Film Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

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There are some franchises that motor on because of the success and quality of those films.  See: 90% of Star Wars films, Rocky 1-4 as well as Balboa and Creed, Indiana Jones Trilogy,  (I don’t acknowledge the 4th like no one recognizes the third Godfather), 75% of the James Bond films, and most of the Star Trek films/reboots.  And there are some franchises that people feel obligated to stay with no matter how mediocre or films have become and they still make boku bucks, hence another sequel every 3 years.  See: Fast and the Furious, Saw, Transformers, and Pirates of the Caribbean.   What do some of these franchises have in common?  The first one is fantastic.  The second and third ones, meh.  By 4, you barely keep up with them and skip over them when they pop up on cable (I know, I just made myself look old by still having cable).  Sometimes, they manage to surprise the hell out of you by hiring new writers/director for the 4th or 5th and reinvigorate the franchise.  Fast and the Furious 5 is a perfect example, it brought me back in because it was excellent.  And then I sat through the next 2 oversized turds.  Guess what?  Now you’re hooked for at least 2 or 3 more films. And bang, you’re just like a vegan who came to their senses and started eating meat again.  

Let’s review Jurassic Park.  The first one, very solid but the book ending was MUCH better than the film ending but 8-9 times out of 10, that’s the case.  JP2, not great except the scene where the dino hunters ran through the field of velociraptors and most of them ended up looking like Jenna Jamison’s b-hole when she retired from porn.  JP3 was even worse, not even the pterodactyl scene saved this monstrosity.  And next thing you know, the franchise was shelved.  

But as Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum’s character in 2 and 1/10 films) says, “Life, ahhh finds a way.”  As does Steven Spielberg to jump start a dead franchise.  3 years ago, Jurassic World came out and ran roughshod through the box office like a T-Rex that just ate a Mexican village and is now looking for a bathroom.  What does that mean?  Fire up the sequel machine!!  JW recaptured the elements from JP and did it well with a bunch of cool nods to the first one.  It worked, even though it was just a blatant reboot of the first one.  But I dug it.  

Of all the previews I saw of FK, not one of them made me go, “Hmm, I’m looking forward to playing hooky from work to see this.”  But since I’m an (unpaid) film reviewer, I felt it was my civic responsibility to see this and comment.  FK starts off with the dino island in deep stegosaurus poop; a volcano is exploding and the dinos face extinction, sigh, again.  And of course, screenwriters Colin Trevorow and Derek Conolly, decide to make this one of the few social issues of the film.  Do dino lives matter?  According to Claire (one of the few attractive gingers, Bryce Dallas Howard), they certainly do.  She gets little resistance from persuading Owen (newly single Chris Pratt and who will be bedding GOTG nerds and film extras galore) to come with her to help save the dinos.  Financing the journey is Benjamin Lockwood (Jamie Cromwell) who apparently used to be partners with JP creator, John Hammond, until Hammond had the idea to make an amusement park with dinosaurs.  Standing in the way is Lockwood’s assistant, Mills, who has plans of his own for the Cretaceous creatures.

Here are several problems with this film:  

  1. What do people want to see?  Dinosaurs killing humans in cool ways with a little bit of gore. Yes, I know that a ton of little kids go see this but it’s rated PG-13 which allows them to get away with more.  When people get killed, it’s almost sanitary and really doesn’t scare you nor feel “real.”  
  2. This film DRAAAAGS.  The last 20-30 minutes should’ve been trimmed down, especially the scene you see in commercials where the dinosaur gets into the little girl’s bedroom.  The running time is just over 2 hours but it felt as long as the math section did of the SATs.  
  3. The plot fell into the same formulaic trap as some of the sequels did.  You know who’s dying within 10 seconds of the introduction of characters.  Asshole money- hungry assistant?  Surprise, he dies.  Overly aggressive and mean head of security?  Auf Weiderzehen.  Soldier who hits a woman?  Appetizer for T-Rex.  Just once, let’s see one or 2 of the good guys get picked off and not everyone making it home in time for dinner.  Let’s have the computer nerd get picked off.  Or the cute little girl.  
  4. Do we need a bunch of social issues in a popcorn blockbuster film?  I don’t think so. Do dino lives matter?  Should we let them acclimate into our world?  Is cloning humans acceptable?  And the last reveal was just plain lazy which ties into the ending.  
  5. You see 75% of Jeff Goldblum in the previews which obviously means he’s critically underutilized.  That character was great in the first and second films.  Maybe he didn’t want to do a full role but man, spread his scenes throughout the film.  
  6. JW hatched (I’m a cutup, I know) a hybrid dinosaur to mix things up.  So if it ain’t broke, Universal ain’t fixing it.  Yes, there’s another hybrid dinosaur and I immediately thought, “Ok, back to the well with this idea.”  20 bucks said the next sequel has TWO hybrids and one of them will involve a pterodactyl that looks like Kathy Griffin.  

I found myself over halfway through the film not really caring what happens next.  I honestly got bored through the final encounter.  I’m surprised I’m seeing more positive reviews than negative reviews for this one.  The poster should’ve had Spielberg, BDH, and Pratt holding bags with the $ sign while riding on the back of a Brontosaurus.  Because that’s exactly what this was, a vicious cash grab.  This film opened 60 million less than JW did.  But of course, it will be profitable and they’ll make another one.  Good luck getting me to invest me any more time in this franchise, I’m out.

I give it a 4/10.

Film reviews: Won’t You Be My Neighbor and Incredibles 2

We’re in mid-June, right in the sweet spot for summer film releases.  The last few years have had weaker slates of films.  How are we looking for summer 2018?  Pretty darn good, enough to keep you busy so you won’t have to pretend to give a shit about the World Cup.  Let’s stop the charade, people.  You only to claim to care about soccer during the world cup just to seem appeasing to Europeans and temporarily enjoying a sport primarily for 7 year olds.  

Avengers 3: Amazing

A Quiet Place: Solid

Deadpool 2: Solid

Solo: Fine 

I’ve heard Hereditary was excellent and Ocean’s 8 is surprisingly good.  And in the next few weeks:

Jurassic Park 34: Laura Dern’s crow’s feet look like she fought a raptor.

Sicario 2: A solid attempt to make us forget about the complete waste of time Benicio Del Toro was in Last Jedi.

This week, a documentary and a sequel blockbuster.  

Here I am, recreating the infamous shoe flip.35363327_10217446230854565_32544891347140608_o

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

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Congratulations go to this film as the only trailer that made me tear up.  30 seconds in and I’m welling up like being stuck in a car with someone cutting Indian food fueled farts.  You see, Mr Rogers and Sesame Street formed my early years of TV watching.  Those shows as well as Card Sharks, Press Your Luck, and Price is Right.  I had a thing for Plinko, Barker’s beauties, and white trash getting excited about winning a 1984 Toyota Corolla.  Mr Roger’s Neighborhood was one of my childhood memories that always bring a smile to my face.  He always made you feel safe and appreciated.  Mr Rogers hit on social issues like Vietnam, RFK’s death, and racial harmony.  He even un-retired to discuss 9/11 for his audience.  If he were alive today, I could easily see him talking to children about lockdowns in schools.   He TRULY gave a shit about kids and their feelings as well as fears.  Mr Rogers is one of the celebrities that would break my heart if he was ever outed as a pervert, child neglector, or Eagles fan.  

The film begins as he embarks on his post college career, deciding to get into TV over seminary school.  Mr Rogers eventually became an ordained minister and one fun fact is everyone interviewed made sure to disclose he never shoved religion down your throat nor through his show.  But you can see from his roots that his dedication to helping kids navigate through childhood was second to none.  It didn’t take long for his show to make its way to the stratosphere.  One scene you just can’t help your lip from quivering is where a little girl comes up to him and says, “Mr. Rogers, can I tell you something?  I like you.”  And he says, “I like you too.”  You see him visiting with countless sick children and watching their unbridled joy as he pulls out his puppets to temporarily brighten their lives.

Everyone from Fred’s wife and kids to cast and crew talk about him in the highest regard.  Yes, he was “like that” all the time.  No, he wasn’t gay.  You can thank him for saving PBS by testifying in front of a cranky Senator and swaying him with an inspiring tale of the importance of children’s programs.  One story they didn’t breach is the tale of how his car was stolen but once the thieves realized that the car belonged to Mr. Rogers, they immediately returned it with an apologetic note.  After googling (the only way to verify anything by reading the top 2 entries), this story was never verified by any of his family or close friends.  Mr Rogers also never spoke of this incident.  

And this goes out to the MPAA: How in the flying fuck is this film rated PG-13?  I believe they said, “ass” once.  They showed clips of someone saying dick and bastard.  Some footage of the Vietnam War and they showed a picture of a crew member mooning the camera.  THAT gets a PG-13?  You people need to remove that eyelash from your nether regions and calm down.

This film is nothing short of nostalgic magic.  The opening theme song got me teared up.  Him visiting kids, changing his shoes and clothes, as well as talking about horrific events in the news make your eyes puff up.  And hearing, “It’s Such a Good Feeling,” to end the film had the tears flowing too.  I don’t believe in God whatsoever.  BUT if there was one person who should be canonized and is as perfect as a person you could create, it’s Fred Rogers.  The man truly inspires others, even in death, to be better and caring.  My daughter just turned 3 and she’s a rabid Daniel Tiger fan, an offshoot cartoon of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.  And I can’t wait until to show her MRN reruns on youtube.  I’ll just have a box of tissues nearby, just like when I watch ET again for the 193rd time.  Now excuse me while I go watch Bloodsport and Commando to get this lump out of my throat.

Absolutely loved this film and have tissues at arms length, 9/10.

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Pixar has birthed an insane number of hits: Toy Story 1-3, Coco, Monster Inc 1 and 2, and of course, the Incredibles.  Besides Marvel, name a studio that has this high of a batting average.  I get it, each of those studios only release 2-3 films a year but when they do come out, it’s rarely below “good.”  14 years later, the sequel has come out with all of the main voices returning: Craig T Nelson, Holly Hunter (her lisp is quite noticeable at times), and Samuel L Jackson.  The Incredibles are a family of superheroes and in this installment, they learn the baby of the family, Jack Jack, has not one but multiple superpowers.  Mom/Elasticgirl is tasked with joining a pilot program to help lift the ban on superheroes; financed and created by Winston Deavor and his sister, Evelyn, voiced  Saul Goodman and Catherine Keener.  Which leaves Mr Incredible to watch the kids while Mom is off fighting crime and enjoying her time in the spotlight.

I didn’t rewatch the first Incredibles before seeing this but I felt it captured all of the fun elements from the first one.  Watching Mr. Incredible play Mr. Mom is quite funny as well as helping his daughter, Violet, get over a boy standing her up is also quite amusing.  I found myself trying to figure out where the reveal is with the villain and the motive throughout the film instead of enjoying the ride.  Brad Bird, who also wrote and directed the first one, does a great job of the reveal and ends with a flourish.  

There’s no need to break this film down any further, you get exactly what you come in expecting from this franchise and studio:  a smart, well-written script infused with humor and leaving wanting more.  Although this film clocks in at just under 2 hours, it’s still a well paced ride.  My only ask is that they don’t wait another 14 years for Incredibles 3.  And they will as it’s grossed 180 million opening weekend.  Hear that?  That’s Disney executives high fiving over another money printing press is firing on all cylinders.

Fantastic watch, 8/10.