Posts Tagged ‘dwayne johnson’

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Moana (2016)

July 21, 2017

Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Jemaine Clement
Director: Ron Clements (Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Hercules)

Bottom Line: Walt Disney Animated Studios had a pretty massive year as both Zootopia and Moana are arguably the best films the studio has produced since Tarzan all the way back in 1999 (Note: Walt Disney Animated Studios and Pixar are NOT the same company). Moana is a spectacular blend of Polynesian mythology and coming-of-age story thanks to a large team of writers collaborating on a great script with amazing songwriting contributions from famed Hamilton playwright Lin-Manual Miranda. Miranda’s work here cannot be understated: I was singing the songs from Moana for days after watching the movie and immediately added the soundtrack to my Apple Music library. Miranda has proven that he is a master songwriter and a true genius and I am actually quite sad that he didn’t win an Oscar for “How Far I’ll Go.” He even makes Dwayne Johnson sound good!

Infused with a smart, funny script seeped with mythology, memorable characters, solid vocal performances from Cravalho and Johnson, and unforgettable songs, Moana continues Disney’s best run of animated features since the early-to-mid 90s.

Replay Value: This is one of my favorite recent Disney movies. I’d be happy to watch it again today and it will be a must own when we have kids.
Sequel Potential: A theatrical sequel for a Disney animated film used to be unheard of: Winnie The Pooh and The Rescuers are the only Disney originals that got sequels in theaters. Tradition seems to be changing, however, as recent Disney films Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen both have sequels scheduled for theatrical release in the next two years. Straight-to-video sequels are common for Disney, so it will be interesting to see what happens with Moana.
Oscar Potential: Nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Song, but lost to Zootopia and La La Land, respectively.

Grade: 7.5/10 (highly enjoyable/must see)

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Wonder Woman (2017), Baywatch (2017), 47 Meters Down (2017)

June 23, 2017

In the interest of catching up, I’m going to keep these short and sweet.

Wonder Woman (2017) – I loved it. This movie made me incredibly happy. The DC film universe looked in grim shape after Dawn Of Justice but Wonder Woman was a huge win for them – both critically and in its record-breaking box office performance. Gal Gadot does a GREAT job. Not only is she absolutely stunning in the titular role, but she is convincingly HEROIC. I’ve seen the movie twice and the scene in No Man’s Land gave me goosebumps and a huge smile both times. Wonder Woman might have a slow build to this epic moment, but there’s no hesitation in Diana’s resolve: she says she wants to go where the war is and she doesn’t think for a second before jumping right into the line of fire. Chris Pine is a great addition to the cast, as he has plenty of chemistry with Gadot and adds a nice dose of humor. The script does a great job of infusing small bits of comedy into a serious war time setting, without taking anything away from the gravity of the situation. I do think the climax got a little bit… extravagant and silly… but the rest of the movie was fantastic. Wonder Woman is a great comic book film and the best superhero origin movie since Iron Man in 2008.

Replay Value: I saw it twice during opening week and I’d be happy to watch it again right now. It will be a must own in my movie collection.
Sequel Potential: You don’t make heaps and not get sequels. I’m sure DC will fast track another Wonder Woman movie, but first up we will get the two Justice League films and I’m still concerned about those movies, even with Wonder Woman‘s success and the involvement of Joss Whedon.
Oscar Potential: It’s a very good superhero movie, but not really Oscar bait. There is always a chance for technical nominations but most likely it will just whiff entirely.

Grade: 7.5/10 (highly enjoyable/must see comic book movie)

Baywatch (2017) – I was really hoping Baywatch would be a solid 21 Jump Street imitation, but it’s not nearly as clever or as smart. In fact, Baywatch is nothing more than your average stupid, raunchy comedy. The script is absolutely terrible, but at least Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron give their roles some life, as less charismatic leads would render this movie completely unwatchable. The supporting cast range from totally forgettable to borderline bad and while Jon Bass has some funny moments, his character really shows no indication he would actually make the cut in the stiff competition there is to become a Baywatch lifeguard. So the reason he makes it is so we can laugh at his ineptitude and misfortune. Baywatch is a stupid, silly movie that you can safely skip in the theaters and wait until Red Box if you must see it. For what it’s worth though, the three people I saw it with seemed to be pretty satisfied.

Replay Value: Once was enough for me.
Sequel Potential: Baywatch hasn’t exactly smashed at the box office and it got destroyed by the critics, so it’s sequel chances are pretty low.
Oscar Potential: I could see some Razzie potential for the script.

Grade: 4.5/10 (forgettable/watchable)

47 Meters Down (2017) – This is a movie that I probably would have never seen in my life under any other circumstances, but after All Eyez On Me got demolished by the critics, the friends I was staying with in Vegas decided they wanted to see this instead. I basically had no expectations for what looked like a B-level Jaws ripoff starring Mandy Moore, so anything north of horrible was going to be a surprise to me and, well, I was surprised. The plot is trite and silly: two sisters vacation in Mexico after one of them has a big breakup and they wind up on a sketchy-looking boat with a sketchy-looking crew and then go underwater in a sketchy-looking cage so they can go shark-gazing and prove how not boring they are. I have to admit, 47 Meters Down made me incredibly uncomfortable. I’m claustrophobic and watching these girls not only be trapped in a cage, but also submerged underwater with a depleting air supply really hit my weak spots. I seriously had thoughts of walking out of the theater – that’s how much the situation was making me squirm. Just thinking of myself in that situation was unbearable – I’d be dead in minutes because of a panic attack – but I detached and got through it. Oh yeah, there are sharks in this movie! And they are actually well used, with the dark and murky water creating some tense and scary scenes. 47 Meters Down isn’t groundbreaking or particularly good – and the ending was kind of questionable – but it made me uncomfortable enough to get a thumbs up from me.

Replay Value: Not much, but I suppose I could watch it again.
Sequel Potential: The Sharknado sequels won’t stop coming, so maybe?
Oscar Potential: None

Grade: 5.5/10 (watchable/recommended)

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The Fate Of The Furious (2017)

April 28, 2017

Starring: Vin Diesel, The Rock, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron
Director: F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Comptom, Law Abiding Citizen)

Bottom Line: Full disclosure: I’ve never made watching the Furious movies a priority (this is the first one I’ve seen in theaters since maybe the second one, possibly the first one) so I never got around to watching the seventh installment before seeing this movie. It only feels moderately necessary – and my skimming of the franchise’s Wikipedia page made me feel primed enough to take on The Fate Of The Furious without feeling like I’d be too lost.

I never would have thought when the original film debuted in 2001 that it would go on to become one of the most successful action franchises of all-time, spawning seven sequels – most of which are pretty fun – and a Universal Studios tram ride. But here we are, in 2017, watching the 8th installment of a series that has continually surprised and has arguably been picking up gradual steam since it rebooted in 2009.

Well, while The Fate Of The Furious is going to disappoint few die hard fans and, at this point, it seems ridiculous to be overly critical of how preposterous all of it is, this is the first clear step backwards since the Tokyo Drift spinoff/sequel. For me, it all starts with Charlize Theron’s Cipher, a techno-terrorist that lures Dom (Diesel) aboard her nefarious mission by showing him something on her phone and pits him against his scattered team of driving/thieving wizards. So, in a sense, we get to see Dom be the villain for the first time in a while, which is kind of cool, but it also creates a weird dynamic where the audience is supposed to buy that his team – wife included – actually question his intentions. Cipher is a computer hacker genius, with access to every camera and vehicle computer in the city, but Dom is somehow able to orchestrate a perfectly timed sidestep in order to meet up with the mother of the Shaw brothers (villains of the last two movies) and set in motion his plan to overcome his current situation. Yes, totally unbelievable and it seems like an easy target for criticism but at some point you have to realize when you are simply watching lazy writing.

Theron isn’t given much to work with here and she totally phones in her performance. She’s completely over-qualified and doesn’t bother to raise the bar. Jason Statham and The Rock, however, are perfectly suited for this kind of movie – they can crack jokes and kick ass with the best of them. Since I skipped the seventh movie, I never saw Statham playing the bad guy in it, but he’s definitely a welcome addition here and clearly one of the film’s highlights.

The Fate Of The Furious wasn’t bad and I found myself entertained watching it, but it did start to feel a bit tired and everything happens a little too perfectly – at one point, my friend turned to me and made a comment about how little concern one of the characters was showing in a specific moment and I replied: “no one is ever concerned about ANYTHING.” And that’s what the Furious franchise has come to. Yes, the spectacle can be fun to watch, but at this point, no one is fooled into thinking anything is ever actually at stake.

Replay Value: Not sure I’ve seen one of these movies more than once.
Sequel Potential: Believe it or not, Vin Diesel is already attached to parts 9 and 10.
Oscar Potential: None.

Grade: 5/10 (watchable)