The sport of Wrestling has ever really appealed. The most exposure I ever had to it was seeing Big Daddy lay the smack down on World of Sport when I was a kid. However it has to be said, the sports movie has often been surprisingly great, and this little gem is no exception. The true story of the rise to fame of female wrestler Paige, who from humble beginnings with her wrestling obsessed family in Norwich, gets plucked by a coach who sees something special in her and gives her a chance to try out for a place in the WWE.
Florence Pugh, who first caught my eye in the unsettling Midsommer is great here as is her support cast including Vince Vaughn and Nick Frost. I especially enjoyed the bond Paige has with her brother and how it gets tested through the course of the story, leading to some quite heart-wrenching moments. It’s also laugh out loud funny in places, helped by a sharp script from Stephen Merchant (who also directs).
As a rise-to-fame journey, yeah it’s cliched with a believing in one self ark and a coach / mentor who’s tough yet secretly a nice guy … but that’s not always bad if it’s handled as well as this. A highly entertaining, well acted and feel good experience I couldn’t wait to talk about. A must see.
I find myself liking Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson more and more with every movie I see him in, and this sort-of sequel to the Robin Williams original has him on fine, comedic and action hero form joined by a colourful cast. He plays the videogame counterpart of a nerdy kid who along with a bunch of high school misfits, gets transported into the world of Jumanji after unwittingly powering up a videogame console.
By attempting to bring the board game comes to life idea of the first movie, up-to-date by making Jumanji a videogame, some of the charm is lost but replaced by a unique twist of the usual high school teen movie formula, and I certainly enjoyed seeing actors like Jack Black and Karen Gillan play somewhat the opposite of how they look for some great fun moments. Jack Black eyeing up The Rock, anyone?
I’d have liked to learn more about the world and what makes Jumanji what it is and it’s rules etc, but we get nothing. This goes hand in hand with the thin characterisation, that although playing on clichés, are still clichés regardless. Yet we do get some decent action and the people transported into a world with videogame logic works every bit as well (if not a little better) than it did in Ready Player One. So yes, this is easy watching and a lot of fun. However it’s not much more.
It seems there’s so many animated movies these days, its hard to keep up and I’ll admit I’ve missed out on a few big titles. However I managed to get hold of this recent Disney offering and although knowing little about it, rarely does the house of mouse let me down. Moana, the only daughter of a tribe living on a peaceful tropical island finds herself setting out on a journey to find the once-mighty demigod Maui, who her people believe has cursed their oceans after a sacred stone was stolen from a far off island.
This plays very much on Disney tradition; the princess yearning for a life beyond her palace (island) who has to go on a journey of self discovery and finally believe in herself to overcome impossible odds. It’s incredibly clichéd which holds this back a little despite plenty of action and songs. For a musical we do get some enjoyable numbers (stand out: ‘You’re welcome’) and characters are full of personality thanks to some excellent animation. Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson especially stands out as Maui. The movie also looks gorgeous too as is expected these days, even if like most CGI it lacks a little artistry. So what does it have we haven’t seen before? Not much but it’s often funny and frequently exciting and leads to a solid, feel good ending that still left me satisfied.
Disney played it safe here but it’s still near impossible not to find something to enjoy when it’s done so slickly. Not essential, but worth a watch if you’re a Disney fan, otherwise there’s more unique animated movies out there.
I can’t say I’ve been all that drawn to Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson as a movie star and was never into American Wrestling. However this disaster action flick seemed like an easy choice for an evening’s entertainment, and hell – isn’t The Rock in everything these days?
He plays a Helicopter rescue officer who becomes embroiled in the search for his estranged wife (Carla Gugino) and teenage daughter after a series of devastating earthquakes rumble through California. In the grand tradition of Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich this is primarily an excuse for effects wizards to really go to town as we witness mass destruction, sky scrapers toppling and the hoover dam bursting … all done with some impressive CGI and excellent set design. It’s glossy, loud, intense and very exciting as we watch various individuals try and survive an event that is literally tearing the west coast of the united states apart. It wasn’t hard to get caught up in the story either, with The Rock harbouring regretful memories following the collapse of his marriage, and having to watch his wife move in with another guy (a slimy Ioan Gruffudd). Yet this is also where the story starts to get rather familiar.
Yes this is pretty clichéd stuff, the troubled hero trying to piece his family back together and it takes a cataclysmic event for him to realise what he’s missing. Also we get some awful stereotypes such as the typical Hugh Grant-like English lad who is clearly going to be a love interest for the (predictably) hot daughter. Add to this a scientist (Paul Giamatti) who nobody listens to at first (he may as well be Jeff Goldbum), and some very predictable near-miss almost deaths and – despite plenty of energy and quality effects – I was entertained but not at all surprised. It also get’s pretty crazy towards the end (that cruise ship bit…). Yet although failing to re-write the disaster movie rule book, and sticking a bit too rigidly to formula … for a solid two hours entertainment – I’d still say this is worth a watch. Oh and, The Rock wasn’t bad either.
As my first movie viewing of the year, a comedy seemed as good a choice as any, and having recently enjoyed Elf, seeking out something else starring comedy actor Will Ferrell was an enticing prospect. Here he is paired with normally serious actor Mark Wahlberg as one part of a cop partnership who never see the outside of the office, mainly because hot-shot super cops Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson get all the limelight. Yet when tragedy strikes, Wahlberg see’s it as his opportunity to be the hero, having languished in obscurity following his own fall from grace after accidentally shooting a football star.
Will Ferrell is naturally the comedy sidekick here, and is likable and at times quite funny. Mark Wahlberg looks much more out-of-place however and is not a natural fit for comedy hijinks. The biggest problem here though is not its cast, but the writing and dialogue, with a main plot so convoluted as to become uninteresting very quickly (with a pointless Steve Coogan), and a gag-quota so hit and miss (mostly miss) that for the most part, the movie looks like its struggling to be funny – with a few too many absurd moments that don’t fit in with setting or story (a ballet dancing Wahlberg?). Thankfully some of the action is fairly well done and the movie is quite stylish. Ferrell as expected is enjoyable despite the poor material which says a lot for the actor, but Wahlberg really doesn’t belong here.
Perhaps not the best choice for first viewing of 2012 then. Ah well.
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