Camp Rock
American Gramaphone // G // $34.99 // August 19, 2008
Review by John Sinnott | posted August 21, 2008
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The Movie:

Given the success of Hanna Montana and High School:  The Musical, both Disney Channel originals, it's not too surprising that the channel would attempt to create yet another musical franchise.  This time it revolves around a girl who goes to a summer camp for budding rock stars:  Camp Rock.  While the title and premise sound promising, the incredibly trite and predictable script falls flat and the supporting actresses outshine the lead making this an average-at-best movie.

Mitchie (Demi Lovato) is a plucky wannabe rock star who is so ready for fame that she even wakes up with glossed lips and full make-up.  She's a nobody at her high school but loves music and has a great voice.  Her dream is to spend the summer at Camp Rock, a summer camp devoted to rock music.  The only problem is that her parents can't afford it, so Mitchie mopes through the first 10 minutes of the movie until her mother informs her that the family catering company has been hired to cook for the camp.  She can go, but she'll have to help out in the kitchen.

Camp is like a dream come true.  She instantly makes friends with a would-be promoter, Caitlyn (Alyson Stoner), but soon gets trapped into telling a lie when she meets the camp's diva, Tess Tyler (Meaghan Jette Martin).  Wanting to impress the rich girl and her entourage, Mitchie tells everyone that he mother is the president of a music video channel in China.  Everyone is instantly impressed and she gets taken into Tess' inner circle where she's allowed to sing backup.

Everyone at camp is excited because a member of the boy-band du jour, Shane Grey from Connect Three (played by Joe Jonas from the Jonas Brothers) is going to be teaching a class.   Tess is sure that he'll fall for her, but he's attracted to Mitchie's honesty and down to earth qualities, even though she perpetuates the lie about her mother with him too.  But how long can she keep her secret while continuing to work in the kitchen each day?  And who will win the Camp Rock end of the summer Jam?

I'll readily admit that this movie wasn't aimed at me.  Even so, I found it lacking in almost every area.  The simplistic story was lifted almost in whole from a subplot in Adams Family Values, and even if it wasn't the various plot points unfolded in a very predictable manner like clockwork.  It was easy to see not only where the movie was going, but how it was going to get there about 15 minutes into the show.

That could be forgiven if the movie had other redeeming values, but it really doesn't.   The 'rock' that is sung (actually poorly lip synced) at the frequent evening "jams" (the producers don't even know what a jam is.  In this movie it's consists of the various kids getting up and performing one group at a time) is over produced lifeless songs that have no feeling or heart.  The accent is on dancing and choreography (there's even a hip-hop dance class) rather than musical talent, and none of the multi-cultural campers even play an instrument.

I have to say I was most surprised by the low quality of the acting.  It's obvious that Disney is hoping that the star, Demi Lovato, will become the next Miley Cyrus, but she's so drab and lifeless in that it's hard to see why she was cast.  Her two supporting actresses, Meaghan Jette Martin as the snob you love to hate, and Alyson Stoner as the true friend steal the scenes away from Demi every time they're on screen together.  Stoner especially had a lot of screen presence and would have been a much better lead.

When all is said and done, this was a valiant attempt, but it just didn't work.

The Blu-ray Disc:


The 1.78:1 AVC encoded image looks fine but it's not outstanding.  The colors are bright and solid and the black levels are even through the film, but the image is just a tad soft in many places and the level of detail isn't as razor sharp as I was hoping for.  Sure it looks fine at first glance but while looking closely at the background, something that's far too easy to do since the action on screen doesn't hold one's attention, the lines are not as clear as they could be.  Digitally things look fine too.  There was a little bit of posterization but it was fairly minor.  When all is said and done the picture looks okay, but nothing to write home about.


This movie comes with an uncompressed PCM track (which is how I screened the film) as well as DD 5.1 tracks in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.  I was expecting the soundtrack to be to disc's strong point but it really wasn't.  There are plenty of song and dance numbers, but they never really come alive the way that they could have.  The range is fine, but the music doesn't have that *umph* on the low end that the best concert videos have.  The audio isn't very enveloping either, which is surprising.  The rears are used but not as fully as they could be and they always lacked punch.  This disc never really drew me into the songs, which is too bad.  It could have been a lot better.


There's a fair amount of bonus material, all in HD, but none of it is very deep and all of it aimed at younger viewers.  First off is How to Be a Rock Star, a nearly half-hour long piece that features interviews with the cast where they talk about their character and how much they personally enjoy music.  Okay, whatever.  Next up is Jonas Brothers: Real-life Rock Stars, an interview with the tween heart-throbs where they talk about how hard it is to really be part of a rock band.  The star of the show gets her own 7-minute interview in Introducing Demi Lovato.  It's obvious that the producers are trying to make her into the next BIG THING, but I don't really see it.  She doesn't have the screen personality that Miley Cyrus has and just doesn't seem to be 'flash-in-the-pan' material to me.  I could be wrong however.  Maybe she'll be the next Debbie Gibson.

The disc also contains rehearsals to a couple of songs, a still gallery, a sing-along mode where the words to the songs appear on the screen, a couple of music videos and Karaoke versions of some of the songs.  There's also a Blu-ray exclusive Camp Rock Tour, a 7-minute behind the scenes piece.

Final Thoughts:

This movie got very high ratings when it was first aired, and a sequel is in the works.  Even so, it isn't able to make the Rock Camp look fun or exciting.  The lead is rather lifeless, the plot very predictable, and the music overproduced.  Anyone over the age of 16 should just avoid this however, and those younger would do better to rent it.

Note: The images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not necessarily represent the image quality on the disc.

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