This weekend featured an SNL episode with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, ostensibly to promote his two big endeavors of the first half of 2015: an appearance at Wrestlemania and the release of Furious 7 into theatres. And for someone who’s at this point one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, and on the verge of assuming Arnold Schwarzeneggger’s mantle of the next great action star, I’m always curious when he pops up into his previous full time position as a pro wrestler. And it’s not for quick gags like this one, either.
Johnson is kind of unique in that he was essentially a television star for many years before graduating into movies. It’s just he wasn’t an actor, properly, of course but Johnson has had the sort of television to film success that’s very rare to find. The easiest and most accurate comparison to make is to George Clooney; he stumbled out of the gate but has managed to find his mark with some really good career choices as of late. He may not have the credentials of Clooney when it comes to prestige season, of course, but commercially he’s the equivalent to Clooney career wise.
In particular joining the Fast & Furious franchise seemed to give him the sort of blockbuster credentials he’d lacked to that point in the same way the Clooney/Pitt led Ocean’s Eleven seemed to turn Clooney from struggling television star transiting to film into a movie star. But the one thing Clooney never did is something The Rock has done fairly regularly since he retired from the grinding lifestyle of being a pro wrestler: still appear on television despite a thriving film career.
It’s the one thing that I’ve always found interesting about Johnson as he’s gone from former pro wrestler turned wannabe action star into one of the biggest drawing actors currently working. Johnson has intermittently popped back up onto WWE airwaves, headlining the occasional Wrestlemania as well. For someone who was once the biggest pro wrestling star of his era to leave the WWE behind for an even more successful film career is amazing on any level. Usually former top WWE stars have a hard time transitioning to similar heights as they were as pro wrestlers and Johnson has become a substantially bigger star in movies than he ever was as a pro wrestler. It’s tough to be a top tier pro wrestler, especially at the heights that Johnson was, but to transition into being a much bigger draw as a movie star is something no one has ever done.
Hulk Hogan made a number of movies but they were all uniformly awful. Steve Austin’s heights as an actor have been direct to video or briefly in Nash Bridges. No one else from the WWE has been anywhere near those heights, either, and thus the fact that Johnson managed to find out that he didn’t need the WWE to remain in that stratosphere is something. That he could be big enough to never need to step back into a ring again is unprecedented and one thing astounds me about all this.
He still chooses to make sporadic appearances in the WWE when he doesn’t need that audience to come out en masse for his movies anymore.
You never saw Clooney show up on ER for regular appearances when he had a film to promote, et al, and yet Johnson is good for 2-4 appearances on either WWE television or PPV per year it seems. It’s interesting that a genuine movie star like The Rock still does substantial television work when he doesn’t have to anymore.
Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq
I reviewed Get Hard, right here, and it was as about as awful as it looked.
If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….
A Movie A Week – The Challenge
This Week’s DVD Review Current Thing I’m NetFlix Binging – The Walking Dead
I swear I’m always behind when it comes to finding most shows of note. I’m not one for television unless it’s sports, honestly, and after eight months of cord cutting I had to get cable again because going to bars (or my parents) all the time for sports games was annoying me. Sometimes you just want to be able to turn on the television for a game while you do something else. In those eight months, though, I did manage to sign up for Netflix and occupy my time that way. And it’s still something I pay for, even after I went back to paying for cable TV again. Why? Because sometimes when there isn’t something to watch on television I’ll take a chance and throw something on. And, with a brief vacation lined up, it was the perfect time to explore Netflix as I wasn’t going to do much besides lift and relax.
Thus came a show I’ve actively avoided over the years … and yet I got into it after giving it a chance: The Walking Dead.
The show, based off a graphic novel series of the same name, takes place during the Zombie apocalypse. Our main protagonist is Rick (Andrew Lincoln), a local Sheriff who was in a coma during the collapse of civilization. Waking up in the middle of zombie-infested quarters, Rick has only one goal: try to find his wife and son, against incredible odds, in the post apocalyptic world.
Normally I avoid 90% of horror and 99.97% of anything zombie related. I keep a spot open in the zombie realm to rewatch Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, mainly, because zombie films on the whole bore me. To be fair the first one I’ll have seen since Zombieland will be the upcoming Maggie, mainly because it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger. But that’s a different day, and a different column, and The Walking Dead may not be a pantheon level show at the end but it is one thing that many shows aren’t these days.
I’m about midway through season four and the one thing that keeps me watching is that this is much more than a show about surviving the end of the world. It’s about the nature of how relationships change, and how people change, when the rules of polite society no longer apply. Dead takes the general conceit of the world falling apart and giving it a real world look; this is about people trying to survive and live one more day, nothing more. As things change over the years we get to see how being in this Hobbesian state of nature changes what previously had been civilized people.
I don’t think this’ll ever be a show we call greatest in anything but it is ground-breaking in that it took the zombie genre into respectable waters. The show it reminds me of is Band of Brothers in a lot of ways. People shuffle in and out regularly, et al, but the difference is that there is no endpoint. No one is safe in this violent world and people who normally would be decent human beings to one another are now able to show what they’d really do when society stopped being polite.
Recommended. This isn’t a brilliant show but it’s a good to very good one.
What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound
Woman in Gold – Nazis stole Helen Mirren’s painting from her. Now she needs Ryan Reynolds to get it back.
Skip It – This feels like a wannabe prestige picture that couldn’t get a late 2014 release being thrown into theatres to prevent the direct to video tag.
Furious 7 – Jason Statham is pissed that Discount McNulty is dead. Now he has sworn vengeance on Vin Diesel and his crew.
See It – It’s the final film of Paul Walker’s career, for starters, and they advertise exactly what you’ll get from this.
Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .
Scott Sawitz is an Inside Pulse original. He's also been featured on The Ultimate Fighter.com, Fox Sports.com, Nerdcore Movement.com, CagePotato.com, Inside Fights.com and Film Arcade.net (among others). When Scott isn't writing about film he's making his own. Check out Drunk Justice Productions right here.