Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rock Oo [2013]

Director: Mamat Khalid
Starring: Que Haidar, Khir Rahman, Sofi Jikan, Pekin Ibrahim, Azmi Black
Genre: Drama/Comedy
Rating: General
Verdict: "While the visuals are strong, it's highly unlikely for 'Rock Oo' to garner Mamat Khalid some new fans..."

Some years after the events that took place in the first Rock movie, rock band Rimba Bara is now in their mid-career slump when their guitar player quits the band, and their lead singer Zul Kapan (Sofi Jikan) decides to front another band. The two remaining members, bassist Jijo (Khir Rahman) and drummer Black (Azmi Black) figure that their fifteen minutes are over and have given up on their rock n' roll dreams. But everything changes when Amy Mat Piah (Que Haidar), an enthusiastic-but-subpar vocalist offers his services to the band.

What to Expect
1. A heartfelt tribute to the good ol' days
2. A sequel that stands on its own two feet
3. Strong visuals
4. Memorable performances
5. A Mamat Khalid movie

What NOT to Expect
1. A fleeting pace
As a movie, it didn't do it for me. But its cultural significance shouldn't be overlooked
The hype surrounding Rock Oo is so high up there, I almost didn't want to write this review. Nothing to do with that fear of being the odd man out, rather it's because I didn't want to give the impression that I'm only doing this for attention-seeking purposes (apparently it's a thing on Twitter). But then I figured, if you're a frequent visitor of this sweet blog o' mine (heh), you'll know what I'm about.

I always tell it like how I see it, no reason to stop now. Heck, I survived after writing that piece on KL Gangster and Ombak Rindu, so what the hell.

Now, for the longest time I just don't get what Mamat Khalid is all about. It goes without saying that I have nothing against the guy personally. In fact, I've always admired how he always seem to have all these fun ideas for movies. But for someone who can come up with good movie premises, he's not as equally adept at developing them. Big talk coming from a nobody like me, I know. But let's focus on Rock Oo for now.

After seeing Prince of the City [2012], it's gonna be a while before I can call anything bad again. So yeah, Rock Oo wasn't a bad movie. However, it suffers from the same issues as the Star Wars prequels; they both could have been so much more than just movies chock-full of references to other things, and they both could have benefited tremendously from having a second screenwriter who could challenge the man in charge creatively.

How the story unfolded was pretty clunky (to my eyes, at least). The dialogues felt like they were written simply to bridge the gap between one guitar solo to another. I wouldn't go as far as saying that they were bland and dry, though everything did feel a little dragged out, and it definitely wasn't due to shortage in the talent department. If anything, the movie was saved by the actors who seemed very comfortable in their roles, and played them without a sense of irony or self-awareness.

And while we're on the subject of characters, I have to say that despite my disdain for caricatures, it worked for Rock Oo the same way Stephen Chow made cartoonish characters work for his flicks. This time around there was a real reason for them to be like that because... Well, it was the '80s, after all. This time around, the actors didn't have to be loud. Their costumes did it for them.

With regards to its trying pace - if I may venture an analysis - it was probably due to the fact that Rock Oo is Mamat Khalid's heartfelt tribute to the good ol' days of rock kapak, and may have played it a little too close to the chest. While that's not necessarily a bad thing, the movie did end up playing a singular note for a good hour as a result. There were a couple of times when I shifted in my seat and couldn't wait for them to rock n' roll.

And when they did, it was a spectacle to watch.

This was where Rock Oo really shone. The musical numbers looked so vintage, they succeeded in selling the experience of those days to someone who mostly wasn't there (i.e. moi). Don't take my word for it;

I burst out laughing at this one
And these are just too damn cool

In this aspect, you could argue that it's flawless, and probably the main reason why the movie got made at all; nostalgia. A lot of thought and hard work went into the look of the movie, hence why it was a bit of a letdown when we get back to the movie part. For the next forty-five minutes my mind wandered to Maldives and back again, to Krabi and back again. When it was over, though it didn't quite leave a bad taste in the mouth, it didn't leave this writer yearning for an encore either.

Therefore I can't wholeheartedly recommend it.

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