Tag Archives: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)

In some versions of this poster, Channing Tatum/Duke is included. In all of them, Elodie Yung/Jinx is in the Cobra section... for no reason.
In some versions of this poster, Channing Tatum/Duke is included. In all of them, Elodie Yung/Jinx is in the Cobra section… for no reason.

“We don’t need no stinking taglines.”

Directed by Jon M. Chu
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Park, Jonathan Price and Byung-hun Lee

Framed by their own commanders and almost wiped out, the surviving members of the G.I. Joe team must fight against the odds to clear their names and avenge their dead, before Cobra can realise their ultimate goal to – dare I say it? – rule the world.

Continue reading G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)

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Hercules (2014)

hercules-dwayne-johnson-600x271
The Expendables 800BC

“A man with a cause can be stronger than a god!”

Directed by Brett Ratner
Starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Reece Ritchie, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Aksel Hennie and… well, a whole mess of people

Hercules (Johnson) is a legend in his own lifetime; the son of Zeus, slayer of monsters, and now a sword for hire… for the right cause.  He travels with his prodigiously skilled companions, a best of list of supporting heroes: Amazon archer Atalanta (Berdal), knife-man Autolycus (Sewell), war-scarred berserk Tydeus (Hennie), Amphiaraus (McShane) the hardest seer in all Greece, and Hercules’ nephew Iolaus (Ritchie), who tells the stories. Hired by the King of Thrace (Hurt) to bring down a rebel, they turn a band of farmers into an army, matching their myth-making against a cavalry force who convince their enemies they are centaurs. But Hercules has his ghosts, and he is a man that empires would follow, and that sort of man is guaranteed to fall out with kings.

What’s wrong with it?

Hercules is directed by Brett Ratner, of X-Men: The Last Stand infamy, and Rush Hour 1-3. It’s basically The Expendables if it was set in classical Greece with a bunch of European b-listers in place of the great action heroes of the 80s. There is no way this film ever had a chance of working.

Atalanta’s skimpy battle armour is a bit… well, I would say a bit much, but a bit little.

What’s right with it?

And yet, it is fucking glorious!

Come on; it’s The Expendables in classical Greece, with John Hurt and Rufus Sewell and Ian McShane as a crazy battle seer, and Joseph Fiennes popping in as the weak king of Athens that you know is going to show up later ’cause, hey, Joe Fiennes right?

I don’t forgive Brett Ratner for X-Men III, but I’m happy to say that he’s paid his dues now.

Even the end credits are awesome, showing the ‘real’ story of some of the labours, with Team Hercules working together to bring down monsters which are less supernatural than they at first appear.

How bad is it really?

GLORIOUS!

Best bit (if such there is)?

Amphiaraus stands ready to receive the flaming spear he has forseen will kill him, but Hercule catches it.

Amphiaraus: Excuse me! That was my moment! My fate!
Hercules: You’re welcome.

What’s up with…?

  • The film’s wishy-washy attitude to gods? Amphiaraus seems to genuinely see the future, and Hercules is supernaturally strong, yet the demigod rumours are firmly poo-pooed.
  • Atalanta’s battlekini? The rest of the costumes maintain a pretty consistent feel of classical Greece, but she gets two bits of leather. In the film’s defence, she does nonetheless get to kick actual arse and even pull out some saves on Herc, rather than going all damsel.
  • King Eurystheus’ pack of wolves? They’re there to tie to Hercues’ Cerberus visions, but it’s a wicked overcomplicated way to bump off someone’s family.

Ratings

Production values – Pretty top drawer, really. The scenes of the legends have pretty impressive monsters, even if they are then shown to have been less than supernatural. 4
Dialogue and performances – Aside from a slightly cheesy ‘we’re family’ moment, the dialogue is pretty good, and the cast… The weakest is Berdal, and a couple of Thracian officers for whom English is not the first language, but even so it’s nothing dire. 7
Plot and execution – Hercules tells a coherent, consistent story, with stakes and consequences and everything. A couple of scenes are kind of cookie cutter (Hero gets mad at the boss; check. Heroes get captured and taunted; check) but it holds together nicely. 5
Randomness – For a film that is basically as mad as a bowl of cuckoo’s nest soup, Hercules keeps its crazy in check well. One bonus point for mentioning steel in the Bronze Age. 4
Waste of potential – By all indicators, this should have been complete shite. 2

Overall 22%

Well… this is embarrassing. Apparently this film isn’t bad enough to go on the Bad Movie Marathon. I guess I should take it down in case the boss… Oh, wait! I am the boss! I guess it stays!

Doom (2005)

Doom

“No-one gets out alive”

Directed by Andrezej Bartkowiak
Starring Karl Urban, Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson and Rosamund Pike

When something attacks a research base on Mars, the USMC Rapid Response Tactical Squad send a crack team through the Ark – a portal between Earth and Mars – to rescue company property and maintain quarantine. As the situation worsens and a deadly infection spreads, Dr Samantha Grimm and her brother, one of the marines, begin to realise that the scientists at the base have uncovered something evil, and unleashed something deadly.

What’s wrong with it?

Based on the video game (Doom 3, specifically), this has most of the hallmarks of a bad game license, including cardboard cut-out characters and a series of action sequences linked by sections of dialogue that are barely worthy of the name exposition.

The lighting is ‘moody’ to the point that some sections are largely invisible and the monsters – which are mutants, rather than the game series’ demons – move so fast that they are hard to make out.

The early scenes with the marines almost hilariously try to capture the rough camaraderie of the chopper scenes in Predator, and while that schtick has been done worse, it has also been done much better; not least by Predator. The same could be said of a great deal in this film, apart from the bits that are knocked off from Alien.

What’s right with it?

The film does avoid one of the worst features of many game adaptations. Its plot basically sticks to the source (aside from the mentioned non-infernalism), with some alterations for a larger cast, and without any unnecessary complications. As a result, the film doesn’t overextend its premise.

The cardboard cutouts also have a little variation from the norms, in particular the fraternal bond between the quasi-adoptive brothers, Duke and Destroyer, is played lightly and surprisingly effectively.

There is an odd twist for an action movie derived from the notion that the magic gene’s effect depends on a person’s core morality, even if the distinction that it draws between killers and soldiers is eventually just a nod to a better movie (Predator again).

How bad is it really?

Doom is… much less terrible than I was expecting. It is a long way from being a good film, but by sticking to a pretty simple core concept it minimises how much it can actually screw up. It even has some decent lines of dialogue, and occasionally shows signs of thoughtful creation.

John ‘Reaper’ Grimm: If they were so smart, how come they’re dead?
Samantha Grimm: Maybe they just went with time.
John ‘Reaper’ Grimm: You don’t shield a baby from time.

Although in the name of balance, they do also suggest that the unmapped 10% of the human genome is the blueprint for the soul, which is so corny it’s awesome.

Best bit (if such there is)?

Simply because it’s basically unique, the FPS sequence at the climax of the movie is very memorable.

What’s up with…?

  • Sarge’s total breakdown from professional soldier to serial murderer? It’s kind of sudden, although I guess not unflagged.
  • Portman’s extreme obnoxiousness? How has this man not been drummed out of the core as an insubordinate threat to squad cohesion years ago? Hmm… It occurs to me in retrospect that this may have been deliberately flagged, not just in the attitudes of the other marines, but in the fact that no-one has ever given him a callsign. He’s just ‘Portman’, while even the Kid is ‘the Kid’.
  • Toying with the infernal origins of the game’s monsters? The enemies in the movie are mutants created by alien genes, but there’s a nod in Reaper’s statement that “[Mars] is Hell; it always has been.”
  • The children? The movie loses traction with me for the implied slaughter of children offscreen, especially as there was no pressing reason for there to have been any children in it.

Ratings

Production values – Some decent effects are wasted in the impenetrable dark of the mood lighting, but the Ark and the nanowalls are nicely done. Sadly, most of the action scens are just some shooting, although the FPS is a nice quirk. 9
Dialogue and performances –  The dialogue is hardly Shakespeare, but the actors seem to know that and the performances, while not brilliant, are well geared towards the material. The sub-Predator squad joshing is a low point, and Pike’s accent is somewhat flaky. 11
Plot and execution – The plot of the movie is some men with guns shoot at bad things. The twist is that some of them become bad things, while others do not. what there is is done reasonably well, but it’s the fights that fill the run time. 15
Randomness – The film mostly sticks to its metaphorical guns, which also happen to be actual guns, with the occasional digression into theology. 5
Waste of potential – As licensed computer game movies go, this is actually pretty sweet. It was never going to win many awards, but there are worse ways to spend an hour or two. 10

Overall 50%

From the Archive – The Mummy Returns (2001)

Mummy

“The most powerful force on earth is about to be unleashed by the two people who should know better.”

Directed by Stephen Sommers
Starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Oded Fehr, Patricia Velasquez and The Rock

In the dim and distant past, a mighty warrior named the Scorpion King (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) sells his soul to the god Anubis (in this film, very much playing the part of Satan), and leads an army of jackal-warriors to conquer the known world.

Back in the now, Rick and Evie O’Connell recover the Bracelet of Anubis, which affixes itself to their son, Alex (Freddie Boath), and grants him a vision to lead him to the secret Oasis of Am-Sher where the Scorpion King and his treasure lie. They are attacked by forces working for the evil Curator of the British Museum (Alun Armstrong) and the reincarnation of Imhotep’s (Vosloo) lost love, Ankh-su-namun (Velasquez), who seek to resurrect the Mummy so that he can go to the Oasis, defeat the Scorpion King, gain command of Anubis’ army and destroy the world.

Abducting the boy, Imhotep’s forces set out, pursued by the O’Connells, Evie’s still-dissolute brother, Jonathon (Hannah), the Medjay warrior – Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Many people watching the original heard ‘magi’, to the point that the Danish subtitles translate it as ‘wise men’ – Ardeth Bey (Fehr, whose character was only named in the credits of the first movie), and Rick’s former partner, Izzy, an aviator with a rocket-powered dirigible. Bey claims that a mysterious Masonic tattoo – which Egypt nut Evie has never apparently made anything of – on Rick’s wrist marks him as a Medjay; a holy warrior against darkness. The heroes track the bad guys to the Oasis, where Evie is killed and resurrected, so that she can battle Ankh-su-namun while her husband goes toe-to-toe first with Imhotep, then the Scorpion King – a big, bad CGI – and Bey and his fellow Medjay battle the ‘only kill them if you cut their heads off’ Anubis warriors. The heroes win, the Scorpion King and the Anubis warriors are dragged back to hell, and Izzy rescues the rest from the collapsing Oasis.

What’s wrong with it?

1999’s The Mummy was a superbly-crafted piece of action-adventure fluff, but despite reassembling the same cast and crew for the sequel, Stephen Sommers fails to recapture the spirit of the original. The plot winds with excessive complexity for its depth, and a lot of the best set-pieces are just recreations of scenes from the original, like the killer wave that is just a damp version of The Mummy’s sand wall. The pygmy mummies in the hidden Oasis are just plain random, and smell like velociraptors as they pursue hapless idiots through the long grass. There’s also just a whole bunch of crap that one feels might have come up during the course of the first movie.

The end credits kind of sum up the film’s failings. Where The Mummy closed with a gentle, dignified tune, and the credits fading in and out on ancient walls, the sequel ended with a mess of flashing screens and over-zealous music. Also, Alan Silvestri’s score just falls terribly short of Jerry Goldsmith’s original.

What’s right with it?

Some of the set pieces are very nice, and there is some good action going on. The performers are all pretty decent, and even the sproggly Boath isn’t too annoying. Oded Fehr as Ardeth Bey once more snags the ‘coolest moment in the movie’ award for the flying scimitar Anubis warrior decapitation.

How bad is it really?

The Mummy Returns falls firmly into the category of ‘not bad, but could do so much better’. The plot is convoluted in a way that only detracts from the film’s highlights, landing this effort with a ‘could do better’.

What’s up with…?

  • Rick and Evelyn still doing the Tomb Raider thing? Do they not learn? Still, at least this is done knowingly.
  • The sudden appearance of a tattoo which marks Rick as a Medjay? OK, I checked, and he does have that wrist covered all through the first film, but still…
  • The pygmy mummies?
  • The Scorpion King’s astounding crapness? The rest of the SFX is pretty solid, but he just looks like a big plastic scorpion. Actually, a Ray Harryhausen big plastic scorpion might well have looked better.
  • The rocket-powered dirigible? I mean, normally I’d be all in favour of rocket-powered dirigibles, but this one felt a little gratuitous (and may in fact have been a blimp after all).

Ratings:

Production Values – Generally speaking, pretty damn good; which just makes the Scorpion King look that much lamer by comparison. 7

Dialogue and performances – The problem with the script of this film is not in its dialogue, which is generally speaking pretty snappy. The actors also do the lines justice, giving credible and charismatic performances. Given that pretty much everyone was reprising a role they had played before, it is perhaps unsurprising that they seem very comfortable with their characters and relationships. 5

Plot and execution – The Mummy Returns has a major plot problem. Not that there’s too little, but that there’s too much. The movie dashes around from place to place, and in the first viewing at least is actually pretty confusing. The basic gist is simple enough, but it rambles so much that you get lost, and at times just stop caring. 13

Randomness – Sacred tattoos, pygmy mummies, rocket-powered dirigibles. Yeah, this film has some randomness. 16

Waste of Potential – As the sequel to a far superior film, The Mummy Returns clearly wastes some potential, but this is somewhat alleviated by the fact that it is struggling against the law of diminishing returns. Besides, at least it did not try to be a sequel with none of the original cast. 10

Overall 49%