The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again full movie review - "It's Worse Than I Imagined"
The original film of The Rocky Horror Picture Show was flawed and at times sloppy, but it was brimming with heart and a genuine weirdness of character.
It could be confusing to follow at times but it remained a mostly straight-faced homage to the weird science films of the 1950s with the added attraction of sexual and gender twisting, but crucially presented without comment or focus - this is one of the reasons it succeeded so well and why it became an underground hit.
This new version of this classic film made sure to disembowel the original, reach up and pull out its heart, and to then airbrush the empty husk that remained.
One of the major downfalls is the absolutely lifeless soundtrack recordings of the songs: they sound as if they have been compressed and muted of life to ensure that nobody's heart rises above sixty beats per minutes. Over this limp soundtrack the characters mime their songs, mostly badly, some not even making a huge effort to even sync up at times (particularly guilty of this is Columbia).
As to the casting, gone are the individual characteristics and introduced are a parade of generically handsome and pretty boys and gals with all the individuality of a Toys R Us dolls aisle. The original worked because it was played mainly straight; the new version gives us hammy overacting with too much self-awareness which obviously does nothing to draw an audience in; it's as if the new production had either never watched the original film or had so grossly misread it as to be almost imbecilic. Talking of Frankestein, we are treated to an on-the-nose depiction of Mary Shelley's gravestone, despite the fact she died in London, England; anything to ram down our throats the Frankenstein connection! In the original film Rocky was slightly neanderthal in appearance - blankish expression that reminded us of Frankenstein's monster (after all that's what he represents) with a hard muscular body, with tight buns showing through tight gold undies; the new Rocky looks like a gym-bro with dipped highlights who may or may not be slightly constipated: he is more Brut than brute.
Dr Frank-N-Furter, crucially, is a transvestite not a transsexual - Transsexual is the name of the planet. The stunt casting of Laverne Cox is badly done: whereas the original had a skinny flat-chested Tim Curry working brilliantly as a transvestite, Laverne Cox is a female Dr Frank-N-Furter and, as the transvestite she sings about being, should be dressed in a male attire: this casting was ill-thought-out. I enjoyed Laverne in Orange in the New Black but her attempts to channel Tim Curry's origination of Frank-N-Furter is embarrassing: the British accent is all over the place, often with an American twang at the end of phrases, and often sounded like it's being strangled out of her. Her rendition of 'I'm Going Home' at the climax should have been emotional and stirring, as in the original, but it was in fact as empty as the preceding hour and a half had been. Speaking of the climax, Riff-Raff and Magenta strongly resembled a pair of Red Dwarf villains in their silver get-up, and the castle crumbling brought to mind the old British children's show Knightmare.
The film also suffered from an almost total lack of character delineation - far more-so than even the original which, as I said before, certain had its sloppy moments of confusion. Magenta and Columbia were more marginal than in the original and Eddie's cameo was almost completely pointless if not for the fact that he is used as a postmortem device later on in the film.
The film also suffered from a real lack of chemistry, not only between the viewer and the cast but also between cast members; Rocky and Janet's bedroom scene lacked any sexuality or tension whatsoever: Hank drinking Manny's corpse-water in Swiss Army Man was more romantic and sexual than this white-bread colourless scene; not to mention the bed-hopping hilarity of the original was almost entirely airbrushed to be as inoffensive as possible.
The nod to the cult of audience participation at theatrical showings of the film fell very flat also - the audience seemed to be a TV exec's idea of what edgy, weird, non-mainstream people looked like in the 1980s (TV punks) and 1990s (TV grunge).
The saddest crime of all was the rolling in of stroke-victim Tim Curry in a pathetic attempt to give credence and validation to this travesty - the only moments of any emotion in the film were when he appeared on screen and my heart filled with sadness at what they had persuaded him to do, and to watch him valiantly attempt his line-readings.
I am not looking forward to an anemic version of Cronenberg's / Burroughs' "Naked Lunch".