Movie Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Title: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Second in Jurassic World Trilogy; fifth in Jurassic series all together)
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action/Adventure, Superhero, Comedy
Release Date: June 22, 2018  (Seen July 4th)
Director: J.A. Bayona
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall,  Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, Isabella Sermon, James Cromwell, BD Wong, and Jeff Goldblum.

My friends and I went to see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on July 4th in a desperate need for air conditioning, but we all were fans of the Jurassic Park Movies.   I loved Jurassic World and its two main characters.  Unlike the original trilogy, these films are more interconnected.  In this sequel ot the 2015 film, we find Claire and Owen on opposite paths.  he’s building a cabin in the wilderness, quite happy never to see a dinosaur again while Claire is actively working to save the animals.  Isla Nublar has a secret volcano that is about to erupt, and Benjamin Lockwood, a former associate of John Hammond has decided to use one of his islands as a sanctuary for the dinosaurs if Claire can get them transported.  Eli Mills, his personal assistant asks her to bring in Owen, who she hasn’t seen in an unknown amount of time.

Henry Wu makes another appearance, apparently having cracked since what happened on Jurassic Park (the first film) and is now just creating because he can create.  He’s made another hybrid, and Mills is willing to sell it to make millions.

On one hand the movie does deal with some well done tropes within the series, but it also has an interesting take on them.  For example, we get a greater look at what it would be like to be a vet for dinosaurs.

Jeff Goldblum returns as Dr. Ian Malcolm, warning Congress about the dangers they are going to face. I have to admit I was surprised about how little time he is actually in the movie, but thematically it worked very well.  It also makes me hope the third film (due sometime in 3ish years) will incorporate more of the characters from the original trilogy.

I also like the development of Owen and Claire as characters.  While they aren’t together in this film, their characters aren’t reset.  Their relationship is different, with three years behind them.   I enjoy their development as individuals and as a couple.  I also enjoy the introduction of Franklin and Zia.  I will be happy to see them again in the next film.

The only real issue I had with the movie is that there is a lot of foreshadowing (or appearance of foreshadowing) for something that didn’t seem realised.  Its hard to really explain that without giving a good amount of the plot away.  Since this is a new release and is in fact still in theaters I’m trying not to do that.

As an added bonus the film finally brings about what is implied from the end of Jurassic Park III.

My final grade is A-.

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Movie Review: Jumanji 2: Welcome to the Jungle

Title: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Release Date: December 20 2017
Genre: Action/Adventure & Comedy
Rating: PG-13
Director: Steve Beck

I saw this via Amazon as it has just recently been put on DVD/Blu-ray & Digital.   Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel to the 1995 film Jumanji starring Robin Williams.

This film has a great cast to draw you in.  I wanted to see it for Karen Gillan, who I know mostly from Doctor Who but who is also in the MCU as Gamora’s sister Nebula.  Dwayne Johnson leads the cast that includes comedy headliners Jack Black and Kevin Hart.  Nick Jonas makes an unexpected (for me anyway) appearance in the movie.  Also making a brief appearance is Colin Hanks, the son of one of my favorite actors, Tom Hanks.  He wasn’t in the film long enough to showcase if he has inherited the talent, but I’ve been seeing him on things a lot more, so it seems we will have the chance to see.

The two films are not very similar.  There is a jungle theme to the game, but outside a reference to Alan Parrish (RObin William’s character in the 1995 film) and the outside of the game packaging, the stories seem completely different.  In the sequel, the game has updated itself to be a video game to interact with 1996 Alex.  Later in modern days (possibly 2016 or 2017), four students in detention end up sucked into the game like Alan had been, and later Alex.

I have to admit there was a part of this that started to sound like someone was making a mash-up of the Breakfast Club and Jumanji rather than a true sequel.  Which I still had an impression of at the end of the story.  It was funny, and the movie wasn’t as horrible as I thought it could have been during the trailers.  I just feel like for a sequel it really has very little to do with its predecessor. There doesn’t seem to be enough connections.  That being said, when I looked up the novel that the movie was based on there was mention of an animated TV show based on the same idea, and it seems to have some of the same concepts.

I also learned that the children’s book Jumanji had a sequel called Zathura, which was also made into a movie and I plan on watching it sometime this year.

My final grade for Jumanji 2 is a B-.  I feel like it missed a few beats and should have had more continuity within the Jumanji universe.

Movie Review: Rough Night

Title: Rough Night (2017)
Rating: R
Genre: Comedy
Director: Lucia Aniello
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Zoe Kravitz, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer and Paul W. Downs

This movie is awful.  Honestly, the highlight of the movie was seeing Colton Haynes dressed like a stripper since I’ve been watching a lot of Arrow lately.

The funniest person was Paul W. Downs. Actually, his Peter might have been the only funny bit about the movie. Demi Moore is randomly in this movie and comes off kind of creepy rather then the sexy they were going for. Kate McKinnon failed to wow me in this movie like she did in Ghostbusters.  Scarlett Johansson didn’t wow me either, and I usually like what she does.  I know she can do comedy – The Nanny Diaries proves that.

The movie has some ridiculousness to it that is weirdly next to moments when they reference real things.  Honestly it doesn’t work.

My final grade is a D-

Movie Review: The Last Jedi

Note:  I haven’t written anything for a while due to being extremely busy with my day job, and various illnesses.  Starting next week I hope to get back on a regular schedule. Now to the post

Title: Star Wars:  Episode VIII The Last Jedi (Or as I call it, Empire Strikes Back Anakinized)
Released:  December 2017
Genre: Sci-fi & Fantasy
Grade:  C

I saw this several weeks ago, but held off reviewing it because I was a bit confused by my own reaction.  I loved the movie, yet at the same time was oddly disappointed.  It took me awhile to figure a few things out.

I love Star Wars.  I’ve enjoyed the films, and the books and eventually plan on watching the animated TV shows.  I’ve seen each one in theaters since Attack of the Clones came out.  So seeing this movie was important as a lifetime fan.

Yet, after the awesomeness that was Rogue One, this movie failed to really impress me.  While it wasn’t as direct in its channeling of Empire Strikes back as the Force Awakens was with A New Hope, you kind of could see it following the same basic plotline. Our heroes are separated, the Jedi apprentice seeks a mentor, while the rebel members of the trio deal with gamblers and the bad guys while trying to save the alliance.  The characters were rather flat, which surprised me.  Even Leia, who I expected more from, was a bit flat.  Snoke was a disappointment because for a villain he’s rather flat.  Palpatine had more character in his scenes in the original trilogy and he barely had any scenes.

Also, Luke for all intents seems out of character for the man we saw in the last trilogy.  The only characters with any real sort of development was Luke (meh quality) and Kylo Ren/Ben Solo.  And even then it seems rather a let down.

I feel like JJ Abrams & Company are trying to recreate the Original Trilogy, yet with some of the Prequel style effects and characterization.  Kylo/Ben comes off as whiny as Anakin does in the prequels.

I have a few more specific problems with it, but I’m trying to make this as spoiler free as possible.  So my thoughts basically are this:  Enjoy the movie, but don’t expect something amazing.

Movie Review: Pacific Rim

Title: Pacific Rim

Release Date:  2013

Directed by:  Guillermo del Toro

Written by:  Guillermo del Toro, Travis Beacham

Starring:  Charlie Hunnam, Diego Klattenhoff, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman and Max Martini (among many others)

My Grade: A-

This movie was recommended to me by several people as a good movie.  I’m actually writing this part before I watch it, hence the weird tenses compared to what I will write after I watch it.  Supposedly this movie has good gender dynamics, as well as a diverse cast and a good story.  I’m hoping to find all of that.  Although I must admit by looking at the casting list on IMDB, its looking fairly non-diverse, particularly on Gender.  SO far I’m only seeing 8 female actors mostly in minor character parts, unless someone has a gender neutral name and no picture.  Only two actually seem to have named parts.  But we shall see.  IMDB can be a bit deceiving at times.

On the bright side, it also has IDris Elba and Ron Perlman who are always worth seeing.  Now onto watching the movie (A DVD.  Alas, no blu-ray yet.)

(…intermission music…)

So in the end, I really enjoyed it.  The lighting was dark in some areas, which might have been my TV set, but it made it hard to really see what the Kaiju looked like.  However the concept was pretty good.  The basic backstory of the movie is that along the Pacific Rim (also known as the Ring of Fire due to the tectonic plate activity) there opens up a breach between two dimensions.  Ours, and that of the Kaiju.  They start attacking us and in an attempt to fight them off we decide to build giant robots.  Only it doesn’t always work, because if it did we wouldn’t have a movie.

Charlie Hunnam plays the main character, Raleigh Becket, who is a Jaeger (the robot) pilot.  The robots need 2 pilots and he used to pilot with his brother but his brother died and he ended up in Alaska building a wall.  Idris Alba plays the head dude of the Jager program Pentecost and basically drags Raleigh back to the robots in a last ditch effort to save the program.

Rinko Kikuchi plays the female lead (and sadly only one of two named female characters, all other female characters are background and barely have lines if any at all) Mako Mori.  She is Pentecost’s adoptive daughter and the person Raleigh decides should be his new partner.

Charlie Day – who I spent half the movie calling Sam Rockwell Jr – plays  Newton Geiszler, a biologist who works on understanding the Kaiju.  He is accompanied by Burn Gorman, who plays Hermann Gottlieb who is basically a Nerdy Owen Harper who managed to retain the anger.

Ron Perlman plays a Blackmarket dealer who basically profits off the corpses of Kaiju.

The cast was fantastic, and I really liked the fact that they made a point to incorporate different nationalities into the story.  Not all of the characters are American – actually most of them aren’t.  It didn’t shy away from having characters speak in accents or their native languages.  They choose actual asian/asian decent actors to play asian characters for the most part which is sadly not always the case in Hollywood.

The story was pretty good as well, though I wish there had been more time with the various Jaeger pilots other than Raleigh, Mako and Chuck.  There is so much to this world unexplored, which should be interesting to see when the sequel comes out.  Perhaps we can get more exploration of the Alternate universe Pacific Rim created.

So essentially my only issue with this movie that I can think of while writing this review is the lack of female characters outside the leads.

 

Movie Review: Rogue One

So shortly before New Years, I decided to venture alone to the movie theater to take in Rogue One, afraid it would disappear from the local theater if I waited much longer (apparently its scheduled for a few weeks so I was not in any danger of missing it).  I don’t usually like going to the movies by myself, preferring to have the company of friends to discuss the movie afterwards.  But none of that has to do with this review.

Rogue One was good.  It did as it said and was a single entity film, there were no openings for a sequel, as it ends almost exactly where A New Hope Begins.  While a few of the characters from the main episodes appear, the main plot had nothing to do with them.  Even Vader stays mostly out-of-the-way.  (although there is a scene where we see Vader’s house.  It made me laugh, although I don’t think that was the intent.)

Rogue One continues Star War’s tradition of women getting things done.  In this case its Jyn Erso, a woman who had her parents taken from her as a young girl by the Empire.  Her mother was killed, her father was an engineer they needed.  However she goes on a mission to help the Rebellion, mostly to try to find her father who she has not seen in 15 years.  She is joined by an odd group of rebels, including a new Droid I wish we could see more of .

While I feel at times the pace of the story was a bit quick, the editing was good and the writing was also good.  It also included archive footage from scenes filmed but cut from A New Hope to add to the film, which were remarkably well-integrated into the film.

Also we get to see some of the characters we love from the Prequels and the Original Trilogy interacting.  Jimmy Smits for example returns for a few scenes as Leia’s adoptive father Bail Organa.  And we also see Mon Mothma Pre-ROTJ trying to get everyone in a room to talk plans and wishing she had some Advil.

I will say this: This does not have a happy ending, so be prepared.  It does have one of my favorite end scenes a few minutes before the actual ending of the movie. It was beautifully edited and filmed.

I will also say this:  I was happy to see the romance played down in this.  It is clear that there is something there for those who want to find something, but these people are in the middle of a battle and the “romance” doesn’t get in the way of that.  It’s all very subtle and can be easily pushed aside if you don’t care for romance plots.   I was afraid going in that they would be pushing some sort of romance, diminishing from what the main characters were doing because they got distracted with said romance.

Final Grade:  A

Film Review (ish thing): Tron: Legacy

Grade: A

This was a good movie.  It had a good plot, had hints of romance but didn’t over do it, had good visual effects and it was part of a franchise I happen to love.

The only issue I had with this movie was the computerized Jeff Bridges (Clu).  When the character was standing still, it was hard to discern it was computerized, but whenever he spoke and you were in a close up or he moved in a close up there was this slightly inorganic movement that didn’t match up.  It wasn’t anything major but it did remind you that this wasn’t completely Jeff Bridges.  (Wonder what he thought of his CGI younger self).  Although to be honest, this might just be on purpose to show that Clu was a program, not just a clone of Kevin Flynn.

Also, Tron has taken styling tips from The Stig. (Not really an issue just wondering if they ran out of a effects budget to create a CGI Tron)

The music was also good, and I like the improvement on the lighting effects (still has the idea that its not very bright in Grid-land, but

This isn’t a particularly good review, I realize that.  Its just something to get me back into writing in this blog.   As you can tell I haven’t posted since February (How is that possible?!?)

Next review I do will be better, I hope.