Posts Tagged ‘dwayne Johnson’

moana

One thousand years ago, the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) steals the heart from island goddess Te Fiti.  One thousand years later, Moana (Louise Bush, Auli’I Cravalho) is born.  She is drawn to the ocean, but her father, Tui, (Temuera Morrison) the Chief of the village, repeatedly tells Moana not to go beyond the reef.  But Moana’s grandmother, Tala (Rachel House) urges Moana to find out more about her ancestors, and she finds out she comes from a family of explorers.  Moana tries to sail out beyond the reef, but gets tossed around and goes back to her home island.  But then tragedy strikes, the fish near the reef begin to die and Tala becomes bedridden. As she is dying, Tala implores Moana to sail again, and gives her the heart of Te Fiti, in the form of an emerald like stone and tells her to find Maui, and return the stone to Te Fiti.  Moana finds Maui on a deserted island,  Maui is a boastful demigod, but he is also frightened of Te Ka the volcanic God who stands in the way of bringing the heart stone back to Te Fiti.  So he traps Moana on the deserted island and has no intention of giving the stone heart back to Te Fiti.  Does Moana get off the island?  Do she and Maui return the heart stone to Te Fiti.?

Moana dies a good job of synthesizing a Polynesian myth with a modern story of a girl seeking her independence from her overprotective parents.  However, he writers undercut the message of independence for women by having Maui tag along and talk down to Moana through a large part of the film.  In addition the animal characters are wasted, they should have anthropromorphized the animals and given them the power to speak only to Moana, but instead they end up with a brainless google-eyed chicken.  The ending has a nice twist, which reinforces why Moana was chosen for the journey.

The voice acting is excellent.  Auli’I Cravalho is a natural as the young, impetuous, Moana.  Her bubbly personality imbues the film with positivity, and the audience cannot help but root for her.  Dwayne Johnson was surprisingly funny in this movie, I was surprised how good his comic timing was.  Rachel House is very endearing as Moana’s granny.  The scenes between House and Cravalho are very touching,

An hour and 47 minutes is a little long for an animated feature, but the four directors keep the pace going briskly.  The animation is eye-popping.  If there are beaches that pristine in the world, I would like to visit them.  The performances from the main actors are very good, although the music was slightly underwhelming.  I expected more from Lyn Manuel Miranda.

There is an entertaining short before Moana, called Inner Workings, be sure and watch it, it is funny and lighthearted.

Moana: Maui Wowie!

 

san andreas

Raymond Gaines (Dwayne Johnson) is a helicopter pilot in Los Angeles, who rescues people from difficult spots.  He is soon to be divorced from his wife Emma (Carla Gugino) and shocked to learn that Emma is moving in with her boyfriend, Daniel Riddick. (Ian Gruffudd) Daniel volunteers to take Emma and Raymond’s daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) to San Francisco instead of Raymond.  Dr. Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giamatti) is a seismology professor, and author, who thinks he’s figured out a way to predict earthquakes, and after seeing an earthquake destroy the Hoover Dam, he is sure he can predict future earthquakes.  Hayes’ other readings indicate that the San Andreas Fault line has been activated, and this could mean major earthquakes up and down California.  Emma is having dinner in Los Angeles while the first earthquake hits California.  Raymond has to rescue Emma from Los Angeles.  No sooner does the earthquake hit L.A. than aftershocks hit San Francisco and Blake is trapped in a garage in San Francisco.  Can Raymond save his wife and daughter before they become victims of the quake?

This movie tries to be like the disaster films of the 1970’s like the Airport movies, Earthquake, The Poseidon Adventure, and The Towering Inferno, but those disasters were pretty much localized, because everything must be bigger in 2015, this disaster hits all of California and some of Nevada for good measure.  In fact, San Andreas is much closer 2012, the movie about The Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world in 2012.  Both were long on CGI and short on story.  Raymond Gaines switches modes of transportation as easily as most people change clothes, and this is easily the most ludicrous survival story since Gravity, or the Martian.  At least the Martian tried to explain how the astronaut survived, Raymond Gaines advice to his daughter.  Try to get to Nob Hill.  This film also featured something unique, marriage counselling via natural disaster, so if you’re ever having marital problems an earthquake could help you work things out with your spouse, or maybe not.

The acting was terrible, what does anyone expect from a movie like this?  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is not only asked to be an action hero, he is asked to emote about the loss of a daughter from a childhood drowning accident.  This is simply too much heavy lifting for the musclebound former wrestler to do, and so while he handles the action hero aspect as well as he can, he cannot go beyond that and expecting him to do so is silly.   The producers must have backed up a truck full of money next to Paul Giamatti’s house to get him to be in this movie.  His talents are wasted, as are the talents of Archie Punjabi from The Good Wife, she is given nothing to do, as a reporter who covers Giamatti.

The direction is not noteworthy, a lot of CGI, and phoned in performances from everyone.  Director Brad Peyton has directed nothing of note, but will direct the sequel to San Andreas.  I can hardly wait. The news of a sequel brings me to the audience.  This floating piece of ballast made at least 318 million worldwide, which is the reason for the sequel, which begs the question why would people watch this movie?  I understand escapism but this movie isn’t escapism, at least not well made escapism. I understand summer movies aren’t supposed to be high quality endeavors, but San Andreas really tests that theory.

San Andreas:  The Fault lies with the writing, acting, and directing.