Thunderstruck (2004)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Damoin Gameau, Stephen Curry, Ryan Johnson, Callan Mulvey, Sam Worthington
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurette, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailer

Okay, I admit it. I decided to check out "Thunderstruck" mostly because of its association with AC/DC. A film that centers around the band should be fun, and as it turns out "Thunderstruck" is a wonderful dedication to AC/DC's late front man Bon Scott, a man who will forever live in the hearts of all hard rock fans.

Where else but from Australia could a real AC/DC tribute be coming from? Here we have five teenagers in Sidney in 1991, dreaming the dream of becoming famous rock stars one day. Rehearsing in their garage they live the teenage metal-band life, adoring their favorite bands. Like we all did.

One day, all fired up, right after a concert of AC/DC they try to hail a cab. The cab driver loses patience with the youngsters when two of them disappear in an alley and take their time relieving themselves, looking fascinated at an old poster of former AC/DC singer Bon Scott. The taxi takes off without the five friends and almost immediately crashes into a truck, exploding in a fiery ball, right in front of their eyes. The guys take that as a sign – Bon Scott saved their lives – and as a result they swear an oath. If one of them should die, the other guys will bury him next to Bon Scott.

Twelve years later, the friends no longer are as close as they used to be and each of them is leading their own lives when one of them is killed in a freak accident. Remembering their promise, the remaining four friends take Ronnie's ashes and go on a road trip to bury him in Perth on the other side of the continent, next to the grave of Bon Scott.

I think what struck a chord with me the most about "Thunderstruck" is the film's authenticity. I could completely identify with each one of these friends. I used to be just like any one of them. A long haired metal guitarist, hoping for the big splash, living for the music and the day, with a bit of booze, sex and rock and roll, and a bit of attitude… good and bad. I'm also familiar with the sense of camaraderie and dedication these band mates have for each other even after all these years.

So, for me seeing these guys try to do what they believe in gave me a comfortable feeling, a sense of remembering how things were before life got oh-so serious. A nostalgia for times past, and with that mindset I firmly rooted for these four friends to make sure they make it all the way to Bon Scott's grave. Of course, the fact that I've always been a fan of Bon Scott myself, helped a bit, too. Add to it some of the Aussie humor that spices up the film and you know you're in for a real treat.

What also gave me the kicks was the music in this film. It is hard to describe, especially since everyone is probably expecting a full metal soundtrack with AC/DC tunes blaring at every street corner. Not so. Better than that, actually. The soundtrack mixes orchestral influences with hard rock and creates an amalgam that is heavy, yet accessible and full of emotions. Then there are whimsical etudes, almost, like an all-acoustic version of the AC/DC's classic "T.N.T." – absolutely amazing. Many themes form AC/DC songs and other rock tunes are woven into this orchestral score that sometimes you begin to wonder where you've heard this string arrangement before, only to realize it is something from "Let There Be Rock" or "Dirty Deeds." Just as the movie itself is highly motivated and inspired, the music perfectly complements that by creating a fresh rock soundtrack that is never cliché..

From its Eurohorror specialist roots, Anchor Bay is turning more and more into a real Indie force with its current releases and "Thunderstruck" is no different. Presented in a gorgeous anamorphic widescreen presentation in the film's 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio the film never looks like a small budget film. Entirely free of blemishes or grain the movie is razor sharp and has vibrant colors throughout. Reproducing the most subtle hues in the spring landscape of the Australian outback to the murky club scenes, ever shot in the film is coming to life with wonderful clarity and detail. No edge-enhancement is evident and the compression is absolutely flawless.

The audio on the release is also staggering, coming as a full-bodied 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track. With a great bass extension and clear high ends, the track is free of distortion and has plenty of oompf to drive home scenes like the AC/DC concert or the garage rehearsals, as well as the busy scenes with many of characters and ambient noises making up the sound field.
Dialogues are well integrated and always understandable. Still subtitles or closed captions would have been extremely welcome, if only to make the Australian accents a bit more accessible at times.

As extras the DVD contains a commentary track by director Darren Ashton in which he talks about the origins of the story and how the production came along. It is an interesting track in which he covers many aspects, including the cast and the shoot itself.

A "Making Of" featurette is also included on the release, allowing the cast and crew members to talk about the film and their participation in a bit more detail. In different chapters different aspects of the production are being covered, such as the casting, the music, the writing of the film and so forth. A selection of Deleted Scenes is also here rounding out the release nicely, together with the movie's trailer.

"Thunderstruck" is a real feel-good movie for rock and metal fans of my generation, who actually remember Bon Scott and the birth of heavy metal. Being part of that culture had something special and this movie captures that essence better than most other rock movies I've seen in recent years. It is too bad that AC/DC do not really make an appearance in the film themselves, but still this is one helluva tribute to one of the forerunners of Heavy Metal and, of course, to one of Australia's biggest iconic antiheroes, Bon Scott himself. A must-own for every AC/DC fan out there, no doubt!