Tag Archives: dwayne johnson

Henry Gayden is Returning to Write the Shazam! Sequel

Shazam!

Shazam! is a success, over-performing expectations with an opening of $53.5 million domestically (plus $3.3 million from previews), $102.3 internationally, for a worldwide total of $159.1 million on a budget of just $100 million. And with success comes sequels!

The Wrap is reporting that the writer of the first film, Henry Gayden, has been tapped to pen the sequel for the film. David F. Sandberg and Peter Safran are also also expected to return. Sanderg directed the first film while Safran was the producer.

Currently it’s unknown exactly what the plan is for a sequel or a time frame. Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam is set to film next year. Black Adam is a classic villain from Shazam! and Johnson was an executive producer on the first film. It’s expected the two characters will clash at some point but one of the post film scenes hints at another classic villain to come.

Movie Review: Skyscraper

skyscraper_ver2Skyscraper is that type of movie that if you put any thought into it all, it completely falls apart. But if you can somehow manage to prevent your brain cells from firing to notice the numerous high-rise-sized plot holes, you might be entertained by the dazzling spectacle of a ginormous building on fire, people being heroic, and dazzling stunts. It is not high art.

Our protagonist in this story is the building, known as The Pearl, Hong Kong’s newest skyscraper which comes in at approximately three times the size of the Empire State Building. In this movie, the building actually gets more backstory and character development than any of the humans.

Those humans include Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who is playing a security expert evaluating the safety of the building. But of course some bad guys want some sort of undisclosed MacGuffin held in the most secure part of the building by the buildings eccentric and rich owner, and so they do what any bad guys would do – they set the building on fire. So The Rock has to scale the building, at times aided only by a rope and duct tape — yes, duct tape, who is arguably the true hero of the movie — to save his family, including Neve Campbell and some really adorable kids. Like, seriously, I’d jump into a burning building to save these kids.

To help the exposition along, we have TV news crews shooting the antics from every conceivable angle outside the building and broadcasting it to multiple screens around Hong Kong. In case you, the audience. don’t know how to react, or when to cheer, or when to clap, they’ve provided a handy bad 80s sitcom style laugh track to the movie to tell you when the jokes land. Did I say jokes? I meant stunts.

That being said, those action sequences are harrowing. And if you’re at all agoraphobic, this movie is sure to make you wish you weren’t looking down, over and over and over again as The Rock precipitously dangles by his fingertips off the edge of the building. The movie is cut from the same cloth as the giant spectacle disaster movies of the 70’s and 80’s– swap out ol’ Chuck Heston for The Rock, and we got ourselves a picture!

This films writer and stunt coordinator also seem intent on showing you that all of the skills you were supposed to learn in elementary school gym class were actually the most important ones. Balance beam, climbing a rope, doing a pull-up, and so on. For those of you who got the Presidential Fitness metal, this movie salutes you. You too can save your family from a burning state-of-the-art skyscraper!

(Pulls out imaginary social justice warrior soapbox) Where this film excels, however, is in its depiction of those with physical limitations. The Rock’s character has a prosthetic leg, which if you think about it is actually a really cool idea to break down ableism. The problem is, it treads into that trope of “disability as superpower,” which is very dangerous territory. (Insert “autistic genius who solves everything” cliche here) You can make a drinking game out of the number of times that his prosthetic leg saves him.

However, I mean this in all sincerity and while I know this review has mostly been incredibly snarky, I really do hope that this helps. And it’s important to have someone of The Rock’s celebrity and physical stature show that a prosthetic limb does not preclude you from being a superhero. I only wish it had been done a little more deftly, and in a far better movie. But for those for whom this resonates, this is likely an important representation for them on the big screen, and we shouldn’t just gloss over that.

That being said, this movie is horrifically dumb. It’s not the dumbest movie of the year – that title is still held by Den of Thieves – but even compared to other recent disaster porn movies starring Dwayne The Rock Johnson, this sticks out as being egregiously IQ-challenged. This makes Rampage look like it got a master’s degree, and San Andreas graduated top of its class from Harvard Law.

That’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with a movie being just some cheap thrills and spectacular stunts, but when your other choices in the theater right now include The Incredibles 2, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and even the incredibly-smart-looking-by-comparison Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, let’s just say you have some other options to seek those thrills.

2 out of 5 stars

Movie Review: Rampage

rampageThis movie is so dumb it makes me want to go on a rampage.

This should be a winning formula: giant monsters wreck a city. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Even for a movie based on a video game, this is not good. It makes previous work by The Rock in other middling, more pedestrian fare (San Andreas, for example, which director Brad Peyton also helmed) look downright brilliant by comparison. It’s unfortunate, because the diverse cast members, including Malin Ackerman as a villainous billionaire and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as an irascible government agent, are utterly wasted and given nothing substantive to do.

Our hero Davis Okoye (Johnson) is a primatologist who also just happens to be ex-special forces — because there’s plenty of those, right? When his best friend George, an albino gorilla he has raised since childhood when George’s family were slaughtered by poachers, is exposed to an unknown chemical agent, he starts growing and becoming incredibly aggressive. In walks Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) who developed the “Rampage” formula for evil billionaire brother and sister Claire and Brett Wyden (Ackerman and Jake Lacy) to explain the plot to both us, the audience, and everyone else, as George starts destroying things.

Oh, and there’s also a wolf and some sort of alligator/snapping turtle/dinosaur creature that got exposed, too. But essentially, there’s no reason to care about any of this. Anyway, the evil scientist siblings turn on a device on top of the Chicago skyscraper to bring the creatures to them (like ya do) to force a final urban showdown.

Again, given this film’s arcade beat-em-up mayhem and destruction, it might have been acceptable, if any of the action scenes were in the slightest bit fun. Most of the film, you’re kept waiting, hoping that maybe there’s the tiniest possibility a spectacular ending which makes the previous 90 minutes of tedium barely worthwhile, a la Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

But it just never gets any better, and in the meantime is peppered with “jokes” and dialogue that 11 year old boys might think is funny or cool. As much fun as Ackerman, Morgan, and Johnson are having with these roles, it’s just boring to watch.

The test with all movies based on video games is, simply, “Would I rather have spent my time playing the game?” As repetitive as playing 100 minutes on a Rampage arcade cabinet might be, it would surely be preferable to this film.

At least there you get some fun and satisfaction out of mayhem and destruction.

1.5 out of 5 stars

 

 

 

Movie Review: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

JumanjiThe 1995 film Jumanji holds a special place in the heart of many a millennial who grew up on the Robin Williams classic. So, when a sequel/reboot was announced, expectations were rightfully quizzical.

Did we really need another Jumanji movie? Apparently yes– and the biggest surprise of all is how much fun Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle manages to be while also giving a quick, subtle nod to its roots. However, don’t be fooled into thinking this is another kid-friendly movie. It was apparently written to the level of 13 year olds, shoving in as many dick jokes as possible into a PG-13 film. Parents should likely consider the maturity of younger children before bringing the whole family– but there’s also Coco out there if you’re looking for traditional family-friendly entertainment.

A group of high school students find themselves in detention, stumble on to a video game called Jumanji and find themselves stuck inside the game unless they can manage to defeat it. It’s sort of a Breakfast Club meets Tron, with the kids stuck in an Indiana-Jones-type jungle adventure full of the most over-the-top and ridiculous action you can imagine. Apparently all the bad guys in this jungle ride a motorbike and use machine guns.

In lesser hands, this might not have worked, but somehow this cast’s audacity and charm make this a surprisingly fun movie– as long as you don’t think about it too much.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart reunite and prove themselves a sort of post-modern Bing Crosby and Bob Hope (minus the songs). Karen Gillan stretches even more here to reinforce her bonafides as a blockbuster action star with some stellar acting and even more impressive stunt work. But it’s Jack Black who steals the show, playing his role as the popular girl stereotype to its limits.

These four do incredibly well with one another. They have real chemistry, especially Hart and Johnson. The jokes are mostly hits, and there’s a lot of them. But most of them rely on the conceit that The Rock is the nerd, Hart is the jock, Gillan the awkward girl, Black the mean girl, and that does get stretched. However, I could watch Gillan awkwardly flirt with guards and then kick their asses with martial arts all day.

The camera is also an equal-opportunity objectifier in this case, as both Gillan and Johnson are subjected to multiple cheesecake shots of their chests, arms, and other sexy bits. The film also makes a point of playing up Hart and Johnson’s height difference and Black’s more rubenesque physique for laughs. It’s all done so over-the-top and knowingly, though, that it’s fairly clear this is a satire of action movie (and video game) tropes.

However, the film’s opening exposition means we spend a decent amount of time in the real world before the film gets going, and it feels like we spend both too much time with the boring versions of these characters but also not enough to truly develop them into anything more than stereotypes.

Speaking of exposition and plot devices, upon arriving in the video game, our heroes almost immediately encounter a computer NPC (non-player character) played by Rhys Darby who is there to explain the game. It’s essentially a giant exposition dump, and with almost anyone else it might wear thin, but Darby proves himself entertaining as always.

The biggest problem with this version is its slang, mentions of social media, and other things are going to horribly date the movie. Upon meeting Nick Jonas within the video game, our heroes immediately sense something is strange about him by the way he talks. I was a teenager in the 90’s. I don’t remember anyone actually talking like that. This is likely the same for our main cast. Again, they’re stereotypes played for laughs. Oscarbait this is not. But it is otherwise really funny, and the action and pacing keep things moving along.

One black hole of charisma is whenever Bobby Cannavale shows up as the video game’s villain. He’s supposed to be awful, but he’s mostly just unwatchable and every time it cuts to him threatening his minions the film grinds to a halt. This is a waste for the same guy who (rightfully) won multiple acting awards for things like The Station Agent and Will and Grace. I want that Bobby Cannavale back, and I want him in a better role than this.

But other than that, this is a fun movie if you’re looking for a little respite from the stresses of the holidays, and if you show up to the movie theater and can’t get into The Last Jedi or aren’t in the mood for a more challenging film like The Shape of Water, this is a decent consolation prize as long as you can handle all the dick jokes. Seriously, so. many. penis jokes.

Eagle-eyed-viewers can also be on the lookout for a tribute to Robin Williams, whose character Allan Partridge, was stuck in the Jumanji board game for decades. A note carved into a the place Jonas makes his home tells us “Allan Partridge Was Here.” This film can’t replace the heart the Williams brought to the original, but this was a nice nod in what is otherwise a breakneck pace that moves from action setpiece to action setpiece.

One might consider this a successful adaptation of a video game into a movie– an incredibly rare feat for Hollywood. Other would-be adapters should take note that the comedic tone and satire of video game tropes work because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. And neither should we.

3.5 out of 5 

Around the Tubes

bm_cv15_dsA dark cloud looms over the United States…. so we’ll do our best to ignore that with some comic news and reviews from around the web.

Around the Tubes

The Beat – Comic book store provides safe space for DC inauguration protesters – Head here if you need to during this coming weekend!

The Carolinian – Comic Books are for Everyone – Yes, yes they are.

Charleston City Paper – The real heroes aren’t in comic books – A really interesting reflection on Cong. John Lewis’ March.

DailyKos – Rep. John Lewis’ graphic novel sees 106,700% jump in Amazon sales after Trump’s Twitter attacks – That’s impressive.

CBLDF – March Book 3 Wins Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature – Congrats to all involved!

CBR – Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam Will Star In His Own Solo Film – Interesting move.

ICv2 – Dan Buckley Promoted to President of Marvel Entertainment – Setting things up for the future?

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Batman #15

Around the Tubes

BitchPlanet08_CoverThe weekend is almost here! Who’s doing geeky things this weekend? Sound off in the comments below.

While you wait for the weekend to begin, here’s some geeky news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

Consequence of Sound – Dwayne Johnson to adapt graphic novel Son of Shaolin into feature length film – Are there comics not being adapted at this point?

Dread Central – Eli Roth and Jim Carrey Adapting Graphic Novel Aleister Arcane – See above.

CBR – Paramount, CBS Release ‘Star Trek’ Fan Film Guidelines – Very interesting.

ICv2 – 451 Media Launching ‘Red Dog’ – Cool.

Newsarama – Star Wars Actress Hired As CW’s New Vixen – Well ok then.

Newsarama – Report: Bokeem Woodbine Joins Spider-Man: Homecoming As Yet Another Villain – Well that cast is growing.

Newsarama – Sony Will Expand Spider-Man Universe With Marvel, Calls Animated Spider-Man A ‘Breakthrough Sensation’ – Alrighty.

The Beat – Barnes & Nobles loses $24 million in fiscal 2016, set to open restaurants – Well that’s not good.

The Outhousers – REPORT: All of San Diego to Have Free, Inadequate Wifi During Comic Con – Ha!

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Action Man #1

The Outhousers – Autumnlands #13

The Outhousers – Bitch Planet #8

Comic Attack – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #4

ICv2 – Power Cubed TPB

Comic Attack – Power Man and Iron Fist #5

Nothing But Comics – Pretty Deadly #10

The Outhousers – She Wolf #1

The Beat – Snotgirl #1

Around the Tubes

eastofwest26-review-covIt’s new comic book day tomorrow! Did folks enjoy their day off yesterday (if you had it)? Who else spent it reading comics? Sound off in the comments.

We’ll have our picks of what comics you should check out this week in a bit, but until then, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

The Guardian – Mike Mignola: Why I’m ending Hellboy to go paint watercolors instead – Such a great series and character.

CBR – Dwayne Johnson Confirms He’ll Star in Shane Black’s “Doc Savage” – Well ok then.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

CBR – East of West #26

Review: Hollywood Zombie Apocalypse #2

hza02aAlthough it is potentially a weak concept to start with, the first issue of this two part series did have some things going for it.  Of course not every comic has to be completely serious, and the fundamental idea of this series is to lampoon the Hollywood culture and to even offer a bit of a critique of popular culture.  Although not particularly inspired, it still managed to make a few jokes worthy of some eye-rolls while setting up an unconventional zombie story.  It can safely be said that the second issue is inspired, but ends up being inspired in the wrong way.  This inspiration has a name and that is Selena Gomez.

Of course Selena Gomez is never named as such in this story, even if she is called Selena and has a whiny boyfriend named Justin.  Nor are any of the other characters like Bryan Cranston, Tom Cruise or Dwayne Johnson named specifically, but in the end it doesn’t even really matter.  While it is fine to lampoon Hollywood, this ends up being something different as instead the actors are very much out of character in what is essentially a setup for the main character to make out with Selena Gomez.  It takes a creepy concept like zombies, and goes into something kind of creepier by seeing what amounts to a realization of a fantasy put to paper.  Presumably the writer holds Selena in high regard in the looks department, because she is pretty interchangeable with any other actress in this same setting.

The story is thus doomed by itself, not in its weak concept, not in its not-so-funny jokes, but more so with its cliched Hollywood ending that the hero gets the girl, even if this is the only part of the book which is meant to be taken seriously.  It should have been an undead battle royale with actors playing out their characters in the comics, but it ended up being a twisted love story with no real justification for it.

Story: Ralph Tedesco and Joe Brusha Art:  David Lorenzo Riveiro
Story: 4.0 Art: 6.5 Overall: 4.0 Recommendation: Pass

Review: Hollywood Zombie Apocalypse #1

hza-covIt seems with Zenescope and the concepts that they come up with that they either hit it out of the park or they strike out swinging.  In the short history of their publishing it is rare enough that they get something that is in the middle ground of quality, but this is one of those rare entries.  It takes an interesting enough variation of the zombie genre and mixes in some jabs at popular culture, including a lot of whom the writers seem to not give much credit to.  Those that tire of Tom Cruise’s scientology antics, those who can’t comprehend the Beliebers or those that don’t like Michael Bay (which is everyone?) will both find a bit of vicarious satisfaction here.  So too does this issue pay homage to the Avengers, especially if the Avengers were played by Tom Cruise, Dwayne Johnson, Bryan Cranston and Selena Gomez.

Unlike some of Zenescope’s other properties, this series is meant to be firmly tongue-in-cheek and so although the humour is often groan-inducing, it also doesn’t really feel out-of-place.  The microbiotic-food-obessed starlets (one of whom is presumably supposed to be Megan Fox?) are a caricature of life in Los Angeles and exemplify some usual stereotypes, but at the same time there is not much wrong with that.  I don’t live in L.A. and so I can’t comment as to whether stars are really so vapid, but it is at least the pop culture cliché and so while it feels a bit forced here, it also works at the same time.

The sum of all these parts is something that doesn’t really work, but doesn’t really fail at the same time.  To be certain there is a lot better that this company puts out, but also a lot worse.  Seeing as this is stuck somewhere in between it might be of interest to those looking for a lighter take on the zombie genre, or just those that are a little tired of pop culture deciding what is popular.  At the same time, I can’t really recommend this, because of its faults and because so many other regular ongoing series from all the various companies bypass this in quality.   I suppose in the end that anyone that is interested in this and picks it up is not going to be losing a lot of money seeing as it is already halfway through the series.

Story: Ralph Tedesco and Joe Brusha Art:  David Lorenzo Riveiro
Story: 6.5 Art: 7.0 Overall: 6.8 Recommendation: Pass

The Rock is Black Adam

After months of speculation, Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, has stated on Twitter that he’ll be playing Black Adam in some future DC Comics/Warner Bros. movie (likely Shazam, but not exactly confirmed….). We’re awaiting an official statement.

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