Starring: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand
Director: Adam Shankman (CERT 12A, 123 minutes)
The plot: Movie adaptations of stage musicals have been hit (Chicago) and miss (Rent), but the biggest ever (Mamma Mia!) is a so-called “jukebox” musical, where a storyline is concocted to link already-popular songs. Which augurs well for Rock Of Ages, containing hits from ’80s hair-metal acts such as Journey, Def Leppard and Bon Jovi. Smalltown girl Sherrie (Hough) arrives in LA with big dreams and lands a waitress gig at rock club The Bourbon Bar, thanks to the friendship of fellow aspiring singer Drew (Boneta). Meanwhile, Bourbon owner Dennis (Baldwin) and duty manager Lonnie (Brand) are anticipating a big payday with a show by bonkers rocker Stacee Jaxx (Cruise).
What’s right with it? Hairspray director Adam Shankman has never worried too much about cool cachet – he just wants everyone to have a good time. This defiantly cheesy adaptation of the hit stage musical piles on the clichés and shoehorns in the hits as it hurtles to its giddy, feel-good climax. Cruise goes for broke as shirt-allergic Stacee; Baldwin and Brand bring the house down when they just Can’t Fight This Feeling; and the central duo of Hough and Boneta are rootably sweet.
What’s wrong with it? The numerous subplots – such as Catherine Zeta-Jones as a politician’s wife trying to shut down the Bourbon, and Rolling Stone hack Malin Akerman losing her bearings when she falls for Jaxx – may work fine onstage, but on film they lack a certain focus.
Verdict: As an alternative to this summer’s aliens and superheroes, Rock Of Ages is a big, silly, grin-inducing treat. 4/5 @charlesgant
STARRING: Robert Pattinson, Paul Giamatti, Samantha Morton
DIRECTOR: David Cronenberg (CERT 15, 109 minutes)
The plot: Young billionaire asset manager Eric (Pattinson) is driven around Manhattan in his white stretch limo, while the financial markets fall apart and protesters rage on the streets.
What’s right with it? On screen for every second of the film, a well-cast R-Pattz impresses as the brainy, detached, mysterious, possibly soulless protagonist.
What’s wrong with it? A succession of scenes where one man interacts with – has sex with, is medically examined by, but mostly just talks to – one other person, Cosmopolis suffers from a dull, repetitive structure.
Verdict: This is more like experimental theatre than cinema – recommended only to R-Pattz completists and fans of source material author Don DeLillo. Everyone else, approach with caution. 2/5 @charlesgant
STARRING: Lenora Crichlow, Lily James, Noel Clarke
DIRECTOR: Regan Hall (CERT 12A, 91 minutes)
The plot: Council estate kid Shania (Crichlow) dreams of racing to sprinting glory at the World Athletics Championships. But first she’ll have to find a way to compete on the same relay team as her posh arch rival Lisa (James).
What’s right with it? Cannily timed to cash in on Olympics fever, this enjoyable sports yarn has feel-good factor to burn. It also deserves a medal for being one of the few British films to ever boast a black female lead.
What’s wrong with it? It’s evidently aimed at younger audiences who won’t mind how predictable it is, or care that all the sprinting is done by obvious stand-ins.
Verdict: It’s no Chariots Of Fire. Yet Fast Girls still does enough to earn a place on the podium. 3/5 NEIL SMITH