Jurassic World: Dominion Review

Jurassic World: Dominion movie posterSynopsis
Four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar, dinosaurs now live–and hunt–alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures in a new Era. (via IMDb)

Review
The Jurassic Park trilogy does not end on the best note with Jurassic Park III. I was hoping that Jurassic World: Dominion, the third and final entry into the Jurassic World trilogy, would cap the Jurassic World trilogy better than Jurassic Park III capped the Jurassic Park trilogy. Unfortunately, that was a bit too much to hope for.

To start with a positive, it was great to see the cast from both the Jurassic Park films and Jurassic World films together. Their pairings and interactions were a treat for any fan of the franchise. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott) returning was an unexpected surprise. He had a very minor role in Jurassic Park and it was intriguing to see what he has been up to since his lunch with Dennis Nedry. I’ve talked about β€œtheme” a lot in my Jurassic World reviews and this review will be no different! I really liked that this idea of genetic manipulation and power that Ian Malcolm has mentioned many times has been applied to something other than dinosaurs yet continues to show the hubris of the characters who think they can control it.

Besides that, Jurassic World: Dominion falls into B-movie territory, the same as Jurassic Park III. The villain is campy and the billionaire-megalomaniac-who-doesn’t-care-about-the destruction-he-causes has been done a lot recently, and been done better elsewhere. Characters are introduced then are discarded without much explanation or exploration. At times there seems to be a lack of focus, which even Jurassic Park III had. At almost two and a half hours long, it’s not like there wasn’t time to get that focus. All-in-all, it told a story that had the right idea but wasn’t executed to its fullest.

On a plot side-note, how did the dinosaurs become so wide-spread so quickly? This film takes place only a few years after Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and,Β spoiler alert, only a handful of dinosaurs were released into the wild at the end of that film. It’s implied that several companies were cloning their own dinosaurs but that still wouldn’t account for the amount and their coverage across the Earth in that short amount of time. As I said in my last review, I try not to get caught up in plot holes but this one kept bugging me and took me out of the film at times.

I thought Jurassic World: Dominion was OK 😐 I liked seeing all my favorite characters from the franchise together and felt the theme was the culmination of the themes of the previous films. There were some exciting sequences but they felt included because they look cool and this also lead to some of the antagonistic characters not getting much development. It’s a shame the franchise didn’t end on a note more deserving of a the Jurassic franchise’s popularity.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Colin Trevorrow – Director / Story / Screenplay
Derek Connolly – Story
Emily Carmichael – Screenplay
Michael Giacchino – Composer

Chris Pratt – Owen Grady
Bryce Dallas Howard – Claire Dearing
Isabella Sermon – Maisie Lockwood / Young Charlotte Lockwood
Laura Dern – Ellie Sattler
Sam Neill – Alan Grant
Jeff Goldblum – Ian Malcolm
DeWanda Wise – Kayla Watts
Mamoudou Athie – Ramsay Cole
Justice Smith – Franklin Webb
Daniella Pineda – Dr. Zia Rodriguez
Campbell Scott – Lewis Dodgson
BD Wong – Dr. Wu
Omar Sy – Barry Sembene
Scott Haze Rainn Delacourt
Dichen Lachman – Soyona Santos

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Review

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom movie posterSynopsis
When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event. (via IMDb)

Review
When Jurassic World destroyed the box office with its success, it was inevitable that a sequel would happen. When I saw the first trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, I thought that the whole movie was going to be about rescuing the dinosaurs from the erupting volcano and that the trailer had just given away what happens in the movie (as trailers can often do these days). However, that is only the first act of the film. There is so much more.

While the first part of the movie is spent on the island, the rest of the film is spent on the mainland. In the last two acts of the film, the themes of the previous film are continued. Characters spend time discussing the ethics on engineering a living being and having control of the power of genetics (which includes a great monologue from the franchise’s most vocal voice of reason, Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum)). However, while the themes are continued, they are not built upon. As a result, this movie feels like an extension of its predecessor rather than a new film.

Since the movie starts with the volcano erupting, the pacing of the film is different than the other films in the franchise. Most films, particularly Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, slowly crescendo to the high-octane action towards the end. But here, the movie starts with adrenaline, then slows down before ramping up once more for exciting action sequences. This methodology hooked me into the film from the get go. It also gave me a sigh of relief that the initial trailer didn’t show too much of the ending like I thought it had.

Something that bothered me as I was watching Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was the plan to move the last of the dinosaurs from Isla Nublar (who were stated to be the last of their kind) to a sanctuary island. Did the characters forget about Isla Sorna, aka Site B? I mean, this island was the setting for two of the films before this one. Is that no longer around? What happened to the dinosaurs there, if anything? I usually don’t let plot holes get to me while watching a film, but that one seemed too big to miss, considering the fact that there were two islands with dinosaurs was previously a major point in series.

John Hammond is an iconic character in Jurassic Park and the theme park’s creation. I enjoyed learning more about Hammond’s history and the origins of the park itself. We learn of his partnership with Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) and how the two of them got started with bringing dinosaurs to life. It’s a small part of the film but it’s one that I really liked included.

All this time I’ve been talking about the story but my favorite thing about this film is the chemistry between Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. They are both naturally funny and their types of humor work well together. I consistently found myself smiling and having a good time during their scenes. Steven Spielberg and Colin Trevorrow hit gold when they cast them as the franchise’s new leads.

I thought Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was GOOD πŸ™‚ It feels more like an extension of Jurassic World than its own thing but there is enjoyment to be had. The scenes of the exploding island were exciting and the claustrophobic feel of the action scenes in the third act lead to some edge-of-your-seat moments. It’s clear this is meant to be a middle movie so I’m intrigued to see where they take the series from here.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
JA Bayona – Director
Colin Trevorrow – Writer
Derek Connolly – Writer
Michael Giacchino – Composer

Chris Pratt – Owen Grady
Bryce Dallas Howard – Claire Dearing
Rafe Spall – Eli Mills
Justice Smith – Franklin Webb
Daniella Pineda – Zia Rodriguez
James Cromwell – Benjamin Lockwood
Isabella Sermon – Maisie Lockwood
Toby Jones – Mr. Eversoll
Ted Levine – Ken Wheatley
BD Wong – Dr. Wu
Geraldine Chaplin – Iris
Jeff Goldblum – Ian Malcolm

Jurassic World Review

Jurassic World movie posterSynopsis
A new theme park, built on the original site of Jurassic Park, creates a genetically modified hybrid dinosaur, the Indominus Rex, which escapes containment and goes on a killing spree. (via IMDb)

Review
Like many others, Jurassic Park was an influential movie of my childhood. I lost track of how many times I have seen it throughout my lifetime; it’s easily up there as one of my favorite films of all time. Sequels to 20+ year old movies that attempt to cash in on their franchise’s nostalgia have been very hit or miss (primarily misses) so I was a bit cautious going into Jurassic World. To my pleasure, Jurassic World is one of the better sequels today.

Any sequel that comes out decades later has a fine line to balance between paying homage to the original while bringing something new to the franchise and standing on its own. Throughout the film, Jurassic World gives nodes or callbacks to things and events of Jurassic Park that there is plenty for eagle-eyed fans to pick up on. Most importantly, it continues the themes of its predecessor. One of the biggest through lines of Jurassic Park was the hubris of mankind and that theme continues and is built upon here. It’s a wonderful continuation and natural plot growth for the franchise.

Besides building on the themes and providing plenty of easter eggs, Jurassic World has a great cast that carries the story. Chris Pratt, coming off his spectacular appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy, commands the screen. Bryce Dallas Howard is always great in anything she is involved in and this film is no exception. Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins hold their own as the younger members of the core cast across from the older cast members like Pratt and Howard. Vincent D’Onofrio channels the same energy he brought to Daredevil’s Wilson Fisk and chews up every scene. And to top it all off is an excellent comedic supporting cast of Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus. No matter where you look in the cast, there is talent everywhere.

The film spends the first half of the film setting up the park and the characters, so it can feel slow early on. However, once the action picks up, it really picks up. There is a horror element to the last act in particular that kept me on the edge of my seat. One highlight is when Owen (Pratt) is hunting the Indominus Rex with a pack of velociraptors. And it all culminated in a showdown that any fan of the franchise is sure to love.

If I had one complaint for this movie it’s that the subplot of Zach’s (Robinson) and Gray’s (Simpkins) parents did not add anything to the overall plot. There is maybe one scene with the parents and their lawyers and it was only mentioned by the boys once or twice. It felt shoehorned in to give more emotion to the film but I don’t think it added anything at all.

I thought Jurassic World was GREAT πŸ˜€ Being a huge fan of Jurassic Park, Jurassic World is a worthy sequel. The themes from the original are continued and built upon in a way that few sequels are capable of accomplishing. There is no weak link in the cast with great actors like Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nick Robinson,and Ty Simpkins. Top it off with exciting action scenes and you’ve got yourself not only a great sequel but a great film.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Colin Trevorrow – Director / Screenplay
Rick Jaffa – Screenplay / Story
Amanda Silver – Screenplay / Story
Derek Connolly – Screenplay
Michael Giacchino – Composer

Chris Pratt – Owen Grady
Bryce Dallas Howard – Clair Dearing
Ty Simpkins – Gray
Nick Robinson – Zach
Jake Johnson – Lowery
Lauren Lapkus – Vivian
Omar Sy – Barry
Irrfan Khan – Masrani
Vincent D’Onofrio – Vic Hoskins
BD Wong – Dr. Henry Wu
Brian Tee – Hamada
Katie McGrath – Zara
Judy Greer – Karen
Andy Buckley – Scott

Rocketman Review

Rocketman movie posterSynopsis
A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years. (via IMDb)

Review
It must be the time of the musical biopic. Last year saw the release of Bohemian Rhapsody, the story of Freddy Mercury, and now we have Rocketman, the story of Elton John. Both are about prolific rock singers and both are directed by Dexter Fletcher. Despite their similar subjects and shared director, Rocketman doesn’t feel like a BR clone. It takes a different approach to its story telling and takes advantage of its rating.

One of the highlights of the film was Taron Egerton as Elton John. Egerton captures a wide range emotions. He’s charismatic when he needs to be, he’s vulnerable when he needs to be, and he’s dour when he needs to be. It’s clear that Egerton is putting everything he can into the part and it really elevates the film, especially since it fails or succeeds on his performance. This movie doesn’t shy away from the darker moments of Elton John’s life and Egerton embraces it head first.

While this film has been touted as a “musical fantasy,” it leaned more heavily into the “fantasy” part than I expected. Montage-like sequences, often coupled with an Elton John hit, were used to move the story along. These sequences didn’t explicitly explain what was going on but rather implied it. At first I thought these were just ways to inject Elton John’s songs into the film. Not until after the montage finished and the next scene began did I realize the story was moving along during the previous sequence. It’s a rather unique implementation of a non-unique story-telling device.

When going into a biopic about a musician, you can expect their songs to be featured heavily. Rocketman did just that but the way it did it was interesting. Instead of being a movie with music like I was anticipating, it was more like a musical, with the characters breaking into song at random points. As different as this was, there were times it felt forced, with songs being used at weird times to make sure the film includes all of Elton John’s biggest hits. Sometimes only a few lyrics were used from a song making it feel more awkward. While I liked the approach, the execution was spotty.

I thought Rocketman was GOOD πŸ™‚ Not knowing much about Elton John’s life, I can’t say how historically accurate it is. However, what I can say is that it lives up to its label of “musical fantasy.” A stand-out performance from Taron Egerton and unique musical sequences make this biopic rock to new heights.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Dexter Fletcher – Director
Lee Hall – Writer
Matthew Margeson – Composer

Taron Egerton – Elton John
Jamie Bell – Bernie Taupin
Richard Madden – John Reid
Bryce Dallas Howard – Sheila
Gemma Jones – Ivy
Steven Mackintosh – Stanley
Tim Bennett – Fred
Matthew Illesley – Young REggie
Kit Connor – Older Reggie
Charlie Rowe – Ray Williams
Stephen Graham – Dick James
Sharon D. Clarke – Counselor