Bro-Reviews: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

More a Jurassic World theme park ride than a movie.

Back in 2015, the arrival of “Jurassic World” was a historic one. It had been nearly a decade and a half since the much maligned “Jurassic Park 3”, and eager audiences paid their hard earned dollar in droves in en route to the largest opening weekend of all time (for 6 months) and one of the highest opening weekends of all time. With the dinosaurs once again becoming a money printer for the studio, a sequel was greenlit quickly, and three years since the world welcomed its return, the park has reopened once again for “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”

Three years after the events of “Jurassic: World”, a group of mercenaries funded by the estate of John Hammond’s former partner, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), has extracted remains from Isla Nublar, the park’s abandoned island,  despite push-back from the US Government and mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). The park’s former operations manager, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), is contacted by Lockwood’s aide, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), to partake in a mission to relocate the remaining dinosaurs to a new sanctuary, including the velociraptor Blue. Despite initial rejection, Claire’s former flame and velociraptor trainer, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), partakes in the mission as well. The two discover the Lockwood estate’s plans are not the virtuous mission it was pitched as, and must find a way to stop the estate from taking the cloning of the extinct creatures to a point of no return. 

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” isn’t so much a movie as it is a theme park ride, much like one you’d see at the Universal Studios resort. Though it gets off to a slow start after its action packed opening, the film’s first act is a non-stop action thrill ride filled to the brim with scientific impossibilities, explosions, chases, and most importantly, dinosaurs. This undoubtedly is the high point of the movie, and once the film leaves the self titled “Fallen Kingdom”, it somehow devolves into even more preposterous territory.

merlin_139639287_cf6a5ec4-c6d5-41bb-a299-e6e4adc730fe-articleLarge
Chris Pratt in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”

The second and third acts of “Fallen Kingdom” may take place mostly on the Lockwood estate, but attempt to tackle the similar issues its predecessor dealt with, namely the introduction of a new super dinosaur that could one day be used not only as an attraction, but a weapon. There’s a tinge of Universal’s classic monster horror films in there with the dinosaurs lurking within the creepy, tucked away estate in Northern California, but it’s much too silly to truly generate scares for anyone over the age of 8 years old. Other interesting theories and conflicts arise such as the endangered species and cloning dilemmas, along with asking the question of if the creators and trainers of such clones are just as responsible as the ones who are selling and exploiting the creatures, but they’re half baked ideas that are largely forgotten for humans versus dinosaurs al la “Home Alone” style. 

Chris Pratt seems to be using these films as an audition tape to become the next Indiana Jones, and while a capable action star with presence, still hasn’t grown much as an actor. Bryce Dallas Howard manages to be more of a force than a damsel in distress in the last film, but her idealism of the extinct creatures despite evidence proving they should remain extinct is beyond eye rolling. The mysterious child of the Lockwood estate, played by Isabella Sermon, never rises above annoying kid in movie status, while Rafe Spall, Toby Jones, and Ted Levine all sleepwalk through their villainous roles. Goldblum barely gets out of his chair at a senate hearing to collect a paycheck, while James Cromwell would like you to hold his beer as he barely gets out of bed for his. 

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” isn’t necessarily a let down, but a sequel made because of a surging of 90s nostalgia that has yet to die down. With the heat of the summer upon us, audiences will look to “Fallen Kingdom” as an escape for summer pop-corn fun, which it is more then capable of being. But for a film that actually raises interesting questions that remain pertinent to today’s society, it’s a shame “Fallen Kingdom” plays it relatively safe and settles for dumb summer fun. 

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars. Pay low matinée price.

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, B.D. Wong, Isabella Sermon, Geraldine Chaplin, and Jeff Goldblum. It is in theaters now.

Advertisements

Bro-Reviews: Incredibles 2

Not so incredible.

It’s been nearly a decade and a half since the release of “The Incredibles”, one of Pixar’s top films according to most. While some may argue the film told the story it wanted to tell and wrapped it up nicely, many craved for a sequel. It didn’t help that other Pixar films also got overdue sequels in the meantime, such as “Monsters University”, the prequel to “Monster’s Inc.”, “Finding Dory”, the sequel to “Finding Nemo”, and “Toy Story 3”, the third film in the beloved franchise and the one that started it all for Pixar. Brad Bird, the director of the first “Incredibles”, heard the fans’ cries for a sequel, and over a decade later, Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, Dash, Violet, Jack Jack, Edna Mode, and Frozone have all found their super suits for one last shot at superhero glory in “Incredibles 2.”

“Incredibles 2” picks up right where the first film ended, with the Parrs/ Incredibles doing battle with “The Underminer”. After a lengthy battle that causes damage to the city, the Parrs/ Incredibles and all other Supers are forced to adhere to their secret identities due to the authority’s concern over the level of damage caused. However, Bob/ Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson), Helen/ Elastigirl (voiced by Helen Hunt), and Lucius Best/ Frozone (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) are approached by Wisnton Deavor (voiced by Bob Odenkirk), the owner of telecommunications company and super hero fanatic who wants to bring supers back into the spotlight under a positive image. With Deavor suggesting Elastigirl should be the first to test his strategy and fight crime, Bob finds himself struggling with the day to day duties of being a father to his daughter Violet (voiced by Sarah Vowell), his son Dash (voiced by Huck Milner), and infant son Jack Jack (voiced by Eli Fucile), all the while a new nemesis arises, “The Screenslaver”.

At this point, there is very little in the way of slowing down the Pixar machine. Pixar’s animation continues to be the envy of all animation studios, as “Incredibles 2” features their trademark crisp, clear, and colorful animation. One of the more impressive feats in the animation in this film is just how busy and action packed it all is. For a studio that has built its reputation on family friendly vehicles, one could mistake “Incredibles 2” for an animated version of Marvel’s “Fantastic Four” property, as it’s definitely the most violent and action oriented Pixar film to date. This should please most audiences, and it’s worth noting just how high of a bar Pixar has set the animation standard with its latest money printer.

i2-rgb-z102_452_cs_pub.pub16.321_wide-6b5c9ab161588b41391ee2f443863f3f22c44fc4-s900-c85
Helen Hunt, Eli Fucile, and Craig T. Nelson in “Incredibles 2”.

The voice cast does an excellent job once again. Helen Hunt’s southern twang lends itself incredibly well to Elastigirl, as she is a standout in the film. Craig T. Nelson also gets mileage out of playing an exhausted father dealing with the pitfalls of being a stay at home parent, a welcome change from the traditional family roles we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in film. Veteran actors Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener, who voices Deavor’s technologically gifted sister, Evelyn, also do a fine job in their roles as a dynamic brother and sister business duo. Sarah Vowell’s Violet stands out of the Parr’s/ Incredible’s children as an angsty, moody teenager dealing with the perils of adolescence, but Jack Jack does get his due in the film as well.

Unfortunately, despite the near decade and a half wait for the film, “Incredibles 2” comes up disappointingly short. Whereas the first “Incredibles” told the story of a family finally coming together and accepting their differences (*along with a harrowing premonition of how fanatic/ fanboy culture will invade society), “Incredibles 2” feels like a sequel made to cash in, similar to Pixar’s weaker films such as the “Cars” follow-ups. The film definitely has the attitude of “bigger is better”, and while its action sequences are impressive and at first thrilling, they are far too long and lose steam after a while. A subplot involving other, less notable Supers goes nowhere, and the film’s twist is beyond predictable. Other than the film’s gender norms reversal, there isn’t anything that new or inventive here, a disappointingly hallow result considering Pixar’s impressive track record.

While “Incredibles 2” has its moments, the near decade and a half follow up to the first film fails to meet expectations. Despite a great voice cast and expert animation, “Incredibles 2” suffers from the dreaded disease known as “sequelitis”, as the filmmakers have forgone a gripping story in favor of prolonged action sequences that lose your attention they longer they drag on. Despite its titular name, “Incredibles 2” is far from incredible.

Rating: 2.5/4 stars. Pay low matinée price.

“Incredibles 2” stars Craig T. Nelson, Helen Hunt, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Eli Fucile, Samuel L. Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, and Brad Bird. It is in theaters now.

Bro-Reviews: Hereditary

The horrors of family.

Every year there seems to be a darling film that arises from the festival circuit. 2018’s film festival darling was “Hereditary”, a midnight screening at the Sundance Film Festival that was met with rave reviews. Some have even gone as far to say it’s the scariest movie of all time, but does the film live up to the hype it received back in the winter? 

“Hereditary” sees Annie Graham (Toni Collette), a diorama artist, grieving from the loss of her mother, a private woman who seems to have been very popular within the community. After her death, Annie’s family, consisting of husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne), son Peter (Alex Wolff) and daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro), begin to experience a series of strange behavioral changes and freak occurrences. This leads Annie to investigate the meaning behind these occurrences and their relation to her mother’s death. 

While maybe not “the scariest movie ever” as the hype would have you believe, “Hereditary” is the scariest movie to be released in quite some time. This is thanks in part due to Ari Aster, making his feature film directorial debut, and his ability to create tension throughout the film. The films use of quiet and the dark creates such tension, leaving you gripping your chair’s arms and at the edge of your seat. Tension also undoubtedly arises from the wide arrange of emotions the Graham family is experiencing, as their drama builds to the point of near explosion numerous times. The family’s off putting mannerisms also helps build a sense of uneasiness throughout, particularly Milly Shapiro, whose turn as Charlie is nothing short of captivating.

One other aspect of ”Hereditary” that perhaps has resonated with people most is the film’s imagery. The film boasts some of the creepiest, goriest imagery throughout, especially towards its hellish climax. Some may not find the film’s use of such imagery scary, but it undoubtedly will creep back into your mind as you attempt to sleep and will keep you awake all night. 

ered5
Toni Collette in “Hereditary”.

Toni Collette gives an awards worthy turn as Annie, as her emotional depth is unlike one we’ve seen in art house horror. Gabriel Byrne gets plenty of mileage out of a seemingly thankless straight man role, Ann Dowd is a scene stealer as a friend of the family, and Alex Wol shows he’s a star in the making coming off the success of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”. 

Like all horror movies, however, there will be those who have a bone to pick. The strange occurrences surrounding the family will leave plenty asking why don’t they notice something that is obviously peculiar. The film’s climax will have some asking why would you do that/ why wouldn’t they do this instead, but these are tropes that we should be accustomed to and prevent you from being in the moment. If you are able to be in the moment with these characters, you along with the characters of “Hereditary” will leave the theater scarred in fashion or another.

“Hereditary” is an art house horror masterpiece. Its use of familiar horror elements builds a sense of terrifying for the unknown that will leave you horrified and regretting your curiosity. It may not scare all and live up to the hype of “scariest movie ever”, but “Hereditary” will frighten you and leave you restlessly disturbed.

Rating: 3/4 stars. Pay full price.

“Hereditary” stars Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, and Ann Dowd. It is in theaters now.