Movie Review: “Rock of Ages”- Tom Cruise Soars, Movie Falls

Written by Ethan Butler June 18, 2012

Every time that I see a film I always try to keep an open mind going in, this mindset has enabled me to find something I like in nearly all of the films that I view. In director Adam Shankman’s “Rock of Ages” there are certainly many things to enjoy, but overall the film does not quite live up to its promise of being nothing but a good time. The story is somewhat overdone as it revolves around small town girl Sherrie and city boy Drew falling in love whilst chasing their dreams of stardom in 1980’s L.A. This story is not fully fleshed out; which can be attributed to a weaker script that is not on par with it’s mostly exceptional cast. In addition Shankman decides to film the big dance numbers with what seems to be as many cuts as humanly possible making it difficult to appreciate the surely impressive numbers. 

What Shankman does deliver is an expectedly campy musical, portraying a very tame view of what was a decidedly not tame time in Los Angeles. His cast; particularly Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, and Russell Brand all appear to be having a grand-old-time in their roles which is what gives the overall weaker film moments of greatness. It is Cruise though who delivers most, as he is utterly and completely captivating as rock god: Stacee Jaxx. 

Tom Cruise Rock God

In recent years Tom Cruise has rapidly become one of my favourite actors, and in “Rock of Ages” he continues to climb up my list. Prior to finally seeing the film I had heard that Cruise was exceptional, so going in my expectations were high; and I am very pleased to say that he goes well beyond what I had expected. When he is on stage performing hit songs such as: Dead or Alive (Bon Jovi) you forget that you are watching a movie, and instead feel as if you are at a concert of a rock legend. He, in addition to being vocally impressive showcases an unbelievably powerful stage presence. His performance is the main reason to see the film, followed closely by the hilarious comic team of Baldwin and Brand, who are an immensely amusing duo. Despite Cruise being awesome, and Baldwin and Brand being hilarious; they still could not fully make up for the general blandness of the leads. 

Weakest Link(s)

Despite some impressive vocal performances, lead actor’s Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta fail to bring their respective characters to life. Hough’s Sherrie and Boneta’s Drew on account of their weaker performances get lost in the shuffle of characters. Becoming the least interesting of the bunch. This coupled with the surprisingly terrible performance from Catherine Zeta-Jones, the underdeveloped strip club owner portrayed by the talented Mary J. Blige, and the hollow story; the film is kept from being a true cinematic delight. 

 Atmosphere 

Being someone who was not yet alive in the 1980’s I can only base my image of Los Angeles during this time from what I read and hear. From what I gather it was a much more morally ambiguous, and explicit place than the L.A. that is shown in the film. Of course on account of the films more family friendly rating, the L.A. that I speak of could not properly be shown. It is alluded to in some places such as Stacee Jaxx’s dressing Room, but even that was quite tame. 

In the end we are given a mildly entertaining film that could have been great had it cast more accomplised actors in the two main lead roles, had better filming on the what I can only assume was impressive dance numbers, and had a more developed script. The silliness of it all leads to some fun moments (some involving a monkey) but overall director Adam Shankman delivers a campy musical, partially saved by it’s mostly talented cast; particularly the spectacular Tom Cruise. 

My Rating: 6/10

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