Rock & Rule (1983)
By: J.R. McNamara on August 5, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Siren Visual Entertainment (Australia). Region 4, NTSC. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. 77 minutes
The Movie
Director: Clive A. Smith
Starring: (Voices) Paul Le Mat, Susan Roman, Don Francks
Screenplay: Peter Sauder, John Halfpenny
Music: Patricia Cullen
Tagline: 'Sounds you can see in the movie you can feel!'
Country: USA
During the late seventies and early eighties, it seemed that there was an interest in creating animated features for a more adult market. All of the sudden, movies like Fire and Ice, Lord of the Rings and Heavy Metal were being produced by animation companies across the North American continent. Canadian company Nelvana entered this race with Rock & Rule. Created by director Clive A. Smith, and writers John Halfpenny and Patrick Loubert, who all had a hand in the creation of Saturday morning cartoons such as Droids, Ewoks, Beetlejuice and EEK! The Cat.

In the future, after a war that destroyed the human race, the only survivors were animals such as dogs, cats and rats. As evolution took its course, these animals mutated into anthropomorphic beings with a society much like our own. In Ohmtown, a small rock band with members Omar, Angel, Stretch and Dizzy are playing in the nightclub belonging to the rat-like charlatan, Mylar. Unbeknownst to them, they are being observed by Mok, a retired rocker who is using his super computers to crack an ancient code that will open a doorway between theirs and another dimension, but he is missing one component…the perfect voice.

With artists like Deborah Harry, Cheap Trick, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and Earth, Wind and Fire, Rock & Rule comes across as an excellent idea, but somewhere fails in the execution. Looking more like the lack luster Fritz the Cat from the early seventies, Rock & Rule suffers terribly from wanting to be much more than it ever achieved.
The advertising claims that this is a fully restored HD transfer, but if that is true, I imagine the source was of incredibly poor quality. Rock & Rule has an anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 picture, which has bright attractive colors but on occasion, ill defined outlines.
Funnily enough the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is by far inferior to the Dolby 2.1 Stereo. The 5.1 took a lot of fiddling around with my system before the dialogue and music could be heard over the sound effects track.
Extra Features
This disc has great animated menus, featuring sections of the movie, but in some cases with really annoying sound bytes to match.

The Commentary is by director Clive A. Smith, who offers an excellent dialogue about the ins and outs of this film. I found his commentary informative on its discussion of animation techniques and the writing and recording of the musical tracks.

The Making of Rock & Rule is a basic 24 min 30 second documentary from 1983. It features interviews with musical legends Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Maurice White from Earth, Wind and Fire, not to mention the director, writers and other members of the creative team. This doco shows everything from the recording of the songs to the 'brand new', for 1983, animation techniques that feature in this film. Especially of note are the 'new' computers and software used to create some of the effects.

Character Sketch Gallery is a look at the evolution of each of the characters through a series of pencil drafts and painted cels.

Restoration Comparison is a 1 minute 20 second piece showing sections of Rock & Rule before and after the restoration.

Special Thanks is a text piece of the DVD credits.
The Verdict
Not quite the psychedelic freakout of Fritz the Cat and not quite the high sci-fi of Heavy Metal, Rock & Rule just misses out on being an animated classic. It does, however deserve high praise for its use of first class musicians; the musical soundtrack is excellent, shame about the accompanying movie.
Movie Score
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