Oh my God! I can’t believe what I just saw! This may be a remake of the classic ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’, but a good remake with additions to improve upon its beloved predecessor? That is very unlikely to happen! You have basically the same movie, but much like each play that gets told on stage time and time again, this is a much different production, and it is all left to the director’s interpretation; the director being Kenny Ortega (‘Hocus Pocus’).
According to IMDB, Ortega is well-known for providing choreography to movies, such as ‘Dirty Dancing’, and some Disney musicals. Here, he has his own vision of the classic musical commentary of B-movies and erotic version of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’. Surprisingly, it’s not as bad as some are led to believe. I was even looking forward to Fox’s re-imagining when I found out that Laverne Cox was cast as Dr. Frank N’Furter (originally played by Tim Curry, who makes an appearance as The Criminologist; a perfect role I might add being in the condition he’s in.). After seeing her in ‘Orange is the New Black’, I felt she was perfect for the role; not just because of the fact that she’s a trans-gendered woman, but also she has the deadpan delivery to match Curry’s.
After finally seeing her take on the role, I have to say that she sounds as if she has a Looney-Tunes lisp, but I do admit that she takes on the role with a sort-of seductive grace, and Ortega’s direction gives the character an improvement by the way she’s introduced (costume and mask to cover her identity during the ‘Sweet Transvestite’ number) and a little more interaction. Speaking of interaction, the one improvement (and the comedy that comes along with it) is the inclusion of the audience watching the film within the film; instead of lips, we get an usherette played by Ivy Levan explaining the many films that have come before this one during its first number ‘Science-Fiction/Double Feature’, which is not only an improvement, but a shout-out to the original play’s intro. (Audience participation and all.)
I wouldn’t say that everything is an improvement. Most of the performances are a roller-coaster of both good and bad; Ryan McCartan has the right emotion as Brad Majors – for the most part, but he’s no Barry Bostwick, he does come off as a wimp. There’s really not much to say about Victoria Justice, (who plays Janet Weiss) except she is a bit of an improvement over Susan Sarandon. Reeve Carney feels bored as Riff-Raff, but has a much more understandable singing voice over Richard O’Brien’s. Christina Millan tries as Magenta, but has a bit of a hard time expressing her accent; while Annaleigh Ashford is both hot and cold as Columbia, meaning that she is not as expressive as Little Nell and comes off as a bored teenager who wants nothing to do with her surroundings except browse Facebook on her phone, yet has a range of emotion that works. Meat Loaf will always be the coolest Eddie, so Adam Lambert doesn’t really stand out much in the role, except to be just another famous face for people to tune into. While Ben Veeren was fine and did good as Dr. Everett Von Scott, he mostly comes off as an expressive televangelist. What should be the most important part is the character of Rocky Horror; Staz Nair improves over Peter Hinwood as the creation, yet still feels like the same character with no homage to the play. (I’ve seen a production on Youtube, he talks!)
I love the original ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ as much as the next fan who watched this, and while I say that this has some improvement that tops the original film, it definitely isn’t the better of the two. In fact, if you really think about it, they are both equal in a way; that alone is what makes this re-imagining of the cult classic a breath of fresh air.