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items tagged with Dwayne Johnson

A Lighter Shade of Noir: “The Black Dahlia,” “Gridiron Gang,” “The Last Kiss,” and “The Protector”
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2006-09-20 04:34:58

Aaron Eckhart and Josh Hartnett in The Black DahliaTHE BLACK DAHLIA

The opening sequence of Brian De Palma's L.A. noir The Black Dahlia is so busily choreographed that, at first, you think it has to be some sort of put-on. A melee involving a street full of cops and sailors in downtown Los Angeles circa 1946, the balletic, slow-motion punching and flailing is orchestrated within an inch of its life; nothing about it seems real, but it's so dazzlingly executed that you hardly care. But with Josh Hartnett's ersatz tough-guy narration droning away, it quickly becomes clear that the scene isn't meant to be funny. It isn't comedy that De Palma's going after here but stylization, and as The Black Dahlia progresses, it's obvious that the director doesn't have the cast or screenwriter required to give his baroque touches a context. A few nastily enjoyable moments aside, the film is dour, dull, and confusing, enlivened only by a few zesty supporting portrayals and whatever directorial wit De Palma can bring to it.


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"Saw II" Effective, But Not Much Fun: Also, "Doom," "Stay," and "Prime"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2005-11-02 00:00:00

Saw IISAW II

Since we’re no longer forced to endure Cary Elwes shrieking his hammy little head off for 90 minutes, Saw II was inevitably going to be a less annoying experience than 2004’s Saw, but the movie is pretty effective in its own right. Not entertaining, mind you, but effective. Last fall’s surprise horror hit saw Elwes and another mad overactor at the mercy of the serial killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) – who devises for his prey wildly elaborate devices of torture that defy both description and belief – and in one of Saw II’s few impressive twists, he’s apprehended at the end of the movie’s first reel. What follows resembles what might result if you watched The Silence of the Lambs and Seven in picture-in-picture format. As Jigsaw – in sinister, I-know-something-that-you-don’t Hannibal Lecter mode – is interrogated, and his master plan dissected, by Donnie Wahlberg’s quick-to-boil cop, a whole new slew of potential victims, including Wahlberg’s teenage son, try to survive a vicious spook house by evading Jigsaw’s contraptions and deconstructing the maddeningly obtuse sets of clues the killer has left them. (Like its precursor, Saw II makes explicit what Seven left to your imagination.)


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"Be Cool" a Maddening Waste of Time and Talent: Also, "The Jacket" and "Cursed"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2005-03-08 00:00:00

Uma Thurman and John Travolta in Be CoolBE COOL

Granted, I’ve missed a few of the year’s more high-profile flicks – Are We There Yet?, White Noise, Son of the Mask, that thing with the Heffalumps – but, in general, the releases I have viewed have been so crummy as to be some kind of joke. (The Citizen Kane of the group would actually be the remake of Assault on Precinct 13, which should tell you everything you need to know about Hollywood’s output in early 2005.) But, with the arrival of Be Cool, the joke is no longer funny. Be Cool is worse than Elektra. Hell, it’s worse than Alone in the Dark. I literally can’t remember the last time I left a screening feeling so angered by the waste of time and talent onscreen; it’s the sort of smug, lazy Bad Movie that puts you in a foul mood for the rest of the day.


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Script, Performers Elevate "Stepford" Remake to Guilty Pleasure: "The Stepford Wives," "The Chronicles of Riddick," and "Garfield: The Movie"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2004-06-23 00:00:00

Matthew Broderick and Nicole Kidman in The Stepford WivesTHE STEPFORD WIVES

As crummy movies go, Frank Oz’s remake of The Stepford Wives is pretty darned terrific. The film has been plagued by rumors of trouble on the set and post-production nightmares and general confusion throughout, and you can practically see these turmoils on the screen; the movie is bizarrely assembled and terribly edited – characters’ motivations change from scene to scene with little rhyme or reason – and it all falls apart before your eyes. Oz doesn’t seem to have a clue how to treat the material, but one person does: screenwriter Paul Rudnick. He knows exactly what he’s up to – a bitchy, campy tale involving a group of nerdy men who enact revenge on the successful women they feel inferior to – and individual scenes in this Stepford Wives are so hilarious and dead-on smart that you wind up enjoying the movie despite being aware of how awful much of it is. Like last summer’s Rudnick-written Marci X, it’s a perfect example of a comedy in which individual set pieces far exceed the whole, and it can be blissfully enjoyed on its own underwhelming terms.


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Surprisingly, "The Alamo" Isn’t Instantly Forgettable: Also, "Hellboy," "Walking Tall," "The Fog of War," and "In America"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2004-04-14 00:00:00

The AlamoTHE ALAMO

The Alamo is surprisingly not-bad. John Lee Hancock’s long-delayed drama is by no means a great movie, but it’s a pretty darned good audience movie, a middlebrow weeper like A Beautiful Mind or Titanic that, despite its flaws (and against your better judgment), you can find yourself really falling for.


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