Dwayne Johnson Films: How the Tooth Fairy Kidnapped a Sorceress to Be Cool

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
March 29th, 2013

Dwayne Johnson Films: How the Tooth Fairy Kidnapped a Sorceress to Be Cool

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has evolved from wrestling spandex-clad thugs in the ring to playing an action hero with ease. His seamless transition into action films was no surprise as Johnson trained extensively with his pro-wrestler father in preparation for his own fighting career. Along the way, this towering six-foot-four-inch actor has dabbled in fantasy, science fiction, drama, comedy, and family films. Yet, his specialty clearly lies in battling bad guys with big weapons, punchy dialogue, and a confident, irresistible presence.

Johnson's first notable role was in 2001 as the Scorpion King in the popular sequel "The Mummy Returns." Although his character appeared only briefly at the start and end of the movie, Johnson later starred in a spinoff film in 2002. The movie reconstructs the origins of the Scorpion King, who overthrows a cruel emperor with the help of a disgruntled band of rebel tribesmen and a barely clothed sorceress. The sorceress, played by Kelly Hu, possesses prophetic powers and unwillingly becomes the emperor's chosen weapon in his brutal conquest of the outlying settlements.

Initially, Johnson's character, Mathayus, considers the young sorceress an enemy, kidnapping the woman with the intention to kill her. Predictably, these two opposing figures become allies and take down the overly ambitious villain together, leading to their eventual marriage. This early role involved fairly crude screenwriting and weak plotting, but it gave Johnson enviable exposure as a new actor. Over the next two years, the actor claimed two more lead roles in "The Rundown" and the remake of the 1973 film "Walking Tall."

In both roles, Johnson proved he could deliver a memorable performance without the help of his chiseled abdomen. Neither of the films were heavy-hitters at the box office, but "The Rundown" was generally praised for Johnson's contagious charm and ability to bring a softer, likable side to a character with an outwardly violent background. Johnson starred as conflicted bounty hunter Beck-a man whose true passion is to open a restaurant.

The role was pleasantly endearing because Beck represented a bundle of contradictions. In the opening scene, he politely tries to pull his target aside to discuss the man's very overdue gambling debt, hoping to spare him some embarrassment. When the arrogant debtor refuses to comply, Beck is forced into a heated battle with several attackers in the middle of a busy nightclub. Throughout the movie, he shows resistance to using force and aggression, even though it's obvious he has no problem clobbering bullies.

While several of Johnson's action films involve elements of humor, his first purely comedic role came in the 2005 film "Be Cool." He joined a veteran ensemble cast for this belated sequel to "Get Shorty," including John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, Cedric the Entertainer, and Uma Thurman. In line with the film's highly exaggerated characterization, Johnson plays a naïve homosexual bodyguard who dreams of acting stardom. He sports an afro and wears increasingly absurd costumes as the story unfolds, including a red cowboy outfit for a laughable country music video. Good, old-fashioned clowning around works well for Johnson's good-natured image. He has since appeared in other comedic projects, such as "Reno 911!: Miami," "You Again," "The Other Guys," and "Get Smart."

Johnson soon ventured into wholesome family films with Disney's "The Game Plan," in which an NFL quarterback discovers he has a daughter. After a long line of painfully repetitive high jinks, the athlete learns to become a loving, responsible father. The film was Disney's attempt to recreate the success of "The Pacifier," which put action star Vin Diesel into a similarly domestic role as a pseudo-nanny. Despite Johnson's undeniable appeal, the film barely strayed from the standard children's movie formula. Yet, that didn't stop the actor from working on many more lackluster kiddie films in the future, including the "Tooth Fairy," "Race to Witch Mountain," "Planet 51," and "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island."

Johnson's area of expertise has always been the action genre. In 2011, the actor joined fellow action hero Vin Diesel in "Fast Five," the fifth installment in the long-running series, "The Fast and the Furious." Johnson was brought in as part of an effort to overhaul the series, transforming it from a story about criminal street racers to a full-blown heist experience. Johnson stars as Agent Hobbs and hunts Vin Diesel's crew with a one-track mind aimed at taking in the fugitives dead or alive. The brawl between these two formidable screen giants is considered one of the most unforgettable scenes in the film, and Johnson's character finally strays from the nice-guy role he so often fills.

Johnson's career has been dotted with other engaging action performances in films like "Faster," and "Snitch." He's also slated to reprise his role in the next installment of "The Fast and the Furious" and star in another sequel, "GI Joe: Retaliation." Critics aren't always impressed with his acting, but audiences readily flock to movie theaters to see Johnson bring his winning energy to both traditional and refreshingly abnormal tough-guy characters.