Tag Archives: Dwayne Johnson

Rampage (2018) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

Rampage

Director: Brad Peyton
Writers: Ryan Engle (screenplay by), Carlton Cuse (screenplay by)
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Joe Manganiello

Plot:  When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago.

Running Time: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 52%    Audience 75%

Why I Watched It: The cast and I got it on sale on itunes for 2.99.

Random Thoughts: This was one of the rare cases where a movie was based on a video game and I didn’t know or more likely didn’t remember the game.  I have seen it now boy I miss the early video games.

I would like to say something about Dwayne Johnson, Baywatch bombed, Skyscraper was a disappointment and Rampage did well but look at that critics score, it’s very hard to be the highest paid actor in Hollywood, heavy is the crown and all that, he’s still for my movie a bankable star and who of the most charismatic actors working today and likable as all get out.

What I Liked: First off, this is a fun and enjoyable popcorn movie, I liked the crap out of it, don’t worry I’ll say more but it does sum it up nicely.

I don’t usually like giant monster movies, I like some but the King Kongs and Godzillias usually leave me cold but here they embrace the fun of it and to their credit it’s silly cause of course it is but they play it straight and they don’t play down to the material.  The tone and pacing works well and even though the film does run a bit long it’s a quick watch.

Johnson is solid here, he’s kind of quiet and even though he’s playing to his type and his strengths it’s a bit different, slightly. Naomie Harris is very good here, kind of a nothing role and she holds her own.  To me the standout is Jeffery Dean Morgan who is a downright hoot in this movie, even is chewing scenery and having a ton of fun and it’s infectious, every time he says something I smiled.  I liked the fact that they didn’t make him a cliched government bad guy, you’re not really sure what side he’s on and that’s part of the fun.  It’s nice to see a secondary character get some time and also get to be more than a stock character.  Also different seeing Malin Ackerman as the villain, and to have a brother and sister villain is different or at least hasn’t been done in a while.

The action is done well, the CGI for the most part is good and the monsters were believable enough to keep you into the movie.  For the most par this is a well made action movie.

What I Didn’t Like: Honestly there isn’t much cause this movie really knows what it is, it’s not over reaching and it’s not trying to be the biggest Box Office hit of all-time, it’s a movie based on an old video game and it kept the fun and silliness that it had and put it on the big screen.  With that there’s a couple of nitpicks, they waste Joe Manganiello, i wish they gave him not only more to do but a character to play, he’s a type here, everything I said about Morgan’s character does not apply to Manganiello not his fault he’s a bigger name than this role needed.  Also the villain’s could have been a tad better, I get what they were going for but really they weren’t much of a threat.

Final Thoughts: A hoot of a film, there I said I enjoyed it for what it was, I hada good time watching it.

Rating: 8/10

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Skyscraper (2018) Movie Review By John Walsh

Skyscraper

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han

I’ve been a huge fan of Dwayne Johnson for twenty years now and I followed his jump from WWE superstar to Hollywood action hero with great intrigue. He’s got that rare combination of charismatic charm and humour that makes him the perfect leading man for films like Skyscraper. His name usually would be a enough alone to draw people out too, regardless of the standard, supporting cast or setting. Sadly though, this wasn’t to be the case for his latest foray into a summer blockbuster. 

I’ve seen people describing it as box office flop, heralding Dwayne Johnson fatigue and the films Asian setting as the primary reasons. The latter holds more weight for me, but let’s be frank here, the film isn’t actually a flop at all. Sure, it imploded in the states, where its popularity should’ve been the greatest, but it’s total gross is sitting just shy of $300m and over double its budget. I don’t believe for a minute there’s any fatigue for this generations Arnie in cinema going audiences either. Skyscraper just isn’t that good a film and that’s absolutely fine. These things can happen. 

It’s directed by a man already acquainted with our leading star and who’s films I’ve quite enjoyed actually. Rawson Marshall Thurber helmed Central Intelligence, the film that sparked the Kevin Hart/Dwayne Johnson bromance. I knew him more for comedies like Easy A prior to his 2016 hybrid comedy/action effort and whilst I’d love to give him a bye for Skyscraper’s averageness, I just can’t. He wrote the bloody thing too.

That’s coming off like I absolutely detested this film and it’s up there with the worst I’ve ever seen in Phoenix Forgotten (that’s a personal running joke), but I didn’t and it’s not. I went into watch this on a quiet day, full of boredom and it was never one that I intended to see in a theatre. That classic phrase, idle hands are the devils work, came to mint however and so off I went. I had little expectation and having seen the equally ridiculous San Andreas, which is getting a sequel bizarrely, that gave me a sense of what was to come. I.e. thread bare plot and character development, choc full of action, CG and corny one liners. 

And it didn’t disappoint in the least. It was everything I thought it would be and more. It ticked all of the Dwayne Johnson action flick boxes. Not all of those ticked boxes equate to positive emotions mind you. 

Will Sawyer (Johnson), is an ex-FBI hostage team leader and war veteran, who’s been forced into the more sedate job of skyscraper security adviser. Why do you ask? Well, because he lost a leg in an explosion. It’s not all bad though, this unfortunate event brought his wife and subsequently his two children into the picture. Who incidentally are Sarah (Neve Campbell), Georgia (McKenna Roberts) and Henry (Noah Cottrell). His new found laidback lifestyle, a decade on doesn’t last though. His old FBI bud (Pablo Schreiber) gets him the gig reviewing the security at the Pearl, the worlds tallest skyscraper, at three times the size of the Empire State Building. 

The building’s visionary and architect, Zhao Min Zhi (Chin Han), is being extorted by a rival gangster group, headed up by Kores Botha (Rolland Møller), who control the construction workers however and it’s this flashpoint that ultimately leads to the roaring fire ninety floors up. Will is blamed for this, leading to a sticky start, trying to evade the police, whilst scrambling to make his way into the Pearl to save his family. There was a moment with the public watching on a large screen around that point, when he’s dangling of a huge crane and leaping 30 feet into buildings that had me cringing.

It felt like Ninja Warrior UK and I was almost waiting on commentary from Chris Kamara feeding through for the rest of the film, because man does Will Sawyer love dangling thousands of feet up in the air with a flimsy, DIY, safety line. 

And that’s arguably my biggest gripe with Skyscraper. I can forgive the basic plot and the superfluous second arc of Zhao playing off Botha before Will steps in, that I didn’t care about in the slightest. Hell, I can even forgive the absence of anything resembling chemistry between Campbell and Johnson, and indeed any character development therein. But what I can’t forgive is lazy action set pieces, the over reliance of well trodden action tropes that have been done better in the likes of Towering Inferno and regurgitated dangling, used way too often for tension, to ever diminishing returns. 

For god sakes, If you have little to no substance in the plot department then at least give us something fresh in the action department. They didn’t though.

You don’t even need me to write about what happens as the family reunite and Will tries to formulate an escape plan whilst dealing with the decent, if not stereotypical and slightly neutered antagonist that is Botha. That’s no dig at Roland Møller incidentally, he’s all right. But I’ll do it anyway, because frankly, I’m running out of other things to talk about. Will performs a series of a unlikely heroics, saves his wife and son, before teaming up with Zhao to see off Botha and save his daughter. I’ve slagged this film off slightly, but I did enjoy the ingenuity of the mirror scene at the end and the continual confusion the reflections created. Think Enter the Dragon and you’ll get a feel for what they did. 

One thing I can’t find much fault in was the visuals. The CG had to be decent for this to be even remotely believable and it was. The wide shots of the fiery tower were quite impressive, I particularly enjoyed the street level stuff near the beginning and the nauseating cityscapes far below Will’s dangling moments were decently realistic. 

In the end, Dwayne can always point to the Scorpion King and say this is like a Hitchcock masterpiece in comparison. It wasn’t a terrible film, I’ve definitely seen plenty worse, but it wasn’t great either. It was merely average and there was no great underlying or overarching themes explored, out with the usual heroic desire to save ones family that’s been done to the death. It felt like a missed opportunity, because if I hadn’t been aware of the usual Johnson action fare, then I could’ve been suckered with the trailer into believing this was a bold and different story, focusing on this idealistic, separatist community within the Pearl being isolated from the outside world by a tragedy. That could’ve been really interesting, but it’s a fantasy, sadly. 

The acting was ok and nothing more, not even Dwayne, with all his aforementioned charisma and charm could lift the film out of the overpowering feel of averageness that permeated it’s very being. It’s a bit of escapism, a popcorn, action flick and if you try not to think too much about it then there’s some redeeming aspects that’ll give enjoyment to the right person.

Rating: 2.5/5

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (2017) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

Jumanji WTTJ

Director: Jake Kasdan
Writers: Chris McKenna (screenplay by), Erik Sommers(screenplay by)
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart and Jack Black

Plot:  Four teenagers are sucked into a magical video game, and the only way they can escape is to work together to finish the game.

Running Time:  119 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 76%   Audience 88%

Why I Watched It: The trailer looked like a lot of fun and then it came out and made a ton of money and also had pretty good reviews and yes I’m a fan of The Rock’s.

Random Thoughts: When I first heard they were doing another Jumanji my first instinct was this was a cash grab and there’s a whole generation that never heard of the first film and that also don’t play board games.  Then I heard The Rock was involved and they were updating it and it was more of a sequel/reboot so I was in.  This is something I wished Hollywood would do more of taking an older idea and doing something different with it.

What I Liked: Pure and simple this is a fun movie, you look up the definition of popcorn movie and you would see Jumanji’s  picture and that’s not an insult.  The film is just a lot of fun and it’s across the board fun, my 8 year old daughter loves it, I liked and the thing is they don’t play down for kids this is a funny action comedy for the whole family, yes I just wrote that.

Dwayne Johnson is truly on the top of his game, he’s not only good in his movies but he’s picking interesting films and films with good scripts, he’s not just gabbing the money he’s becoming a huge movie star.  He’s very good here playing type and against type in the same role, Johnson is very good playing off his imagine and I think the reason he’s so likable is that he has a very good sense of humor not many guys who look like Johnson have as good comedic timing as he does.

I also really liked Jack Black, who really nails playing a teenage girl trapped inside a middle age man and to be honest he gets the best lines and he’s kind of proven he’s back.  Karen Gillan now can put this beside Guardians Of The Galaxy on her resume, she’s a pretty good ass kicker.  I think the reason the film works so well is the four leads have great chemistry and all four are sharing the screen and not competing for it.

The action is solid and also they do a good job of turning a video game into a good action film, oddly Hollywood can’t do it with a real video game but here they capture the fun and style and it was really enjoyable.  The film also looks really good, they nail the tone and also the pacing to keep the story going.  I do think the main key is the humor, I think it what makes the film work without it you pretty much have a Indiana Jones rip off.

What I Didn’t Like: Nitpicks, really didn’t dislike much, Kevin Hart was playing Kevin Hart and it was too bad cause everyone else was playing against type but here Hart is doing very Hart like things, don’t get me wrong he’s funny but I wish he stretched a bit here.

They do a time thing late in the film, kind of a twist and it doesn’t make sense and that’s all i’ll say, but it is something that stands against the game’s logic.

And lastly I’ll say it, it’s a bit long at pretty much two hours, again nitpicks.

Final Thoughts: A fun film, a film you and you’re kids will like and a film that is very rewatchable.  A must watch.

Rating: 8/10

Hercules (2014) Movie Burner Review By Darrin Gauthier

Hercules.png

Director: Brett Ratner
Writers: Ryan J. Condal (screenplay by), Evan Spiliotopoulos (screenplay by)
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane

Plot:  Having endured his legendary twelve labours, Hercules, the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord.
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 59%   Audience 48%

Why I Watched It: To be honest, I saw this on iTunes, it was on sale to rent for $1.99, and I had forgotten this was even made, I saw it and was like oh yeah, it does have a very good cast as well.

Random Thoughts: Sword and Sandal movies are tricky at best one would say they’re a forgotten or even dead genre but much like the Western every once in awhile a studio will through one out.  Now I grew up on these movies, my mother was a fan so I saw a ton of these, some cheesy some very good, I even saw Gladiator in the theatre with my mother.  Like I said she was a fan of the genre.  Now with that being said Hercules is kind of done to death and really the character is kind of bland and cliched now.  With that being said if any modern actor was born to play Hercules it’s Dwayne Johnson.

What I Liked: Two things really surprised me was one-It has a very good cast and a league of nations of actors here, two of my favourite British actors Ian McShane and John Hurt, and I’ve always liked Rufus Sewell and it’s nice to see him play a good guy. Two-They did do something different, these is a team movie, a group a band of warriors not just Hercules sure he’s the lead but it did breathe some new life into the character.  Also introducing the myth and legend part was smart, a tad meta but it was a different way of looking at it.  So they ask was Hercules really Hercules as we were told or was the legend bigger than the man.

The acting here is very good for this type of movie and the acting alone keeps it from being a dumb B-Movie, nothing wrong with that but this is done better and the actors are in gauged.   There’s one seen that would seem standard and over the top, the tea is captured and the evil bad guys are threatening to kill Rebeca Ferguson, now you have her trying to save her sons life, John Hurt screaming vile things, Dwayne Johnson trying to tear down giant pillars and Ian McShayne speaking calmly to Hercules, it’s a scene on paper I would roll my eyes but everyone is so good the scene really worked and that shocked me. I really liked the film and that scene brought it home for me. I Want to point out this was before The Mission Impossible movie Rebecca Ferguson was in so she wasn’t as well known in North America but I really like here, she can play cool but she’s not cold she’s likeable and she has a real presence on screen.  I also liked seeing Ingrid Bolso Berdal who was also very good but didn’t have enough to do.
The action was good and for me the best part was the team element, breaking cliches here they don’t show us the team being formed they’re already together and we learn their stories.

What I Didn’t Like: The effects were iffy at times and did take me out of the film at times, some of the monsters looked cheap and some of the fire and effects took away from the action, clearly they paid the actors more than the special effect team. Say what you want about Brett Ratner, I will stick to him as a director, he’s sometimes called a hack and sometimes worse for me he’s a director for hire and is fine but a better director could have raised the bar a bit.  The only other nitpick, they do a twist that you see coming a mile away and kind of made the team look a little bit dumb and also the casting of Joseph Fiennes kind of told us what is character would become, look you see him for like five minutes you know he’s coming back to play a bigger part.

Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed it, a very fun popcorn movie, it caught me up in the action and characters and I enjoyed it.

Rating: 8/10

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) Movie Review by John Walsh

Jumanji Welcome to the JungleDirector: Jake Kasdan
Writers: Chris McKenna (screenplay by), Erik Sommers (screenplay by)
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Jack Black

It’s been nearly 22 years since the original Jumanji film released in the UK back in 1996. I’m going to level with you. This is a fact that I struggle to comprehend. I vividly remember watching Alan Parish (Robin Williams) pop out of the board game with his bushy beard and eccentric personality. And listen, despite not being the greatest film in the world, it had its charm and as a child I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Fast forward two decades and clearly somebody at Sony Pictures had a momentous brainstorm during a field trip to Vietnam or something because it was time for a new Jumanji film to enter our midst. Now again, I’m going to level with you. I wasn’t looking forward to this release. A conclusion formed from a combination of “not another bloody reboot” and apprehension at destroying a happy childhood memory. I’m pleased to say, however, that this film has surprised me and is actually pretty decent.

It’s not a reboot for one or at least I don’t think it is anyway. It appears to carry on in the same universe, opening in 1996 as a teenager called Alex happens upon the mysterious board game on a beach. He’s soon sucked into it and much like Parish before him, disappears off the face of the Earth. It then jumps into the present day and follows the daily routine of the awkward Spencer (Alex Wolff), as he does homework for his estranged friend Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain). An act which lands him and Fridge in detention.

Joining them in the cleaning duties are Bethany (Madison Iseman) and Martha (Morgan Turner). Almost inevitably, Spencer discovers the Jumanji video game in the storage room, they all join for a game (isn’t it convenient that there was four controllers?), picking a character each and then they’re all subsequently sucked into the game mere moments later. Now that we’ve got that rather boring cliched stuff out the way, the film takes us to a place the original never let us see. The actual environment Alan Parish was trapped in for all those years.

It also transforms our four teenage protagonists into distinctly different people. During their journey to the Jumanji universe (I don’t know what else to call it really), they become the actual game avatars they each selected. This causes much consternation as Spencer (Dwayne Johnson) has now tripled in size; Fridge (Kevin Hart) has shrunken by a similar amount; Bethany (Jack Black) has went from being a vain, phone obsessed blonde to a middle aged, fat man and Martha (Karen Gillan) has taken on a fiery, red head Lara Croft persona.

This aspect of the film was quite unique in its application and the most enjoyable part for me. Just off the top of my head, I can’t recall it ever really happening before in a film. Red Dwarf did something very similar in an episode, but I really enjoyed the way they flipped things around here, completely changing the dynamics between the four in doing so. It also flung up the crazy situation of Jack Black playing a teenage girl.

It then introduces the quartet to the mission they face, the games interesting mechanics (certainly surrounding the re-spawning), each character’s strengths and weaknesses, and also propels the film straight into action in doing so. The general gist of the films plot at least superficially anyway, is that they have to find a gem and take it to a mountain top, before calling out Jumanji. If you scratch under the surface however there’s deeper stuff going on within each character. They all have to work together just to make it through the world and learn about strengths and traits they never thought they possessed.

I thought the leading quarter were all very strong and I struggle to pick a definitive favourite, but if you were to twist my arm then I’d probably go for Jack Black. It was incredible the way he took on the personality of a teenage girl. He really imbued the film with plenty of comedic moments. Dwayne Johnson was great again in a role that is right up his street. There was also a slight fragility to his character that we don’t often see. Kevin Hart was his usual self. He’s got brilliant chemistry with Johnson and there was a few hilarious moments between the two. Karen Gillan is a great actress and she perfectly embodied the shy, awkwardness of Martha.

If I was to have one criticism of the film then it would be the distinct lack of threat throughout. There was an antagonist in there, but honestly, he made so little impact on me that I couldn’t even tell you his name. There was never a point in the film when I felt any of them would die. For instance, Bethany sacrifices a life (they’ve got three each), which incidentally signalled a new found maturity to save Alex (Nick Jonas), yeah he giddily pops up to meet them in a town they visit, but the moment lacks impact for the reason above.

Indeed, they’re all whittled down to one remaining life by the end, but there’s a very James Bond-esque inevitably about their survival.

Speaking of endings, this one was a fairly identikit happily ever after effort. There’s a quick showdown, they manage to save Jumanji, make it back to the real world and everyone is on friendly terms. Spencer and Martha get together and even Alex was returned back to 1996, not missing a day, which in turn causes a whole Back to the Future alternate reality shift. Which leaves me pondering that Alan Parish must’ve been a right unlucky git.

Now I know that sounds hypercritical of me, but I really did enjoy this film. The visuals were outstanding, the characters were pretty well fleshed out and had good chemistry together, the humour was a hit for the most part and the action was excellent. It was a stereotypical popcorn flick that frankly flew in and I would have zero hesitation in recommending it to just about everybody.

Rating: 3.5/5

‪Baywatch (2017) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier‬

BAYWATCH

Director: Seth Gordon
Writers: Michael Berk (based on the series “Baywatch” created by), Douglas Schwartz (based on the series “Baywatch” created by)
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario

‪Plot:  Devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchannon butts heads with a brash new recruit, as they uncover a criminal plot that threatens the future of the bay.‬
‪Running Time: 1 hour 56 minutes ‬
‪Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 18%   Audience 56%‬

‪Why I watched it: It’s got a fun cast and of course The Rock.‬

‪Thoughts: A movie will get a stink if it bombs the first weekend and the critics pan it, a lot of people won’t go see it and wait for home video or on demand.  The interesting thing here is clearly the critics hated it but the people think it’s so so.‬

‪What I like: As far as eye candy go it’s hard to go wrong with this film, and really isn’t that what the series was about, it was cheesy but it knew what it was here for the film they gathered likable and really good looking actors and tried to expand on the series making it a more action crime combo.‬ Say what you want about The Rock the man has charisma to spare, he’s a likable guy and he’s funny, here he’s on cruise control but again he’s still likable.  I think the characters that worked the best was Rohrbach and Bass they had chemistry and it was different and Rohrback showed he has some comic chops.‬ While watching this film you could tell they were going for a 21 Jump Street vibe, it’s clear they wanted this to be a franchise and one thing they got right was the cast worked well together and played off each other well.‬

‪What I didn’t like: A film doesn’t flop for no reason and there’s plenty of reasons why Baywatch was a really flawed film.  The action stuff doesn’t work and there’s two huge reasons the script is beyond cliched and the big bad is terrible both in the writing and the acting by Priyanka Chopra, she’s just bad here and really one of the worst villains I’ve seen in a bit.‬ The big mistake with this film is that it wanted it both ways it wanted to be a comedy action film, it wasn’t funny enough and the action isn’t very good and the CGI is pretty bad.  Also the film is too long at almost 2 hours.  The film fells like it didn’t have focus on the story it wanted to tell, it’s like they wanted to do a balls out action comedy but put it under the Baywatch banner.‬

‪As much as I like The Rock he’s bland here, I mean he’s The Rock but his character is very nondescript and that can be said for most of the characters only Efron has any beats or arc and it’s too bad his character is a ball of cliches, and really he does nothing to elevate it.‬

‪Final thoughts: Not terrible and not close to being one of the worst films of the year it’s more of a misfire, they had a good cast but not the story and it just came out disjointed.‬

‪Rating: 5/10‬