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:: Rock Star

Mark Wahlberg plays Chris Cole, the lead singer of a band called Blood Pollution, and arguably the best Steel Dragon cover band in Pennsylvania. He takes the role very seriously – the look, the image, the vocals, the attitude, all needing to be exactly like his hero Bobby Beers (Jason Flemyng), the lead singer of Steel Dragon. We soon learn to what extreme Chris goes and whenever a fellow band member strays from his routine, it affects Chris badly. Things boil over and he is soon thrown out of the band, to be comforted only by his supportive girlfriend Emily (Jennifer Aniston).

Incredibly, Chris receives a call from Los Angeles and an invitation to come and try out for the lead singing role in Steel Dragon. When he gets the job, he begins his quest to living the fantasy in being a rock star. It’s worth noting that the story is loosely based around the happenings that resulted in the change of lead singer for Judas Priest. There were certain revelations made at the time. The producer of this film had to change all the dates and names to avoid being sued.

There is a status to being a rock star, especially the lead singer of a heavy rock band. There are women, drinks and other toys associated with this adoration. Along the way, we meet some icons of 1980s/1990s hard rock scene that duly make their mark on the live concert footage presented. There is wild guitarist Zakk Wylde, Jason Bonham, Blas Elias, Stephan Jenkins, and Brian Vander Ark, amongst them. They helped capture the total rock experience of the film. And the girls who played the band members’ wives/girlfriends would be familiar to some viewers; namely Rachel Hunter, Heidi Mark and Carrie Stevens (who was part of the real KISS experience as the girlfriend of the late Eric Carr). They have the looks to be part of the tour bus activities, the orgies, booze binges, etc.

The film does a good job in relating the rollercoaster ride of emotions in someone going from the small time to the big time, and particularly interesting to see Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston adapt to the roles. We get to share the drama and the laughs on their ride. Aniston is solid as the girlfriend and creates good chemistry with Wahlberg. However, she was underused slightly. It is a sweet performance though. Wahlberg is adept at portraying the lead character. He clinches it well towards the end in revealing the faded rock star image also. He brings a likeable attitude to the role, in enhancing the theme of “living your dream”. You will remember a similar thought process in the more complex “Boogie Nights”, another film where a naive young man is brought into a world of debauchery and adventure. One good thing that is noticeable and rare is the support by Chris’s parents who are extremely happy to see their son’s passion for heavy music reap rewards.

I enjoyed the concert scenes greatly, in being well choreographed and staged with flair. It certainly helped having the seasoned rockers in real roles. The supporting cast therefore do a fine job because of this, particularly Jason Flemyng and Dominic West, as members of Steel Dragon. Timothy Spall also does well as the band’s cynical tour manager. One’s own love for heavy rock music, and the side dishes associated with it, will enhance the appreciation for this film (which was originally titled Metal God). It’s a fun, well-paced film.

Screening on general release