Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart), one of many local wannabe rockers, meets musical producer Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) to ask for an opportunity to play. Kim immediately sees an opportunity when Joan mentions that she plans to put an all-girl band. Kim introduces Joan to Sandy West (Stella Maeve) and as they begin playing Kim goes after a real singer. He immediately recruits Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning), an inexperienced 15 year old without any real singing experience. Currie’s only real performance was lip syncing performance using a David Bowie track. Kim puts together the group and seemingly begins their exploitation. The girls are out on the road on their own and quickly become the target of the media that will eventually lead them to problems and uncertainty of their future, but not before leaving their imprint in rock n’ roll history.
The Runaways posed a great opportunity for the Italian director Floria Sigismondi to create a biopic and take the material that she had at hand to deliver something new. Unfortunately, the film ended up being just another movie that emphasizes on drugs, sex, and rock n’ roll. The film didn’t exactly explore every aspect of the band or maybe I should say that it only covered a very tiny part of the real story as the film primarily followed the stories of Cherie Currie and Joan Jett. The inability to obtain the rights to the stories of the remaining band members really ended up hurting the ending product. However, The Runaways really captured the essence of the band, capturing the media blitz that rush the girls, and the hard fast life their all the sudden fell into. The story really delves into the mindset and lives of Jet and Currie and while I would prefer to see something from every member of the band the small glimpse of their musical talents is great. Obviously, the second best thing about the movie is the music. It’s electric, it’s strong, and every musical piece sounds terrific. Although, I didn’t entirely liked the director’s use of camera angles.
For the two main parts, Kristen Stewart playing Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie did a good job with each character. At first glance I thought it was an odd cast for Kristen Stewart to play Joan Jett, but further examination reveals her great adaptability to the character. I suppose what completely threw me off was the character being somewhat of an oddball, distinct to what Stewart had been playing in other roles. Dakota Fanning plays Cherrie Currie and she makes it as believable as possible. Although it isn’t my cup of tea to see the 15 year old popping pills, drinking, and doing a show in lingerie her age and talents made her character come alive. Michael Shannon has an excellent performance as Kim Fowley, just simply off the wall, with high energy all the time, just all around great casting decision.
The Runaways arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG4-AVC encode framed at 2.35:1. The Runaways isn’t exactly eye candy nor does it have a crisp and clear image. The Runaways has this intentional washed out look given by its director and Sony faithfully retained for this Blu-ray release. The film has this gritty look that causes the film’s details to suffer, but even though there’s some sacrifice in detail the image looks good. Black levels are well reproduced and a few colors tend to stand out more than others like red and yellow for example appear very bright in various scenes of the film. The Runaway sports a heavy layer of grain that gives it a more film like look. All in all The Runaways look great on Blu-ray keeping in mind the original intention of the director remains intact.
The Runaways arrives on Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track. For rocked powered title the audience demands an electric track that delivers the full power of the music within the movie. Seeing as Sony handled this title you couldn’t have expected anything less that top notch quality and well the studio has delivered an impressive audio quality that is hard to match. The track handles all the dialogue without a problem. The ambience effects are delivered with extreme accuracy filling the soundstage during various scenes. The music is powerful, delivering all the sounds of the strongest musical points in the film with extreme clarity. The bass is deep and clean providing great support all around. I didn’t notice any pops or hissing at any point of the film. This is one of the best tracks I’ve heard so far.
The extras for The Runaways are somewhat of a disappointment as they don’t truly add much to the overall movie experience. Check below for a list of supplements.
Audio Commentary – For this discussion Joan Jett, Kristen Stewart, and Dakota Fanning join in to discuss the various things of the film. While they give some good tidbits of information the track can be rather boring and incoherent. The trio will sometimes make some random comments on the movie and there’s plenty of silent throughout their commentary that just makes it suffer. I would advise to skip it since there isn’t much relevance.
Plugged In: Making the Film – This features the real life members of the band, cast and crew discussing different points of the film. The best part about this piece is the interviews with the real life band members.
The Runaways – Deja’ vu, I know I’ve seen this before. This piece is just a shortened version of the making of with lots of video clips.
Trailers – Featuring movie trailers for The Square, Chloe, The Bounty Hunter, Harry Brown, The Pillars of the Earth, Youth in Revolt, and Get Low.
Before The Runaways I had no clue who the band was nor who Joan Jett was. After the movie I am left with a little bit of rock history, obviously depending on how accurate some of the story is, but regardless of the historical background I got to know where some of the tunes came from. This is the first movie were we see Dakota Fanning doing a role that we didn’t see coming this fast, all grown up, snorting lines of cocaine, popping pills, and drinking. Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart share good chemistry in the film and ultimately fit in quite nicely in their roles. The video and audio transfers are excellent, up to par with Sony’s usual high quality. The supplements are a disappointment, can’t put that in a nicer way. Overall, if you are remotely interested in Joan Jett’s career beginnings this is a piece to watch and I recommend you rent before you buy.