Obviously I love going to the movies. You don’t see as many films as I do if you don’t enjoy the overall experience. One of the things that I most look forward to is the coming attractions before the feature. I make it a point to always make it to the theater early enough so I can see the trailers and get really annoyed at the people who think it is OK to continue their conversation until the movie begins. It isn’t and if you do so you are probably going to get a withering stare from me if I’m feeling bold. I’m not usually surprised by the trailers, since I usually have a vague awareness of most movies from early in their development and production, but something about actually seeing the movie that you’ve been reading about is exciting. And every once in a while a movie has slipped off my radar and the trailers are a nice reminder that the film will soon be in theaters. A bad trailer will often determine whether I’ll see a movie in the cinema or wait for it to come out on DVD. A good trailer will make me giddy with anticipation. At a recent screening, I think I was more excited for the 3 minutes of the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises than I was for the actual film I was there to review.
When adapting an existing book, play or television show for the big screen, the trailer is often the bellwether for how accurate and loyal the adaption is to the source material. Many fans of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books had their fears assuaged when they saw the first trailer for the U.S. film adaptation. If nothing else, the movie had at least seemed to capture Lisbeth’s look and didn’t “pretty her up” as many were concerned would happen. This doesn’t mean that there may not be issues with the film, but what you see in the trailer at least gives you an idea of how close the casting and costuming choices come to the original as well as the bold strokes of the story.
So as someone who had just recently seen the traveling production of the Broadway play Rock of Ages, I was very curious when they released the first full length trailer for the upcoming feature film:
I was pretty indifferent about the adaption and seeing the trailer didn’t do much to change that.
While I enjoyed the play, the story is very representative of the time period and music that it is representing: a lot of flash and not a lot of substance. The show is the story of the 1980s music scene in Los Angeles as told through the eyes of a young rock singer trying to get his big break, a young woman fresh off the bus who is trying to get into acting, a club owner trying to save his business from being shut down and a rock superstar who does what rock superstars do. It is really an excuse to put all the hair metal songs of the era together in a show. That doesn’t make it bad – it was actually a very fun night at the theater as I really love the music used – but I suspected that they were going to have to punch up the story a little for the big screen adaptation.
Tom Cruise was an interesting choice to play the rock star Stacee Jaxx. Cruise was not at all what I had pictured; in my mind, Jaxx wasn’t almost 50. And as great as Cruise looks for his age, he also doesn’t exactly have the physique of a hair metal front man. He should be taller and lankier – think Bret Michaels, Jani Lane or Axl Rose in their prime. And based on the short clip, I’m not 100% sure that Cruise can actually pull of the singing required.
It is interesting that based on the trailer, it appears that Jaxx is the star of the movie, or at least a major focal point. That is a departure from the play, where Jaxx is more of a supporting character. The play focuses on Drew (the want-to-be rocker) and Sherri (the new girl in town) and their relationship, yet neither of these characters get a lot of screen time in the trailer. This could be misleading, as the actors playing those parts aren’t particularly famous, especially compared to Cruise, or this could mean that the role of Jaxx was expanded significantly for the film.
Alec Baldwin was also an interesting choice for the club owner. He reportedly tried to quit the movie, but was talked back into it. Based on the dialogue he was given in the trailer, I’m not sure that his initial instincts were wrong. But if anyone can make it work, it is Baldwin. Based on his track record, there is a very good chance that he could steal the movie. There are a lot of funny lines in the play and he is one of the few people in the cast that has great comedic timing. He should also share a lot of screen time with Russell Brand and that seems like a winning combination. Brand is actually the only person in this movie who I nodded my head in agreement with when I heard the casting news. He makes a lot of sense for this film. The rest of the cast, not so much.
So based on the trailer, I don’t think I’ll be running out to see Rock of Ages when it hits theaters later this summer unless I get comped tickets (then I’ll go see anything). I had reservations about the film beforehand, but the trailer didn’t do much to alleviate them. Based on first impressions, this looks like a rental to me.