Directed by: Adam Shankman
Written by: Justin Theroux , Chris D’Arienzo, Allan Loeb (screenplay) – Chris D’Arienzo (musical book)
Starring: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Bryan Cranston, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Tom Cruise
Based on hit Broadway musical of the same name, Rock of Ages tells the story of Drew (Diego Boneta) and Sherrie (Julianne Hough) whose dreams of entering their beloved Rock arena has drawn them to the iconic Bourbon Room on the Sunset Strip; where Rock god Stacie Jaxx (Tom Cruise) is on hand to save rock Mecca from the prudish city council.
There’s an immediate question that one has to ask before viewing Rock of Ages; Are you happy that your favourite and potentially sacred rock anthems are being “gleeked” and reinterpreted for the sake of a mainstream Hollywood audience? I don’t have a Journey tattoo or anything but the idea that 80s rock is now a kitsch, tame and ‘cute’ nostalgic trip feels like the antithesis of the groupie guzzling, coke, fuelled, bacchanal of the Kiss’, Crue’s et al. By all accounts the stage production is a wild success and a hell of a lot of fun. There’s a sincerity, and hyper presence in a stage performance that just can’t be replicated on screen. Transitioning between characters in duets between different locations just doesn’t have the potency of the production where they’re occupying different sections/tiers of the limited stage.
The leads are typically ‘Glee’ and therefore plastic and disposable. I’d really like to see Russell Brand dong ANYTHING that isn’t inferior scripted a typical ‘Russell Brand’ -if you’ve hated him in everything else, as I have, the saving grace is that his role’s relatively small. Alec Baldwin’s performance barely elevates itself out of cruise (no pun intended) control whose best moments you’ve seen in the trailers and brief roles for great actors like Paul Giamatti and Bryan Cranston prove that they can’t ever be bad.
Tom Cruise is sensational. Shankman uses the audience’s preconceived notions about who he is to great advantage amplifying the sex, drug and rock ‘n’ roll in the character, and I think Cruise relishes the opportunity. Cruise taps into that primal rock lead allure and innate manipulation of his body to weave the tortured front man, consumed by his own aura. His singing is quite impressive (if heavily produced – like the rest of the soundtrack) and he brings something raw to the overly broad proceedings.
Rock of Ages is what happens when Glee travels back in time with Guitar Hero and does a serious Scarface sized bowl of cocaine and starts a hair band. Cruise’s performance is the only thing I enjoyed.
Rock of Ages is released in Australia on Thursday the 14th of June 2012, and in the U.S.A on the 15th of June 2012.