Saturday, June 16, 2012

Rock of Ages Review

Greetings, Interwebs!  I'm not gonna lie - I don't really see many musicals.  Or musically-infused films.  I watched Glee for a bit and was mildly entertained.  I actually love the musical episode of Scrubs and, of course, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog...but other than those they just aren't my thing.  I understand why people love them and that there's an audience for them and I'm sure those types of people will love Rock of Ages.  I'm just not one of them.  Oh, and if you care about spoilers I'd stop here - the Broadway show has been around for quite a few years so I don't see any problems with spoiling it here.  And honestly, the story doesn't matter all that much.

As I've stated many a time, I'm willing to give anything a chance.  Including Rock of Ages.  Part of me is glad that I did and part of me is not-so-glad.  I'll start with what I liked: the music.  I'm a late-80s baby, but my father listened to nothing but "classic" rock during my youth.  Therefore, I grew up with all of the music on display in RoA.  Twisted Sister, Journey, Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Extreme (yes, I said Extreme).  Being a fan of classic rock almost guarantees that you'll enjoy this film at a basic level.  The problem is that most of these songs are performed just so-so.  I felt, at least in the beginning of the film, that the vocal performance were clearly dubbed in via ADR, and evoked memories of Glee (which, in this case, is a bad thing).  And that's fine...I suppose.  Again, I'm not as knowledgeable about this genre as others, but to me it seemed quite obvious.  That said, I did enjoy a few of vocal performances, with Tom Cruise's Stacee Jaxx stealing the show.

If there's only one reason I would recommend this film to someone (besides a love of 80s rock), it would be Tom Cruise.  He plays an almost-washed-out rocker (Guns N Roses front man Axl Rose was the inspiration - and it shows) who is about to break off into a solo career in an environment that is shifting ever-more to the rap/boy band scene.  To put it simply, Cruise is fantastic as Stacee Jaxx.  While his performance borders on over-the-top, I found him extremely entertaining and easily was my favorite aspect of the film.  His rendition of "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard was my favorite song - well, that and a version of Extreme's "More Than Words."  Those were my two favorites in a sea of awesome music.

I thought the cast was down-right fantastic.  The amount of acting talent on screen was insane: Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand, Malin Akerman, Bryan Cranston and the aforementioned Cruise.  The two leads, Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta were alright as well.  I enjoy Alec Baldwin no matter what he's doing - especially if he's the owner of an L.A. rock club with some rad 80s rocker hair.

Now on to what I didn't like: almost everything else.  While the cast was great, what they were doing was not.  Granted, I've never seen the Broadway play on which this film is based so perhaps the story is adhering to the source material.  That said, there really isn't much substance to the plot on a basic film level - and I understand that people won't be going to see this film for the narrative.  Its the music that matters.  And that fact comes through quite evidently.  The story, mid-western girl moves to L.A. hoping to become famous meets handsome wanna-be rocker, is well-trodden territory to say the least.  A sub-plot is thrown in regarding the closure of Baldwin's club and blah blah blah.  The story goes nowhere and hinges entirely on your caring about the two leads and their relationship.  Which I really didn't.  I'm supposed to believe that they're madly in love after like, four days?  Not buying it.  By the end of the film it seems that quite a bit of time has passed, when in reality its probably only days or a week.  There are plot lines that just get thrown out the window and forgotten when those were the bits that I actually cared about.  Personally, I could've done away with the romance completely and focused on Baldwin's club and Stacee Jaxx.  And there is just some plain weird stuff thrown in at times..

I have more to say but its not really worth saying.  On some levels, Rock of Ages is fantastic.  On a basic film level it fails quite hard.  I actually wouldn't mind seeing it again - mainly for the music and the awesomeness that is Stacee Jaxx.  He's probably one of my favorite characters so far this year.  If you're a fan of musicals then you'll probably enjoy Ages quite a bit.  Everyone probably should just go see The Avengers again.  Oh, and am I the only person who thinks that Julianne Hough's voice is sqeakily-annoying?

Rock of Ages is an entertaining musical...but not a very good film.

The Bearded Bullet.

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