The Rock

Most of the toy-to-film talk that goes on this week will probably be about the new Transformers movie tearing things up at the box office, but the guys over at that other 80s franchise G.I. Joe aren’t taking the matter lying down. In the midst of Bay-mania they have done a whole host of casting for their second film, and the guys they’ve got to join their elite team include a grappler, a rapper, and… some white dude. Star of the recent Fast Five, Dwayne Johnson, or The Rock if you will, has become quite the source of news over the past few months. First he knew about the death of Osama bin Laden before everyone else, and now he managed to scoop the world with the announcement of his own casting in G.I. Joe. On his website Johnson posted a mockup picture of himself beside the Joe Logo and added the caption, “It’s official: Call the Pentagon, get me my big ass gun – Rocks a JOE!” Johnson had been previously rumored as playing the character of Roadblock, the rhyme talking, gourmet cooking, Joe who carries around a gigantic gun, so these comments seem to help confirm that suspicion. Word has also leaked, this time from The Hollywood Reporter and not Dwayne Johnson, that famed rapper the RZA will also be joining the cast. RZA may be best known for his position in the legendary rap troupe The Wu-Tang Clan, but he’s also dipped his toe into acting by […]

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema: we have come here to chew bubblegum and worship bad movies…and we’re all out of bubblegum. Pursuant to our mission statement, hastily written in soy sauce on the wrapper of a Zagnut bar, every week we will tempt your cerebral taste buds with all the most decadent, delicious treats it doesn’t want to admit it craves. We will slice, dice, chop, and screw the movie; basting it in its own faults along the way. But then it will lovingly bake in our hearts at 98.6° for 3-5 paragraphs until it becomes golden brown with our misguided affection. We will then transform metaphor into substance by offering an actual snack food item paired with the film in order that no part of your insides remain unaffected by this odious column. If losers are always whining about their best, we achieve the complete opposite effect by lauding the worst with a barbaric yawp. Today’s Blue Plate Special: The Rock

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Anybody who was a fan of the G.I. Joe toy line or cartoon series from the 80s could easily tell you who Roadblock was. He was a big, bald, mustachioed, black dude who carried around gigantic guns and had a snazzy way of speaking in rhyme. He was basically the closest cartoon equivalent that you could get to Mr. T other than when Mr. T himself got his own cartoon where he coached a mystery solving gymnastics team. Let’s call him Mr. T Lite. As you can imagine he was a popular character, so when putting together a sequel to 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra it makes sense that you would include him in the film. And if you need to find an actor to translate a cartoon character like Roadblock into live action, it makes sense that you would find a gigantic, fast-talking, ex-pro wrestler to get the job done; especially when that ex-pro wrestler is as big a personality and as talented an actor as Dwayne Johnson. And the fact that he just starred in the ludicrously successful Fast Five, which went a long way in reviving that once stale looking franchise, is just the icing on the cake. Yes, getting Dwayne Johnson to star in your G.I. Joe sequel as Roadblock makes all the sense in the world, so the fact that Paramount is courting him to join G.I. Joe: Cobra Strikes comes as no surprise. But what I’m still trying to figure out is […]

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Boiling Point

I, like many people, went out to see Fast Five and be dazzled by its complex plot and characterizations. Just kidding, I went to see shit get blown up, crashed, smashed, and shot. I was pretty excited to see two separated-at-birth meatheads, Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, smash sweaty brows into each other. While the racing is always cool, I think this is the installment where the physical action really shines through. The gun fights and the fist fights were both more exciting than any of the driving. And while enjoying The Rock and Vin Diesel try to lay the smack down on each other, I got to thinking: why isn’t The Rock a bigger star? I mean, who cares about Vin Diesel? Just kidding. Vin Diesel is fine too. But really I was thinking about Dwayne Johnson. Do you smell what he’s cooking? I don’t think so, because he hasn’t been in nearly enough films. Right?

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There’s a lot of things that people are comfortable watching Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson do. They include punching people, quipping, driving fast cars, raising his eyebrow, being forced to take care of his children even though he’s huge and athletic; the list goes on and on. Something a lot of people probably never thought they would see Johnson do, however, is sing country music. Well, I guess the big man has caught Gwyneth Paltrow Fever, because a new project will see him do just that. Variety reports that Johnson is looking to both produce and star in a biopic of famed country music star Charley Pride. Pride was a success in the early to mid seventies, releasing more than three-dozen number one singles and selling more than 70 million records over the span of his career. He’s given some credit for his success opening the door to the country music world for people of color, even though there haven’t been many of our brown brothers who have chosen to walk through since. Does that guy from Hootie and the Blowfish count? What about Don Cheadle’s character in Boogie Nights? Either way, I’m sure it was hard for Pride to be accepted as one of the first, and I imagine that’s what a lot of this film will be about.

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Let’s cut to the chase here shall we? Fast Five is a stupid, overly long, and poorly written movie with moronic dialogue, plot contrivances big enough to fit both of the bald giants above through, and a complete disregard for right, wrong, and the sanctity of human life. More on all of that in a minute, but the other half of this equation is that it also features some kick-ass, high energy, destructive-as-hell action scenes that rattle the walls of the theater and happily remind you that there are still filmmakers capable of crafting spectacular cinematic mayhem without relying on CGI to do all the heavy lifting. So you can see my dilemma…

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I will never forget the first time I visited Austin, TX. My friend, and fellow reject, Luke Mullen and I had driven through the night from Baton Rouge in order to make the noon showing of Grindhouse. By then, it was playing in a dingy dollar theater, but the trailers had gotten me so jazzed about it that I couldn’t have cared less where we watched it. This carefree complacence would incidentally be shattered not three hours later upon my first visit to an Alamo Drafthouse. Being that my cult movie knowledge was less-than-remedial at the time, one would think that I would have gleaned no appreciation from a throwback film like Grindhouse. But Tarantino and Rodriguez shoved the scratches, film warps, and falsely cheap production values down our throats to the point that even a visiting Martian would have been able to recognize the long-form homage. But it wasn’t until the release of Grindhouse spinoff Machete earlier this year, after two years living in Austin had afforded me a crash course in cult cinema, that I really started to understand the complaints my colleagues were voicing about these types of films. Instead of focusing time and energy to beating us over the head with the kitschy throwback facade, why weren’t adoring filmmakers simply making modern movies with that classic grindhouse spirit? For the first fifteen minutes of Faster, that is exactly what I believed we were finally seeing.

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Many older actors have seen fit to join big studio franchise-style material lately. Sir Anthony Hopkins in Thor, Sir Ben Kingsley in Prince of Persia. Despite the titles, these actors have never been above a paycheck – it’s the working British actor’s philosophy: a job is a job. Now, Sir Michael Caine joins the ranks by joining Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D 2: The Mysterious Island. It’s clear that the old codger can still rock an action scene if he needs to, and he’ll need to here because there are apparently bees (probably giant ones) on The Mysterious Island. Now, we can only hope there’s a fist fight and he takes The Rock down. [THR]

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Brendan Fraser was threatening to leave the production of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island even before his latest family friendly flick fell flat, but now that he’s gone for good (since director Eric Brevig left to deliver this magnum opus), the production has decided to go to the man most well known for children’s movies: The Rock. Dwayne Johnson has officially been named as the replacement to star in the film. It’s a great marketing tactic considering his Sesame street cred, and it probably won’t hurt the creative integrity in anyway unless they run out of ways to throw yo-yos at the screen (in 3D!). Josh Hutcherson is reprising his role (as, most likely, a Plan B to missing out on Spider-Man), and as with the first, the movie will take Jules Verne’s work and weave it into a story that mirrors the plot to his novel “The Mysterious Island.” [Cinematical]

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Culture Warrior

No doubt you’ve read about it if you haven’t seen it. The Other Guys, the latest collaboration between masters of the sophomoric Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, concludes with an animated chart-and-graph sequence over its end credits detailing the inner workings of Ponzi schemes, the exponential disparity between the wages of corporate CEOs and their average worker, and the rather comical eventual release date of currently imprisoned white-collar criminal Bernie Madoff. It seems startling at first, for one of the most hilariously dumb comedies of the summer (I certainly don’t mean this as an insult, as true silliness is hard to come by and McKay/Ferrell routinely pull it off masterfully) to conclude with something of a visual lecture. It’s confounding for a film that asks the bare minimum of its viewer to conclude with what seems to be a message built from populist outrage, a message for which there seemed, on the surface, little if any buildup toward. The best course of action – for most critics, anyway – has been to read and enjoy The Other Guys wholly separate from its end credits (films, after all, are often misread as ending before their credits; we’re conditioned not to any pay attention to them). I find this reading of The Other Guys too selective, and its end credits – as didactic and ill-placed as they may seem at first to be – paint a rather different film in hindsight to the one we think we have been seeing.

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explosionsheaderhurtlockertransformers

That is a bold assertion, but you know what they say about assertions – shut up and watch things go BOOM. Now with video!

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mwl-therock

This week’s installment of Movies We Love is brought to you by Neil Miller’s love for Michael Bay, the number 9, and the word “badass.”

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Johnny Quest, yes. The Rock, maybe. Zac Efron, say what.

I don’t know either. I just don’t know. Should I be excited about an adaptation of a childhood favorite despite the casting?

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El Zombo Fantasma

Kevin Munroe is taking on writing and directing duties for the undead wrestler, and the main role sounds perfect for Mickey Rourke.

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The Rock in Race to Witch Mountain

Didn’t The Rock learn anything from Vin Diesel’s foray into the world of family action comedies — I think we all remember how The Pacifier worked out, and Race to Witch Mountain has all the potential workings of a similar fate.

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WWE Wrestler Kane in See No Evil

Hmmm… you’d think that after the box office disappointment that was The Condemned and the unbelievable failure that was See No Evil, the WWE would give up filmmaking altogether. But the muscle-headed company intends to stick this one out. Like the redneck revolution that has given us a steady stream of Larry the Cable Guy movies, the WWE has announced that it intends to ramp up its cinematic slate.

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Southland Tales

While I can see some of the visionary imagination that gave us Darko, he’s a complete fish out of water. His satire is entirely misdirected, and the film never gels or even makes sense.

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The Rock goes head-to-head with fatherhood.

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Southland Tales, an apocalyptic fever-dream of a film, is both, or perhaps neither, a failure and a startling success.

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Well, it’s about time that we had a big weekend at the box office. Saw IV cleaned up this weekend with a big take of $32 million.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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