Rock Star Review
It’s a sure sign that you are getting old when historical movies are made about a time when you were already an adult, let alone a child. Back in the mid eighties metal was god – especially to a lot of American kids – so it’s the ideal time setting for a movie about a heavy metal singer who suddenly has fame thrust upon him. Chris Cole (Mark Wahlberg) is a photocopier engineer, but that’s just his day job, as by night he’s the front man for “Blood Pollution”, a tribute band for huge metal supergroup “Steel Dragon”. He takes this far more seriously than his other band mates, who just see themselves as a cover band until they can get enough of their own material written. Cole however, lives for “Steel dragon” and wants every performance to be exactly like his heroes. This leads to disagreements, rows and fights and finally Cole being kicked out of his own band. Much bigger things are in store for Cole though, as the real lead singer of “Steel Dragon” has just been chucked out of the band, and the remaining members ask him to audition as a replacement. Suddenly he’s been renamed “Izzy” and performing with his heroes on tour, though not really prepared for all the excesses of the rock star life, and the stresses it puts on his relationship with girlfriend Emily (Jennifer Aniston).
The plot of Rock Star is loosely based on the real life story of Tim “Ripper” Owens, who was plucked from obscurity to join Judas Priest when their singer Rob Halford left. “Loosely” is the key word though, as the method of finding a new singer is the only similarity. A visit to Priest’s official website will find a strong statement of disassociation from the film, especially for the reason that the singer was fired from the band in this movie. Following Cole’s joining of the band, the film’s story follows a different path to that of Judas Priest. The film actually makes no assertions that it is ever based on a true story, and Judas Priest is only briefly mentioned by director Stephen Herek in his commentary. Apparently Priest had originally wanted creative control of the movie to make it a bio-pic; when this didn’t happened the two parties went their separate ways and the story was changed. So what we have instead is a typical Hollywood tale of the fickleness of fame, and the importance of following your own dreams rather than someone else’s. It’s a fairly well worn old story that we’ve seen many times before. Guy joins rock band – it turns out to be sex, drugs, booze and partying. Not exactly much of a surprise there. Guy realises there’s more to life than just trying to be someone you’re not – still not exactly ground breaking. Mark Wahlberg used to be in the music business (though a somewhat different part of it) so he handles the performance sections well, but even though he is much better here than in the Planet of the Apes, he has yet to really convince as a lead actor since Boogie Nights. Jennifer Aniston doesn’t exactly have much to do as Chris’s put upon girlfriend / manager Emily. Only the ever-reliable Timothy Spall excels as Steel Dragon’s roadie, but he can do this kind of thing in his sleep.
Not a bad movie, just not a particularly good one either, breaking no new ground or telling us anything we didn’t know already. Eighties metal fans will enjoy it, everyone else would be better off with Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous.
The 2.35:1 anamorphic image is fairly decent, being colourful and clear enough to show off the concert scenes especially. It is perhaps a little over-bright in places, but that’s a minor complaint.
You would expect a big “let’s rock!” soundtrack and by and large the Dolby Digital 5.1 delivers. The concert sequences in particular are powerful, and there is decent use of the channels. One complaint is that in some parts of the movie the mix is not particularly good, and dialogue is sometimes overwhelmed by music.
This disc is hardly brimming with extra features. What little we do have is:
The Backstage Pass featurette is nothing more than an extended trailer for the movie. It features clips from the film, the usual interviews with the stars (in variable picture quality) and that’s about it. At four minutes it’s practically over before it’s started.
The only extra of any worth is the commentary by director Stephen Herek. It’s certainly not the best commentary ever, but he does talk about such things as turning LA into Pittsburgh by removing hills and replacing them with factories, and the creative differences between members of the (mock) band “Steel Dragon”! On the downside, there are quite a few gaps, he spends too much time lusting after Jennifer Aniston (keep it to yourself, mate) and mentions deleted scenes – so where are they?
The Cast and Crew section just lists filmographies and then only for Wahlberg, Aniston and director Herek, so it’s hardly of any real value.
Finally there is a music video by Everclear presented in 4x3 fullscreen and 2.0 stereo, and the theatrical trailer.
There is no DVD-ROM material on this disc.
Anyone who is a big fan of eighties metal will get the most out of this as a nostalgia piece. For everyone else it’s fairly run-of-the-mill stuff, which is exactly what could be said of the extra material on this disc. Distinctly average.
Last updated: 25/06/2018 00:10:40