|Written by Matthew Jarvis|
published 23rd October 2012
Supplied for review by
What do you call a Musician without a girlfriend?
Back in the 80s, I was young, fresh faced sound engineer, learning my trade with a string of dubious bands in various seedy venues and council run “cultural” festivals. It was long hours, poor pay and the sex and drugs never made it my way. By the time I had established myself in the touring arena category sized shows, most of the bands had dried out, the drugs were too expensive and the groupies all looked like my mum. We all still pretended touring was “Rock and Roll”, but the old saying “What goes on the road stays on the road” became “What goes on the road goes on Facebook” and that was the end of most of the more serious shenanigans. These days most top level sound engineers are degree qualified professionals who spend their leisure time...[Read the complete movie review]
Shot digitally and transferred as an AVC Mpeg in 2.40:1, the picture is bright and clean, with lots of detail. You can almost smell the stale beer in the night club and feel slightly soiled after a scene with the tour manager. The set dressing is superb and the lack of green screen very refreshing in this day and age. Despite the sweaty, packed atmosphere in the night club, most of the shots are crane and tripod mounted. The lack of hand held camerawork makes the film easy to watch and all the more enjoyable. It does not seem to have robbed the film of pace. The darker scenes still exude detail and do not appear to have been over processed. The transfer is first rate, being nice and sharp without becoming too “video”. It does have the look of a TV Disney movie in places, but this is not a big issue with the type of material. Contrast is good and grading is spot on throughout. No attempt has been made to give it a vintage look and this helps with the on screen presentation. Not reference maybe, as the range of scenes is not that great and depth of field is a little wide at times, but still well up to current standards.
Picture score : 8
As you might expect for a musical, the sound track is spot on. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 stream is lively and the re-recorded tracks are produced to sound “big”. What I mean by that is that the mix will sound very full, with plenty of sub harmonic syntheses going on to give added weight to the bass and nice thick vocal tracks to fill out the spectrum. The 5.1 mix extends to the musical numbers, something I normally dislike but in this case the movie really needs it. There are occasions where the dialogue gets a little buried and there is a lack of spaciousness around some of the effects. Turn it up loud and on the right system it sounds like a rock concert, with plenty of power and energy, but maybe the dynamics are somewhat compressed and the sound stage a little limited.
Sound score : 8
Some thought has gone into the extras and having pretty much the whole lot in HD helps as well. In addition to both the cinematic and an extended cut of the film, we get the option to watch just the songs and then a series of shorts taking us behind the scenes. Introduced by the stars themselves, these are nicely made, if a little sickly sweet. The real gems are the two programs featuring the original musicians. They reminisce about the good old days, the real sex, drugs and rock and roll era, with their foot tall hair styles, Spandex tights and leg warmers! The least said about the Florida trailer the better really…
The disc loads quickly and is trailer free. The menu gives the options regarding which cut of the film you want to see as well the extra and language options. These are pretty extensive with Spanish, French, German, Italian, Polish and Thai all available as language tracks with all of the above plus Cantonese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish & Icelandic as subtitles.
Extras score : 8
I hope you will forgive my tongue in cheek review of what is a film that pokes fun at itself. The storyline is entirely secondary to the musical experience which is a good thing as it does not match up to the songs in any way. I am still uncertain as to whom the film is aimed at though. I really don’t think it is suitable for the younger teens and hardened rockers may well not enjoy due to the lack of original artists. I guess young adults and 80’s romanticists harking back to the period (like me!) are the real target demographic.
Technically this film is pretty good. The picture is bright and clean and is everything we expect from current releases. The use of many practical sets and indeed real locations adds to the realistic feel, but as this is a re-make of a stage show, maybe this is not correct and a more fantasy based setting might have worked better. The soundtrack is as energetic as anyone could ask for, although it does suffer from limited stereo image, dynamic range and surround effect placement and the dialogue is not always the clearest.
Tricky recommendation this one. I did enjoy the film at a superficial level but I think many will dislike it and write it off as just another Glee / Camp Rock teeny movie. If you want to relive the 80s and see a bunch of well-known stars obviously enjoying making a movie, give it a whirl.
Overall score : 7
804 word review written by Matthew Jarvis.
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