Tag Archives: Dwayne Johnson

My Thoughts on: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

*warning, minor spoilers for Hobbs & Shaw below

I’ve literally been waiting all summer to check this movie out. I initially wasn’t on board with it at all (even though I’ve only seen Fast Five, I still didn’t think Fast & Furious needed a spin-off), but then I saw the first trailer and I was all in. As the title implies, Hobbs & Shaw sees Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) forced to team up to save the world from a dangerous super-virus. Oh, and there’s also Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) in the mix, not to mention a genetically-enhanced super soldier (Idris Elba), the latter also being after the virus.

Overall, I really did enjoy Hobbs & Shaw. As I suspected, the film is mostly an over-the-top action flick, with Hobbs and Shaw at the center of it all. There are fights, explosions, just enough plot to satisfy my brain, and of course, the undeniable chemistry between Johnson and Statham that makes it all work. Seriously, how were these two not paired in a movie sooner? (Yes, I know about them being in that Fast & Furious movie together, but that’s beside the point). I found it hysterically funny to watch these two square up to each other, they’re both alpha males who are definitely not used to working with anyone, let alone another alpha. On that basis alone, I look forward to the sequel that was obviously being set up at the end of the film.

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While highly enjoyable, Hobbs & Shaw is far from perfect. For example, I loved most of the last act that was set on Samoa, once the action got going anyway. But am I the only one who thought the family scene didn’t quiet work? The feeling didn’t last long, since the film almost never slows down the action, but still, that part could’ve been done better. The final fight scene itself was insane (even if it did strain my suspension of disbelief just slightly). I know this is a movie and all, but you can’t seriously tell me that Hobbs and Shaw went through all of THAT (just in the finale alone), without having serious health issues immediately afterward. Maybe I’m nitpicking but that bothered me a little. Oh, and speaking of the finale, I found the slow-motion punch shots to be really unnecessary. I *think* I get what they were going for, but it really does come across as silly.

Can’t finish a review of this film without talking about Idris Elba; he was fantastic! Any scene he’s in, I loved. Honestly, I wish we could’ve gotten more of his character, or at least more time for his character to develop, I think he had the ability to be quite nuanced if we could’ve learned more about him. (Also, I love his motorcycle).

Oh, one last thought. Without giving too much away (hopefully), I think I know who that mysterious voice at the end belongs to. If you think you know too, please don’t say anything in the comments, for now let’s just keep it to ourselves, we’ll find out soon enough if the theory is correct. (And on one further point, I’m very glad I made sure to watch Game of Thrones when the season aired, or a certain line would have royally pissed me off.)

Let me know what you think about Hobbs & Shaw in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Fast Five (2011)

My Thoughts on: Furious 7 (2015)

My Thoughts on: The Fate of the Furious (2017)

Film Reviews

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Moana “You’re Welcome” (2016)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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From the very first teaser, I knew I would like the character of Maui. He has everything that’s great about a Disney character: he’s funny, snarky, his tattoos have minds of their own, and he has an amazing magical accessory (in this case, a giant fish hook) that lets him change into different animals! And best of all, he’s brought to life by Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson. Maui, in my opinion, has one of the most awesome proper introductions for a character that I’ve ever seen.

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See, Moana’s voyage to find Maui seems to end in disaster when her boat is caught in a storm. Moana begs the ocean for help and finds herself stranded on a desert island…but she isn’t alone! As it turns out, this is the island Maui’s been stranded on for the last thousand years (give or a take a decade) and is he ever surprised to find Moana on the island with him. Maui, shocked that Moana doesn’t know anything about him (besides the fact that he stole the Heart of Te Fiti and cursed the oceans), decides to introduce himself via a song where he says “You’re Welcome” for everything he’s ever done for the humans.

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And as it turns out, Maui’s done a LOT over the last few thousand years: he made the sky, brought fire, the winds, created coconut trees, the tides, grass and he even pulled the sun closer to the Earth to make the days longer. Not only that, he’s covered in magical tattoos that represent all of his victories.

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Hearing all of this, Moana is in awe of Maui and delighted as she piles her arms full of presents. Which makes the next part rather funny: as the song winds down, Maui begins dropping hints that he’s about to do something sneaky, for instance:

Hey, it’s okay, it’s okay
You’re welcome!
Well, come to think of it, I gotta go
Hey, it’s your day to say you’re welcome
‘Cause I’m gonna need that boat
I’m sailing away, away
You’re welcome!
‘Cause Maui can do anything but float

It turns out that all this time Maui has been plotting to swipe Moana’s boat (well, he is a trickster god among other things, so this isn’t exactly unusual behavior) but first he needs to get Moana out of the way, so at the very end the song’s spell suddenly breaks and she finds herself stuck in a cave, her ‘presents’ nothing but seaweed and old coconuts and Maui covering the entrance with a boulder so she can’t get away!

 

As I said earlier, this is one of the best character introductions I’ve ever seen: listening to this song tells you everything you need to know about Maui. He’s full of himself, sly and also eager to please (to a point anyways). And honestly, the first time I saw this film I had no idea the Rock could sing this well! I mean I knew he could sing a little but wow he’s got a great voice! This scene also contains some great 2D animation, both in the background and with Maui’s tattoos

What do you think of “You’re Welcome” and Maui’s introduction? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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John Debney talks The Scorpion King (2002)

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Let’s face it: you either love The Scorpion King or you hate it, there is no middle ground.

This spin-off of The Mummy Returns is set 5,000 years before the original Mummy films and tells the story of how Mathayus (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in his first film as a leading man) rose to power as the “Scorpion King.” Mathayus is initially part of a small group of Akkadians contracted by King Pheron to kill a sorcerer working for a tyrannical king named Memnon. They are betrayed by Pheron’s son Takmet (who murdered his own father and joined Memnon after they left on their mission) but Mathayus is still able to reach the sorcerer’s tent…only to find that it’s actually a beautiful sorceress named Cassandra.

Mathayus hesitates long enough to be captured and after his companions are killed, he is left to die a slow agonizing death buried up to his neck in the desert. Thereafter, Mathayus seeks vengeance on Memnon for killing his companions (one of whom was his half-brother) and also information from the sorceress (for example, why she persuaded Memnon to not kill him on the spot as he did the others).

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Along the way, Mathayus meets various allies, including the Nubian king Balthazar (who initially does not like Mathayus because he despises Akkadians). When Cassandra returns to Memnon after being with Mathayus for some time, the latter organizes an all-out assault on Memnon’s stronghold Gomorrah to save Cassandra and kill Memnon once and for all.

The orchestral score for this film was composed by John Debney; this music was mixed in with various rock songs (the latter are what appear on the soundtrack album for the film). In the extended “making of the score” video which you can access in the link above, there are numerous shots of the orchestra in the recording studio with the in-progress film playing on a large screen for the conductor’s reference. As I’ve said before, this is the stage of film music production that I love the best, and I hope to witness it in person one day.

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Debney (and the film’s director) discuss how various parts of the score came together, including the overall sound of the music. Since this is meant to take place long before any recorded history, Debney did not want to invoke one culture above another, but instead wanted to create a sense of something new and unfamiliar. The director also discussed including a touch of rock music, and thus giving the film something of a more contemporary feel in certain places. This is really one of the better interviews I’ve found for the making of a film score and even if you’ve never seen The Scorpion King, I really think you will enjoy it.

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See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

See also:

John Debney (and Tom Morello) talk Iron Man 2 (2010)

John Debney scoring Predators (2010)

John Debney talks The Passion of the Christ (2004)

John Debney talks The Jungle Book (2016)

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Thoughts on Moana (2016)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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WARNING! WARNING!: What follows is a full and complete summary of the film with every kind of spoiler under the sun!!!! DO NOT CONTINUE if you have not seen the film and don’t want to know what happens!!!

From the moment I saw the first teaser, I knew that Moana would knock the ball out of the park. Everything about this film felt right, but knowing that in advance still didn’t prepare me for seeing this gorgeous masterpiece (which I did on Saturday night).

Moana could very easily be the perfect Disney film (it’s at least equal to Beauty and the Beast, and you know what high regard I hold THAT film in), I could probably find a flaw if I nitpicked, but really nothing jumped out at me.

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Moana “Where you Are” (2016)

The young Moana is the daughter of the village chief and will someday lead her people on the island of Motonui. Since she was a toddler, she has been fascinated by the ocean, but it’s a fruitless desire because her father (who means well), forbids anyone to sail beyond the reef at the edge of the island’s lagoon. This is because years ago, he and his friend snuck out beyond the reef in a small boat to explore and were caught in a storm. Moana’s father came back…his friend didn’t. As Moana gets older, she actually does a great job of suppressing her love of the ocean because she understands her responsibility as a future chief and she might have happily lived the rest of her days on the island….except things are starting to go wrong.

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First the coconuts begin to spoil even before they’re harvested, and even worse, no one can find any fish in the lagoon, or anywhere within the reef. Moana believes she understands why this is happening: for years her grandmother has told the story of how the demi-god Maui stole the mystical heart of Te Fiti (a goddess considered the mother of all islands) and as a result, a dark blight has been spreading across the ocean, destroying everything it touches. And now, this blight has come to Motonui, but Moana’s father doesn’t want to believe it.

Moana “How Far I’ll Go” (2016)

Moana wants to help her people, but she’s not sure how, until her grandmother tells her a secret…her people didn’t always live on Motonui. A long time ago, they were sea voyagers, travelling the ocean in HUGE boats, sailing using only their knowledge of the stars and sea currents. But, due to the blight, boats eventually stopped returning, and it was decided to hide the boats away forever. But now, with the island in danger, the only way to save Motonui is to return the heart of Te Fiti, and the only way to do that is to sail far past the reef. Moana’s father won’t listen and actually wants to burn the boats, but then Moana’s grandmother (his mother) becomes deathly ill, and with some of her last words she urges Moana to go and do what must be done.

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Moana “You’re Welcome” (2016)

Taking a small canoe, Moana grabs some supplies and sets off to find Maui, and boy does she find him. Maui is a cocky demi-god, rather full of himself because in ages past he helped the humans by giving them fire, coconuts, various islands and other gifts. After much arguing, Moana convinces Maui to come with her to restore Te Fiti’s heart, but first they need to find Maui’s magic fish hook, a weapon that Maui uses to shapeshift into any form he chooses. Maui is certain his hook can be found in the realm of monsters, and it is…it just happens to be in the possession of a giant crab with a penchant for all things shiny and valuable. Moana and Maui do manage to retrieve the hook, but not before the crab reveals that Maui was abandoned by his family.

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Moana “Shiny” (2016)

It turns out that Maui wasn’t born a demi-god, he was actually born a normal human to human parents. But for whatever reason, as soon as he was born, they abandoned him by throwing him into the sea. But he didn’t die…the gods found him and raised him, giving him the magic fish hook when he was grown.
Fish hook found, the pair sails on to Te Fiti, and along the way Maui teaches Moana all about how to sail. (I forgot to mention, before this, there was a hilarious encounter with Kakamora, basically pygmy sprites that resemble little coconuts. It’s hilarious and a little freaky all at the same time, but I loved it!!!) It’s not as simple as sailing up to the island and restoring the heart…there happens to be a fire demon named Te Kaa in the way.

Moana “I am Moana” (2016)

The first attempt to reach Te Fiti ends very badly. Moana believes she can slip the boat past Te Kaa before he swipes them out of the water, but Maui really wants to turn back. When Moana doesn’t listen, Maui is forced to use his fish hook directly against Te Kaa’s body: the resulting explosion blasts the boat far out to see, and critically damages the fish hook in the process. Believing his entire worth is wrapped up in the fish hook, Maui refuses to have anything more to do with Moana or the quest and takes off (literally, he turns himself into a giant hawk). Initially despondent, Moana resolves to continue on alone after an inspiring meeting with her grandmother and a vision of her seafaring ancestors (in a sequence that made me cry, but in a good way).

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Moana makes it to the island (with a late assist from Maui who changed his mind), but while Maui is keeping Te Kaa distracted, she makes an earth-shattering discovery: Te Fiti isn’t there!! Maui told her that the heart belongs in the center of a spiral on Te Fiti’s chest, and when Moana looks back, she notices that Te Kaa has a spiral on HIS chest. And that’s when it dawns on her…Te Kaa isn’t just some fire demon…he, actually she, is Te Fiti without her heart!!! Knowing this, she calls Te Kaa over and reminds the goddess who she really is while restoring the heart to her. Rejuvenated, the blight is destroyed and Te Fiti thanks the pair by restoring Maui’s fish hook and making Moana’s boat good as new before returning to her slumber.

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Moana returns to Motonui, and having seen the benefits of sailing firsthand, the great boats are retrieved from their cavern and the entire village is off on a sailing adventure with Moana leading the way!

I literally cannot praise this film enough, it left me in tears by the closing scene and I’m already making plans to see this film at least one more time in the theater (and I almost never do that). If you haven’t seen this film yet, please go, and if you have and your friends haven’t, take them with you and go see it again!

Final verdict: Moana is a masterpiece that rivals the greatest of the Disney classics.

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See also:

Animated Film Reviews

Moana “Where You Are” (2016)