Rock of Ages (TheByteScene Review)

2.5 Rock-and-Roll-Will-Never-Dies out of 4


There’s a moment near the end of the film’s first act where Tom Cruise is on stage singing about how he’s a rock god that I found myself startling bored by the absolute chaos that I was witnessing. Donning a wig and bandana combination that made him look like a cross between Kid Rock and Axl Rose, Tom Cruise tramples around a stage in spectacular fashion singing Bon Jovi at a flabbergasted Malin Akerman while back-up dancers and groupies join in on a scene that’s intercut between a bar and a concert with screaming fans. Despite the film’s best efforts, however, the scene fails in producing any amount of intrigue and while it was all very pretty to look at, nothing took away from how boring it all managed to be.


In a way, that’s the film’s only problem; between a star studded cast that includes Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Mary J. Blige, Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti, and Bryan Cranston, choreography that was as gaudy and bombastic as Rock-and-Roll itself, and a plot so paper thin that every twist could have been plotted from the opening number, the movie churns at a breathtakingly monotonous pace. It’s boring, plain and simple, and it’s the perfect advertisement for the Broadway production or even an actual rock concert.


The plot is infinitesimally straightforward: A green-eyed Oklahoma girl moves to Los Angeles for a shot at the big times, ends up working at a bar on the Sunset Strip called The Bourbon Room that’s fallen on hard times, falls for a bar hand in a band whose deep fears and insecurities render him with an unfortunate case of stagefright, all while working her way towards no genuinely explained goal. At the same time as these unfortunate events, Los Angeles elects a new mayor with a wife seemingly hell-bent on destroying rock-and-roll forever; one wonders what her motivation is for exactly 15 seconds before her true designs make themselves apparent.


It’s really unoriginal.


Listening to Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough sing about their undying love for one another, I found that I didn’t particularly care about the hardships they were enduring. I already knew what was going to happen in their predetermined relationship, and the pitfalls and misunderstandings that accrue throughout the film seem irrelevant and unimportant – the characters make a point of insuring the audience remains uninterested in each development. Instead of using the music to enhance the plot, or to provide some sort of exposition, detail, or depth to an otherwise stale film, the movie embraces the Glee school of theatrics where the music is the plot and all major exposition is developed through song. This school of exposition fails frequently specifically because the audience stops caring about the characters and start caring about nothing more than the music itself.


Indeed, Rock of Ages fails because it detaches the audience from the characters and the plot by making sure that all we care about is the music. Ironically, that seems to be the film’s thesis: Rock will never die, which is all and well assuming that the audience needs convincing that rock is dying in the first place. In what can only be described as the greatest point missed by Adam Shankman and the producers of the film, the only reason many people may choose to see the film is specifically because rock didn’t die. Rock is, in fact, quite alive, and will remain to do so as long as people enjoy listening to blaring guitars, thunderous drums, and vocals that make even the most ardent believers in testosterone-consumption therapy lose confidence in their masculinity. I daresay that Rock of Ages succeeded in fulfilling the one tenant of rock that must never be considered: The movie sold out.


Certainly, it didn’t sell out to merchandising deals or labels that only care about money over the music; the movie definitely didn’t sell out to a major corporation by lending its name to an otherwise less-than-exemplary product; in no way did the movie relinquish its morals and values in the pursuit of fame or fortune. Instead, the movie sold out to the lowest common denominator by choosing to pursue brainless movie production that emphasizes flashy visuals and bombastic sound over well-rounded characters and an interesting plot.


I once had the pleasure of attending a 20-minute production of a Guitar Hero themed production at Canada’s Wonderland. The musical selections were almost identical to Rock of Ages, with the sole distinction that the Guitar Hero production knew it was nothing more than a marketing ploy designed to sell video games. The so-called “Actors” enjoyed themselves because they were dressed up in some of the most inane costumes that have been worn outside of a masquerade and were lipsyncing rock anthems by using plastic instruments. At no point did they take their “Gigs” seriously and the audience had fun because they were aware of the productions true purpose as a mindless distraction from a theme park built around mindless distractions.


Honestly, Guitar Hero Live lasted 20 minutes, was nothing more than a marketing ploy, contained almost the same elements, and it was still more enjoyable, well-rounded, and well-written than Rock of Ages.


As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!



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