I first saw the trailers for Rock of Ages in some restaurant while having dinner one time, and what I saw just got me eagerly anticipating for its release. First with the obvious Guns N’ Roses references (actually, mainly the Axl Rose reference in Tom Cruise’s character), and also with the concept of fusing rock with musical, maybe not something that is particularly novel, but nevertheless interesting seeing how musicals have become tools of pop music with High School Musical and such.
Unfortunately (or rather unsurprisingly), this “rock” musical failed to live up to its hype. While featuring many classics from, erm, classic bands like Twisted Sister, Journey and Poison, for the most part the performance of these tracks turned them into poppy rubbish. Not that the originals weren’t trendy, but Rock of Ages just took the rock out of the music, especially with personalities like Mary J. Blige on the cast (not exactly known to be a rocker, is she?). And this started off right from the beginning of the movie with lead character Sherrie crooning Night Ranger‘s Sister Christian. Actress Julianne Hough being of a country music background unfortunately spoiled the ballad’s powerful emotions with her bubbly singing, and this will be a major downfall of the movie as it progresses. Now I have nothing against her vocals cos she can actually sing pretty darn well as shown on later parts of the movie, but she just fails to fit into the rock image that is supposed to be portrayed, and someone with powerhouse vocals would have greatly improved the movie.
Then there is Drew Boley, Sherrie’s love interest, who also aspires to be a rock star, but at least this guy can sing pretty decently. But some scenes just fell flat on its face, like when he performed I Wanna Rock. Dude, is the guitar there as an instrument or is it just a rockstar accessory? The part where he ended up being manipulated into a boyband suited him more, to be honest.
Tom Cruise was alright though, managing to capture that rock star attitude though there are moments where these don’t really feel convincing. And if rumours are true about Tom Cruise singing all his portions, then it is really impressive, considering the difficulties of the songs that are covered, such as Paradise City and Wanted Dead or Alive. Oh and you can’t really go wrong with Russell Brand and his stupid, childish sense of humour, being one of the other reasons that made me decide to check this movie out.
Feedback from those who have watched the actual Broadway musical say that the movie’s rubbish, and even without comparisons to other “versions”, this has pretty much sucked on its own. So no, rock and musical should never be fused together again if things are gonna be further watered-down and dumbed down for the mainstream audience. If I wanna watch a movie based on classic rock, I think I’ll stick to other movies like Mark Wahlberg’s Rockstar…