Rock Of Ages and Gene Colan Art: The Obscene and The Dean June 25, 2012 – Posted in: A Picture's Worth, Blog, Featured Columns

Contents ©2012 Mike Pascale. Visuals copyright and trademark their respective owners.
For those (both?) of you who enjoy my movie reviews, I have to apologize for missing the last few biggies. My father-in-law passed away and I had to fly out of state to help my wife and her wonderful Mom deal with things. Not only did I miss a week, but I have to wait another week till my better half returns so we can see BRAVE and ABRAHAM LINCOLN, VAMPIRE HUNTER. And maybe MADAGASCAR 3. (She had no interest in seeing PROMETHEUS, so hopefully I can see it this week.) My apologies for not staying up on the blockbuster schedule, but even a geek-at-heart like me has to have priorities straight.

This week I’ll give you the low-down on the new Tom Cruise led musical, ROCK OF AGES, as well as take a look back at my dear friend Gene Colan. 

We did, however, manage to take a night off and catch ROCK OF AGES. We both saw the musical in San Francisco and believe it or not, we both loved it–even I, who can’t stand musicals! I’ve seen less than a handful and don’t care if never attended another. Same with movie musicals. Again, I’ve seen only a handful and really enjoyed just two: ROCK ’N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL and SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER AND UNCUT.

Better if you’re drunk?

I saw the ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW about 30 years ago and it was just okay–more of an audience participation thing, and I suspect I’d have enjoyed the whole thing more if I’d been as drunk as the rest of the crowd.

Anyway, the film version of ROCK OF AGES did not live up to the play, especially without Constantine Maroulis in the lead spot. The college-age kid who took his place may have had better acting chops (emphasis on “may have”) but his singing couldn’t hold a Bic lighter to Constantine’s. (Maroulis does have a brief singing cameo at least–watch for the boardroom scene.) I haven’t read anything about the casting but I’m guessing it was a total “demo” thing–the producers wanted young and pretty (as usual). Same for the female lead, who sings well enough but whose voice could double for Alvin the Chipmunk’s big sister.

 

Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise and Julianne Hough.

 

 

But if you grew up on 80s “hair rock” like we did, I think you’ll like it. Russell Brand is always good (could have made much better use of him) and you have to see Tom Cruise’s performance to believe it. He gets props for singing his own songs, but it’s not his singing or his voice you’ll remember. (He tries his best, but he’s no Rob Halford or even Bon Jovi–neither is the rest of the cast). His character of Stacee Jaxx will be remembered either as the greatest joke or the greatest fun. The Academy would never give an Oscar for such a frivolous and “raunchy” performance, but it was that good. I will say that if Tom really is as gay as everyone says, he’s an even better actor than we thought! The music and story were changed, the latter much more. Oddly enough, despite two Def Leppard songs in the film, “Rock Of Ages” was not one of them! (And the band had none in the play–possibly a rights issue?) Even with the changes, there was not a single song by Ozzy or AC/DC, each of whom had some of the biggest hits of the decade, if not all time. (The former’s “Crazy Train” is still played at every NFL game, on radio and in commercials, and the latter’s “Back In Black” is one of the top ten best-selling albums in history.)

 

Tom the rocker? Not an impossible mission.

And of course, as you know from reading Bru-Hed’s column, the movie is chock-full of chicks in various stages of undress and undulation, so if you’re a straight male (or gay female), you can enjoy it on another level. Even gay men will get a kick out of the unexpected romance that develops (no spoiler). There’s also a few cameos by some of the original 80s rockers themselves, which is either entertaining or depressing depending on your view.
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Finally, I have to note the one-year passing of my friend and comics art legend, Gene Colan. Normally I prefer to only celebrate birthdays and good things, but we lost such a great artist and greater person, I just want to take this anniversary as another reason to celebrate the work and the man. (I still have one of his messages on my answering machine, with no intention of getting rid of it.) Interestingly, my wife and I always thought he resembled her Dad. Only fitting as I consider Gene my father-in-storytelling.’’

 

I miss the art but I miss the man even more.

The amazing splash page to my all-time favorite Gene story in CAPTAIN AMERICA. I used a copy of this at my wife and my wedding reception! Whoever owns it is one fortunate soul.

 

Meanwhile, here’s just a bit more art and photos to enjoy.
For those interested, my original tribute (with art) is here. Professor Bryan Stroud, a fellow long-time Gene fan, interviewed the man himself which you can read here.  (I’ve no idea why the site makes it so hard to read with colored text on a black background. If you want to preserve your peepers, just select the text, copy and paste it into a text program and change the color to something more ocularly comfortable). It’s a good interview and deserves a wider audience. [Our very own interview with Gene can be read here! -Craig]

 

 

Thanks for indulging me.

Miss you, Gene!!

 

Take care,
Mike

Bru-Hed Closeup

 

P.S.: If you’d like a drawing of any character Gene drew, I’d be honored to give you the best version I can. Just ask Craig here!

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