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FIlm Review: Rock of Ages

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It starts with 1987 and Guns and Roses' Paradise City, and this is how we meet our naive protagonist Sherrie (Julianne Hough) -on a bus to Hollywood where she plans to ‘make it’. It goes slightly downhill from here.

Within five minutes of arriving in L.A, our protagonist gets robbed, meets the boy of her dreams, Drew, (Diego Boneta) and gets a job at The Bourbon Room: an oasis of sin that glorifies the god of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, which is run by hardcore rock fanatics Dennis (Alec Baldwin), and Lonny (Russell Brand).

Directed by choreographer turned director Adam Shankman (Hairspray), and choreographed by Mia Michaels (So You Think You Can Dance?), Rock of Ages is one epic soundtrack into glam rock and 80s rock n’ roll, ruined by exaggerated close ups and not enough Tom Cruise.

The plot is predictable as hell -like, really predictable. Boy meets girl, girl can sing, so can boy, boy and girl want to be rock stars blah, blah, blah. For the first half hour, you’re left wondering why the film was even made. Then it starts to pick up. But only slightly.

Catherine Zeta-Jones plays villain Patricia Whitman, the mayor’s wife, a religious conservative whose mission is to close the doors of hell -a.k.a The Bourbon Room.

The isn’t Jones'  best role to date; her portrayal is slightly stiff and melodramatic which is disappointing when considering that her brilliant performance in Chicago won her an Oscar for ‘best supporting actress’. Still, Jones gives it a good go and her presence helps to detract away from the nauseating ‘will they... won’t they...’ thing that Sherrie and Drew have going on.

Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand are an unlikely hit and miss pair. The ‘comedy duo’ just don’t quite make the cut. Baldwin’s comedic talents are wasted in this one and all Brand does is remind us that the only character he can play is himself, although he does spot a brommie accent, an homage to rocker Ozzy Osborne perhaps? It is doubtful that Osborne will be particularly flattered by this.

Let’s move on to the reason why this film is worth a watch: Tom Cruise. Cruise’s performance as Stacee Jaxx is electrifying and simply perfect. His portrayal of Jaxx is like a fusion of his character Frank in Magnolia and the legendary Iggy Pop. His duet of the classic I Want to Know What Love Is with journalist Constance (Malin Akerman) embodied the humorous sexual charge that was absent from the rest of the film, perhaps this is due to its 12A certfication.

The thing about Cruise is that even in a role so satirical, he remains completely method. He never breaks character; he is Stacee Jaxx. He is this vulgar cross between Axl Rose (when he was hot) and Bret Michaels (when he was hot). He is sex and he knows it and boy does he flaunt it! This guy is shirtless in almost every scene and no one is complaining at all.

Paul Giamatti was also quite brilliant in this though he didn’t get a lot of scene time. He plays Stacee Jaxx’s sleazy, greedy, manipulative manager Paul Gill. Giamatti delivered this repulsive and sardonic performance that will make an audience cringe slightly every time he is on screen.

Oh Mary J. Blige is in this one as well, somewhere near the end. Her character is fairly irrelevant and poorly acted but her harmonies were pretty epic.

As musical adaptations go when compared with musicals like Chicago and Moulin Rouge, this film simply okay but it has its moments. The soundtrack is great and will have you running home to fill your iPod with some old school rock and roll classics but as a film, it is simple -just like watching an elongated episode of Glee with better interpretation of music, better choreography and Tom Cruise. But thanks to Tom Cruise, it’s definitely worth the watch.

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