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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Various
Cast:
Lenny Kravitz, Blink 182, The Vines, Marilyn Manson, Pink, Silverchair, Stone Temple Pilots, Jewel, INXS, U2
Writing Credits:
Various

Synopsis:
From U2 to Marilyn Manson, Blink 182 to Lenny Kravitz, your favorite artists rock out in these explosive performances from the only awards show that matters. Finally on DVD, relive some of the finest moments in VMA history on Video Music Awards: Rock.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
None
Not Closed-captioned

Runtime: 51 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 8/5/2003

Bonus:
• Chris Rock 1997 Monologue
• Dennis Miller 1995 Monologue
• Dana Carvey 1992 Monologue


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Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

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MTV Video Music Awards: Rock (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 11, 2003)

Ever since the first ceremony in 1984, MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMA) have existed as the opposite of the Oscars. For the latter, everyone watches for the results and hates the musical numbers and much of the other silliness. In the case of the VMAs, however, the performances and the goofiness is the most interesting part of the show. Who’ll ever forget Michael Jackson’s embarrassing acceptance of the non-existent “Artist of the Millennium” prize in 2002? Or the time a dude from Rage Against the Machine camped out on the set to protest... who knows?

The VMAs also have presented many memorable musical performances over the years, and MTV Video Music Awards: Rock captures 10 of these. Granted, how memorable one considers them to be will depend on your feelings toward the acts in question. The DVD includes clips that span the years 1990 to 2002. Only INXS appears from that earliest show, as they perform “Suicide Blonde”. We then jump to 1993 for Lenny Kravitz and “Are You Gonna Go My Way”.

1994 gives us Stone Temple Pilots with an acoustic “Pretty Penny”, while 1995 offers Silverchair’s pre-show performance of “Tomorrow” in front of Radio City Music Hall. The DVD skips 1996 but provides three songs from the 1997 show: Jewel’s acoustic “Angel Standing By”, Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People”, and U2’s “Please”.

From there, we leap all the way to 2000 for Blink 182 and “All the Small Things”. Finally, the 2002 show presents two songs. We get the Vines’ “Get Free” as well as Pink’s “Just Like a Pill”.

I’ll be honest: I got this DVD because I’m a huge U2 fan. Heck, I picked up the video for the 2002 Super Bowl just to get their halftime show, so I won’t pass up any U2, even if it’s only one song.

And even if it’s not the band’s best performance. I vaguely recall a quote from Bono in which he stated his wife thought their work at the 1997 VMAs was the worst thing U2 ever did. I can’t go that far. “Please” is an outstanding song that becomes even better live, so a relatively weak rendition still merits attention. But what was up with Bono’s Unabomber look?

Once I get beyond U2, I can only count myself as a fan of one other act represented here: Marilyn Manson. “The Beautiful People” found them at the peak of their popularity, but it’s not a great performance. The backing music clearly comes from a recording, and Manson’s antics seem a little too forced as he attempts to be shocking. I dig the band, but this isn’t very good Manson.

Even though I’m not very interested in any of the other acts, I do think VMA works pretty well through its first four numbers. (While I’m not impressed with this version of “The Beautiful People”, my interest in Manson makes it one of my favorite parts of the DVD.) Kravitz never has been very original, but he’s got a lot of energy and can rock reasonably well. His best isn’t great, but “Are You Gonna Go My Way” highlights what strengths he has, and it kicks off the program well.

The moron rock of Blink 182 usually turns me off, and the wacky presentation here should be obnoxious and maybe even offensive. The band features a swarm of little people who dance and fly about the stage. It’s dopey, but the song’s not bad. At worst, it’s a catchy little number, and the band play it with enough force to make the segment work.

The same goes for “Get Free”. Will we remember any of 2002’s breakthrough rock bands like the Vines, the White Stripes, or the Strokes 10 years from now? I don’t know, but the Vines sound pretty good here. “Get Free” is a slight number but it kicks nicely and knows better than to overstay its welcome.

Once we get past Manson, unfortunately, the show sags until we hit U2. Actually, Pink does her best with “Pill”, but she remains too annoying to be of much interest. Still, she easily tops the next three who follow her. Both the Jewel and STP songs seem inappropriate here. This is supposed to be a rock collection, so I could do without their dull acoustic material.

As for Silverchair, I’m glad the grunge wannabe teens have moved on to… well, I don’t know what, but as long as I don’t have to hear them, I’m happy. They wore their influences on their sleeves, pants, and heads, and they didn’t live up to their inspirations. “Tomorrow” is dull and forgettable.

INXS never did much for me as a band, and “Suicide Blonde” isn’t one of their songs that stands out to me. (I still kinda dig “New Sensation”, though.) Their performance marks an improvement over their predecessors, but that doesn’t say much; pretty much anything would sound good after the Silverchair/STP/Jewel crapfecta.

Compilation programs like MTV Video Music Awards: Rock inevitably end up as a mixed bag. This collection offers a fair amount of good material, though obviously, one’s opinion on the disc will depend on one’s opinion of the acts involved. Though I’m a fan of only 20 percent of the performers, I found myself surprisingly entertained by more than a few of the others. It’s not a great set, but it’s a pretty nice sampling.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

MTV Video Music Awards: Rock appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though the performances came from a fairly small span of years, they showed a moderate amount of variations. Overall, they looked pretty good, though not without some concerns.

To my surprise, colors provided the most consistently positive elements. I expected the tones to look somewhat muddy and dense, which often happens with this sort of video recording. However, the hues came across as nicely vivid and vibrant throughout all of the clips. Colored lights remained tight and well defined, and other elements were clean and accurate. Black levels usually seemed deep and concise as well, though they occasionally were a little inky. Low-light shots lost some definition due to the nature of the clips, but they mostly were acceptable visible.

Source issues created no concerns. I noticed no signs of artifacting or other video flaws, as the clips looked nicely clean and clear. Sharpness caused the most noticeable drops in quality. The segments varied. Oddly, the Blink 182 snippet from 2000 looked the blurriest of the bunch, but some others suffered from moderate fuzziness at times, especially in their wider shots. Focus usually remained reasonably concise and distinct, though. As usual for video material, some jaggies and shimmering popped up along the way, and a smidgen of edge enhancement seemed apparent as well. As a whole, the clips of VMA didn’t look perfect, but they were generally satisfying.

Similar sentiments greeted the Dolby Surround 2.0 audio of the Video Music Awards, though these also demonstrated erratic qualities. For the most part, they showed similar soundfields. The front channels heavily dominated the proceedings; the surrounds added light reinforcement of the music and played only a small role. Almost all of the songs offered quality stereo imaging, though two exceptions occurred. The Manson and Silverchair tracks essentially collapsed to mono for no apparent reason. This didn’t affect them in a terribly negative way, but given the good delineation of the other tunes, it seemed odd.

Audio quality varied but usually was pretty good. The INXS number provided the densest sound of the bunch; as came across as reasonably clear but somewhat boxy and thick. A few of the tracks – like the Kravitz one – seemed a bit lacking in low-end response. Some of the songs felt a little thin and didn’t pack the punch I’d expect. Nonetheless, most of the time the audio remained fairly clean and distinct. No significant issues popped up along the way. I wouldn’t call the sound quality excellent across the board, but I didn’t experience any real issues beyond those already described. Vocals seemed natural and crisp, and most instrumentation was accurate and tight.

A few small supplements show up on the Video Music Awards via monologues. We get Chris Rock from 1997, Dennis Miller from 1995, and Dana Carvey from 1992. Their clips run between two minutes, 22 seconds and four minutes, 23 seconds for a total of 10 minutes, 58 seconds of material. None of them seems terribly good, though the Rock one gets the most laughs. All of them suffer from their dated elements; I mean, how many folks still remember Mark Furman? Still, they’re a decent little extra if you’re interested.

Note that some slight editing took place, at least in the case of the Rock segment. The original broadcast featured appropriate shots of the audience, which led to a glimpse of the Spice Girls right after Rock made a crack about them. Why’d this change? I have no idea, but it’s too bad; the bit was funnier with that view right after it.

I don’t think that MTV Video Music Awards: Rock truly presents that program’s best performances, but it offers a good cross-section of material. Some of it flops, some of it works. It seems like a fairly solid program overall, though. The DVD presents generally positive picture and sound plus a small complement of extras. For what you get, a list price of almost $20 seems a little steep, but if you like some or most of the acts at work here, it’s worth it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.2857 Stars Number of Votes: 14
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