Archives for posts with tag: Dwayne Johnson

Grade B –

The eighth movie of “The Fast And The Furious” line, “The Fate Of The Furious” is just as outrageous, ridiculous, unbelievable, funny, and entertaining as the preceding seven movies.  Part 8 has Charlize Theron playing the villain.  Her problem?  She wants to have the means to threaten and carry out punishments to various governments when they do…whatever it is they do that upset her — the movie wasn’t really clear on that.  She blackmails Vin Diesel’s character to steal what she needs.  No, she doesn’t need ex-Navy SEALs; she doesn’t need ex-Special Forces; she doesn’t need ex-SAS or even ex-Delta Force soldiers — she needs Vin Diesel!

So what has Theron have on Diesel that makes him turn on his fellow fast and furious crew?  That is a secret I won’t reveal.  But Diesel is now on the most wanted list, and not only is his former crew after him, U.S. secret agents are also coming for him.  In fact, so many people are angry at Diesel turning rogue that his old crew are working with former enemies.  We are treated to ludicrous chase scenes and giant, action set pieces in Cuba, Berlin, NYC, Europe, and the unfriendly skies as Diesel’s motivations and actions unfold.

My most memorable, movie moment is the sequence of the bad guys hacking the computers of dozens of vehicles in NYC and driving them all remotely with a decent amount of precision…all done by one or two people.  Adding to the craziness of this sequence is seeing what is supposedly Manhattan’s streets fairly open to fast moving traffic during the day time.  People familiar with this island are probably laughing after reading that last sentence.

Hey, “The Fast And The Furious” movies will never be Oscar contenders for Best Screenplay, we know this.  These movies are for a specific audience of hundreds of millions of people all over the world — myself included — and they never fail to entertain us.  And so we keep watching them, regardless of how silly things get.  In fact, silly is something we’ve come to expect with the package.

— M

Grade A

Disney has produced another hit with “Moana.”  Playing the title role, Auli’i Cravalho is a princess of a South Pacific island.  Kind, intelligent, brave and adventurous, her desire to see what is beyond her island home is impeded by her father’s warnings of the dangers that are out in the deep ocean and Cravalho’s duty to stay home and learn how to be the next chief of the people.   She reluctantly gives up her dream of sailing into the ocean far from home…until the plant and fish that Cravalho’s people depend on to survive either die off or disappear.

Learning of an ancient tale of a demigod named Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) who stole a precious stone that provided life to the ocean and islands, Cravalho goes on a treacherous journey to find Johnson and force him to put the stone back; and hope that would bring balance, peace, and life back to her world.  There will be many challenges for the young princess: she lacks knowledge of deep ocean sailing; she has a mentally challenged chicken as a stowaway; Johnson does not share Cravalho’s eagerness to return the stone back to where it belongs; a swarm of tiny, coconut-headed pirates roam the ocean; Johnson’s magic hook must be taken from a giant crab who will not give it up so easily; and a fearsome god made of lava guards the entrance to where the stone must be returned.  Yup, it’s going to take a team of brilliant writers to get her through all this!

My most memorable, movie moment of “Moana” is the scene when the princess gets a visit from her grandmother at a time when the princess is at her lowest, ready to give up and go home.  It is a touching scene, especially to viewers who have lost a loved one and believe that our spirits go on, and one day we will see them again.

Fully realized, likeable characters; a great story; positive messages; amazing animation; scenes that are very funny and scenes that put a lump in your throat; catchy songs…these are all present in “Moana.”  Bottom line, it’s a great movie that adults will enjoy with their children because, like most Disney movies, it just makes you feel better about life.

— M

Michael Bay takes a break from the high intensity, action genre to delve into a high intensity, comedy/crime drama genre.  Bay being Bay, cannot do anything small and quiet.  So a story that can be served well in a 2 hour, Dateline NBC show has become a super-pumped, super-charged, theatrically released flick that gives lots of laughs, shocks, and action.  “Pain & Gain” is based on a true story of bodybuilders in Florida who kidnap, torture, and kill people for money and property.

Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie portray the three criminal bodybuilders; and Tony Shalhoub plays their first victim.  Wahlberg, Johnson, and Mackie are big on muscles but are intellectual midgets.  Not able to gain wealth with their brains, they try to achieve it with their brawn.  Enter Shalhoub, who is a multi-millionaire entrepreneur whose personal trainer is Wahlberg.  Endless blabbing about how much money Shalhoub has to Wahlberg gives Wahlberg the idea that Shalhoub would be a good candidate for some forced, property exchange.

Wahlberg and his 2 bodybuilder friends soon have Shalhoub in their clutches, torturing him so that he would sign over all his property to his 3 kidnappers.  And here is where I stop describing what happens in “Pain & Gain,” because this movie has so many twists and turns and shocks that I don’t want to ruin any of it for you.  And yes, as crazy as this movie gets, most of what you’ll see is true.

You’ve heard of the saying “truth is stranger than fiction?”  For the most part, that’s bulls#@t.  Come on, what truth can compare with “Star Wars” or “The Lord of The Rings?”  But, with “Pain & Gain,” that saying is true.  Bay’s talents has turned a made-for-tv story into a mesmerizing train wreck that is impossible to look away from.

One of my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Mackie and Johnson are at a strip club.  While Johnson is focused on the strippers, Mackie keeps pestering Johnson about mixing breast milk with steroids to get bigger; and how Mackie’s breast milk source is clean, and how Mackie wants to get so big he has to walk through doors sideways.  Mackie’s more obsessed with being muscular than the Bubba character was obsessed with shrimp in “Forrest Gump.”

Coming in first place for my most memorable, movie moment of “Pain & Gain” is the scene when Johnson was grilling the fingerprints off the severed hands of his victims…while he was outside and waving to a neighbor.  At the bottom of the screen the words “this is still a true story” appear!

Oh, boy.  Bay got some flack for making the true-life criminals into likeable goofs who just want to get a bigger piece of the American Dream.  I can understand how someone — especially families of the victims — would be upset by this.  But keep in mind that this isn’t a history lesson; that movies are always subject to the interpretations of the writer, director, producer, lead actors, so on and so forth.   And yes, I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I liked the Wahlberg and Johnson characters.  And I sure as hell like this movie!


Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and the rest of their Fast and Furious crew are recruited by the Feds to help apprehend another crew of criminals who use fast cars and high-tech gadgets to steal a device that can be used as a weapon to destroy entire countries.

Dwayne Johnson pays a visit to Diesel and tells Diesel that Michelle Rodriguez is still alive.  If Diesel helps Johnson with his problem, then Diesel can get a pardon for all the crimes he committed, plus possibly be reunited with his long, lost love, Rodriguez.   Johnson’s problem is as large as his pecs, so Diesel’s full crew are brought in to help; and they get pardons, too, for their troubles…if they succeed.

“Fast & Furious 6” is as entertaining as the majority of the movies in this series.  Sure, the over the top action sequences are unbelievable; but believability is not the point of this movie.  It’s about making the audience feel as if they’re strapped in these fast cars and doing triple digit speeds while committing or fighting crime.  And it’s not just about fast cars.  “Fast & Furious 6” is also about family and friendship, a theme that’s been embedded in this series since the first movie.  People who tell you that “The Fast and the Furious” movies are nothing but racing and explosions aren’t paying attention.  Underneath the outrageous stunts and pyrotechnics, there’s a large, beating heart.

“Fast & Furious 6” also has the most martial arts fights of the 6 movies, leading me to my most memorable moment of this movie: the scene when Tyrese Gibson and Sung Kang got their asses handed to them by one member of the enemy crew.  The bad guy was so good at fighting, Gibson and Kang were no match for him.  It was like watching 2 five-year-old girls fighting a grown man.

Oh, keep watching the end credits because a bonus scene is shown, which gives rise to the possibility of a 7th movie of this series.  I say “bring it.”  Because I like these movies.

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Two members of my crew: Ed and Joe.



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