Rock of Ages is the big screen adaptation of hugely successful stage musical of the same name featuring some of the biggest rock songs of the 1980s. Bringing musicals to the big screen isn’t anything new with Mamma Mia, Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street and, later on this year, even Les Miserables all featuring in cinemas.

Rock of Ages is the story of a small town girl and a city boy who meet on the Sunset Strip whilst pursuing their dreams in Hollywood. Their love faces challenges with accusations of betrayal, self doubts and the threatened closure of famous rock club the Bourbon all playing a part in their relationship.

Tom Cruise is Stacee Jaxx; lead singer of huge rock band Arsenal and a stereotypical ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll’ rock star who has gone off the rails. Although, whilst the marketing of Rock of Ages will tell you this is a Tom Cruise film if you do go see it just for him then you will be disappointed. The main roles fall to professional dancer Julianne Hough and pretty boy Mexican actor Diego Boneta who are both actually really good to watch with a clear chemistry on screen and the two put in very enjoyable performances. Alec Baldwin, Bryan Cranston and Mary J. Blige all put in sustainable supporting performances whilst Catherine Zeta Jones puts in a performance that makes you question how you never found her annoying at all before this. Paul Giamatti is always reliable and does enough here as Stacee Jaxx’s agent. Russell Brand is awful; his accent constantly changing throughout the film, the delivery of his lines drier than the desert and his all round persona just stinking of desperation to be adored; whoever cast Brand in this film and keeps casting him in other films should really take a good hard look at themselves and ask them why they are doing this.

But it is the musical numbers that draw in fans of musicals and there are plenty of big songs featured in Rock of Ages: Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin,  Foreigner’s Jukebox Hero, Poison’s Every Rose Has It’s Thorn as well as We Built This City by Starship. And the musical numbers are executed very well, fantastic vocals, loud music that create a very real atmosphere and an enjoyable two or three minutes when the songs are on.

Unfortunately though, everything else that isn’t being sung is incredibly dull. A lot of the comedy is misplaced and falls flat and for a light hearted musical the laughs are a pretty important part to enjoyment. The characters are very two dimensional and the dialogue is poorly written and feels very forced at times. It’s a musical so you can look past how quickly people fall in love and form a relationship because that’s what musicals are all about; a sense of utopia. But poor dialogue, poor characters, poor storylines and an all round poor structure take away from the solid performances and good musical numbers because it’s just not enjoyable as a film.

Lots of video games and books that are turned into films are very criticised heavily leading to calls for books and video games to be left on their own platforms and I think the same needs to be said here. Big musicals do well because they include the audience, they make the audience feel like they are a part of the whole performance (something for which Rock of Ages, the stage musical, takes very seriously and is very well known for) and doing this is not possible with films, you do not get the full musical experience watching on a screen.

This is something that should have been left on the stage and, despite Tom Cruise’s involvement and a great soundtrack, all round fails as a film.

My Rating: 4/10.

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