Fallen Kingdom / Review

Jurassic World was a triumphant return back to the big screen for the Jurassic Park franchise, after a 14 year hiatus since Jurassic Park 3JW received not only glowing reviews, but took in a staggering $1.6bn at the box office, so no pressure on the sequel….

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, directed by J.A. Bayona, brings back our leading duo Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) & Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), as they return to Isla Nublar, to coordinate a rescue mission lead by Benjamin Lockwood, the former business partner of John Hammond, o save our reptilian inhabitants from a volcanic fate.

jurassic-world-fallen-kingdom-cover_1528309639072

Essentially, the movie is what you expect from a huge Summer blockbuster, it’s an impressive spectacle, dazzling CGI, hugely thrilling and comedic banter. But it does fail with its story, as the plot regresses back to the usual weaponized dinosaurs arch we have already seen.

The chemistry between our leads is far more cohesive here, their interactions feel less forced than it did in JW, FK gives them far more to do, and they break out of the typecasts they had in the first one. Claire is far more interesting as the head of a Dinosaur conservation group, rather than the dull, cold, career focused executive. The film also makes firm point regarding the boots she now wears, after the heels debacle from the last film!  They are joined on their adventure by fellow conservation staff members’ Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda), a sassy and sharp witted veterinarian, and Franklin Webb (Justice Smith), the systems analyst, his character does grate a lot, as he is pretty much reduced to the petrified screaming comic relief, though he does tone it down over the course of the movie, Zia is far more tolerable as a character.

690359-jurassic-world-2

The dinosaurs are of course the reason why we’re here! Blue, the surviving member of Owen’s raptor squad is back, and has a leading role! The film can be split into 2, the island rescue, and back at the Lockwood mansion. The island scenes are amazing to watch, the CGI is as always stunning, and the inevitable fate of the island does lead to a frankly very emotional scene as our heroes make their escape. The big gun for this film is another hybrid creation, the Indoraptor, the cross between the Indominus Rex from JW, and a raptor. It of course escapes, and stalks our protagonists as they attempt to stop the plans of our villain. In all honestly, the Indoraptor does not feel like anything special, and still gets outshone by the T-Rex. Although Blue is still an enjoyable addition to the Jurassic clan, it has rather subdued the wicked nature of the deadly Velociraptors from movies past, now seeming more like a charming sidekick, than its previous iterations.

MV5BODUzMzNiMTEtNzE3Yi00NDkxLTkxNzctN2ZlOTZhMjY5ZTU2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjg3MzQ4ODE@._V1_SY864_SX1776_AL_

The villain of the story is where things start to fall apart, who is simply a generic suit who just wants to get rich quick. It’s pretty obvious from the start who is the underlying antagonist, and it really does hurt the plot. While it is a fresh change to take the adventure away from the island setting, the weaponized dinosaurs storyline still feels ridiculous, in a film containing dinosaurs! The final 3rd of the does’ drag on for a tad too long, as our heroes are stalked through the mansion by the genetic raptor, if could have been concluded far more swiftly. There is also a ridiculous twist regarding the granddaughter of the mansion, which is utterly brushed over by the characters, and feels like a contrived plot device for the films end. The Mosasaurus, the gigantic ocean beast, which featured in the trailers, was seriously underused.

dims

Fallen Kingdom does feel far more unique than its predecessor, JW felt like a simple remake of the original JP, whereas FK stands alone far better, with a far more warming duo and change of scenery. It’s not an outstanding outing, but fans of the last film will have no reason to not enjoy this!

Guardians Vol. 2, Good, Not Great

Back in 2014, when Guardians of the Galaxy dropped into cinemas, there was little expectation and much skepticism. Compared to established heroes like Ironman, Thor and Captain America,  GOTG was a very niche franchise. With a small fan base, and Chris Pratt, who up until then, was mostly known for his comedic shenanigans in the sit-com Parks & Recs, taking the lead role in a Hollywood blockbuster. The film was a huge risk, were Marvel getting too arrogant? Well they proved the doubters wrong, GOTG proved to be a resounding success, the film brought a new level of humour and fun not seen in previous MCU entries, and it stands 5th in the list of box office takings for all Marvel releases. Can the sequel, titled GOTG :Volume 2 match the magic and charm that the original encapsulated so well?

GuardiansVol25897cc290546d.0
Avengers……Assemble!

Volume 2, takes place soon after our heroes first adventure, as we re-join the antics of Peter Quill AKA Starlord (Chris Pratt), the feisty Gamara (Zoe Saldana), the wise cracking Rocket (Bradley Cooper), deadpan Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and the adorable Baby Groot (Vin Diesel)! With their new found fame, the team are offered more high profile missions & with increasing rewards, but after being caught attempting to hustle one of their clients, the team end up on the run, only to be saved by a mysterious man, named Ego (Kurt Russell) who claims to be the long lost father of Quill, and help him fulfill his true potential.

Where the first movie excelled in was the chemistry between the members of our ragtag team, and it’s great to say that the same level of cohesion remains with our squad. If anything, the jokes and quips are even better than the first, and the film definitely has more laughs (Trash Panda!) than the first movie! The bickering between Quill & Rocket is constantly dropping zingers, and the writers have used the traits of Drax in order to write in several well placed jokes!

v0
I…AM….GROOT!!

The introduction of Baby Groot was a wonderful addiction,  not only is he an adorable member of the group, Baby Groot also has several moments where he is involved in key parts of the story, he’s not only there for selling merchandise!

In my opinion, the most enjoyable aspect of Volume 2 is the development of the bonds between certain characters; there are several relationships that are strengthened over the course of their adventure. You have the central arc of Peter reacquainting himself with his father, Ego. But there are several characters who get a lot more depth to their persona. The aggressive vendetta that Nebula (Karen Gilan)  has with her sister, Gamora is given some more time, and Nebula comes across somewhat sympathetic, with the audience having a reason to see why she is so spiteful.

a18s1282441493542604
Yondu shines bright in Volume 2

Yondu (Micheal Rooker), also returns, but now is a disgraced member of the Ravagers, after he is exiled. He and Rocket share plenty of screen time together,  and create a great camaraderie with each other, in turn, they learn that they may not be so different after all. Yondu has the most development here, and his progression as a character is really padded out,  he is probably the stand out character in the flick!

Unfortunately, the movie, when compared to Volume 1, is not anywhere near as great. The story-line regarding Peter & Ego does seem to go on for a bit too long. It is pretty predictable where it will all end up, as the signs are seen pretty early on. Although the story line does wrap up Peter’s origin. It still feels pretty underwhelming to say the least. The majority of the movie takes place on Ego’s planet, where a bit of space travel would have been more interesting to see.

The secondary villain, Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) the snobby leader of the people of Sovereign, a race of beings with a huge superiority complex. First appears to be a real threat. But she disappears for most of the movie, only to show up again near the finale. It’s a shame we didn’t see more of her and her people, as their disdainful nature was good fun to watch!

null
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2..Drax (Dave Bautista)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2017

Drax is also left on the sidelines , his sheer strength is never fully utilised. He is probably the best when it comes to the one liners, but regarding the action, he rarely has any scenes, apart from the opening credits. Drax is a mountain of muscle, but he spends most of the movie in conversation with Ego’s assistant, Mantis.

Volume 2 may not be as strong as Volume 1, and it does have a few flaws to contend with. But it’s another solid entry into the ever-expanding MCU. The film does go a lot more into our characters and their pasts, which give the movie an emotional attachment. It’s also just as hilarious as the original, which fans will savior! Oh, and make sure to hang back for FOUR post credit scenes! Their spoiling us now…..

 

Passengers : Style over Substance

Fortunately, we have seen a revival of good space ferrying films, some of my favorites of recent years have been Interstellar and The Martian, so I was highly anticipating watching Passengers with the cross genre between Romance and Science Fiction.

Set on the self-navigated spaceship Avalon, 5000 people are travelling in hibernation pods to start a new life on the colony Homebound 2. The trip should take 120 years but due to an unexplained jolt in space, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and then Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) are awoken 30 years too early. The story revolves around Jim and Aurora accepting their 90-year journey together forming a deep and meaningful bond. However, not all is quite what is seems when a series of supposed malfunctions put the lives of the 5000 unconscious human beings under threat, and it’s up to the only human passengers, Jim and Aurora to save the day. There is a short guest appearance from Laurence Fishburne which keeps the film ticking along, but the most notable performance goes to the Android bartender Arthur (Michael Sheen).

91736335795dfab2_mcdpass_ec143_h

The overall premise of the film is compelling, but the first 30 minutes of the film is a disappointment mostly due to Chris Pratt’s lacklustre performance, as he tries desperately to illustrate the highs and lows of living alone. From waking from his chamber, Jim tries to make the most of his unfortunate circumstances and turns his attention to the delights of the ship including holographic dance offs to indoor space basketball. This quickly dissipates into Jim becoming depressed knowing he would never speak to another human being again. It reminded me a little of the loneliness portrayed by Tom Hanks in Castaway, a forlorn soul longing for human contact becoming more disheveled in appearance as the days go on. However, Chris Pratt is no Tom Hanks nor can he shine in stand alone scenes.

passengers-movie-2016-images-pratt-lawrence

The story becomes a lot more watchable when Aurora steps into the picture. Jennifer Lawrence stuns in every film, not only visually, but her wit, charisma and has a good backstory to her character. As a writer, Aurora start to narrate the story of her life on board the starship, telling the viewers she wanted to travel to Homebound 2 to be the only writer  on ‘overrated Earth’ to share the experiences of colonist life. Her character has purpose, momentum and sass, in stark comparison to Jim’s weak performance and lack of character development. There is some chemistry between the two main leads, but you quickly feel that the plot was designed to showcase two beautiful individuals on screen together.

PASSENGERS

The saving grace of this film is the android bartender Arthur. Michael Sheen effortlessly conveys a witty and heartfelt performance still maintaining mechanical expressions, which is a difficult feat in itself. Even Michael Sheen said it was hard to ’make drinks and not look down’. I especially loved how Arthur had a human body and electronic legs to remind the audience that Arthur is a part of the Ship and Jim and Aurora are really alone.  The film also uses Arthur as prop to become a sounding board to the main characters, which allows the film to explore the depths and questionable ethics the characters must face, being the only conscious human beings in space.

passengers-movie-gallery-6

Overall this film fails to be a cutting edge science fiction debut or memorable romantic comedy. I think the film’s greatest strength was the notion that perhaps one day that we will be able to travel in space cryogenic-ally frozen, but for now as the film likes to remind us, that we are simply passengers on this journey, and its far better to be happy to accept our surrounding than long for a life that’s unobtainable. Would I see this film again, no, but if you want to sit and watch two beautiful stars for 2 hours then by all means watch this film.

 

‘The Magnificent 7’ Review

Last time Denzel Washington teamed up with director Antoine Fuqua, we were treated to the wonderfully thrilling ‘The Equalizer’ in 2014. Can they work that magic again in the remake of this 60s classic?

The story follows a group of gunslingers who take it upon themselves to protect a town from a corrupt businessmen. As with any ensemble film, its all down to the strength of the cast. The leader of the 7, is played by Washington. He is supported by a strong team, including Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio & Byung-Hun Lee. The diversity of the 7 also makes a nice change, from American, Mexican to Korean!

1471738958_1462202685_9de005663e

The films strength is most definitely any of the numerous scene involving stand offs. As with any Western, you’re bound to get a few stand off between the good & bad guys, and this film does this extremely well. Bringing back shades of ‘The Equalizer’! The shoot out scenes are choreographed well, and the final stand off in the town is thoroughly enjoyable to watch! Peter Sarsgaard does a credible performance in making us look forward to his inevitable downfall! The villain is usually where most films can drop the ball, but it does a sound job is creating a hateful antagonist.magnificent-seven-2016-trailer-denzel-washington

At more than 2 hours in run time, the film does tend to drag at times. The initial hour or so is pretty leisurely in setting things up, and some of the 7 are introduced in a swift manner. It would have been nicer to see more background to some of the 7, rather than scenes of travelling or small talk! The final showdown does seem to go on for a bit too long, you feel like some of it could have been cut from the final take.

I’ve not seen the original, so I can’t really make a direct comparison to it! The film delivers an action packed, raucous adventure. The cast worked together smoothly, and the gun fights rack up the excitement! The film doesn’t offer anything new, so don’t expect any dramatic story lines or shocking plot twists. With all that in mind, you’ll thoroughly enjoy the show!

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑