Monday, 18 June 2012

REVIEW: Rock of Ages

Dir.: Adam Shankman
With: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta and Tom Cruise

I have always been a bit of a snob when it came to musicals, an attitude shared by many I think. Musicals are often seen as a low art form, loud, kitschy, sequined and in no way comparable to the “real art” of theatre and ballet. Yet every now and again I find myself being dragged to a show or watching a musical on DVD at someone’s house. Most of the time, I feel like falling asleep (and I would rather go blind than see ‘Mamma Mia!’ again) but every so often I am rather enchanted by musicals – I thought that the film version of ‘Chicago’ was fabulous for example. So when I heard about ‘Rock of Ages’, instead of immediately wrinkling my nose in self-aggrandising contempt, I was a little bit intrigued.

I heard good things about the original Broadway production and was looking forward to the film, especially to Alec Baldwin and Tom Cruise’s performances. What I realise now is that it is dangerous to be excited about anything these days, it’s healthier for the soul to be surprised by good films instead of anticipating anything. ‘Rock of Ages’ was light and entertaining but the story line was so stupid and clich├ęd that it almost cancelled out all the good things about the film. It was also unbelievably long. The pseudo-80s set-up was fun and cringe worthy and the rock ballads familiar and safe. However, the film’s protagonists, an out-of-town boy and girl, who wish to become rock’n’roll legends were so empty-eyed and boring, I seriously wonder who on earth decided that the two would be able to carry off a film. I can hardly recall their faces now.

I also found that there was not enough humour in the film, which is surprising considering that the Broadway show is famous for its laughs. The Alec Baldwin-Russell Brand duo were cute but not laugh-out-loud funny. Similarly, the Christian protesters headed by Catherine Zeta-Jones were a little on the dull side, despite Catherine’s efforts to shake things up a-la Velma from ‘Chicago’.

The film’s highlight was, of course, Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx, a rock god and the object of desire of many rock chicks in the film. Make fun of him as much as you will, but after his turn as Les Grossman in ‘Tropic Thunder’, MI:4 and now this, his street-cred should be soaring high. The man not only looks amazing at 50, he also sings beautifully and carries off tight leather pants, tattooed torso and eyeliner with aplomb. To be honest, I’d rather watch 90 mins of him screaming and thrusting his pelvis on stage instead of seeing ‘Rock of Ages’ again.

Instead of the trailer, here is Tom channelling his inner Bon Jovi.

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