Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review: Rock of Ages

Last Tuesday (June 12) I attended the press screening of Rock of Ages. Thanks to Pinoyexchange and Warner Brothers Philippines. This review is originally posted at Official PEx Movie Reviews

I'm not familiar with the musical Rock of Ages but for what is worth the concept is something that would definitely appeal to the mainstream audience so it's no surprise a movie adaptation happened. Featuring music that is well-loved by the general public and with committed performances from it cast, Rock of Ages is a crowd pleaser that aims nothing but to entertain.

Sherrie (Dancing with the Stars' Julianne Hough) is a small town girl who moves to Sunset Trip and meets Drew (Rebelde's Diego Boneta) who works for a popular night club Bourbon Room and he helps her get a job as a waitress. Sherrie & Drew pursue their Hollywood dreams together but they soon realize that the road to stardom is not as it easy as it seems. Meanwhile, Bourbon Room's owner Dennis (Alec Baldwin) stages a final performance of popular rock band Arsenal to raise money for the club's unpaid taxes which raises the ire of Patricia (Catherine Zeta-Jones), the conservative mayor's wife, who has a vendetta against Arsenal's frontman Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise). Staxx, who is leaving the band to pursue a solo career, meets someone on the night of the concert who will rock his world in ways he never thought.

There's nothing much to say to the plot as it tells a lot of stories at once but didn't fall into place. The core story between Sherrie and Drew is so predictable but the songs they perform make them watchable. The music is definitely the strongest asset of the movie and almost makes up for the poorly constructed screenplay. There are a lot of scenes in the movie that exist only to lead up to a musical number.For one, Mary J. Blige's subplot (and her character for that matter) is pointless and they could have gotten anybody for Blige's role but she sings all her songs magnificently and led one showstopping performance of Anyway You Want It.

The movie features a LOT of songs and it feels like for every 5 minutes a musical sequence comes in but despite that, Rock of Ages didn't feel exhausting to watch because you can feel the energy and enthusiasm on each performance. The cast performances are a mixed bag though. Hough and Boneta are charming on screen but their acting abilities are limited while their voices suit certain type of songs only. Their rendition of Don't Stop Believing is so-so but their mash up of More Than Words/Heaven was good. Baldwin looks and sounds awkward when he sings while Russell Brand's shtick is not my cup of tea but those two have great chemistry which made their Can't Fight This Feeling number a riot to watch. Catherine Zeta Jones is stuck with such a broad and dumb role that she couldn't do much about it but dial up the camp.

But the one who stole the show is Tom Cruise. I was surprised how he sounded good and how devoted he was to the character. Was it a believable take of a crazy, egoistic and aging rock star? I'm not sure actually but it's absoultely a fascinating performance. The movie lights up everytime he is on screen and his charm & skills were in full swing in I Want to Know What Love Is, a number so nutty but he sells the scene effectively.

Rock of Ages is definitely not for someone who is a music purist or a "true" rock fan but if you are someone who can tolerate over the top performances, silly broad characters and insane sequences that literally interprets a song's lyrics then you are in for one fun ride.

Rating: 7. 5 / 10

Opens today (June 14) in theaters nationwide

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