Jurassic World (2015)

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Director: Colin Trevorrow

Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, Vincent D’Onofrio, Omar Sy, B.D. Wong, Irrfan Khan

Screenplay: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly

124 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.

 

It has been 22 years since the events of Jurassic Park, and now John Hammond’s vision has been fully realized. Jurassic World has been up and running for about a decade, and has been run by Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard, The Help, 50/50) to great success. Now, though, with declining numbers, the park’s owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan, Life of Pi, The Amazing Spider-Man) wants something new and bigger to boost attendance. He has enlisted Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong, Mulan, Focus) with the task of genetically hybridizing a new dinosaur species called the Indominus Rex, but this new species is much smarter than they could have realized, and now a raptor trainer named Owen (Chris Pratt, TV’s Parks and Recreation, Guardians of the Galaxy) must help Claire find her nephews, Nick (Nick Robinson, TV’s Melissa & Joey, The Kings of Summer) and Gray (Ty Simpkins, Insidious, Iron Man 3), who are missing in the park.

In this third sequel to the Jurassic Park franchise, we see something that has been almost promised for just as long: a fully functioning theme park, exactly what John Hammond would have wanted. It is a completely new experience for fans of the series, and it offers a cadre of new set pieces for director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) to completely destroy.

Chris Pratt gives another leading man performance that proves he has the chops to continue raking in the dough. Now Owen isn’t played as well to Pratt’s strength, and he comes off rather wooden at the beginning of the film before really finding his character beats as the film progresses. His chemistry with Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire is pretty strong, though the developed romance between feels way contrived in the grand scheme of the story.

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The supporting players all mostly give in to the conceit of the film and perform admirably. Our child actors Robinson and Simpkins do enough to get by, though Simpkins underwhelms when compared to previous work in the Insidious franchise and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Vincent D’Onofrio (TV’s Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Run All Night) is great as the slimy Hoskins who wishes to use Owen’s raptor skills to train the beasts for militaristic purposes. He is matched perfectly by Irrfan Khan’s Masrani, an eccentric billionaire very similar to Hammond and who wishes to follow in his footsteps and do right by him. The term “Spare No Expense” comes to mind several times.

B.D. Wong returns to the franchise from the original film as the genius Dr. Wu, a character much expanded upon from the original source novel by Michael Crichton. In this film, Wu defends his place in the history books as the clever mind behind many of the park’s greatest attractions.

Now the dinosaurs here as missing much of the Stan Winston touch that made them so magical in the 1993 film. They still look amazing from the terrific visual effects work, and some of them, like the mighty aquatic Mosasaurus, but it is something I missed. Looking back on Steven Spielberg’s original film, I still look in wonder at the magic on the screen, whereas here I know I am seeing CGI.

Michael Giacchino’s score is also a great feature of the film, subtly using John William’s original themes while adding notes of grandeur and chaos to reinvent it. When we first see the gorgeous set pieces accompanied by the original music, it made my heart skip a beat.

Flaws? Yeah, there are several. The use of the Gyrospheres being completely controlled by the attendees? Yeah, no safety features required there…not! This film makes several of the same mistakes that we’ve seen before, making the characters seem like they paid no attention to the mistakes made in previous installments.

JURASSIC WORLD - 2015 FILM STILL - Pictured: The Indominus rex dominates all creatures in her path - Photo Credit: Universal Pictures   © 2014 Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Thankfully, the film is much saved by how great the wins are. There are several faults at play, but overall this is the best film in the franchise since the original. The little pieces of homage to the T-Rex, Spinosaurus, Mr. DNA, John Hammond, and Ian Malcolm help validate this film as a strong installment in the series that holds its own and opens new avenues for the future of the story.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

So have you seen Jurassic World? What did you think? Did this film’s life find a way or go extinct in the process? Let me know!

 

For my review of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, click here.

 

[Happy 5th Birthday!] The A-Team (2010)

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Director: Joe Carnahan

Cast: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Sharlto Copley, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Patrick Wilson

Screenplay: Joe Carnahan, Brian Bloom, Skip Woods

117 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence throughout, language and smoking.

 

It is difficult to turn a popular television series into a movie. How do you condense years of storytelling into two hours? It has been attempted multiple times for multiple series, and while many of these attempts do not fare well, some happen to slip between the cracks. One of these rare finds is 2010’s The A-Team from director Joe Carnahan (The Grey, Stretch).

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In the adaptation of the popular 1980s series, viewers get to see how the famous team was formed by Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson, Schindler’s List, Entourage). We see the meeting of the team, the inciting incident behind their court-martialing, and their fight to reclaim their freedom. After they are betrayed during a mission, Hannibal, Face (Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook, Aloha), Murdock (Sharlto Copley, TV’s Powers, District 9) and B.A. (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, The Midnight Meat Train, Miss March) must outrun the cops, led by Face’s former flame Charissa Sosa (Jessica Biel, The Illusionist, Accidental Love) and try to prove their innocence with the help of the mysterious Lynch (Patrick Wilson, Insidious, Home Sweet Hell).

The A-Team is a perfect example of updating a classic scenario using all the bells and whistles of a big production. Getting strong performances from top names like Neeson, Cooper and Copley to play the infamous mercenaries (notice I didn’t mention Jackson here…) really elevates the level of excitement and fun had in this movie. We even get a unique and comedic performance from Wilson as Lynch, a notable character from the series.

Carnahan’s cinematography skill here is his ability to maneuver the camera constantly without resorting to shaky cam. It has a frenetic yet focused chaos to it. He also knows how to get a near-perfect flow from his films. The A-Team never lets up for the entirety of its near-two-hour runtime.

The subtle use of the original theme helps to homage the original musical cues. This is assisted by the great makeup and costuming. These characters are allowed to look damn cool no matter what they do. It is reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino’s treatment of his characters. Everyone in this film is so cool it made me jealous.

The visual effects work quite well for a bulk of the film, but their overuse in the finale is noticeable aged and comes off much more cartoony than it should, making many of the stylized action pieces look a bit like a video game cut scene, which ultimately takes away from the “Wow” factor of the explosive ending.

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Thanks to some dated effects and the poor casting of Rampage Jackson as a carbon-copy attempt of Mr. T, The A-Team has some faults, but it is a rather underappreciated and sadly forgotten action spectacle. I suggest you take some time to revisit this oft-unloved film from a great but largely unnoticed director like Carnahan.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

June 2015 Preview

 

Alright, welcome to June 2015, everyone! I hope you enjoyed May, I certainly did. Let’s not waste any time here. Just keep in mind that these Previews are based on my highly intelligent abilities as a predictor of films. Our tastes may differ slightly, but I’m really open to helping you find the best films to see this month, so let’s jump in…

 

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Entourage

Entourage picks up where the eighth season of the hit HBO series left off, following Vincent Chase and his friends, E, Drama, and Turtle, as they continue to take Hollywood by storm. This was a series for a select group of people and those people will enjoy the film. If you haven’t seen Entourage, it isn’t the type of series to alienate viewers, so you may still enjoy yourself, but if you hated the television series, I don’t expect this film to sway you.

 

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Insidious: Chapter 3

Insidious is a franchise very close to me. I happen to find both films to be very enjoyable. The first one had me on the edge of my seat, and the second served to peel back layers of the various entities that exist in the mystical plane called The Further. I hope they find a way to utilize the prequel format to deliver something interesting, but this film is somewhat up in the air.

 

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Love & Mercy

Love & Mercy is based on the true account of Brian Wilson, played in the film by Paul Dano and John Cusack, after his time with the Beach Boys, as Wilson attempts to record Pet Sounds, the “greatest album” of all time. It also chronicles the older Brian Wilson as he loses his grip on reality due to a strange relationship with therapist Dr. Eugene Landy, played by Paul Giamatti. Love & Mercy seems like a solid win, I like the work from both Cusack and Dano, and I think this is a story that hasn’t been tapped. I’m solidly curious about the property.

 

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Spy

I feel pretty good about Spy, but not originally. While I liked director Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids, I felt that The Heat was generally disappointing. Really quite disappointing. Not nearly as bad as Tammy, but Melissa McCarthy is reaching the end of her talent. Spy has the distinction of having a perfectly cast group of supporting actors like Jason Statham and Jude Law. I think the elements of a proper spy film satire are in place here, so I’m leaning in the right direction.

 

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Jurassic World

So here it is, after years of development and several incarnations of a story shuffling around, we arrive at Jurassic World, the fourth film in the Jurassic Park series. This is another example of “up-in-the-air” film, I’m not entirely convinced yet. It seems to have all the right pieces in place, but time has been against it. 22 years after the original film’s events, a new park has opened, but in order to increase attendance, the owners have been experimenting with genetic testing on the dinosaurs.

 

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Inside Out

Inside Out is the newest Pixar film that takes place within the mind of a child named Riley. It tells the story of Riley’s emotions, specifically Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust. Not a ton is known outside of this, but it’s Pixar, so it will make a lot of money. I like the idea of Pixar reaching for an area they haven’t gone, but it sounds an awful lot like the same plot as Toy Story, just saying.

 

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Ted 2

I think it is terrific that Ted 2 isn’t Ted. I mean, it has Ted in it. It contains a lot of the same jokes I am sure, but Ted 2 at least has a different plot. Look back at Hot Tub Time Machine 2 and The Hangover Part II. Same freaking movie but less great. Ted 2 has a chance here. After Ted marries Tami-Lynn, he wants to have a child, but he needs to prove to the courts that he is human. Some solid potential here, even if I will miss Mila Kunis, but it is nice to have performers like Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman gracing this comedy sequel.

 

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Max

Max isn’t Mad Max. Max is a dog. A military dog traumatized by the loss of its handler. I’m not even sure how a movie like this could happen. Seriously. Just don’t.

 

 

Alright, that’s June 2015 for you. See you in July!

 

Best Bets: Entourage, Love & Mercy, Spy, Inside Out, Ted 2

On the Bubble: Insidious: Chapter 3, Jurassic World

Likely Misses: Max

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

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