Not only is Tamara Dunn a cinephile, she is also a big fan of drive-in theaters.
Normal movie fan: “I can’t wait to see the latest movie with the Rock.”
Box office numbers: “Dwayne Johnson is the king of the box offices. His movies collect millions.”
Me: “Meh to the 10th power.”
Movie trailer: “Check out the last trailer for this action movie starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.”
There’s nothing wrong with liking Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The wrestler-turned-actor is a great entertainer, philanthropist and charmer. But his movies, usually the disaster-heavy, adrenaline-rushing kinds, aren’t the ones I run toward. Having MoviePass hasn’t even tempted me to see anything where he is the principle player.
For example, take the video game-based flick “Rampage.” Opening on April 15, the man-versus-beast movie grossed nearly $100 million at the domestic box office, according to the website Box Office Mojo. I somewhat tried to see it twice in the theater – at Movies 14 in Wilkes-Barre and at Cinema and Drafthouse in West Hazleton. However, I just didn’t have the drive to sit in the theater and give up two hours.
Enter Garden Drive-In in Hunlock Creek. It was June 8, the opening weekend for “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” The sequel to the revamped franchise was what brought me, my yard chair and makeshift blanket to the crowded lot that night. The dinosaur actioner was paired with “Rampage,” giving me the option to watch Johnson at work.
After what I thought was a mediocre follow-up, I stuck around for “Rampage.” The terrificly bad B-movie was a good time with Johnson, Naomie Harris and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The monsters were appealing, particularly Geroge, the albino ape that is whacked with gene editing material from space. There’s also an oversized wolf that has quills and stretchy skin suitable for a flying squirrel. While it didn’t have a name, I called it “Wolfipine.” In fact, I wanted a sequel that starred these two called “George and the Wolfipine.” But Johnson did what is exacted from the Rock: be an unlikely expert in a tiny study/profession and when things go wrong, there he is to save the day. I didn’t expect to like “Rampage” as much as I did, and it is probably the best video-game adaptation I’ve ever seen.
That moment was when I realized that I had only seen Johnson-starring movies if it was included as the second billing or later at a drive-in. The other movie was 2015’s “San Andreas.” The earthquake-disaster movie is in the Rock category, and I saw that one during the summer movie marathon at Becky’s Drive-In in Walnutport. It was third in the six-movie lineup. Seeing a movie like that was ideal for 1 a.m. after seeing “Inside Out” and “Pitch Perfect 2.” The first one was 2011’s “Fast Five” from “The Fast and the Furious” series, with Johnson in a supporting role as Hobbs. However, I only watched that one because it was in front of “Bridesmaids.”
There are three movies that featured Johnson that I’ve seen in the theaters, but he was in supporting roles: “Fast & Furious 6,” “The Fate of the Furious” and “Moana.” Those titles were more for the assemble and Disney magic then just Johnson’s talent.
Johnson’s latest film, “Skyscraper,” has all the vibes and special effects that make him the king of B-movies. While the area drive-ins don’t have it in their lineup this weekend, I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets paired up with the upcoming “Mission Impossible: Fallout” or will be included in Becky’s 15th annual “Dusk ‘Til Dawn” marathon during the Labor Day weekend.