"Feel the Noise" explores the heavy demands of crime, family, and the music business, and it seems intended for those who find "Hannah Montana" too challenging.
Rob (Omarion Grandberry) is an aspiring rapper in deep trouble with local New York hoodlums. Out of desperation, Rob's mother sends him to Puerto Rico to live with his father (Giancarlo Esposito), with a hope that the change of locale keeps him out of danger. Once there, Rob is introduced by his half-brother Javi (Victor Rasuk) to the sounds of Reggaeton and the delights of local dancer Mimi (Melonie Diaz). When Rob and Javi team up to produce their own music, the pressures of the artistic process threaten to break them up, leaving Rob to either fight for his dream or fight to survive the streets.
"Noise" isn't so much a feature film as it is an infomercial for Reggaeton: an underground musical style that combines the apathy of hip-hop with the shoot-yourself-in-the-face repetition of reggae. From the samples provided in the movie, Reggaeton is basically one simple loop of beats repeated 1000 times, and preferably performed while wearing something fiercely colored that represents Puerto Rican pride and can be spotted from space. "Noise" contends that this is the next wave of cool; a musical movement that will erupt violently from Puerto Rico and decimate the fragile minds of music snobs around the globe. I don't doubt its hipster appeal, but "Noise" reaches for the throat trying to convince the viewer that Reggaeton is the top of the pops. After watching the movie, I'm still unconvinced.
It's a crying shame Reggaeton has such a lousy advocate in "Feel the Noise." This is a putrid music-centric picture, assembling the bare minimum of story and filmmaking coherence to backdrop tuneless singles and hilarious passes at dance choreography (where the participants just dry hump while the females tousle their hair every 10 seconds). Director Alejandro Chomski is lost at sea with "Noise," assembling the film's story out of order, using the "Pink Flamingos" school of staging, and making the ten bucks he had to shoot this picture look like five.
I think producer Jennifer Lopez's weekly shampoo budget is more than what this grimy picture cost. And it shows with every confined location, absence of proper lighting, and absurd performance.
While a valentine to Reggaeton, "Noise" is also a tribute to star Omarion Grandberry's alleged sexual heat. Grandberry, who is to acting as I am to rocket science, assumes that standing in front of the camera and oozing an Adrian Zmed-like pass at sensuality is enough for a performance. In fact, everyone in the film gives off the impression they were left without much leadership, but complaining about the acting in "Feel the Noise" feels unreasonable if you stop to think what these characters stand for. One wants to be a rapper (yawn), another hopes to produce music, and the lone female of the film wants nothing more for herself than to be a background dancer in rap videos. Ahh, the dreams of youth.
The anamorphic widescreen transfer (1.85:1 aspect ratio) accurately reflects the film's putrid color scheme and assorted photography bungles. Black levels are amazingly consistent and the colors do their best to emerge from the gimmicky desaturated cinematography.
There's no doubt that the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix is where this DVD is most at home. Presenting the thump of the Reggaeton beats with speaker-rattling density, the DVD sounds marvelous, even when the film is anything but. Dialogue is a smidge crackly, but that seems to be the result of the movie's low budget.
"Feel the Noise: The Making of a Musical Movement" (10 minutes) is a behind-the-scenes trifle a bit too straight-faced for its own good. The interviews with cast and crew are typical "we are awesome" EPK fluff, really stretching credibility when talk of Grandberry's "wonderful" acting arises. Of more interest are the recollections of filming at the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
"Reggaeton: A Handcrafted Beat" (8 minutes) details the history and the popularity of the musical genre, interviewing the artists involved, along with "Feel the Noise" cast and crew. A majority of these interviewees just don't have much insight to offer on the subject.
No theatrical trailer is presented, but peeks at "Vantage Point," "Across the Universe," "21," "You Got Served," "Stomp the Yard," "Rent," "Dragon Wars," and "This Christmas" are included.
In the final act, "Noise" takes the action to the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City (topped off with a Lopez cameo), where Rob can mends fences with everyone in his life. Considering the rest of the film didn't give a hoot about exhaustive dramatic significance before, it's awfully strange to see an attempt to find it at the end of this horrid excuse for teen escapism.
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