Posts Tagged ‘Dwayne Johnson

13
Oct
15

Review: San Andreas – The Fault is Not in Our Stars

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After seeing him flex his broken arm to break off his cast in Furious 7, I’m really no longer sure what to make of Dwayne Johnson whenever I see him in a movie. It’s a bit like seeing a cartoon character like the Tasmanian Devil take the lead in The Day After Tomorrow.

Case in point, Johnson’s latest summer tentpole, San Andreas. Even the trailers were hard to take seriously. (And adding worse to wear, how the hell did Roland Emmerich NOT direct this movie?!) With special effects that look straight out of Adobe Photoshop, it’s difficult not to surmise that we were in some sort of strange holding pattern earlier this summer, just waiting for Jurassic World and Terminator Genisys. And Ant-Man. And in a car crash-kinda way, Fantastic Four.

The Big One hits California and everything falls apart. (Isn’t it odd how this summer movie season was pre-occupied with humanity’s extinction? Avengers? Mad Max? Tomorrowland? Not to mention that Terminator flick. The kids are gonna have nightmares about their mortality. Perhaps that’s the point? Make the world a better place while there’s still time? Man in the mirror?)

SAN ANDREAS

Dwayne Johnson plays a fire and rescue worker with one mission: to save his wife (Carla Gugino) and then his daughter (Alexandra Daddario). They all act properly panicked and anxiety ridden. Paul Giamatti is a scientist who predicts the giant earthquake and when he realizes how bad the devastation will be, someone asks him who they should call. The camera zooms in and with a straight face he says, “EVERYBODY!”

Yeah, it’s that kind of disaster flick. But the fault really isn’t in our stars for once. (Get it? San Andreas? Fault? Oh never mind.) Speaking of the fault itself, armchair scientists are going to have a field day spotting all the logistical inconsistencies and have the most fun doing it since Gravity. “Oh that couldn’t happen. Oh that couldn’t happen either!” Colton Haynes from Arrow, who was only in the first five minutes of this movie, showed up to the premiere in a completely pink suit. That happened. So really, who is to question what madness lies deep in the crevices of this production?

Surprisingly, for the mainland, there’s very little looting going on. Just one scene in a hick-ish town outside the urban proper. What’s really troubling is when an elderly couple on the side of the road with a broken axle yells at Johnson and Gugino to stop and pull over. They keep going and almost drive over a chasm. Only then do they turn back and offer their gratitude. But it works out for them because that elderly couple happens to own an aviation yard with one working plane.

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Later the couple motor boat through the tsunami-ed waters of San Francisco. (I gave up counting when Johnson stole his third undamaged vehicle.) They see people drifting around in random boats and debris, but they keep going. In fact, the only time Johnson the professional rescue workers actually offers help is to yell a whole bunch of people to the safety of AT&T Park. But he probably only did that because wifey was gonna get smooshed by a falling building as well.

But one isn’t here to debate the morals of San Andreas. At least I hope not. That would result in a web article longer than what Chris Hemsworth is packing in the red band Vacation trailer.

Oddly, for once the 3-D here is surprisingly effective and present. Most often in simple scenes where actors are in both the foreground and the background, and especially during a canyon helicopter rescue that opens the movie. Oddly not so much when skyscrapers crumble, cable bridges twist and come undone, and helpless people get splatted by huge chunks of rubble. After Avengers (both of them), if you’ve seen one building crumble, you’ve seen them all crumble.

San Andreas made over $150 million dollars at the domestic box office. I feel like Paul Giamatti. Perhaps you will listen to my warnings and make the proper preparations to see Mad Max: Fury Road again. And who should you take with you? EVERYBODY!

San Andreas is now available to own on Blu-Ray, DVD, and digital download.

07
Oct
15

Mililani Native Lands Moana Role

Moana

When Disney announced the Hawaii set animated feature Moana two years ago the state let out a collective sound of joy (and in some instances a collective sigh) at a new high profile Hollywood production that shine the spotlight at the Hawaiian culture. Slowly over the course of the two years since, more details have emerged about the film most notably that Dwayne Johnson would have a major role in the film as the voice of the Hawaiian demi-god Maui.

Today Disney unveiled that 14-year old Mililani native Auli‘i Cravalho has landed the title role of Moana, and in true local fashion, she sounds just right for the role. In speaking with People magazine on landing the role and playing Moana:

“From baby time to now, I wanted to be a Disney princess and then I wanted to be a singer or an actress . . .”

“Moana is such an amazing character . . . She’s brave, she is so empowered, she knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to get it, and I think that’s something that I can relate to as well. I just love watching how she goes along in this wonderful movie and grows as a person and helps her culture along the way.”

Even her co-star The Rock was quick to congratulate his co-star:

IT'S OFFICIAL: After months and months of worldwide casting calls, we've finally found our next DISNEY Princess… #MOANA. I'm pumped to welcome 14yr old @AuliiCravalho of Mililani, Hawaii to our project. What's amazing about this story is that she didn't think she was good enough so she never auditioned. Fortunately, one of our Oahu casting agents discovered her singing at a charity competition and the rest is history. * An awesome lesson to all young kids out there… work hard, have confidence in yourselves and never think you're not good enough because you never know what the future holds. Congratulations Auli'i! Can't wait to work with you and watch you bring this new Disney Princess to life. #YesThatsMeOnTheRight #HisNameIsMaui #HesADemiGod #AndHePutsMoanaInHerPlace #SoHeThinks #DisneyAnimation #MOANA #TimeToSing

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There’s also a nice featurette which shows Auli‘i’s casting and when the film’s producers told her that she had gotten the role:

From this short video, it sounds like the film’s creators have made the right choice. I love Auli‘i’s energy and I’m sure that will translate into her voice work that will give Disney animators a lot to work with. Because the synopsis of the film doesn’t state that Moana is a princess, I’m going to stop short of calling her a “Disney Princess” (besides, Hawaiians didn’t even have princesses). Even so, I’m sure that like myself, the rest of the state is proud to have Auli‘i represent Hawaii and Hawaiians on the big screen.

I think we’ve come quite aways from “Ohana means family. And family means no one gets left behind.”

Moana is due out in theaters in November 2016.

26
Apr
13

Review: Pain & Gain

They're big and they're strong and they're here to show that Michael Bay can make a good movie.

They’re big and they’re strong and they’re here to show that Michael Bay can make a good movie.

Michael Bay. The guy’s name incites so much eye rolling and jawing at the mouth that you’d wonder if he was some sort of cinema pariah. Within the span of the last seven years the man went from being an action filmmaking god to someone that ruined the dreams of many a 20-somethings. Well, our national nightmare is over. Michael Bay semi returns to form in his latest feature, Pain & Gain.

Based on actual events, Pain & Gain stars Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie as body builders who extort one of their clients (Tony Shalhoub) into giving them his fortune. The thieves convoluted plan involves kidnapping, torture, and disguises; all magnified by their misguided thinking. In the grand scheme of things these are characters that we should not like, but like watching a train wreck; it’s something that you can’t turn away from.

The film is more of a dark comedy than an action movie as most of the time you end up laughing at the humorous and idiotic situations our protagonists find themselves in. From the get-go you realize that these characters aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed when their grand plan to “get ahead” is to take money from someone that is better off than they are. In one of the more hilarious moments in the film, the gang needs more than one attempt to kidnap their mark as they are foiled in one instance by a dinner party and are again foiled by their sheer bad timing in another. As they continue to carry out the plan, their delusional reasoning leads them into more unbelievable and face-palming moments.

They're future's so bright, they have to wear shades.

They’re future’s so bright, they have to wear shades.

If you were worried that this wasn’t a real Michael Bay movie don’t fret, all of his signature touches are there. From circular panning shots around our characters to the emphasis and exaggeration of speed, to grandiose upward shots, to spectacular location shots of Miami; a lot of the things that make a Michael Bay movie a Michael Bay are here in Pain & Gain as well. In some instances I thought a few of these flourishes were a little over the top considering the story, but for the most part they fit with the frenetic body building 90s vide that was running throughout the film.

Mark Wahlberg plays ringleader Daniel Lugo pretty well; he knows how to do good comedy and can deliver funny dialogue with a serious and straight face. The Rock of course has already had a number comedic performances under his belt as well and he plays his somewhat naive, man of God, former drug addict role rather well. Of the three main characters though, I felt Anthony Mackie was the one that stood out the most. His delivery combined with his character’s steroid obsessed and overly exaggerated persona made a lot of what he did some of the funniest (or saddest) moments in the film. He always seemed to have these dead serious questions and comments that came out of nowhere; and like a lot of the other stuff in the film was funny because of how wrong it was.

The walking away from an explosion shot . . . what Michael Bay movie would be complete without one?

The walking away from an explosion shot . . . what Michael Bay movie would be complete without one?

One thing I haven’t decided on is whether or not Bay is merely just telling a story or has a larger message he’s trying to convey. Throughout the film the American Dream and the American Way is referenced a number of times by Wahlberg’s character. What ultimately kickstarts the main action of the film is when the Lugo character seeks the advice of a ‘get rich quick’ guru who’s main point is . . . “Be a DO-er, not a don’t-er.” It’s a mantra that Lugo constantly uses to reenforce that what he is doing is the right way to get ahead. You can’t help but feel that maybe the American Dream, being a Do-er, body building, building yourself up, all that excess and focus on perfection and being rich that perhaps maybe Bay is saying something about who we are as a people, or at the very least who we were in this particular time period. Or I could be totally off base and he just has all these things in the movie for show.

On the whole I was really entertained by the effort Michael Bay put forth in Pain & Gain. While the actual story itself is wholly unbelievable, it’s the telling of it and how it’s told where I liked it and was entertained. Sadly it makes me wish that he would do more films like this that are a little more personal to him and not go back to franchises. After all, I feel that’s where Bay has done some of his best work . . . outside of the Transformers franchise (and Bad Boys before it too became a franchise). However, if there’s anything we can gleam from this film, it’s that Michael Bay himself is a Do-er. I just hope he puts a little more thought into his next project, because if you look at Daniel Lugo in Pain & Gain . . . he was a Do-er too.

Pain & Gain is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Rating 3.5/5 Stars // R // 2hr 9min




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