Following are Susan Granger's reviews of the latest movies in area theaters:
"ROCK OF AGES"
Direct from the Broadway stage, blasting at deafening volume, this raucous rock musical adaptation is a seriously silly riff on life on Hollywood's famed Sunset Strip, back in 1987.
That is the year when naïve Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) hops off the bus from Tulsa, Oklahoma, believing she's landed in paradise -- until her suitcase is stolen. Rushing to her rescue is wannabe rocker Drew Boley (Diego Boneta), who helps her snag a waitress job at the famed Bourbon Room, owned by Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) and run by Dupree's devoted technician Lonny (Russell Brand). That's where legendary, debauched rock god/Arsenal front man Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) is scheduled to play his last gig before going solo, promising, "I will light this place on fire!"
But romance embedded in the manic, dissolute, hard-rockin' lifestyle isn't easy, particularly when the mayor's publicly pious wife, Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones), vows to shut down the club to clean up the Sunset Strip; Jaxx's sleazy manager, Paul Gill (Paul Giamatti), manipulates the money, and a hard-hitting Rolling Stone reporter (Malin Akerman) turns a sex-driven interview into a Stacee Jaxx expose.
Audaciously scripted as a contrived, yet satirical jukebox musical by Justin Theroux, Chris D'Arienzo and Allen Loeb, and slickly directed with absurdist grandiosity by Alan Shankman ("Hairspray"), the nostalgic story -- about fame, fortune and pursuing your heart's desire -- surfaces only briefly between frenzied, ear-shredding energy blasts from the dazzling musical numbers.
While Julianne Hough ("Footloose," "Dancing with the Stars") and Diego Boneta ("90210") evoke star-struck young love, bare-chested, heavily tattooed, hard-bodied Tom Cruise steals the show, belting Foreigner's "I Wanna Know What Love Is," Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself For Loving You," Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" and "Don't Stop Believin'."
On the Granger Movie Gauge, "Rock of Ages" is a noisy, insanely fun, shameless 7. Embrace your inner rocker and party on!
Science-fiction doesn't get much more exciting or provocative than this challenging journey into outer space to seek the origins of man.
Visionary director Ridley Scott ("Blade Runner," "Alien") integrates the thematic concepts of a robot with artificial intelligence with Stanley Kubrick's philosophical "2001: A Space Odyssey" and the visceral horror of slithering, carnivorous alien creatures.
The prologue shows a huge, hooded humanoid sacrificing himself by a waterfall at the dawn of time. Skip ahead to 2089, on Scotland's Isle of Skye, where archaeologists discover prehistoric cave paintings showing spherical objects in space, evocative of Erich von Daniken's assertion in his 1968 book, "Chariots of the Gods," that extra-terrestrials initiated life on Earth.
By 2091, those same archaeologists, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), along with two geologists (Sean Harris, Rafe Spall), are headed toward a distant planet aboard the massive exploratory spaceship Prometheus, captained by capable Janek (Idris Elba), funded by wealthy Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) and imperiously run by businesswoman Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron). They are aided by Weyland's enigmatic android, David (Michael Fassbender), who has the same name as Steven Spielberg's "A.I." When they arrive at their destination, surprises await.
Working from Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's (co-creator of TV's "Lost") script, Ridley Scott, along with production designer Arthur Max and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, creates an intricate, metaphysical universe unto itself - until the last reel, when terrifying strands of "Alien" DNA come to the surface. Taking its title from the mythological Titan who stole fire from the gods, the movie was four years in the making, with a budget of $120-$130 million, covering 1,300 CGI shots and an 87-day shooting schedule.
The strong female protagonist played by Rapace (Sweden's "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") embodies a Christian "true believer," undaunted by the imperious Theron, unafraid to surgically attack a repulsive alien that's implanted in her uterus, and relentless in her search for the sentient entity who may have created mankind.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Prometheus" is a tense, thrilling 9, an awesome 3-D spectacle.
"MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED"
After the worldwide success of the previous two animated "Madagascar" adventures, a trilogy was inevitable and, this time, in 3-D. Citing inspiration from Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote -- "Life is a journey, not a destination" -- the story once again follows the quartet of anthropomorphic animals determined to make their way back to New York City's Central Park Zoo.
Leaving the wilds of the African continent for the French Riviera, Alex the good-hearted Lion leader (Ben Stiller), Marty the irrepressibly boisterous Zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the spirited Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the neurotic Giraffe (David Schwimmer) are looking for their primate and penguin friends who are determined to break into the bank at the casino in Monte Carlo in order to finance their trip home.
Not surprisingly, their heist goes horribly wrong. Fleeing from the Principality's fanatical animal control officer, Captaine Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand), dementedly determined to hang Alex's head on her trophy wall, the fugitives find refuge with a decrepit traveling circus (modeled on Canada's Cirque du Soliel, except that the real Cirque has no animals) which could, perhaps, wind up touring the United States. That's where they join up with Vitaly the foul-tempered Siberian Tiger boss (Bryan Cranston), Gia the sultry Jaguar (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the loquacious Sea Lion (Martin Short). Re-appearing also is Julien the Lemur King (Sasha Baron Cohen), romancing an enormous bear on a bicycle.
Styled after Miroslav Sasek's colorful illustrations, directed by Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon and Eric Darnell, who co-wrote the script with acerbic Noah Baumbach ("Fantastic Mr. Fox"), who undoubtedly supplied the snappy one-liners, it's frenetically paced and visually dazzling, filled with high-flying acrobatics, set to Katy Perry's "Fireworks," and making scenic European stopovers in Monaco, London and Rome along the way.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" is a short, silly 7, as the motley, madcap menagerie once again moves on, presumably to prepare "Madagascar 4."