Dwayne Johnson

The Rock Hercules

If you want your mind blown, consider this: there’s a Hercules movie coming out this summer. In a little over a month, in fact. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track, but here’s a great example of a potential blockbuster that’s slipped mostly under the radar. Or maybe we’ve avoided it because we already had an abjectly horrible Hercules movie this year, and we haven’t quite recovered yet. We got a good look at a trailer back in March, and this offers a little more plot beyond Hercules telling us his name, but it still looks mostly like the movie is made out of sweat. Check it out for yourself:

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Hercules

Was Hercules truly a god? Was he just a mortal man? Was he, as Disney posited, flanked at all times by a chorus of R&B singers and a grumpy man-goat? The world may never know. Even if the world does kind of know, because Hercules was not a real person and just some guy the Greeks made up who could lift really, really heavy things. But Brett Ratner‘s Hercules isn’t satisfied with this answer. Instead, it offers up its own. This Hercules is something different, something billed as a “revisionist take on the classic myth,” where Hercules was not the son of Zeus and lived in a totally realistic Greece devoid of any supernatural beasts. Which makes it super awkward when the first trailer for Hercules rolls out supernatural beast after supernatural beast for Dwayne Johnson to beat with a club. Technically, this Herc might still be a non-godly one — the text cards proclaim, “BEFORE HE WAS A LEGEND… HE WAS A MAN,” and Ian McShane spends most of the trailer bellowing other, similar things about man and legend. But it seems somewhere along the line Ratner decided against “revisionist real-world Hercules,” and opted for “revisionist does-all-the-same-things-old-Hercules-did” Hercules.

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Pompeii Movie

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Dwayne Johnson

In a move that makes so much sense that it’s kind of absurd it hasn’t already happened before, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is partnering up with DC Comics for an undisclosed project in 2014. Well, to be more specific, they’re “partnering up to create the cool bad assery,” as he announced on Twitter to his followers on New Year’s Eve. Whatever “bad assery” could entail has yet to be explained, but we have Johnson’s semi-regular #RockTalk sessions and that one intrepid Twitter follower to thank for asking questions. The year has just begun, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t start thinking about what went on during that meeting with the Warner Bros CEO. It’s certainly not the first time that he’s had his name attached to DC Comics projects, so maybe this time the promise/threat of bad assery will stick. All the way back in 2007, Johnson was tagged to play Black Adam, the sometimes villain, sometimes anti-hero hailing from Ancient Khandaq, in the Shazam movie that never came to light.

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furious6-commentary1

After fourteen years, the Fast & Furious franchise has gone through quite a few changes. The first three films struggled with changing casts and somewhat unconnected storylines. However, after Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift, director Justin Lin took the series in a very different direction. He brought back the original cast, then morphed the series from some street racing flicks to a bona fide action franchise complete with international villains and bigger-than-life action sequences. This second trilogy (!) in the series culminates with Fast & Furious 6, which was one of the highest grossing movies of 2013. Lin lends his voice to the commentary track on the film, which was recorded before the tragic death of Paul Walker. Similarly, the DVD and Blu-ray of the film were produced before this event, making a lot of the matter-of-fact comments in the film, the bonus features and the commentary naturally bittersweet. Still, there’s a lot to be learned from Lin’s commentary, which serves as a look back not only at the film, but the franchise as a whole with a great emphasis on the dynamic of those involved behind the scenes.

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dueling hercules

Something oddly wonderful happened in early ’70s Hollywood the likes of which was never glimpsed again. No, I’m not referring to Elliott Gould’s emergence as a leading man and international sex symbol. Instead I’m talking about a situation where two studios with similar projects decided to combine forces instead of racing to complete competing movies. 20th Century Fox had the rights to Frank Robinson’s and Thomas Scortia’s novel “The Glass Inferno,” and WB had the rights to Richard Stern’s “The Tower.” Both books were disaster tales about a devastating high-rise fire, so the studios combined their efforts resulting in 1974′s The Towering Inferno. It was an immense success. Similar scenarios have happened many times since with competing projects bearing a remarkable resemblance to each other in plot or subject, but none of them have ended in that same congenial way. Either one film drops out of the running (think Linda Lovelace biopic Inferno surrendering to Lovelace), or two similarly themed movies hit screens within months of each other. That’s actually the most common scenario, and it’s set to happen again next year. Kind of. Two CGI-filled epics about Hercules are set for release in 2014. February will bring Hercules: The Legend Begins, a Renny Harlin film starring Twilight‘s Kellan Lutz as the muscular hero, and then Brett Ratner‘s Hercules with Dwayne Johnson in the title role flexes its way into theaters in July. While these head-to-heads are often tough to call a victor on in advance, this one seems like a […]

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Dwayne Johnson

Dwayne Johnson being cast in an action movie is not what you’d call surprising news. Yet it’s news nonetheless – as per The Hollywood Reporter, Johnson will be starring in Seal Team 666, likely as one of a team of Navy SEALS who exterminate otherworldly threats, Men in Black-style. Naturally, they happen upon an evil far powerful than they’ve ever experienced before, have to save the world from certain destruction, and so on and so forth. The premise comes from a similarly-titled book by Weston Ochse, while Johnson’s Hercules screenwriter Evan Spiliotopoulos will be handling screenplay duties. Seal Team 666 seems almost impossibly predetermined to be quickly forgotten; another biceps-and-bazookas romp with a few dashes of CGI demon thrown in for good measure. Perhaps it’s the lingering taste of R.I.P.D. in the public’s mouth. Perhaps it’s that the Dwayne Johnson/demonic influence combo was tried once before in 2005′s Doom, which ended up in the same landfill as all our other discarded video game adaptations. There is, however, a silver lining- Seal Team 666 may not provide anything drastically new or different (although it just might, for all we know), but its mere presence may secure Johnson as the action star this decade truly needs.

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Iron Man Extended Look

Today in life imitating art news, Robert Downey Jr. is one step closer to becoming an actual genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist. Forbes has released their annual list of Hollywood’s Highest-Paid Actors, and the Iron Man star comes in at a firm number one, having made $75m between June 2012 and June 2013. There is no contesting that Downey Jr. is box office gold. He has starred in six films that have all grossed over $500m, and The Avengers and Iron Man 3 both earned over $1b during their runs. The Avengers, the third-highest grossing movie of all time, featured Downey Jr. once more in his beloved Tony Stark role – and it’s easy to argue that he stole many a scene throughout the blockbuster.

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review furious 6

It seems every summer is ruled by comic book movies these days, and 2013 is set to be no different. Iron Man 3 fired the first shot, and titles like Man of Steel and The Wolverine are waiting in the wings. One big film curiously missing from the conversation though is Furious Six, but just because its characters aren’t splayed across the covers of Marvel or DC comics doesn’t mean they’re not indestructible superheroes here to save the day. O’Connor (Paul Walker) and Dom (Vin Diesel) are living it up in Spain alongside their honeys (Jordana Brewster and Elsa Pataky respectively) thanks to the massive score from their adventure in Rio. Their hulking nemesis Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) appears on their doorstep one morning with a simple deal. If they help him catch a criminal scourge who’s been stealing top secret military hardware and breaking traffic laws then Hobbs will grant them all full pardons back in the USA. The icing on the muscle car-shaped cake is a recent photo he shows them of Dom’s ex, the long thought dead Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who’s now running with the bad guy. Fans of Fast Five will be thrilled to know that the ridiculously over the top antics here make that film look like a pledge-week episode of NPR’s Car Talk. And yeah, I know that’s a radio show. It’s bigger, dumber and more fun than its predecessor, and it knows exactly what its audience wants. That last bit can’t salvage the film’s […]

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Pain and Gain

Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) believes in fitness – and the American dream and bettering himself and making money and a whole mess of other stuff – but he mainly believes in fitness, and he believes that it is his unique dedication to fitness that will turn him into a success. And, if that doesn’t work, he can always just rob someone. Based on a true story (a claim that gets progressively harder to believe as the film goes on because this stuff is bonkers), Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain centers on the 1990s crime spree committed by Miami’s own “Sun Gym Gang,” one that saw personal trainer Lugo (along with his equally stupid cohorts, Paul Doyle, played by Dwayne Johnson and Adrian Doorbal, played by Anthony Mackie) hatch the brilliant (sarcasm all-around) scheme to trick a gym customer out of everything he owned. What started as a simple plan – kidnap millionaire moron Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), get him to sign over all his worldly possessions and funds, release him, and enjoy the spoils – goes hilariously, disastrously, and almost immediately awry. Crime does not pay, but crime really does not pay when you’re an evil idiot.

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watts

What is Casting Couch? It’s not a fishing program on public access. It’s a place on the Internet to go to hear about actors landing roles. Today we have the latest on The Rock’s upcoming schedule, as well as a new member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. If you weren’t already on board to see a movie where Bill Murray plays a creepy old man who teaches all of his wrong-headed ways to his 12-year-old neighbor, then there’s probably something wrong with you, but St. Vincent De Van Nuys hasn’t given up on you yet. It’s latest strategy to lure you in, which comes after casting Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd as Murray’s co-stars, is to sign up Naomi Watts in the role of a Russian prostitute who Murray’s character likes to keep company with. That sounds both ridiculous and sexy, which are basically the two best ways anything can be. [Deadline]

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680x478-7

Michael Bay‘s wacky true-life passion project, Pain & Gain, is finally set to explode on to our theater screens in a mess of steroids, sweat, tank tops, fire, blood, and greyhounds later this month, and if you’re still unconvinced that this thing is going to be some sort of insane masterpiece, we’ve got a batch of new stills for you to eyeball. This new gallery includes plenty we’ve seen before - Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson looking swoll (as the kids say), Anthony Mackie looking ever-so-slightly dubious, Rebel Wilson looking like she’s having the best time ever, and Tony Shalhoub getting the crap kicked out of him – but it also comes complete with some new stuff, like said greyhound. Seriously, if you came up with a harebrained scheme to knock over a rich guy, wouldn’t you celebrate by buying a new purebred pup? Of course you would. After the break, soak up some roid-laced rays with a fresh look at Pain & Gain and its inherent nuttiness.

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the-rock

Much ado has been made lately about how Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has seen both his own career and the fates of several movie series revived due to the seemingly magical formula of adding him to floundering franchises whose original installments he wasn’t a part of. Yes, due to his involvement in Fast Five pulling that series from the brink of death and his inclusion in G.I. Joe: Retaliation forcing everyone to give that film a chance even though the original was DOA, many in the media have gone as far as to anoint the man as being “franchise Viagra.” Of course, all of those Viagra adds warn us that if our erection lasts for more than 4 hours we should call a doctor, so does that mean that if Johnson’s current momentum leads to 4 or more sequels getting added to a franchise, we should start to become worried? That possible future could be coming sooner than you think, because recent reports make it look like it’s full speed ahead for the Fast & Furious and G.I. Joe franchises.

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GI JOE

If you’ve come to Jon M. Chu’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation looking for plot, well, you’ve probably also forgotten what happened the last time we hooked up with America’s elite military force also named after action figures and comic books. While Chu does an admirable enough job cleaning up the mess left behind after 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of COBRA, the latest entry into the saga of the Joes and all their nifty little gadgets doesn’t manage to amount to more than a pile of fun jokes and one show-stopper of an action sequence. This time around, the Joe gang is unexpectedly abandoned and destroyed by the U.S. government, thanks to a president who insists that the Joes (mainly Snake Eyes) are responsible for the assassination of the Pakistani president, which has thrown the country into utter turmoil. What’s left of the team (and, man, is it a scant bunch) must uncover what’s really going on in order to salvage their reputations. Yes, it’s sort of a political thriller. Yes, it’s also just sort of boring.

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Pain and Gain Red Band

While the original trailer for Michael Bay’s upcoming project, Pain & Gain, revealed that it was telling a story that was too bizarre not to be true, it didn’t do all that much to actually sell the movie. Sure, Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson playing a couple of insecure meatheads who find themselves in over their heads while planning a heist is an amusing concept, but the trailer seemed to try to sell the film as an aspirational story about struggling characters trying to make their way in the world—and that is not what we go to see Michael Bay movies for. We go to see Michael Bay movies because they’re ridiculous. There’s no need to worry though, because a new red band trailer for Pain & Gain is here, and it reveals that this story of testosterone-soaked goons in silly outfits trying to become elite criminals isn’t being played nearly as dramatically as we may have first feared. This trailer focuses almost exclusively on the film’s comedy, and it turns out there’s a ton of stuff in it to laugh about. Wahlberg is always at his best when he’s playing clueless, and, given his professional wrestling experience, Johnson is presumably at his best when he’s tossing midgets, so this one is allowing both actors to work right in their comfort zones, which seems to have paid off, because their chemistry is palpable. Throw in some strong deliveries from comedic powerhouses like Rebel Wilson and Rob Corddry, and suddenly I’m on […]

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SNITCH

Editors note: this discussion features spoilers for the movie Snitch. Read at your own discretion.  When you sit down to watch a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson action vehicle like Snitch, you generally expect the film’s crosshairs to be sighted on fictional bad guys, not the real world United States government. But as it turns out, Snitch’s action-film ready “How far would you go to save your son?” conceit is less a narrative gimmick than it is a point of departure to dramatize a social issue. The film isn’t ultimately propelled by the urge to flip semi-trailers but by the desire to criticize the problematic mandatory minimum sentencing laws the government wields to fight the war on drugs. Snitch’s social conscience is the offspring of the activist mandates of Participant Media and the same-named episode of PBS’s Frontline. The investigative report shed condemning light on how some of the United States anti-drug tactics – mandatory minimum sentencing and conspiracy charges – breed an environment where big fish get lighter sentences by informing on smaller (or non) fish. Snitching may be the documentary’s hook, but its core criticism is how in the government’s singular mission to win against drugs, it will unjustly, indiscriminately and indifferently ruin people’s lives to achieve its goals. As one interviewee put it: “It’s no longer about protecting people who are innocent. Now it’s part of the casualties of the drug war.”

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Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 3.38.25 PM

Snitch is “inspired by true events.” Which is to say, it centers around a real-life choice mandated by the justice system for prisoners arrested on drug charges: become an informant, or face lengthy jail time. This preface gives the wrong impression though since the characters in this film don’t exactly have real-life counterparts. If they did, well… then they would probably have to be as jacked as Dwayne Johnson. Snitch, directed and co-scripted by former stuntman Ric Roman Waugh, may have cheated somewhat with this veil of supposed truth, but he does succeed in making a consistently entertaining film that certainly delivers with its action sequences and many winning performances from its very strong cast. Unfortunately it also falls short plot-wise, somewhat detracting from its overall action film bravado, and has some pacing issues too thanks to staggered action sequences.

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Pain & Gain

“I’ve watched a lot of movies, Paul, I know what I’m doing!” If you think that the plot of Michael Bay‘s Pain & Gain is insane, or clearly just rooted in action cinema lore, or too damn bizarre to be true, that’s completely understandable – which is why Bay has splashed the film’s first trailer with a big, bold, brazen “THIS IS A TRUE STORY.” Because it is. Don’t believe us? Check out the original Miami New Times report that Bay based his film on. It’s okay. We’ll wait. Now treat yourself to the film’s first trailer after the break. We are so pumped.

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G.I. Joe: Retaliation

When the first trailer for G.I. Joe: Retaliation hit about a year ago, expectations for the sequel were pretty low. That was due to the first film, G.I. Joe: The Rise of  COBRA, pretty much sucking. But a funny thing happened after everyone saw that trailer for Retaliation : suddenly people were talking about G.I. Joe again. This one didn’t look like a random, terrible action movie that just happened to be called G.I. Joe, it actually looked like an adaptation of the beloved property. That’s a real Cobra Commander mask! And the whole thing looked pretty epic and exciting, too. Mountain-climbing ninja action! There are conflicting reports as to why exactly the film’s release date was pushed back from last summer to this upcoming March 29, 2013. Some say they wanted to add a 3D element to the film, some say that they wanted to add more scenes featuring Channing Tatum – seeing as he became a bigger star almost immediately after this movie stopped filming. Whatever the case may be, Retaliation got pushed back, it is now going to be released as a 3D movie, and this new trailer certainly features more Channing Tatum than the first one (which seemed to be trying to wash him right out of the franchise). Check it out after the break!

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Pain and Gain Poster

Sometimes, Michael Bay‘s balls-to-the-wall, guns-blazing, explosions-popping approach to filmmaking really does work out. And working out in its many forms is at the heart of his new project, the Dwayne Johnson- and Mark Wahlberg-starring Pain & Gain. In case you haven’t quite caught on just yet, Johnson and Wahlberg play body builders in the deranged true-life tale of crime gone buff…and stupid. Seriously, have you read the original Miami New Times report that Bay is basing his film on yet? Do that now. The film’s first poster took a similarly yoked-up approach to the material, so now is perhaps a good time to just get comfortable with seeing guns blazing when it comes to this project. The film also stars Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris, Rob Corddry, Tony Shalhoub, Bar Paly, Rebel Wilson, Ken Jeong, and Yolanthe Cabau. Pain & Gain arrives in theaters on April 26, 2013. [Paramount Pictures]

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