jaxx's Bodyguard), Jeff Chase (Stacee Jaxx's Bodyguard), Celina Beach (Mayor's Secretary Ms. Hoyt), Angelo Donato Valderrama (Chico), Will Forte (Mitch Miley), Eli Roth (Stefano), T.J. Miller (Rolling Stone Receptionist)

Songs: "Paradise City", "Sister Christian/Just Like Paradise/Nothin' but a Good Time", "Juke Box Hero/I Love Rock 'n' Roll", "Hit Me with Your Best Shot", "Waiting for a Girl Like You", "More Than Words/Heaven", "Wanted Dead or Alive", "I Want to Know What Love Is", "I Wanna Rock", "Pour Some Sugar on Me", "Harden My Heart", "Shadows of the Night/Harden My Heart", "Here I Go Again", "Can't Fight This Feeling", "Any Way You Want It", "Undercover Love", "Every Rose Has Its Thorn", "Rock You Like a Hurricane", "We Built This City/We're Not Gonna Take It", "Don't Stop Believin'"

Rock of Ages available on Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and for download 10/9!

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Turning a popular Broadway musical into a feature film is no easy task. For every international sensation like Mamma Mia!, there are at least two like Rent and The Producers that lose a good deal of money. To translate Rock of Ages from stage to screen, New Line Cinema hired Adam Shankman, the director of their profitable and well-regarded Hairspray adaptation.
They then proceeded to assemble an eclectic cast with little musical background to fill the ensemble of Chris D'Arienzo's Tony-nominated, still-running stage show. D'Arienzo himself would share screenplay credit with two more seasoned in Hollywood movie scripts, Justin Theroux (Tropic Thunder, Iron Man 2) and Allan Loeb (Just Go With It, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps).

It's 1987 and Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough, "Dancing with the Stars") has just left behind small-town Oklahoma to try and make it big in Los Angeles. Like many aspiring singers, she finds work at the storied hotspot The Bourbon Room... as a waitress. Sherrie is referred to the club by the friend she quickly makes, barback and aspiring rocker Drew (Diego Boneta). The Bourbon is excited to soon be hosting the much-anticipated final performance of Arsenal, one of several bands thrust to stardom there. The group's wild, adored lead singer Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) is about to embark on a solo career, but one big show remains.

Meanwhile, the Bourbon's owner (Alec Baldwin) and manager (Russell Brand) are struggling to keep their joint open, owing back taxes and having to hand over a good chunk of revenue to Jaxx's oily manager (Paul Giamatti). While this is going on, the conservative wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) of L.A.'s mayor (Bryan Cranston) makes it her personal mission to take down Stacee Jaxx and the music she considers poisonous to today's youth.

Sherrie (Julianne Hough) and Drew (Diego Boneta) find work at The Bourbon Room while dreaming much bigger. The Bourbon Room's owner (Alec Baldwin) and manager (Russell Brand) might need more than a lively audience to keep their doors open.

The film unfolds with the cast performing and putting new spins on an assortment of 1980s rock, leaning heavily on hair bands like Def Leppard, Guns 'N Roses, Poison, Whitesnake, and Twisted Sister. Other iconic acts of the era (Journey, Pat Benatar, Joan Jett) are also employed, as well as a couple of Foreigner tunes and one song from the early '90s (Extreme's "More Than Words"). The movie is little more than a parade of these covers and mash-ups, like a feature version of "Glee" pretending to be edgier than that.

The core story of two small-town kids with big music dreams and love for one another is as ordinary as you'll find. While the movie doesn't seem unaware of this, it doesn't care. Even Burlesque had the decency to pen original songs to define and advance its characters. This one is so certain you'll have nothin' but a good time hearing the cast's new interpretations of these familiar songs (i.e. lavish, generously-tuned celebrity karaoke) that you won't mind the lack of depth, development, or originality.

I guess faded, forgotten acts have no good reason to refuse allowing a new generation to discover their work, but Rock of Ages isn't especially creative about selecting or staging the songs. Its knowledge of the glam metal era and the one that succeeded it, represented by the dumb New Kids on the Block-type boy band that Drew reluctantly joins, seems no extensive than mine or yours. The whole anti-rock sentiment associated with religion, government, and women feels like an unimaginative and anachronistic opponent recalling Shankman's Hairspray. But I guess a rock god like Stacee Jaxx needs someone to rebel against when he's not sexing up a Rolling Stone reporter (Malin Akerman) and anyone else who will let him.

Rock god Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) gives Rolling Stone reporter Constance Sack (Malin Akerman) more than an interview.

The fanbases of '80s metal and of Broadway musicals seem distant and this routine teen-oriented filming underscores that. Seriously, it's tough to imagine a Venn diagram with less overlap. If the thinking was that this would appeal to both middle-aged metalheads and musical theatre geeks, the film seems to have proved otherwise by being of little interest to either group. What works on Broadway obviously doesn't always work on film and thus this mid-June release, backed by ample summer movie season spending, grossed just half of its $75 million budget in domestic exhibitions and a pitiful $13.3 M in foreign markets.

That makes it one of the year's biggest bombs and the second lowest-performing Tom Cruise movie of the past quarter-century (only the limited release Magnolia earned less). Not that, in keeping with the times, Cruise's presence here was prominently advertised. It does seem like a missed opportunity for him to prove the range some would say he's never really had. Seemingly aiming for Tropic Thunder-type reinvention, he falls very short, the performance neither funny nor badass. It will be interesting to see if the Golden Globes can avoid nominating this in either their Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical or Best Supporting Actor categories. This is exactly the kind of thing they (and no one else) like to single out.

Nothing about Rock of Ages really stands out in a good or bad way. The setting is simply an excuse to celebrate the now ridiculous fashions of this era. The central romance is sparkless and it probably won't make a difference to you whether these kids find vocal fame or continue to work in the food service or exotic dance. And there is way too much talent involved here for the movie to be so short on humor.

Mayor's wife Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones) leads a women's movement protesting rock music to the sound of "Hit Me with Your Best Shot."

On the Blu-ray of Warner's Blu-ray combo pack, Rock of Ages is presented in an extended edition along with its theatrical cut.
The longer version is 136 minutes, thirteen longer than the theatrical edit, and is rated R for "some sexual content", whereas the theatrical cut was PG-13 for "sexual content, suggestive dancing, some heavy drinking, and language."

The differences are fairly easy to spot. In back of the Hollywood sign, before their "Waiting for a Girl Like You" duet, Drew's imagination puts Sherrie in a revealing white nightie for saxophone-backed private dance to a verse of "Waiting" (85 seconds). Then, instead of a kiss, Sherrie elaborates on the newly-disclosed "Don't Stop Believin'" (1 minute). Next, a new scene has Russell Brand's character prepping the mic for Drew and giving him some stage advice (107 seconds). There is a short scene of Sherrie coming to after fainting at the sight of Stacee Jaxx (32 seconds). There is the scene from the trailer of a backstage Stacee Jaxx casually signing a fan's breasts without even looking (35 seconds). The Rolling Stone interview of Stacee Jaxx runs longer (90 seconds). Sherrie shares a brief moment with Drew after meeting Stacee Jaxx (20 seconds). Stacee has words with his baboon Hey Man backstage (30 seconds).

The biggest addition is a scene in which Stacee Jaxx shows up at Sherrie's dance joint and gets her alone for a duet of "Rock You Like a Hurricane" (4 minutes). The final gain is a scene backstage of Paul prepping his boy band on how they are to lip-sync (40 seconds).

There isn't anything like profanity or nudity to obviously explain the jump from PG-13 to R. It seems simply that a film already heavy on suggestive content was put over the limit by the additional sexually charged dancing.

All these reinsertions do not make the film noticeably better or worse. Nor do I think it brings the film closer to the stage show, which Wikipedia's synopsis reveals as quite a bit darker and less conventional. Still, kudos to Warner for offering both cuts here. (But boo to them not extending the same luxury to DVD, a format that is equally equipped to employ seamless branching.)

Watch clips from Rock of Ages:

Rock of Ages: Extended Edition Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray Theatrical & Extended: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Theatrical Cut: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish; BD-only: Portuguese)
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish; BD-only: Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase with Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($28.98 SRP),
movie-only Blu-ray ($29.98 SRP), and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Rock of Ages looks great in the Blu-ray's 2.40:1 presentation. The spotless print, vivid colors, and high level of detail all add up to a satisfying visual experience. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack matches, naturally breathing a lot of life into the musical numbers, which come at a slightly higher volume than the dialogue, but not enough to have you constantly reaching for your remote.

Poison frontman Bret Michaels hosts "Legends of the Sunset Strip", a documentary catching up with various '80s hair band members. REO Speedwagon lead singer Kevin Cronin explains how the film's meaning for "Can't Fight This Feeling" differs from his own.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's all-HD extras begin with "Rock of Ages: Legends of the Sunset Strip" (29:56), a documentary that catches up with a number of the rock artists from the era celebrated. Bret Michaels hosts this pieces, which gets members of Twisted Sister, Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Foreigner, Night Ranger, and more to reflect on their glory days of partying and promoting, the logic behind their bold fashions, the music's legacy, and the industry's changed practices of today. It's a solid feature that doesn't try too hard to promote the film.

Michaels also introduces "The Stories We Sing" (12:53), which gets the bands to explain the origin and meaning of the following songs covered in Rock of Ages: Night Ranger's "Sister Christian", Poison's "Nothin' but a Good Time", REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling", Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'", and Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me". There are also clips and talk of the movie's performances.

Young leads Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough host the various parts of "Behind the Scenes: Defining a Decade." Catherine Zeta-Jones records a song in a behind-the-scenes music featurette.

Sorely lacking a "Play All" feature, "Behind the Scenes: Defining a Decade" consists of a short intro (0:25) by hosts Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta, followed by seven shorts devoted to: the period fashions (3:57), the film's choreography (7:35), transforming Miami into Los Angeles' Sunset Strip (4:38) with production design,
recreating 1980s hairstyles (4:13), the Bourbon Room set (3:02), the cast's adoption of the music style (4:32), and the origins of the Broadway musical (7:12). These get comments the film's cast/crew, the real band members and some of the people behind the play.

An "Any Way You Want It" music video (2:40) relies heavily on the number's dance club performance by Mary J. Blige, but adds in clips from other parts of the film.

An option lets you watch any of the extended cut's twenty musical numbers on their own. It's a cool feature, especially since the sparse scene selections don't just align with them as they should. But, it could have easily been improved with "Play All" and "Random Play" options.

Finally, there is a 34-second "Visit Florida" trailer that promotes the state where the film was shot.

What should be a given -- a deleted scenes section holding the Extended Edition's reinserted numbers -- is not supplied, nor are any other deleted scenes.

Def Leppard performs two songs at the "Rock of Ages" premiere in a DVD-exclusive featurette. The Blu-ray and DVD main menu recycle poster art with a looped song excerpt over it.

The same disc sold on its own, the DVD includes the 3-minute Defining a Decade segment "If You Build It, They Will Rock It" on the Bourbon Room set, the "Any Way You Want It" music video, and the Visit Florida promo. Curiously, it also has an exclusive supplement in the featurette "Def Leppard: Live at the Premiere" (11:33), which preserves the band's contributions to the movie premiere (where they perform "Rock of Ages" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me") plus a tiny bit of rehearsal footage and red carpet cast remarks.
One wonders how this made the DVD and not the Blu-ray. The combo pack's case doesn't mention it and it seems more like an accident than a deliberate bone thrown to the oft-snubbed standard-def audience, who still miss out on the best extras here.

The Blu-ray opens with promos for Blu-ray 3D and Florida (the aforementioned state tourism spot). If your player can establish an Internet connection, it will download new ads based on your country, which for me promoted UltraViolet. The DVD opens with an anti-smoking spot, the Florida ad, and trailers for The Great Gatsby, The Dark Knight Rises, Dark Shadows, and Thunderstruck.

Typical for 2012 Warner, the static main menu simply features poster art, which a portion of "I Wanna Rock" plays over. The DVD's submenus are bizarrely barren, adding more to the industry's self-imposed demise of that format.

The only insert inside the slipcovered eco-friendly blue keepcase supplies directions and your unique redemption code for accessing the complimentary UltraViolet stream of the film before it expires in a year.

Aspiring singers Sherrie (Julianne Hough) and Drew (Diego Boneta) duet behind the Hollywood sign and above the bright lights of Los Angeles.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

One of the biggest things Rock of Ages has going for it is the current dearth of movie musicals. There are just too few entries to the genre for fans of it not to notice and care about a film like this. With that said, this is one of the class' weaker works, a generic tale that relies much too heavily on poppy new renditions of rock songs that aren't above such treatment. For the amount of talent assembled, you do expect greater entertainment value.

Warner's combo pack delivers a dazzling feature presentation, two significantly different cuts of the film, and a solid hour and a half of extras. If you like the movie and have a Blu-ray player, you will quite likely enjoy this set. But I don't think you'll like the movie.

Buy Rock of Ages from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD / DVD / Movie-Only Blu-ray / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Musicals: Burlesque Enchanted Across the Universe The Muppets The Sound of Music
Broadway Musicals: Chicago Nine Dreamgirls Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Evita
New: That's My Boy Katy Perry: Part of Me Dark Shadows The Cabin in the Woods The Hole
Tom Cruise: Tropic Thunder The Color of Money Knight and Day Top Gun | Russell Brand: Arthur
Diego Boneta: Mean Girls 2 | Malin Akerman: The Heartbreak Kid | Paul Giamatti: Win Win Fred Claus
Directed by Adam Shankman: Bedtime Stories Glee: Season 2, Volume 1 The Pacifier
1980s: Take Me Home Tonight Adventureland Kickin' It Old Skool Submarine Hot Tub Time Machine Footloose

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Reviewed October 8, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012 Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, Corner Stone Entertainment, Material Pictures, Offspring Entertainment,
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