Enlivened by its musical elements and severely compromised by prosaic scripting, “Just Like Before” is a minor rock ‘n’ roll movie. Talking point locally will be the casting of veteran combo the Dawn as themselves in a tale that brings their deceased guitarist into the frame. Mix of autobiographical drama and fantasy deserves marks for imagination and enterprise but doesn’t work as a whole. Band’s recognition factor among fans bodes well for commercial prospects on a planned November release, but helmer Mike Sandejas’ labor of love isn’t likely to spark much offshore interest.
Auds unaware of the Dawn may not catch on until half way through the pic that they’re a real-life act who’ve been on the Philippines rock scene since 1986. Insertion of archival material ups the impact of a story centered on singer Jett Pangan. Using the fictional device of memory loss, Pangan is unable to recall anything after the 1988 murder of charismatic guitarist Teddy Diaz. Pangan gradually puts the pieces together and leads the band to better days. Pic drags too often and needs tighter editing to cover mostly weak thesping. Tech package is just OK.