When you think of Tom Cruise what comes to mind? International Spy? Samurai with a saki Problem? Fugitive from aliens? Well to my surprise the man of many roles adds another character to his repertoire, which is the fictional singer Stacey Jaxx. If you are like me, you have never heard of this name, but as I found out from my Organic Professor Cruise’s newest movie Rock Of Ages is based off of a Broadway show. While the show is quite popular, I had my doubts about seeing another musical come to life on the big screen, especially with Cruise taking a lead singing role. What are my thoughts on this movie? Keep on reading to find out.
The plot of this movie for those of you don’t know centers on Sherrie Christain (Julianne Hough) a country girl with a big dream of making it big in 1987 Hollywood. She arrives to find the city to be much harsher than expected and quickly meets Drew Boley (Diego Boneta) a local bar worker. The two of them soon start their adventure to fame that involves multiple characters, all of them with a story tied to none other than Stacey Jaxx (Tom Cruise).
Let’s start this review off on a positive note by talking about the music of this movie. Now in the past musicals have not been the strongest movies, High School Musical 3 and Glee: The Movie being prime examples of failure. However, in Rock of Ages the team managed to do the famous song justice to bring the 80’s music into the modern world. Unlike a certain television show, Rock of Ages focuses more on musical balance by adding actual music to the number, instead of just relying on voices. Even on heavy singing numbers there is a nice blend of voices instead of just one singer taking all the spotlight, which I liked. I was impressed with the integration of classic rock guitars, pace setting drums, and dynamic voices that resulted in one heck of a soundtrack. However, I must admit that it’s amazing how good a studio team can make a person sound, as some of these actors don’t have the voice of a singer, such as the Tom Cruise songs. However, other stars like Hough, Boneta, and Blige sounded more natural as they performed flashy, well-choreographed dance numbers. Perhaps what impressed me even more was the timing and placement of the various numbers throughout the movies. Where most musicals fail to find a balance between singing and dancing, Rock of Ages managed to use their music to help emphasize the emotions of the characters while still adding to the story.
The second biggest strength of this movie is how well the team captured the lifestyle of 1987. From the design of the crazy outfits to the strobe light infused club scenes, Rock of Ages is a visual tribute to the 80’s rock style. I was completely immersed in the world, and felt I was learning about a culture that has long been extinct. What also brought the world to life was the dynamic camera work. Instead of settling on one camera angle to film the concert, the crew kept used varying angles to make one feel like they were at a concert in a club, from both audience and performer side. The editing of the shots and sequences is even blended just right so that every lyric is perfectly lip synced, every intense guitar strum is flawlessly blended with the music, and the dance moves are coordinated with the acting scenes.
Despite all the strengths I have mentioned, there are a few weaknesses for me that I wasn’t a big fan of. For one thing although the story was a decent love story, or should I say two love stories, there were a few intense sex scenes that weren’t to my liking. I can appreciate the cultural references, but for a rock musical I could have done without these scenes, that include the French kissing scenes as well. Although the acting was good for the most part, there was a few times where I found the acting annoying, especially with Tom Cruise’s trippy, alcohol infused, mumbled rants. Russell Brand as well is his usual self, but without much variation in his routine, the one liners get a little old with the exception of a few well timed limericks. Despite how much I enjoyed the music, there were a few of their versions I didn’t particularly care for, but as luck would have it these numbers were not too long so I didn’t have to suffer for too long.
Rock Of Ages is definitely one of the better musical movies I’ve seen in a long time. Instead of being filled with cheesy, teenage dance numbers, and sappy, drama filled love stories this movie has a welcomed balance. With lots of good humor, a fun soundtrack, and beautiful visuals this movie is definitely one I recommend for the theaters. However, for those who don’t like the 80’s or can’t really understand the cultural statement I’ll tell you now to avoid this movie. If you decide not to see it in theaters, then definitely plan to get it on Netflix ASAP. As for those going for a shirtless Tom Cruise will get their money’s worth because there is seldom a scene where he is wearing a shirt. My scores for this movie are the following:
Movie Overall: 7.0
Check back soon for my next review, and remember to keep enjoying the movies.