Tag Archive: rock of ages


Ask the general public who they think the best actor in the world is and you will probably be met with replies varying from Bradley Cooper to Ryan Gosling and, with the release of Man of Steel, you may even hear people citing Henry Cavill as ‘the best actor ever’: the general public are fickle when it comes to actors/actresses and they tend to follow the trends, whoever is ‘hot’ right now will be in the public eye more and the public will be tricked into liking them. I don’t wish to take anything away from the three particular actors I mentioned as I do like all three of them: they all have potential, but are they brilliant actors? I would hesitate to say so just yet.

Now if you’re reading this you probably have an interest in films and will no doubt know who Paul Giamatti is, but as the everyday cinema goer if they like him and the likely response will be “who?”; telling them that he is an Oscar nominated actor will probably not help either. While the likes of Cooper, Gosling and Cavill make headlines and get on the covers of magazines Paul Giamatti goes about his versatile projects with the utmost respect for the people he is working with and for the target audience. Giamatti is an actor that can consistently be relied upon to give great performances and make anything all the more enjoyable for his appearance. The reason why I have decided to write about him now is because of his insistence to ever expand his repertoire and has recently joined the cast of British ITV drama, Downton Abbey.

After slumming it for a few years, Giamatti got his first big break in 1997 when he starred in Private Parts, a role which catapulted him to face after he received a lot of praise for his performance. This led to Giamatti getting more and more supporting roles in big Hollywood films such as The Truman Show and Saving Private Ryan. His rise to fame in Hollywood continued after the turn of the 20th century appearing in Big Momma’s House, Planet of the Apes and Big Fat Liar. Okay, so not all of his films are good, but how often does and actor have a slate with no spills upon it? And anyway, it’s what he did after this that starts to get impressive.

In 2004, Giamatti reminded everybody just how good he is: Sideways. In this independent romantic comedy, Giamatti portrays a depressed writer with a very healthy liking of wine. Now I will admit that when I first watched Sideways I failed to see what the hype was about, nevertheless I recognised that Giamatti was putting in a terrific performance. Alongside Thomas Haden Church (another actor I’ve come to like a lot recently) Giamatti is absolutely wonderful, capturing an incredibly realistic portrayal and offering up moments of drama and comedy in equal share and to equal success. Sideways on the whole became a surprise hit and was nominated for five Oscars which helped the whole cast’s career greatly.

But Giamatti was made to wait for his personal Oscar nomination. That came when Giamatti starred alongside Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man, playing Joe Gould, boxing manager and friend to Russell Crowe’s character. Although he lost out at the Oscars to that little known actor George Clooney (Syriana) Giamatti proved once again that he was one of Hollywood’s finest.

Since then, Paul Giamatti has gone on to vary his career as much as possible in terms of the roles he takes. Whether it be in the great action film Shoot ‘Em Up, the animated The Ant Bully, comedy in The Hangover Part II, drama in The Ides of March or even a musical such as Rock of Ages, Giamatti will give it all and continue to dominate films with his performance. I fail to think of a film appearance by Giamatti in which he has ever failed to live up to my high expectations I have of him: he is just ultimately captivating and always exciting to watch on screen.

There are a huge number of projects in the pipeline (not least Turbo and the latest adaptation of Romeo and Juliet) but arguably most exciting is the fact that he will be appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as villain Rhino. This could possibly be the best bit of superhero movie casting since Robert Downey Jr. completely stole the hearts of the world as Tony Stark. Early set photos (pre-CGI) look exciting and as if this is going to be another memorable performance from Giamatti. With critical acclaim being fired at him from every angle, it is about time he became a staple in the minds of mainstream cinema-goers. Here’s hoping…

In my opinion, Paul Giamatti is one of the greatest character actors of all time, allowing himself to completely indulge himself in every aspect of his role and this comes across perfectly on screen. Certainly someone to watch in everything he does.

I’m back from my Christmas hiatus and in the past couple of weeks critics and fans alike have been compiling their lists of the ten best films of 2012 or twenty best or whatever you like, but I have decided to take a different approach to compiling my list and I will be looking at, month by month, what were the best releases. I’ll be using the UK release dates for films and, in doing it month by month there will be some big omissions and some surprise inclusions.

Will any of these films feature on the list?

 

January – The Grey

To be honest, if you look at what was released in January it doesn’t really fill you with enthusiasm for the rest of the year as there weren’t really many films worth noting released this month. I think that people were still more bothered about seeing the previous year’s Christmas releases (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) however there were a few films that stood out. You might think that We Need to Talk About Kevin, Shame or War Horse might win this month but I decided to go for Liam Neeson’s The Grey. Neeson continued his rebirth as an action hero in 2012 and it was largely down to his enounter with wolves in the partially surprising hit: The Grey.

 

February – Chronicle

February brought a lot of very disappointing ventures to the cinema. Safe House was a blockbuster than lacked a punch, Man on a Ledge was a very boring ‘thriller’ and One For the Money is one of the most boring films I have ever seen! However, saying that I was really impressed by Woman in Black which seemed to reinstate Hammer Films at the forefront of the horror scene but for the best film of the month it fell short and I went for Chronicle. Chronicle was seen by many to be very refreshing to an overcrowded superhero genre. The characters that appear in this found footage film are not from the pages of comic books and, like The Grey, Chronicle was another surprise hit but worth of all it’s critical acclaim.

March – 21 Jump Street

If you think that 21 Jump Street is a strange and ridiculous choice to be on this list then I really do encourage you to look at films that were released in the UK in March this year. March saw releases from some very highly anticipated films that were subsequently big disappointments, none bigger than John Carter. Of course, March also brought us the beginning of a huge new franchise with the Jennifer Lawrence led The Hunger Games, however I enjoyed 21 Jump Street a lot more. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much in the cinema, 21 Jump Street was a welcome injection of humour to an otherwise dull month.

 

April – Avengers Assemble

There was a clear winner for this month. Marvel’s Avengers Assemble became the third highest grossing film of all time, breaking no end of records on its way to this achievement. This was the event that film fans had been waiting for for 4 years and it did not disappoint, The Avengers (as it was known sensibly in other countries) provided big entertainment, big action, big characters and big laughs. The only real competition in this month came from another film with Joss Whedon’s name attached: Cabin in the Woods, which was seen to redefine the horror genre but really, nothing could top Avengers Assemble.

 

May – The Raid: Redemption

May saw a lack of big releases as the prospect of going up against Marvel’s box office Goliath seemed a little bit daunting for many studios. And of course there is a bit of a lull in the cinema calender before the big summer smashes get released. The Raid was something that we don’t see nearly enough on this side of the Atlantic, a foreign release… and a successful one at that! The Raid is a brilliant, action packed, adrenaline fueled Indonesian martial arts film and it should come as no surprise that there are plans in America to do an English language remake.

 

June – Killer Joe

Now, June saw the second big release of the year: Prometheus. And don’t get me started on how over rated that was and what a bore fest it unfortunately turned out to be. Rock of Ages was a very very dull adaptation of the successful stage musical and The Five Year Engagement was about five years too long. Killer Joe proved that Matthew McConaughey could really act and it turned out to be a very gritty, gothic crime drama that also featured Emile Hirsch who is quietly going about proving what a good actor he is too.

 

July – The Dark Knight Rises

At the beginning of July The Amazing Spider-Man was released and was a very good attempt at reshaping Spider-Man’s origins; then on the 20th of July Christopher Nolan turned up to show everyone how it was done. Nolan’s Batman trilogy ended with one of the greatest films of the year. Full stop. He brought an all star cast here and cranked up the tension, cranked up the stakes and people flocked to the cinema to see how the greatest superhero trilogy ever made would end. And it did not disappoint. Sure, it never quite reached the heights of The Dark Knight which preceded it but I thought that the ending of The Dark Knight Rises was one of the greatest and most satisfying endings I have ever seen.

 

August – Ted

Fans of controversial humour, outrageous humour and toilet humour were delivered an early Christmas present back in August when Seth MacFarlane made his feature film directorial debut in this story of a child’s teddy bear coming to life to become a sex-craved, pot smoking best friend (voiced by MacFarlane himself). I think Ted may suffer from a lack of rewatchability but all in all it was a very funny film with some great cameos and hilarious scenes. The “white trash girls names” scene is one of the best scenes of the year in itself!

 

September – Looper

There were some very popular films released in September: Anna Karenina, Dredd, The Sweeney and House at the End of the Street to name a few. Lawless, featuring wonderful performances from Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Guy Pearce among others was an incredible film and gives Looper a run for its money but when I saw Looper I knew I was watching something special. Looper is one of the best films that I have ever seen and has fast become one of my favourites. The time travel plot device that has long been a staple in the science fiction genre and Looper gave an alternate look while skirting around the edges of Rian Johnson’s own laws of time travel. Looper was incredible! My best film of the year.

 

October – Skyfall

2012 saw the return of James Bond to the big screen in Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes. After a disappointing Quantum of Solace Bond returned in a flood of critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide in the critically lauded Skyfall. Skyfall delivered a more personal look at the characters in Bond’s world, including a small trip into Bond’s background, a more in-depth look at M and revealed a few dark secrets of MI6. Skyfall also brought back some famous characters in a new style, Q and Moneypenny. Skyfall was simply fantastic and should be an outside bet for a couple of Oscar nominations.

 

November – Argo

My heart longs to say that Rise of the Guardians was the best film released in November but my head says otherwise. November saw End of Watch and Silver Linings Playbook released as well but I think that Argo was a really really incredible achievement for Ben Affleck. Argo was crammed full of suspense and tension and had audiences chewing on their nails whilst sitting on the edge of their seats. A true story of a rescue attempt using the undercover story of being a film crew for a science fiction film seems almost unbelievable but Argo brings it to the screen with such perfect realism.

 

December – Life of Pi

Life of Pi was very hotly anticipated as soon as it was announced. Being a best-selling book Life of Pi already had a huge audience waiting to see how the adaptation would turn out. The story is of 16 year old Pi who suffers a ship wreck which kills his family and leaves Pi stranded with just a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. It is a truly touching and emotional story and is already reaping the rewards of their hard work with Golden Globe nominations for Best Score, Best Drama and Best Director.

Last week Kristen Stewart was named as the highest earning actress in Hollywood of the last year, this week it is the turn of the men. Although Stewart earned over $34million her Twilight co-stars Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner earned a lot less only just manage to make it onto the top ten of the highest paid men in Hollywood.

Happier times on screen rather than off screen for Cruise.

He may be going through some rocky times in his personal life right now but Tom Cruise has reason to smile as he has been crowned as the highest paid man in Hollywood of the past year having earned a massive $75million. Cruise’s career has seen something of a turn around recently as he has returned to centre stage in films Rock of Ages and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol with a number of films in the pipeline to keep his mind off his current divorce and custody battle for daughter Suri Cruise. Although Rock of Ages was deemed a box office failure Cruise proved he is cleverer than some people may think he is after deciding to take a pay cut on Ghost Protocol in return for a share of the profits; the film went on to earn over $700million.

In second place there is a tie with last years highest earner Leonardo DiCaprio and an outlandish and outrageous and totally undeserving actor: Adam Sandler. In acting standards there is a huge gap between these two, DiCaprio rarely has a bad film released (although J. Edgar did not do as well as expected) and is widely accepted as one of the best actors working today whilst Sandler’s good films went out with the dinosaurs; he releases awful film after awful film these days and people are actually paying him to do so? DiCaprio and Sandler both earned $37million but you can’t help but feel that money of Sandler’s should have been paid for him to stop acting.

Any excuse to include The Rock.

Another shock name makes the list at number four but this time it is one of a much happier nature. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is Hollywood’s fourth highest earning actor of the last year… can you believe that?! I am a big fan of his but this news surprises me to no end, although he was pretty much single handedly responsible for the success of Fast Five last year.

Other well known names on the list are Ben Stiller at number five and will hopefully see more money when his next film The Watch is released after all the problems so far with its promotional campaign.  Johnny Depp, another Hollywood mega star going through a divorce, is on the list and despite his Dark Shadows bomb this year Depp is the only actor to have three films cross the $1billion mark globally, now THAT is impressive! Will Smith is always a box office draw and is often thought of as one of the most reliable stars in Hollywood as his name and his face brings in audiences no matter the quality of the film.

Here is the complete Top 10 according to Forbes:

1. Tom Cruise – $75million

2. Leonardo DiCaprio – $37million

= Adam Sandler – $37million

4. Dwayne Johnson – $36million

5. Ben Stiller – $33million

6. Sacha Baron Cohen – $30million

= Johnny Depp – $30million

= Will Smith – $30million

9. Mark Wahlberg – $27million

10. Robert Pattinson – $26.5million

= Taylor Lautner – $26.5million

Rock of Ages: Review.

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.

The Magnificent Seven is one of the greatest Western films ever made. The 1960 film, a remake itself of Seven Samurai, featured many big names of its day such as Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn and Charles Bronson. And now MGM have announced plans to recreate it for today’s audience.

The Magnificent Seven centres on an oppressed Mexican agricultural village under attack by marauding Mexican bandits. The village bring together seven accomplished gunmen to protect them.

MGM have announced that Tom Cruise of all people is set to head this project, even though the studio haven’t even hired a director or a writer to work on the remake, so I don’t know what’s going on here. Cruise has a busy schedule ahead of him with several films in the pipeline such as Rock of Ages, One Shot, Oblivion, Van Helsing and sequels to both Top Gun and Mission Impossible.

Cruise did seem back to his best in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol but is he really the right man to head up this remake of The Magnificent Seven? The film has been greenlit but it will not actually have its wheels in motion for at least a year with no writer or director attached and by the time Cruise gets through all the films he is making at the minute he will be well into his 50s.

Cruise is a big name in Hollywood and has box office appeal but there’s something about him that makes me think he would just not sit right in the Western.

This news actually does my head in because it is yet another remake of a classic film. The remakes are getting boring now; audiences are being forced to see the same stories told over and over again. Why can’t anyone just come up with a new idea for a Western instead of recreating one from years gone by.