Published on June 5th, 2012 | by Adnan M.1
Rock of Ages – Movie Review
In 2005, Chris D’Arienzo’s book Rock of Ages smashed its way into the theatre scene when it was adapted into a musical and brought to life on the stages of LA’s King King club on Hollywood Boulevard. Directed by Kristin Hanggi, the musical began its long climb from the LA scene to the lights of Broadway, moving first into the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in 2009 from off-Broadway’s New World Stages and finally settling at the Helen Hayes Theatre on March 24th 2011, after a short close in January of 2011. Since then, the musical has had two National U.S. Tours, an Australian tour, a Toronto production and a West-End production. Now, the magic of D’Arienzo’s story is being reborn in an upcoming film by New Line Cinema.
Rock of Ages, directed by Hairspray’s Adam Shankman, follows the primary story line of the original musical by revolving around the love affair between waitress Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) and busboy Drew Boley (Diego Boneta), both trying to keep up with the crazy rock & roll era of the 1980′s. Shankman has very successfully built the quintessential elements of rock & roll in the film, occasionally shifting momentum to focus on other complex and vital themes. He has of course added his own twists & changes to the original story, which overall has not taken away from the experience.
With Boneta & Hough both singers, their voices do shine in this film. The sassy style Hough brings to her character Sherrie is quite refreshing, truly putting the spotlight on her character throughout the film. Boneta on the other hand does a great job pulling off the naive, innocent-boy image that his character demands, which in turn has helped with the overall flow of the story. Staying on the subject of singers, Mary J. Blige and her character Justice Charlier bring a nice complexity to the film, adding that extra oomph that takes the film up a level. By the same token, Alec Baldwin, who plays The Bourbon Room owner Dennis Dupree, provides a performance that adds quite a lot of value to the flow of the film, becoming an important part in developing other characters in the film.
The highlight performances are of course by Tom Cruise as the rock & roll legend Stacee Jaxx and Russell Brand as Lonny Barnett. Cruise is well known for putting 100% into his various roles and Rock of Ages is a quintessential example of just how hard he works. He portrays a character who is emotionally damaged internally but is able to demonstrate high levels of energy & strength when performing on stage. Cruise demonstrates an amazing ability to juggle different emotions, convey short & powerful statements and be able to capture your attention by simply facial expressions. His performance is just brilliant! By the same token, Russell Brand brings his obvious ability to make you laugh but his most positive contribution is being the narrator of the story. As his character Barnett builds up the story from the very beginning, Brand’s English roots add a unique dimension to the delivery of the narration, which simply works.
Not-so-exciting performances, however, were from Catherine Zeta-Jones as Patricia Whitmore and Bryan Cranston as Mike Whitmore. Their performances are not dull by any means but their chemistry doesn’t quite work. This is likely due to the fact that their characters are replacements to Hertz and Franz Klinemann, the father-son team from the original story. Shankman definitely had good intentions to cast an alpha-female character to the story, and both actors give it their all. Their characters, however, could have been a little more refined to help weave the story together.
Rock of Ages is a fantastic film that takes an iconic theatre spectacle and ups the experience to a whole new level with great music, fantastic visuals and mind-boggling performances, such as Tom Cruise’s. Shankman has definitely created something that makes you want to get up and rock & roll! It nothin’ but a good time!
Rock of Ages releases across Canada on June 15th 2012. Check your local theatre for listings.