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Rock of Ages: Legendary Musical Goes Hollywood
Sherrie (Hough) and Drew (Boneta) work at the Bourbon - the biggest club on the Sunset Strip which is unfortunately in dire straits - while entertaining visions of rock and roll fame in their heads. Stacie Jaxx (Cruise), the biggest rock star in the business, is scheduled to give a show at the club which could solve all of its financial woes and save it from the Mayor’s wife (Zeta Jones) desire to shut it down. Due to a last minute cancellation, Drew gets the chance to open for Jaxx and his sudden brush with fame drives a wedge between him and Sherrie. They both quit work and find themselves going against everything they believe in and Jaxx battles with his soulless manager (Giamatti) and struggles with his fame, while Dennis (Baldwin), the club’s owner, tries to keep it afloat.
When we heard Adam Shankman was behind bringing the hit Broadway musical to the big screen, we were pretty optimistic. He's the guy behind the most recent adaptation of Hairspray and knows his way around cheesy, feel good musicals. Unfortunately however, Rock of Ages isn't nearly as good as Hairspray and we're inclined to pin the blame on the director, choreographers and screenwriters.
The cast, with the exception of Mary J Blige, definitely weren't chosen for their rock chops - the vast majority of them have thin, reedy voices - and for God's sake, Julianne Hough is a dancer; let her dance. All in all, there isn’t nearly enough dancing and the choreography is woefully weak.
As for the music, if you're the kind that believes that rock and cheesy musicals shouldn't mix, don't come within ten feet of this film. If, however, you’re ok with hair metal i.e. the cheesiest era ever known to rock, hearing the songs is going to be fun – even if the covers aren't that great. The songs are best sung in a concert setting with the few scenes in which people spontaneously burst into song and dance are hit or miss; a pretty egregious example come in the form of Zeta Jones and a posse of conservative women thrusting to Pat Benatar’s ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’. Again, this isn’t Zeta Jones’ fault; she was incredible in Chicago and can both sing and dance with the best of them.
Cruise is the film’s highlight. He has the whole jaded, egotistical rock star thing down to a tee, and makes the rather awful script, which includes some gems such as “Doing taxes is so-un rock and roll”, sound a lot less bad. Baldwin and Brand make a great team and are pretty hilarious together, though Baldwin can’t sing to save his life. Hough and Boneta are nothing special but they have good chemistry and are fun to watch. And while they’re both adequate singers, Hough is a better actress than her co-star.
The film looks exactly the way you’d expect a Hollywood musical set in the 80s to look; shiny, colourful and over the top. Despite being a star studded affair, Rock of Ages probably won’t be much fun for viewers who don’t already have a love affair with either cheesy musicals or hair metal - preferably both.
Since George A. Romero's 1968 Night of the Living Dead, flesh-eating Hollows – aka Zombies, Lurkers, Biters or the Undead – have become a part of a phenomenon that is still dominating the horror-scene today.
However, with the release of Nick Lyon's Rise of the Zombies, one can’t help but wonder: who in their right mind would allow for this TV movie travesty to be released in cinemas in Egypt?
Set in a run-down and abandoned San Francisco, Rise of the Zombie's opening scenes show a group of panic-stricken folks trying to escape from the hungry hands of the infected monsters. Their mission, unfortunately, soon fails and – thanks to a badly executed CGI car crash – everyone, apart from one young pregnant woman who manages to escape, is left behind as food.
The film then shifts focus to a different group of people who have taken refuge in the infamous Alcatraz Prison. The troop is led by the sturdy Dr. Lynn Snyder (Hemingway), fellow scientist Dr. Dan Helpern (Burton) and the barmy-looking Caspian (Trejo). While Dr. Helpern continues to do his research and find a cure to kill the 'virus' which has been spreading like wildfire, Dr. Snyder believes that it's the peculiar researcher, Dr. Arnold – who has been sending in video transmits from the mainland – has all the answers.
However, it's not long before the zombies – who have apparently learned how to swim over the years – infiltrate the prison, forcing its refugees to flee and search for another safe-house and quite possibly the cure for the fast-spreading 'infection'.
The producers and the distributors for this film – The Asylum – are known for their exclusively B-list, straight-to-DVD productions, and Rise of the Zombies is a complete mockery of a film from minute one. Apart from the plot being completely unoriginal, the characters – whose survival and well-being is imperative to drive the story – fail to register with the audience and the poorly scripted dialogue, and its flimsy delivery, only adds to the absurdity of it all, though the make-up isn’t entirely dreadful
Unfortunately, the cast – which includes a few recognisable faces – can’t rise above the shabby material. Hemingway, an actress who has been seen in a good share of mindless action flicks, has never been worse. Failing to add an ounce of personality to her character, she is almost robotic in her delivery, while badass Trejo looks embarrassed the entire way through.
Predictable, cheesy, and downright upsetting, Rise of the Zombies is definitely like no other zombie-fest you'll ever see – and that is not a compliment.
Subtlety has never really concerned Australian-born filmmaker, Baz Luhrmann. The man who brought us as Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge is both known and reviled for his dazzling and glitzy visual panache, and the notion of impossible love is forever present as the heart of his largely theatrical and melodramatic productions.
Flamboyant and extravagant, The Great Gatsby is visually striking, but when stripped down, has little to offer.
The film opens with a depressed and weary Nick Carraway (Maguire) who is being treated for alcoholism. Unable to articulate his thoughts on a man named Gatsby, he begins to put pen to paper under instructions from his doctors.
We then flash back to 1922, where Nick, then a bond salesman, moves to the fictional town of West Egg, nearby to his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Mulligan) and her husband Tom (Edgerton). Nick’s new home happens to neighbour that of a mysterious and elusive Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio). An enigma to his neighbours, Gatsby perennially throws the most extravagant parties, but the millionaire generally lives his life as a recluse.
After discovering that Tom is having an affair, Nick receives an invitation to one of the Gatsby’s infamous parties. Once there, Gatsby reveals that he is still in love with Nick’s cousin Daisy, after a brief romantic encounter years before. As Nick slowly becomes entangled in the bizarre life of Gatsby, the cynicism and hypocrisy of West Egg’s inhabitants drives the characters to great lengths to preserve their own vanity and sense of self-importance.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel has continually struggled to translate onto the big-screen and previous adaptations have failed to capture the essence that made this the ‘Great American Novel’.
Disappointingly, Luhrmann’s stab at the project has yielded few improvements. The director’s trademark approach is extraordinary, and over-the-top doesn't begin to describe the flamboyant visual experience that he creates. But while for the most part it works, the unflinching visual style and the sweeping overhead shots prove to be a little too sensational for what is an intricate and complex plot.
However, the biggest downfall is the emotional hollowness of the story. Luhrmann fails to infuse emotional connections between the characters, while the soundtrack – which features everything from jazz and hip-hop to techno and dance – is every bit as awkward as it sounds.
Despite Luhrmann’s misguided post-modern motions, DiCaprio gives the film depth with an excellent interpretation of the eponymous character’s charm and allure. Meanwhile, Mulligan plays her character in a way that maintains her position as the object of desire perfectly; though she too is a victim of the absurdities of West Egg, it becomes difficult to surrender any sympathy to her. Maguire, on the other hand, shines in his wallflower role; although he is guilty of enabling many of the decisions that the characters make, he retains an innocence and naivety that is integral to the plot.
All in all, Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby fails to render the novel’s grandness in terms of plot, but taken as a whole package, the stylistics make for an entertaining piece of cinema.