Mark Wahlberg

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‘Uncharted’ Sequel Likely

The Uncharted movie starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg is a hit at the box office, which means a sequel is likely. The flick blew past expectations at the box office as it brought in $51 million domestically, way ahead of the low $30 million estimates. Add another $88 million from the foreign gross, and […]

Movie News

Tom Holland’s ‘Uncharted’ Rotten Tomatoes Score, Box Office Is In

Uncharted, starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg, is now out in theaters with its Rotten Tomatoes score made known, and its Thursday preview box office numbers have also been released. With 144 reviews currently accounted for, Uncharted has a Rotten Tomatoes Score of 39%. Update: With 179 reviews, the Critics Score is at 40%; Audience Score is

Movie Trailers

New ‘Uncharted’ Trailer Online Starring Tom Holland

Sony Pictures has released the second Uncharted trailer and a new poster that stars Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg. “The race for the greatest treasure is on… if they can survive each other first. Watch the trailer for Uncharted Movie, exclusively in movie theaters February 18,” teases the video description. Street-smart thief Nathan Drake (Tom

Movie News Movie Trailers

Tom Holland ‘Uncharted’ Trailer Leaks Online

Sony’s Uncharted trailer looks to be getting released soon as footage featuring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg has leaked online. The footage below features around 30 to 40 seconds of footage and shows Holland and Wahlberg’s characters getting roughed up. Uncharted gets released Feb. 18, 2022 directed by Ruben Fleischer and also stars Antonio Banderas. Based on

Movie Trailers

‘Infinite’ Final Trailer Stars Mark Wahlberg

Paramount Plus has released the final trailer for Infinite, the sci-fi thriller starring Mark Wahlberg and directed by Antoine Fuqua, the director behind the Denzel Washington The Equalizer movies.  The flick is described as: For Evan McCauley (Mark Wahlberg), skills he has never learned and memories of places he has never visited haunt his daily life. Self-medicated

Movie News

Uncharted: New Look At Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg

Sony debuts a new image from their upcoming Uncharted movie featuring a look at Tom Holland as Nathan “Nate” Drake and Mark Wahlberg as Victor “Sully” Sullivan. The image comes from an article in the NY Times that offers the flick is a prequel and goes over the video game adaptations coming to Hollywood, including

Movie News Reviews

Review: Transformers: Age Of Extinction (2014)

A Decent Transformers Movie?  Maybe This is Why Shia Got Himself Arrested Last Thursday

A Film Review of Transformers: Age of Extinction



Michael Bay has a very acute style of filmmaking which has seen financial success and increased visibility with his helming of the Transformer movie adaptations.  Like it or not, his style has delivered predictably reliable profit to the Hollywood machine and the Age of Extinction will more than likely, be no exception.  Explosions, loud noises, oversaturated colors, annoying comic relief, women as mindless sex objects and what seems to be the same exact chord progression in every overture of every single Michael Bay film are rinsed and repeated.  Personally, I haven’t been too keen on these films primarily because they have basically been the same movies with the same bad guys enacting the same plots and woefully misplacing far too much importance on the human characters of every cast.  If nothing has really changed, then why on Earth would I find any improvement now?  The answer begins with the absence of Shia Labeouf’s Sam Witwicky, his ridiculous parents and his cosmically improbable girlfriends.  Bay may have been trading away a numbskull for a meathead in Marky Mark, but at least Wahlberg gives the audience something different to (possibly) roll their eyes at as we patiently await the Transformers to come back on the screen.  In a sea of similarity, ANY difference is a good thing.

Screenwriter Ehren Kruger returns to deliver a story that once again pays mere lip service to a rich Transformer mythos from the comics and animated series in favor of yet another derivative tale of “Transformers are cool pets for humans, oh wait they’re headed right for us, we gotta blow them up, yada, yada yada.”  If any of that sounds familiar, it should because it’s the same plot of the last two Transformer sequels for which Kruger is also responsible for.  Talk about a well oiled machine, despite a retooled cast and Autobots we’ve never seen before, Kruger is able to carbon copy a tried-and-true Transformer tale as if he were simply swapping out defective gears, shafts and valves.  I was perturbed by how Kruger introduces and utilizes the Dinobots.  First, don’t hold your breath folks because they don’t appear until very late in the film.  Second, some of them are dino-remixes of the classic forms fans may be familiar with and third, none of them are referred to by their proper names so if you’re waiting for someone to yell Grimlock, Snarl, Slag, Sludge or Swoop, expect disappointment.  One other thing about the story worth mentioning is a conscious choice regarding the evolution of the most important character of this franchise: Optimus Prime.  The years spent on Earth have yielded constant battle for the Autobot Leader and frustration is not only understandable, it is expected.  However, I have never seen Optimus Prime depicted with such darkness that I started feeling uncomfortable with his new attitude.  I’ve never heard Prime say the word “kill” as often and with such ferocity.

Action, effects and computer graphics are what Transformer films are all about.  They are the reason these films still retain summer blockbuster entertainment value which yields the kinds of dollars these films are made for in the first place.  For the life of me, I still cannot understand why none of the Transformers use energy-based weapons (as opposed to projectiles requiring bullets for instance), but rest easy knowing that there are plenty of ballistics, big guns and missiles riddling the screen at every turn.  I like how the camera doesn’t push in too close during the marquee action sequences, thus allowing the audience to fully appreciate the scale of the destruction.  I also enjoyed the aerial action which naturally features a multitude of dynamic angles, but also strikes a good balance with slow motion effects to maximize satisfaction without abusing it (typically another staple of Michael Bay productions).  Of course, I can’t discuss the eye candy without talking about the giant f’ing robots themselves who, by the way, still look so great that the audience is left wondering why anyone would want to cut away from them for any reason.  Autobot Hound is one of the standouts as his digital render obviously channels the real life human who voices him, John Goodman.  The Dinobots are intimidating in both robot and animal forms as their sizes may not be precisely to scale in reference to Optimus Prime, but they are noticeably larger, which makes sense seeing how they’re robotic dinosaurs.  It’s too bad Devastator was already disposed of in these films because I’d love to see the Dinobots take him on.  Maybe we could see Bruticus in the sequel?

The only real performance that matters in this film and every other live action Transformer adaptation is that of Peter Cullen and his legendary, lifelong, vocal performance of Optimus Prime.  Despite turning 74 this coming July 28th, Cullen’s unique voice retains the chivalrous charm fans of the animated Prime have always enjoyed to the point where we can feel the honor in the air whenever he speaks a word.  Cullen is called upon to produce more anger and aggression for this Prime than any other performance in his career, but the sheer sincerity in his voice continues to produce a transcendent experience.  Mark Wahlberg does another fine job performing as Mark Wahlberg, er … Cade Yeager, a Texas roughneck who struggles to make a living as an independent robotics engineer because in a reality where Transformers are walking the Earth, everyone and their mother is apparently better at building and programming robots than Marky Mark.  (Sigh)  Stanley Tucci does a fine job by filling the role of the charming comic relief, Joshua Joyce, which is most welcome seeing how the idiotic comic relief is thankfully eradicated earlier in the film.  Kelsey Grammer is a fine villain with his performance as Harold Attinger, but this is thanks mostly to his dulcet tones and less for his “physicality.”  Jack Reynor plays the character type Shia Labeouf used to, and Nicola Peltz plays the token sex appeal Megan Fox formerly represented in a movie franchise that’s really supposed to be about giant, transforming robots that happen to be alive.

2014 has not been a particularly effective year for a number of blockbusters to at least meet the hype that pumped them up in the first place.  In terms of raw action, even the Age of Extinction doesn’t come close to the action intensity of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but even Transformers walking down the street on film is more interesting than a majority of what Hollywood produces, and this is why there appears to be no end in sight for this franchise with or without Michael Bay.  Anyone with the team of digital artists and animators behind the CG magic of making the Transformers real with VO talent like Peter Cullen can make hundreds of millions of dollars leading a Transformer production.  There is a clear lead-in to another sequel, but there’s nothing to suggest that such a film would be a departure from everything we’ve seen thus far, until those pesky humans get cut loose from the plot entirely.  Despite it all, Age of Extinction, though far from a perfect production is entertaining enough for a standard admission.  Don’t even think about shelling out extra for IMAX or Real 3D admission because the 3D conversion is just plain irrelevant – waste of time, waste of money.  Trust me, Wahlberg’s deer-in-the-headlights face is far less annoying than Labeouf’s “no, no, no, no, no!”

Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: Pain & Gain (2013)

Mischief.  Mayhem.  Steroids.

A Film Review of Pain & Gain

By: Lawrence Napoli


[Readers, please humor me by reading the following paragraph]

You’ve just finished a 3 hour work out and you’re sore all over.  You’ve put in the work, but now you want to max out on a final bench press before you call it a night.  You start off real slow, just to make sure what’s left of your muscles can take it and then you speed it up.  Just as you start to pick up the pace, the gym manager shouts out 5 minutes to closing; you keep going.  That babe you were trying to impress all night finally cuts you a look and a smile and your adrenaline spikes; you go faster.  You notice some fed up mother dragging her screaming children out of day care and then she curses out loud, calling her kids rotten bastards.  It all pisses you off and you go even faster.  The cleaning crew starts making their way to the main area of the gym, but while one talks the other doesn’t notice the free weights left out on the floor; he trips and falls flat on his face which gets you to snicker.  You’re feeling a good burn now, but the manager shouts your name to get the hell out and he stomps over to your direction only to collide with a six foot blonde, taking both to the ground.  Turns out she’s a transvestite (because mesh shorts + no underwear was too revealing as she went down) and she proceeds to spill a giant bag of dildos she was smuggling out of the gym (where did she get them in the first place?).  Everything just got weird, but you’ve never felt stronger or lifted more in your life so you still keep going.  A homeless man then stumbles through the front doors, drops ‘trow and defecates right there on the spot.  The lactic acid rushes over you, you’re way past pure exhaustion and you feel the dry heaves of vomit curdling up only to realize your arms have already given out.  The weights crash down on your chest and roll to your throat, effectively choking you out.  The paramedics revive you and you feel lucky to be alive, but you don’t feel particularly good right now.


We’re here to pump you up!

I just spoon fed the entire experience of watching Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain, a true crime story of muscle heads turning to kidnapping, torture and murder in Miami in pursuit of the American dream.  Of course, there are no spoilers here, but imagining someone’s final set of the day with all the distractions I mentioned combined with an ever increasing pace is exactly what the viewer will see, hear and feel when they buy a ticket to ride this crazy train.  Every aspect of the filmmaking process: the camera movement, the soundtrack, the dialogue, the action and the lighting mimics the relentless pace of “the final set” in such an undeniable way that I have to admit that this film is Michael Bay’s most artistic film.  Please understand, however, that Bay has always been the stereotypical “Hollywood Guy” that could only tell a story if there were explosions here, explosions there; explosions everywhere!  I am certain this film takes several liberties with some of the facts regarding the exploits of Daniel Lugo, but in moments where viewers couldn’t possibly believe what they were seeing was true, the film reminds the audience that this all still happened.  Bay shelves his love for pyro with a slight over-abuse of the slow motion visual effect, but there is no mistaking the “bigness” of this film as anything other than a Michael Bay production even without the presence of giant robots or Sean Connery.


There’s gotta be at least 1 explosion.

The actual plot of Pain & Gain is relatively straight forward and as basic as crime stories get, but screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely apparently binged on Neveldine and Taylor’s Crank franchise prior to writing this script.  As a result, manic characters, perpetuating stereotypes, absurd plot twists, and vulgar tone mixed with pure adrenaline turns the crimes committed by Lugo and co. into one hell of an entertaining adventure.  Comedy is the key element that pushes the plot forward through a combination of ridiculous dialogue and absurd slapstick.  But here’s the catch.  These crimes still happened in reality and they ruined/ended the lives of many real people.  I cannot help but think that making such a spectacle of Lugo’s exploits in this particular way diminishes the real life tragedy.  The counter to this sensation is the fact that Lugo and his crew are depicted as little more than stereotypically dumb body builders who are incredibly high on themselves, extremely gullible and view the rest of the world as somehow owing them more simply for being as awesome as they are. 


This scene was probably more serious in real life than in this film.

Satire is certainly at work here, but as I mentioned earlier, this film never lets up on the single-minded/self-minded nature of the story which disallows the audience to reflect on the utter horror of the crimes thanks to the fact that these meatheads are constantly making themselves look like hilarious idiots.  If Pain & Gain is trying to expose the folly and corruptibility of ego-maniacal behavior, this message gets lost amidst the spectacle.  The main reason for this is that even when the main characters/antagonists fail, they are never depicted as pathetically low as any of their victims.  The audience had more than 4/5 of this film to understand the fact that these men were denser than lead and the fact that the story does not definitively shift to a serious tone pulls back on punches at the end of the film that should be going for a climactic knock out.  For a film to be as true of a story as this was, no other was in more need of reality checks.


I’m as grounded as any character gets in this film.

Pain & Gain is a character driven story and without good performances all around, no film can claim a true cast of “colorful characters.”  The one actor the audience would never expect in a film such as this is Ed Harris who plays P.I. Ed DuBois and his presence exists to lend some of that grounded seriousness I just complained that was lacking throughout.  As great of an actor as Harris is, his character is simply not important enough in terms of screen time to allow his dialogue and demeanor to leave a lasting appeal.  Tony Shalhoub does a solid job as target #1 Victor Kershaw, but he isn’t asked to lift anything heavier than the token scumbag that doesn’t deserve an ounce of sympathy from anyone.  Ken Jeong and Rebel Wilson use their specific talents of awkward/absurd comedy to ratchet up the laughs, but neither are given true moments to perform outside of those boundaries. 


Are you a “do”er?

The one performance I was actually disappointed in was that of Anthony Mackie as Adrian Doorbal.  I’ve made note of his promising performances in films like Real Steel and The Adjustment Bureau, but he easily stands in the shadow of his other two co stars.  A large part of the problem is the fact that he’s playing a body builder and although he’s significantly larger than the skinny body type I’ve always seen him as, he simply doesn’t have the tone and definition of any other muscle head he stands next to (including extras).  This takes a large chunk of credibility away from his character and it could have been compensated with a truly marquee performance, but comedy is not Mackie’s strength; it’s drama.


I look better in Falcon’s armor anyway.

Marky Mark hit the gym a bit more than Mackie prior to filming as his arms certainly showed an upgrade, but the trailers to Pain & Gain made it seem as if Wahlberg was juicing for years.  Much of the film is narrated from Daniel Lugo’s perspective as he is technically the main character of this sordid tale of excess fitness.  What can I say?  Wahlberg knows how to portray flawed confidence, gullible ignorance and absolute absurdity with a straight face.  This is vital to Lugo as a character because communicating his disconnect from any traditional morality/ethics in favor of a fitness/self-help inspired credo of “simply doing = godly” explains how this real person was more cartoon character than carbon based life form.  Unlike the role he played in The Fighter, Wahlberg is not required to do anything more than play up the meathead in this film and I can only give so much credit to what amounts to a type cast.   Wahlberg must have some kind of unspoken/unwritten/unknown connection with Josh Brolin because he has the same tendency of being overshadowed by some (if not all) of his supporting cast.  And speaking of whom . . .


Muscles are my reality. Fitness is my life.

The Rock/Dwayne Johnson/The Brahma Bull is the true star of Pain & Gain.  First, being the only true athlete of the cast, he proved that being built like a tank could indeed be improved upon because he looks to have added 20 pounds of pure muscle on top of his already intimidating frame.  The man is in impeccable physical condition, but I don’t want to know how many chemicals are coursing through his veins.  That aside, Johnson as Paul Doyle is the only character that seems to show any sign of struggling with the jaded nature of the crew’s affairs and this works to his advantage as an actor.  He isn’t a talented enough of an actor to actually display a complete shift in demeanor from clueless athlete to tortured soul, but he can keep a straight face while reciting ludicrous lines of dialogue thanks to his experience in the WWF/E.  The result is a specific hilarity that actually generates sympathy for the simpleton he plays and let’s just say that when his character rediscovers cocaine, the audience will experience a comedy level beyond the peak of The Rock’s most famous rants of the mid 1990s.


My boys can smell it.  Can you?

Pain & Gain was a tricky film for me to digest due to the intense delivery of so much character development & interactivity, action, comedy and absurdity in such a short amount of time.  On a pace rating of 1-10, this film starts at a 9 and exceeds 15 with virtually no time outs.  This film is a constant chain lightning of laughs and grotesquery, so the viewer better beware.  I like that this film seemed to paint the culture of extreme fitness gone way too far as the true culprit, but the script doesn’t do much to address issues like steroid abuse other than in the first 10 minutes of the film.  It appears as though sociopathic tendencies can develop from obsessive devotion to any of life’s sub-cultures and it’s interesting to observe how most involve the “improvement of self” in some way, shape or form.  Had this film shown an ability to shift gears to a more serious drama at the right time, Michael Bay would have had a much better film on his hands than an audaciously entertaining romp through the chemically enhanced purple hills of muscle beach.  Without reading more meaning into it, Pain & Gain is the first comedy of the summer that’s worth your time thanks to decent performances all around, but an inspired effort by The Rock.  That is, of course, if you know what he’s cooking.

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