Tag Archive | "Dwayne Johnson"

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Dwayne Johnson Wants To Remake BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA

Posted on 01 June 2015 by Rich Drees


Well, this one is making my head hurt a bit.

Dwayne Johnson is in negotiations to star and produce a remake of the 1986 cult (and personal) favorite Big Trouble In Little China. The Wrap is reporting that the film is a favorite of the actor and that the project’s screenplay will be written by X-Men: First Class scribes Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz.

Johnson would star as Jack Burton, a macho trucker who gets dragged into a centuries-old mystical war in an underground world below San Francisco’s Chinatown. Kurt Russell starred in the original film directed by John Carpenter. The original did not make much at the box office, but was one of a number of off-kilter films from the 1980s that found its audience and a second life through the burgeoning home video explosion. Kim Cattrall, James Hong and Victor Wong co-starred.

Now I like Johnson as an actor in action films. He’s perfectly fine for the material he usually works with. And off-screen he seems like a nice enough, fun loving guy in the interviews I’ve seen. That said, I think this is an even worse idea than most remake happen to be. The charm of the original movie is that Jack Burton is not the action hero of the film. That role falls to Jack’s buddy Wang (Dennis Dun). Jack is the comedy relief sidekick, but he just doesn’t know it. It’s a great twist on a premise and one that Russell sells quite effortlessly. But it is also a tricky role to pull off and it requires a lot from both the actor and director to get the right tone. Now maybe if they find the right director this can be pulled off. However, I don’t think that Johnson has the chops to pull this off on his own and am having trouble seeing how this will turn out well. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer for the original film below.

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New Releases: May 29, 2015

Posted on 29 May 2015 by William Gatevackes

san andreas poster1. San Andreas (Warner Brothers, 3,777 Theaters, 114 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense disaster action and mayhem throughout, and brief strong language, Rotten Tomatoes: 50% Fresh [98 Reviews]):  Once upon a time, disaster movies were all the rage. If you went to the movies in the 1970s, odds are the theater was showing an film about an airplane in danger of crashing (the Airport series), a cruise ship capsizing (The Poseidon Adventure series), a building on fire (The Towering Inferno) or even, yes, an earthquake (Earthquake).

These films ruled the cultural landscape for almost a decade. Earthquake inspired an amusement park attraction at Universal Studios. The Airplane! films were a parody of the genre. The films starred the biggest stars of the day and made a bunch of money at the box office.

So, if there was ever a genre that could benefit from a reboot in the CGI era, it’s the disaster film. There have been a few attempts to restart the concept over the years (1997’s Volcano and Dante’s Peak, 1998’s Deep Impact and Armageddon , 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow, 2009’s 2012), but maybe this time the concept will come back to stay.

aloha poster2. Aloha (Sony/Columbia, 2,815 Theaters, 105 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for some language including suggestive comments, Rotten Tomatoes: 14% Fresh [70 Reviews]):  There is a sad quality about the career of Cameron Crowe. He had an unparallelled run from 1989 to 2000 as a writer director, with every film he made during that period was a classic of sorts–Say Anything, Singles, Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous.

He became the closet thing we might have had to a modern day Woody Allen. Big name stars lined up to work with him, and he seemed to have the Midas touch for his actors during awards season.

Then came Vanilla Sky. And Elizabethtown. And We Bought A Zoo. It was slump that would have gotten a baseball player sent to the minors. What we once thought was a can’t miss writer/director was missing all the time.

And look at this film. It seems inconceivable that any film starring this cast could ever rate less than 20% on the Tomatometer. But, here we are. Oh, Cameron Crowe, where have you gone.


Theater counts and Tomatometer scores were accurate as of press time. The numbers might change after publication of this article.

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Dwayne Johnson Says He’ll Be Back For FAST & FURIOUS 8

Posted on 18 May 2015 by Rich Drees


They have a release date – April 14, 2017 – and publicly not announced much else, but now we know that at least one cast member will be back for Fast & Furious 8.

Speaking with Collider while doing the press rounds for the earthquake disaster film San Andreas opening in a few weeks, the actor confirmed that he would be back for another installment in the franchise –

Of course. It can’t go on without Hobbs.

Well, hold on there a moment, Dwayne. You’ve only been in three of the franchise’s seven films. That’s less than half. They seemed to be doing just fine before you showed up.

OK, maybe I’m just being a bit facetious. It is hard not to argue that the franchise’s popularity started to rise with Fast Five, which did feature Johnson’s debut as U.S. Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs. But that character was just one part of the franchise’s ongoing transformation from “Point Break with cars” to the international heist/caper adventures the films are now.

Perhaps we’ll get to gauge the character’s popularity in relation to the rest of the series if the rumored spinoff film for the character ever comes about. It is something that Johnson is interested in.

We all are interested in it. I just had a big conversation with the studio. So we’ll see. I still think for me personally we’ve created a little bit of space for him in 7 and the gauge is set for what the audience will want. That’s my take on it, you know, but a lot of other people have to have input.

If a Hobbs solo spinoff film goes forward, might this be Universal trying to build their own Fast & Furious Cinematic Universe? Would you be up to see other characters in their own solo films? Personally, I think the films and characters work best in an ensemble setting, their interplay being one of the charms of the series. Of them all, I do think that the Hobbs character has probably the best chance of flying solo, though.

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Dwayne Johnson Hints At SHAZAM! Role…Again

Posted on 21 July 2014 by William Gatevackes

DwayneJohnsonIt seems like the Internet is all in a tizzy about Dwayne Johnson dropping strong hints that he might be in Warner’s upcoming Shazam! project in an interview with Total Film while promoting his latest film, Hercules. However, Johnson has been dropping hints for a while.

I covered this back in June when discussing the rumored slate of DC Comics films were first leaked. Johnson was hinting back in March that he has signed on with Warners to play a complex DC character that was well known yet never brought to the screen before, one that was on a similar power level to Superman. I connected that with the fact that Shazam! was still in active development at the time, and theorized the role Johnson was talking about was in that film. Johnson reiterates much of the same points in the Total Film interview embedded below. However, this is the first time that Johnson has come close to indicate that the character is in the Shazam universe with the sly way he hinted, “Just say the word.” (Billy Batson turns into Captain Marvel by saying “Shazam!,” and other characters change into their alter egos by saying similar words.)

Up to this point, Johnson has been linked to the role of the villainous Egyptian Black Adam in the film, but this was the first indication that Johnson might be playing the heroic Captain Marvel.

In the video, Johnson says that we will be finding out soon what his involvement really is, which I assume to mean during the DC Entertainment panel at San Diego Comic Con. So we should know before the week is out exactly what Johnson is playing.

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New Releases: January 10, 2014

Posted on 10 January 2014 by William Gatevackes

lone_survivor1. Lone Survivor (Universal, 2,876 Theaters, 121 Minutes, Rated R): You get the feeling that the powers that be expected this film to be an awards season favorite. Like Black Hawk Down and Zero Dark Thirty, it’s based on a true-life story of a military operation, and like the former, that operation goes bad. It details a mission where a Navy SEAL attack on a Taliban leader went awry and left only one survivor on the team.

It is loaded with an eclectic group of stars, many with Oscar pedigrees, and it obviously follows the small 2013 release/wide 2014 release that potential Oscar contenders follow.

However, the film hasn’t been getting too much love this season. Does this mean that it’s a bad film, or just not good enough to break through a busy awards season? Well, this week America will be able to find out.

Her_KA_R1_02_ps_f3.02. The Legend of Hercules (Lionsgate/Summit, 2,104 Theaters, 132 Minutes, Rated PG-13):Last year, it was “attacking the White House” movies. This year, it’s Hercules epics. Go figure. 

Coming up in July, Dwayne Johnson is playing the demigod in a Brett Ratner film based on a Radical Publishing comic book. But this week, Kellen Lutz gets a jump on him with a film directed by Renny Harlin.

Last year, the first White House flick (Olympus Has Fallen, ironically enough) gained the box office advantage over the similar, higher-star-powered film that came later. Will the situation repeat itself? Maybe, if anybody cares about Hercules at all anymore.

her_xlg3. Her (Warner Brothers, 1,729 Theaters, 126 Minutes, Rated R): Don’t get me wrong, I like quirky movies. Some of my favorite films are quirky movies. But I have a low tolerance for quirky.

Take for instance, this film. The plot is about a man who falls in love with his computer’s operating system. That’s a fairly odd premise, and quirky enough as it is.

But it wasn’t enough for Spike Jonze. He decides to give the man a goofy name (Theordore Twombly) and a goofy occupation (he writes love letters for people who are not in touch with their feelings).

Now, for many of you, this is not a big deal. But it irks me. For the quirky plot to work, the rest of the story elements have to be based in reality. I just like it better that way. Wackiness on top of wackiness dilutes the quirkiness for me, even if the extra wackiness is relatively minor as it is here.  You get away from the contrast a quirky film needs to excel.

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2013 In Review: What The Top Ten Grossers Say About The State of Cinema

Posted on 01 January 2014 by William Gatevackes

TicketsIf there is one constant in Hollywood, it’s that money gets things done. So, if we want some idea where Hollywood is going in the future, we have to look at the highest grossing films of the past year. What secrets do they hold? What truths do they tell? Let’s find out.

Below is a list of the top ten domestic grossing films from 2013, accurate as of Monday, December 30, 2013, as they are reported by Box Office Mojo:

2013 top ten1. 2013 was $380 million off from 2012 domestically: The drop off is even more severe in combined worldwide grosses, which dropped $1.6 billion from last year.

Is this cause for panic? Not necessarily. Last year had the 800-lbs gorilla that was The Avengers, the final installment of Nolan’s Batman franchise and the Twilight franchise. Plus, there was a Bond film thrown in there for good measure. So there are a lot of reasons why this drop could just be a return to normal rather than the start of a great decline. But it still bears watching.

iron man tony stark Robert Downey Jr2. Robert Downey Jr. might be more valuable to Marvel than they’d like to admit: To date, only two Marvel films have reached #1 in the year in box office, The Avengers last year and Iron Man 3 this year. The other Marvel film this year, Thor: The Dark World, failed to crack the top ten by about $20 million dollars. The calls to mind 2008, when the first Iron Man made it to #2 in the top ten domestic grossing films and The Incredible Hulk ranked only #17. And for the record, Iron Man 2 was the 3rd highest grossing film of 2010. Also for the record, no other Marvel film scored higher than #10 in the year end lists.

So, the most successful films put out by Marvel had Robert Downey Jr. in a featured role. This explains why Marvel was so quick to sign him to Avengers 2 and so soon after the first receipts for Iron Man 3 came in. The only question was why Marvel didn’t throw buckets of money at him for more Iron Man films at the same time.

3. Man of Steel shows that Warners finally has figured out what to do with their DC Comics characters. Maybe: After years of false starts, Warners has finally had a hit movie starring a DC character other than one wearing a batsuit. Granted, is was with the most known character, Superman, but still. Superman Returns showed how hard it is to get people interested in a character as iconic as the Man of Steel.

The film overcame mixed reviews from both professional critics and comic book fans to earn more than $662 million worldwide, giving Warners the chance to capitalize on their DC characters the way Marvel has been capitalizing on theirs for years.

Of course, any continued success relies on Warners making Batman vs. Superman work. They are cramming just about every viable DC hero into that movie, hoping to create a Big Bang to get their shared universe started. That is a risky proposition. I can’t wait to see how, or, rather, if, they pull that off.

Gravity-2013-Movie-Poster4. Gravity tells us that Oscar bait can be successful–if it has a high concept: You don’t often get a lot of crossovers between the Top Ten highest grossing films and the shortlist for Oscar glory. The highest domestic grossing Oscar nominated film last year was Lincoln, which came in at #13. Where did Oscar winner Argo rank? It was #22.

So the fact that Gravity, a film that seems like a lock for a Best Picture nomination and a very good chance of walking off with a statue, was the 6th highest grossing film domestically is kind of a big deal.

Of course, the fact that its plot–an astronaut stranded in space has to find their way back to Earth–sounds like something John McTiernan might have directed Bruce Willis in in the 90s, helps. It is certainly a high-concept, attention grabbing story. The acting of Sandra Bullock and directing of  Alfonso Cuaron served to elevated to Oscar worthy status.

5. Frozen is proof that Disney’s in-house computer animation arm has become just as vital and exciting as its Pixar arm:  For a long time, the tradition of quality Disney animation was shouldered by its partner-turned-subsidiary, Pixar. While Disney was releasing critical failures such as Brother Bear and box office bombs such as Home on the Range and Treasure Planet, Pixar was putting out classics like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. When it looked like Pixar was going to break away from Disney, the Mouse House made the decision to forgo conventional animation and go all in on in-house CGI fare. The results were the critically lambasted Chicken Little and Meet the Robinsons. It seems dark days were ahead for the mouse.

That being said, it’s was not hard to view Disney’s buying of Pixar as a sign of defeat at the time. When Pixar’s John Lasseter was made chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, it would not be outlandish  to think Disney was handing over it’s animation future exclusively to Pixar, a move that would have made a lot of sense.

Fortunately, that did not happen. Not only did Lasseter bring back the two-dimensional animation that was Disney’s hallmark with 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, but he started building up Disney’s in-house computer generation arm as well.Starting with 2008’s Bolt and continuing through 2010’s Tangled and 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph, Disney’s in-house computer animated fare began displaying better stories to add critical acclaim to the financial successes.

msf_frozen_lg_v13But with Frozen, something spectacular has happened–Disney’s in-house animation arm will have surpassed Pixar both in quality and in grosses. Yes, the film will end the year about $20 million behind Monsters University. But Frozen has only been in release for 5 weeks, and Monsters University’s take is after it completed its 26-week theatrical run. . It should over take Monsters University this week, and leave it in the dust by the time it ends its theatrical run.

And it’s not that Monsters University is a bad film, it’s just that I found Frozen to be a far better film. It was funnier, had better characters, had more emotional pull and had a much better story. Granted, you can not do a straight apples to apples comparison. After all, part of Frozen’s appeal is in its expertly crafted songs. Monsters University, not being a musical, has nothing to offer on this point in return. But I think that Frozen is good enough to not only win the Best Animated Feature Oscar, but also have a shot at a Best Picture nod.

If this trend keeps up, Disney will have two CGI animation arms that excel in quality from start to finish. As a fan of animation, you can’t help but be excited by that. And if you respect the history of animation, you should doubly excited.

6. There’s a reason why Universal is not willing to let go of Fast and Furious: In the wake Paul Walker’s tragic and ironic death in a car crash on November 30, there have been many calls for Universal to shelf the Fast and Furious franchise. After weeks of debate, it was decided that the franchise would go forward, with Fast & Furious 7‘s release date being moved from July of 2014 to April of 2015 in order to address Walker’s departure.

Perhaps in a perfect world, the film would have been cancelled and Walker’s fans would get their wish. But as you can see, Fast & Furious 6 was the 8th highest grossing film domestically last year. When you add its $550 million international gross, it became the 4th highest grossing film worldwide. Taking into consideration that sources say that up to half the film was already shot, Universal has already invested a lot in the film already. The money invested so far and the potential profits are a hard thing for any studio to give up. 

And even though Walker was a vital part of the cast, as hard as it is to say, he wasn’t the biggest draw in the ensemble. Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, and most of the other players, many with international appeal, will be returning. So, from a callous business standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to call it quits now, even though many people think they should.

It remains to be seen if the tragedy changes this paradigm in anyway. Walker’s death my spoil the franchise its fans and the grosses will plummet. Or morbid curiosity might carry the franchise to new heights. But the best we can hope for is that the next film honors Walker’s legacy instead of sullying it.

7. We are going to see a lot of Oz themed films come down the pike in the near future: Back in 2010, FBOL Head Honcho Rich Drees told us of nine Wizard of Oz related projects that Hollywood had in the works. Oz, the Great and Powerful was third on the list but the first to have its feature film come to fruition. And considering that the film doubled its budget in worldwide grosses, we can expect to see the seven remaining properties (The Witches of Oz had a limited theatrical release before being recut into a SyFY UK miniseries).

First up will be Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return. The computer animated film, originally titled Dorothy of Oz, will be hitting theater on May 9, 2014. The adaptation of Caliber Comics’ OZ, now called Dreams of Oz instead of Dark Oz, is still in development with an eye on release in 2014. An adaptation of the stage musical Wicked is still in development. There are a number of other Oz projects, some that Rich mentioned, some new, that are also in the works. And, of course, a sequel to Oz, the Great and Powerful is being considered.

And if you think you can escape the Oz onslaught be staying home, think again. There are no less than five TV projects based around the concept too.

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Dwayne Johnson Teases Possible DC Comics Film

Posted on 31 December 2013 by Rich Drees


Has Dwayane Johnson been taking lessons from Vin Diesel? Much like Diesel spent part of this past year teasing a possible role in a Marvel Studios comic book adaptation, which turned out to be Guardians Of The Galaxy, Johnson has taken to Twitter to suggest some future involvement with a comic book film. But this time it is one from corporate siblings Warner Brothers and DC Comics.

Anyone care to take a stab as to what he means by “cool bad assery”? I suppose it could be in reference to Warner’s attempts to get a movie based on DC’s intergalactic bounty hunter and bad boy Lobo, but at last we heard that project was pretty much dead.

With casting still ongoing for Warner’s Batman Vs Superman, which should start shooting any day now, it is possible that Johnson may be up for a role in that 2015 tentpole. But who? Perhaps the alien killing machine known as Doomsday? Or perhaps since the film is also scheduled to feature Justice League members Wonder Woman and quite possibly Green Lantern, might Johnson be up for another League member in the form of J’onn J’onnz, the Martian Manhunter.


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New Releases: May 23, 2013

Posted on 23 May 2013 by William Gatevackes

fast-and-furious-6-poster1 1. Fast & Furious 6 (Universal, 3,658 Theaters,130 Minutes, Rated PG-13): I have to admire the resilience of this franchise. I thought for sure that after 2006’s The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, a film with only a tenuous connection to the films that came before it, that the franchise would fade off into obscurity.

Not so. 2009’s Fast & Furious proved that a reboot isn’t always what is needed to revitalize a film series. That film brought back most of the original cast, capture the feel of the original feel of first film. It made a ton of bucks which led to three sequels (2011’s Fast and Furious 5, this one, and another installment coming next year).

This time around, the crew is enjoying their ill-gotten gains from the last film, but far away from the families and homes. Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) comes to Dom (Vin Diesel) with a proposition: Reunite the crew and help him take down a team of mercenary drivers and everyone gets a pardon. However, the stakes are even higher and even having the law on their side won’t protect them from what comes next.

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New Releases: April 26, 2013

Posted on 26 April 2013 by William Gatevackes

pain-and-gain-poster1. Pain & Gain (Paramount, 3,277 Theaters, 130 Minutes, Rated R): My first thought on how to approach writing the blurb for this film was how awkward a fit Michael Bay was for directing this film. After all, the ads portray it as a wacky crime comedy about a group of bungling bodybuilders who engage in an extortion plot as revenge against a particularly obnoxious client. That is almost a story that Elmore Leonard would write. It was a film that would be better suited being directed by a Barry Sonnenfeld or a Steven Soderbergh, not the master of the explosion.

Then, thanks to the Internet, I was able to read the articles that inspired the film. You can read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 by clicking those links. If you have enough time, I’d recommend you do so. You’ll find a fascinating retelling of the true story that is being dramatized on the screen. What you won’t find is a wacky comedy. Yes, there is bungling. But there is also brutal, inhuman torture of the character Tony Shalhoub represents. There is also a second crime done by the same crew that ends in the murder of two people and their corpses being cut up and sunk in a culvert. The victims of the second crime are listed on IMDB in the cast listing, so that gruesome crime will be addressed in the film.

The true story the poster takes so much pride in stating it is adapted from doesn’t seem like the buoyant fun-filled romp that the trailers make it out to be.  That means one of several things. It could mean that Paramount is misrepresenting the film as a goofy comedy instead of a pitch-black comedy/drama the real story would be. This kind of bait and switch is always unctuous.

Or it could be that the Hollywood has taken liberties with the story so it is now a wacky crime caper. This is likely, because Dwayne Johnson’s character appears to be a composite of numerous other accomplices of the Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie characters.

Either way, this is an event where people died. People who were loved and respected by their friends and family were brutally murdered and the bodies underwent the ultimate disrespect after their demise. And while some of the incompetence about the muscle-headed plotters can lend itself to dark humor, you need a master of setting a tone to ensure the film stays respectful to the victims. And Michael Bay is anything but a master of setting the tone, unless it is coming from loud explosions.

the-big-wedding-movie-poster2. The Big Wedding (Lionsgate, 2,633 Theaters, 90 Minutes, Rated R): You know, you don’t often get casts like this one in your remake of a French farce. I mean, you have four Oscar winners, and Prince Caspian! How could you lose!

This is a remake of France’s 2006 film, Mon Frère Se Marie. The plot consists of a family whose adopted son is getting married. The son has been writing home to his biological mother, a devout Catholic, about the wonderful family he was raised in. Only problem is that the story is a lie. His parents are divorced, his siblings are crazy, and his life is anything but perfect. But his birth mother is coming to the ceremony so the man’s family has to pretend to live up to the idealized version he relayed to his mom.

Now, right off the bat, I can pick a bone about the premise. Not that I am one to judge, but I think a Catholic who got pregnant out of wedlock and gave her son up for adoption should be able to cut a divorced couple a little slack. And the semantics of the son’s lie is troubling for me. Why would he have to address his family life in any sort of detail? And if he did, couldn’t he find something positive about his family to relate? In other words, why did he lie when he could have just not admitted the whole truth?

Anyway, farces usually have plots that work best if you don’t think about them. And this all-star cast could make anything good. Might be a fun film if you just take it at face value and run with the concept.

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New Releases: March 28, 2013

Posted on 27 March 2013 by William Gatevackes

gi-joe-2-poster1. G.I.Joe Retaliation (Paramount, 3,719 Theaters, 110 Minutes,Rated PG-13): So, the weather isn’t even warm yet and we already have our first summer blockbuster. Unfortunately, it’s from the summer of 2012.

That’s when the film was supposed to come out. But last May, just a month before the film was supposed to hit theaters and with marketing tie-ins already starting to roll out, Paramount pulled the plug on the release. They said it was so the film could be converted into 3-D, but industry wags claimed that it was done for other reasons, everything from rewriting Channing Tatum’s character’s death out of the film or just to avoid Tatum’s Magic Mike (although that excuse seems flimsy when you consider Dwayne Johnson has 15 other films coming out this year).

The sequel deals with how the team reacts after Cobra takes over the U.S. Government and makes the Joes public enemy #1.

I was a minority who actually liked the first film, so I can’t wait to see what they do now.Not all of the original cast is back, but the addition of Johnson and Bruce Willis more than make up for it.

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