The film adaptation of the 2009 Broadway musical is two hours of high energy 80s rock music coupled with laugh out loud comedy, as we see a young girl search for fame and fortune in the bright lights of Hollywood, set against the underside of the rock music industry.
Filled with great songs of the classic rock era – which has no doubt led it be being one of the last decade’s most popular musicals – the film makes you want to dance around and sing for the whole duration of the film. Although the music in the film is great, credit has to be given for the themes, of which several run through the film, with a sweet young love story evolving whilst the upside and downside of fame counterbalance each other in the background. Another theme that the film touches on is the clear mockery of the right wing with their wholesome image hiding a few dirty secrets.
The way the film has been shot also has to be given some credit, as director Adam Shankman has given it the look and feel of a 80s movie so that it looks as though it was shot in that era too. But what really brings this film to life are the actors, who are all brilliantly cast and really make you believe they are their characters.
Russell Brand (Lonny Barnett), who probably didn’t need to work hard to play his part, has some brilliant one-liners and some of the funniest moments in the film. A particular highlight is his rendition of ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’ with Alec Baldwin (Dennis Dupree), who also had his share of brilliant one liners. The pairing of these two works an awful lot better than I previously thought it would.
Mary J Blige as Justice Charlier steals the show in terms of vocal performance, nailing every song she sings. Her acting isn’t bad either. Sadly Catherine Zeta Jones isn’t on screen long enough, but for the moments she is, her hilariously deranged and psychotic portrayal of Patricia Whitmore had me in stiches and it’s great to see her doing a movie musical again, almost 10 years after Chicago.
Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta give good performances as Sherrie and Drew, but sadly get upstaged by the supporting characters. At first I didn’t think their voices were rock enough for the film, but as it progressed I warmed to them and they shone during their final performance.
I had a similar feeling towards Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx, who I don’t think has a particularly good voice and isn’t particularly convincing as a man who is supposed to ooze such sex appeal. However, as the film progresses and we get to see further into his character, you begin to warm to him and overall he is pretty good, considering he’s never properly sung on film before (Magnolia doesn’t really count).
A special mention has to be given to the endless pop culture references to 80s films and notable rock moments, the most memorable being Ozzy Osbourne’s bat biting.
Overall Verdict: Despite not doing particularly well at the box office, Rock Of Ages is great fun and will have you dancing around singing 80s rock ballads for hours afterwards. If you liked the stage show, musicals or the 80s, then buy this and watch it, you won’t be disappointed.
Reviewer: Lewis Shepherd