Monday, June 22, 2015

Jurassic World (2015): Review

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I absolutely loved and enjoyed this movie. It is exactly what I like in my family friendly action/blockbuster movies! I was uncertain about Jurassic World when I went into it because I haven't been that impressed with many movies this year and didn't want to be disappointed. I am a fan of Jurassic Park (1993) and the paleontologist of my youth didn't want to be let down. I was very happy to find that this movie was a bunch of fun, well paced, played up the creeping see only part of the dinosaur technique, and threw in some serious Easter Eggs.
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Although I am a fan on Jurassic Park (2013) I am not a purist and am in no way upset or offended that Jurassic World is doing its own thing and incorporating todays technology experiences, I enjoyed the nods to the original movie and I am sure that I missed a whole bunch more than what I was aware of. The science of creating a living dinosaur and the new approach to security with todays technology was able to be incorporated and it worked. I do not feel like it is a movie having to conform or loses its charm due to not working in the current cultural landscape.
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Jurassic World continued along the timeline of Jurassic Park and finds us twenty two years after the events from the first movie. The island that was at one time Jurassic Park has been remade into Jurassic World. It is a dinosaur attraction for the modern audience. It is looking for ways to stay exciting and draw in todays kids who don't just want a normal dinosaur anymore. They want bigger, scarier. Clair, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, is in charge of running Jurassic World and has her nephews Zack, played by Nick Robinson, and Gray, played by Ty Simpkins coming to spend the weekend with her. While she is engulfed with the running of the park and preparing for the release of a genetically engineered hybrid dinosaur called the Indominus Rex, the kids go off to enjoy the rides/ attractions (AKA put themselves in peril). When there is some concern about the Indominus Rex, Clair reluctantly involved Owen, played by Chris Pratt, who is on the island studying and training Velociraptor.  As this is a Jurassic Park movie, things do not go according to plan and the Indominus Rex escapes and goes on a rampage. 
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This movie hit all of the bits that I love in a family friendly action movie. It has science which calls to my younger self; dinosaurs which are just plain awesome; good interplay and chemistry between the adults leads with the guy being strong, capable, but also having a bit of rogue flair; changing types of action sequences; being well paced; and having thing get destroyed.
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With this movie, I have officially decided that I am a HUGH Chris Pratt fan. I think that he has emerged as a fun action hero and I look forward to crushing on him for years to come. He has the acting ability and charisma that makes him a joy to watch. Bruce Dallas Howard is good as Clare although at times I get tired of her same facial expressions. The supporting cast was very good and although there is no real character fleshing out or development, I do not go to this type of blockbuster for character development. I go for a fun experience that I want to enjoy again and again. The cast is rounded out with Vincent D'Onofrio as Hoskins, a military man who wants to use the raptors as soldiers; Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus who play control workers and add some comedy; Irrfan Khan who plays Simon Masrrani the billionaire owner of the park who wants to scare the kids with the new dinosaur; and BD Wong who plays Dr. Henry Wu, the only returning cast member from Jurassic Park and the doctor in charge of creating the dinosaurs.
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I would recommend this movie to most people but if you are not someone who is able to suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the journey this movie is not for you. It puts the effort into making itself an enjoyable movie, gives you enough plot to keep it going, throws in some family drama (which isn't really necessary and could have been left out), and pulls you along. It is one of my favorite movies so far this year.
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I liked the combination of CGI and animatronics to create there dinosaurs. And it managed to not make it distracting which is one of my biggest gripes about CGI. It needs to be used in a way that blends in with the movie and you believe what is happening, not pull me out of the experience. Although there were some moments of close up fighting scenes (which I don't like) there was a lot of scope shots to balance it out, this showed the scope of the island, the part, and the dinosaurs. It was an all around solid movie and fun time. I cant wait to go see if it holds up to another viewing!

My Rating: 3+

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Furious Seven (2015): Review

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I have been looking forward to the newest installment of The Fast and The Furious franchise and if you know me you will know why. I love crappy, big budget, actions movies with lots of flashiness, explosions, chases, and fights. Going into Furious Seven, I was expecting it to be on par with the more recent installments and I am happy to say that it satisfied me and met my expectations. That being said, it is no way an award winner but it is what I have come to expect from these movies which have been getting more and more preposterous as the series has gone on.
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Furious Seven continues a few years after the end of Fast & Furious 6. Dom, played by Vin Diesel, is trying to help Letty, played by Michelle Rodriquez, get her memoires back now they he knows that she is not actually dead but she doesn't remember anything from their life together.  Brian, played by Paul Walker, is having difficulty settling into a normal life as a father with his wife, and Dom's sister Mia, played by Jordana Brewster and small son.  Everyone is drawn back into danger when Deckard Shaw, played by Jason Statham, decides he is going to hunt down Dom due to his little brother being the villain in Fast & Furious 6 and him not being to happy that Dom and crew put the beat down on him. As shown in the teaser in 6 a member of Dom's crew was killed in Tokyo as  warning to Dom. As Dom is hunted by Shaw, Mr. Nobody, played by Kurt Russell, offers Dom a deal with if he saves a hacker names Ramsey, played by Nathalie Emmaunuel, who has developed a program which can find anyone in the world by hacking electronic devices, he will allow Dom to use it to find Shaw.  Also back in the movie are Roman, played by Tyrese, the wise cracking sidekick of Brian from 2 Fast 2 Furious; Tej, played by Ludacris a car tech guy also first appearing in 2 Fast 2 Furious; and Agent Hobbs, played by The Rock, originally appearing in Fast Five.
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Like I said this movie is basically what you have come to expect, and many of us love about The Fast and the Furious movies.  There are amazing cars driving really fast and usually getting destroyed in the process. There are ridiculous stunts and action scenarios that continue to be absolutely over the top but are fun if you can suspend the fact that there is no way that they would even, and I mean ever, be able to actually happen. There is bad and over the top acting from everyone involved and the reduction of many of them to their caricatured main traits and over emphasized emotion laid on thick. There are an abundance of cheesy one liner. There are scantily clad females that are only their for eye candy and this movie has a large amount of ass shots that I could have done without but that they guys will enjoy. The male actors are getting a bit older but still have some strut to them and I have to agree with my cousin that Tyrese continues to be one attractive piece of man candy.
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The one thing about this movie that makes it different from the previous ones in the series is that as many of you know Paul Walker died in a car accident in the middle of filming so both of his brothers were used to finish his role. There are moments where because I know that there were replacements for him that I could tell that was why it was filmed the way it was, with his face in shadows, profiles, or quick personal shots. I think that they did a great job of making it work and it wasn't too distracting or noticeable. The sap factors is kicked into overdrive at the end of the movie.
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I do not think it necessary to say who should go and see this movie due to it being the seventh installment and you know whether you are a fan of them or not but I will say that it was worth seeing in IMAX and this is the type of movie that I think IMAX works really well for.
I have to finish by complaining that this movie as well as a lot of action movies are continuing to have close up/ choppy actions sequences that annoy the crap out of me. I like to see what is happening with the whole sequence not just jump around with editing, in this movie they even did this with the cars chases.

My Rating: 2

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey (2015): Review

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Last night I went and saw the movie of the weekend Fifty Shades of Grey, which is based off the best selling E.L. James book of the same name. The fact that I didn't need to look up her names shows how much of a cultural phenomenon this books is. Going in I was trying not to get my hopes up too much as I didn't want to be disappointed but I am pleased to saw it wasn't that bad.  I can tell that a lot of effort was put into making this movie and they took an artsy approach to the graphic sex scenes and yes this movie pushes the boundaries of an R rated movie with the sexual content, but it really has to with how the book that it is based on popularized erotic literature into the main stream and because its the poster book for  "mommy porn."
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Anyway for those of you who don't know, Fifty Shades of Grey follows Anastasia (Ana) Steele, played by Dakota Johnson, is a young woman graduating from college who is roped into meeting and interviewing the young, mysterious, billionaire Christian Grey, played by Jamie Dornan. They have an instant attraction which draws Ana to him but he has dark side that she doesn't understand but wants to know about. He is a dominant and is interested in having Ana as his submissive. I could go into detail about the dynamics of their relationship but I know many people are just paying enough attention to it to get drawn in and see the sex scenes which come about as Christian is trying to convince and show Ana about his world of BDSM and get her to agree to agree to his sexual terms. 
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I think that overall the movie did a pretty good job of bring the book to screen but there are a lot of auxiliary things that people who haven't read the book wont get but that do not really mean much to the central storyline. It is backstory and secondary characters but as this movie is about Ana and Christian its not a big deal. The plot is pretty simple and basically just there to move the story ahead and get to the sex.  The story is more relevant in the second and third Fifty Shades books as book one is mainly set up of their relationship. I know for many the end of the movie is unsatisfying as it is setting up for the continuation of the trilogy and there were many disappointed groans from the women in the screening I attended when it ended.
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One of the big things I was worried about going into this movie where Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan cast as Ana and Christian. I was not one who had a specific actors who I wanted to have play these characters and I thought and still think that Johnson fit the character of Ana it was Dornan as Christian. In the books he is described as the most handsomest of beautiful men and although Dornan is hot with my previous experience of him he was always the scruffy hot guy not the OMG he is so handsome guy. I had fun with the #notmychristian twitter campaign because of this. After seeing the movie, I still think that a better actors could have been chosen for Christian but he did an alright job. My main problem with these two in this movie was not them independently, when the focus was just on one of them they did good, it was on their connection as a couple. It didn't really seem like they connected well with each other and I didn't see the emotional interplay between them that I was really hoping for, this disappointment was added to because I did like them as the characters when they were on screen solo (solo shots). This might also be why in the film there was a lot of back and forth camera work instead of looking at both of them together. If you aren't really paying attention I don't think this is that noticeable but as for me I like to see how they could emotionally connect I was disappointed.
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I am sure that this is a movie that everyone knows whether they want to see it or not but for me it was really weird watch two naked actors on screen essentially having soft core sex on screen in a theatre screening room with a bunch of other people sitting around me. It is just weird, the movie goer in me kept thinking that they could have easily adapted the scenes to hint at sex and not ruined the story or movie. I don't think it is necessary to try and push the envelope with movies and what is shown on screen. If I want to watch porn I will watch porn, and I don't need a long movie with drawn out pauses/storylines to get me there. I watch a movie for the story, being drawn into the story, and entertainment factor. Yes I will see the other Fifty Shades movies when then come out as I have a feeling this will be a huge hit but I really hope other movies don't just go for sex factor to try and get people to watch them.

My Rating: 2-

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Jupiter Ascending (2015): Review

The main thought that I had throughout watching this movie was that it tried really hard to be a great space odyssey but it never really made it there. It wasn't as bad as I feared it but it was just too ambitious to really be able to pull off. That being said it did keep my interest throughout but I just wish it wasn't as full on stupid space since info that means nothing to anyone. There is a lot going on and lots of information being rattled off, and I really wish that these types of movies would stop putting other languages with subtitles that I have to read (distracting) and stop with all the space lingo mumbo jumbo. It felt like I was trying to just figure out what everything meant and part of why I want to see it again it to try and make sense of the stupid terms that don't really fit or add anything to the movie. When a movie is pushing the grandioseness of the scope adding all of these terms that don't mean anything to anyone just gums up the works and makes it bad when things don't follow together.

This movie stars Mila Kunis as Jupiter Jones, a woman without a real purpose in her life, who's genes are an exact match for a deceased space queen.  Due to being this genetic reincarnation she is entitled to take her inheritance which is the earth. This is an issue, because of the three siblings who were the children of her old self and are all battling for power and they all want to use her for their own devices.  Jupiter is found and then protected by Channing Tatum's Caine Wise, a splice ex-soldier who is a cross between a human and wolf. Jupiter is na├»ve and overwhelmed, while Caine is conflicted and set to protect her. She is drawn into an Odyssey of being drawn into different locations and traps when all she wants it to go home.
Like I said this movie has a lot of information and stuff happening, the scope was just so big and the information too much, but if you can just let that go and it is easy enough to follow. She doesn't know what is going on, is being manipulated by those around her for their own purposes (she is extremely gullible and at time I struggle to see how she didn't see some of it coming) and Caine is trying to be able to save her (will he be able to get there time and again in the nick of time?).  They throw in the obligatory romance between the two but there is no real build up to this and falls short for me. Now that I am thinking about it, if Mila Kumis could have been a better presence on screen, I would have easily forgiven more of al the nonsense going on because the movie was somewhat entertaining if overambitious and is the type of blockbuster movie that I forgive for its faults if I care about the main actors, but I did really care at all about her portrayal of Jupiter. 
For the most part, I enjoyed the overall casting and interpreations the characters (I liked a lot of the bit supporting characters). The characters where not that developed and there were way too many weird animal alien creatures, but the actors did well with them. Like I said the big failure of this movie was that it was over ambitious and wasn't able to really pull it together. If they would have stopped trying to make it all make sense, added a bit more fun (a la Guardians of the Galaxy), and just went with the ridiculousness instead of trying to make it all really come together it would have been better.
There wasn't really anything truly horrible about this movie but it does fall way short of the mark which it needed to be in order to be good. It is worth filling time if you like these types of movies but it not anything that must be seen.

My Rating: 1+