JURASSIC WORLD REVIEW

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Revisiting the monster hit that tore up the box office and . . . Meh.

I loved the original. An iconic piece of film making that I have lost many a Sunday afternoon watching again and again.

It was always going to be hard not to draw comparisons. BUT this was just about en par with the misfire that was Jurassic Park III.

A new theme park is built on the original site of Jurassic Park. Everything is going well until the park’s newest attraction, a genetically modified giant stealth killing machine, escapes containment and goes on a killing spree.

Apart from unintentionally sparking a race quibble with an inappropriately named dinosaur, the film was flawed from the get go. You didn’t know about the little race row? Allow Mobeen and Lamboo to educate you . . .

It wasn’t all bad. I was just a little disappointed. The opening didn’t get things going. Of course, the Jurassic films always had that slow burning build up before the dinos would inevitably break free or unleash mayhem.

BUT it didn’t help that the characters were so cliched and uninteresting. Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins’ divorce stricken brothers were irritating beyond relief.

Judy Greer was reduced to another minor and meaningless supporting role as their mum. However, her only contribution; the best line of the film; “Remember. If something chases you. RUN!”

Chris Pratt. The man of the hour. Was pretty much . . . Himself. Normally, his spiel works BUT his smooth talking snappy one liners didn’t really deliver this time around.

Is the only role the guy can play? Star Lord as a raptor handler should have been a winner. BUT it just didn’t do it for me.

He fared better as the film went on. Especially when it all kicked off. Stepping up and actually trying to be a different character.

The lovely Bryce Dallas Howard was very good as the workaholic aunt hell bent on making Jurassic World a money making business.

It shouldn’t have worked but I liked how she managed to evade dinosaurs, fight raptors and chase after her nephews . . . in heels.

Some of the cornier exchanges were a bit hit and miss BUT Howard and Pratt’s chemistry saw it through.

Vincent D’Onofrio was wasted as Hoskins. He did his best BUT it’s all been done to death with Ingen. It really was the same old predictable guff. We had all the backstabbing and hidden agendas in The Lost World. Dull.

Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi) may have channelled his inner John Hammond with the eccentric millionaire Masrani BUT he did my head in.

And for some reason, he was the only helicopter pilot on the whole island. Seriously? All those soldiers, weapons and dinosaurs. No pilots. Talk about squeezing pennies.

I feared with the overindulgence of CGI in films these days that the dinos would fail to reach the levels that Stan Winston had delivered. When Jurassic World was first unveiled, the iconic John Williams score blared through the speakers, that excitement from my inner fan boy still buzzed.

BUT once the score had subsided, I realised how rubbish the layout of Jurassic World actually looked. I’m not sure whether writer/director Colin Trevorrow was making a statement at how corporate involvement can ruin every aspect. If so, then fair play. If not, then the set designers need a little talking too. It looked like a cheap Dino Disneyland.

The real stars for me were thankfully the prehistoric predators. And they still stole the show. The animation and special effects were fantastic! The chase sequences were tense, exhilarating and racy. Everything I had hoped for.

And the creepy introduction of a new dino demon picked up massive points. The gene-splicing element certainly made things a lot more interesting. A new intelligent species that hunts for sport. Brilliant.

A simple question about what happened to it’s sibling; a cold stare from Clare (Howard) and I was intrigued . . . “She ate it”.

Every time the Indominus Rex (Terrible name, I know) appeared, I felt that same fear as a little kid when the raptors and T-Rex appeared in JP.

The jungle sabotage sequence was superb. A perfect homage to Aliens. The dino camouflaged in the trees. The mercenaries’ life monitors with their pulses beeping in the background. The inevitable outcome reaching it’s nail biting conclusion.

Funny enough as the dinos were unleashed, the two lads actually improved. They worked together and were nowhere near as annoying as Lex and Tim. Trading bickering for resourcefulness. Redeemed.

Jake Johnson (New Girl) didn’t do too bad as the new ‘Dennis’, I mean, Larry. A mad tech geek that really hasn’t got a clue. He delivered the laughs that Pratt and co failed to.

Trevorrow certainly appealed to the JP fan in me. There were a number of nods and references that made me smile (Mr DNA being a particular highlight). It was great to see B.D Wong return as Dr Henry Wu (Wu who? Come on, you remember him. Thank God. Neither did I).

Composer Michael Giacchino delivered another fantastic soundtrack and took on the reins with aplomb.

The special effects were immense (The pterodactyl attack – Words escape me), the dinosaurs stole the show BUT can we have some better characters?

All the naff one liners and cheesy encounters just made me miss Grant and Malcolm. Hell, even Laura Dern’s ear piercing wailing.

Fun enough effort that falls short of the original.

3/5

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*NEW* PASSENGERS REVIEW *NEW*

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One ride I didn’t expect to enjoy.

Two passengers are awakened 90 years early after a spaceship malfunction en route to a distant colony.

From all the negative press, I was bracing myself for something horrific. A loved up but incredibly naff Gravity rip-off.

Oh no! The opening act was completely different to what I had expected.

For the first 30 to 40 minutes, we had just Chris Pratt. Lost in space. 

After his stellar performance in Guardians of the Galaxy, I was worried that Pratt was becoming a one trick pony. Delivering his usual comedy shtick. BUT he delivered a much more serious turn.

A little slow burning BUT riveting as Jim wandered the vast and empty vessel. His confusion rapidly turning into hysteria as he realised he was the only one awake.

His only companion, a slick and highly entertaining robot bartender. And who better to play the role than Michael bloody Sheen?!

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Even if his attire reminded me of Lloyd from The Shining.

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Don’t worry, it’s not that type of movie. No murderous androids here. 

Sheen was sublime. His rapport with Pratt was brilliant. Desperately searching his bartending database to strike up conversation and offer advice.

As much as you felt for Jim’s frustration and isolation as he came to his wit’s end after a year (A year?!) of playing around with robots, virtual dancing, getting smashed and wondering around the endless hallways naked (Yeah, the ladies will love that), the pace was testing by the hour marker.

And that was the only real issue for me. Don’t worry, lads. We have J-Law in a space bikini (Whaaat?!)

Doomed to travel in space alone. Unable to break into the captain’s quarters after months of trying. Contemplating the end. Jim was truly a man on the verge.

That was until Katniss Aberdeen made her introduction.

Pratt and Lawrence were brilliant. They had fantastic chemistry and were a great duo. Crucial when the film revolves primarily on just two people.

The special effects were pretty impressive as the pair orbited the ship in anti-gravitational body suits, admiring the interstellar landscape. The inevitable sparks flying as the couple inevitably fell for each other.

However, all was not as it seemed. The reasons behind Aurora’s (The lovely Jennifer Lawrence) pod failure made things a little more intriguing and certainly changed the dynamic of the film.

Without spoiling too much, it pondered a surprisingly moral argument. Especially when Aurora discovered the truth. BUT it was never going to be that type of movie either.

Thankfully, the ship’s increasing power surges soon created more noticeable issues than just some robots going haywire and broke the schmaltzy hokum as the pair had only a matter of time to save the ship and its comatose inhabitants from impending doom in the form of a dying star. Yikes.

Pratt and Lawrence’s chemistry smoothed over some of the rougher edges of the film. Most notably, the giant plot holes; if an asteroid belt did that much damage to the ship, why was only one pod disturbed?

Some of you might even laugh at the convenient arrival of Laurence Fishburne’s character (The Matrix) as the sh*t finally hit the fan; “We can’t get through these doors without clearance!” Guess who has and knows exactly what to do? Come on .  . . 

I actually didn’t mind Passengers. The explosions and set pieces did overindulge with the CGI too much by the end with everything getting a little too cartoony for my liking.

The frantic (Though highly watchable) finale tragically ended on such a flat and corny note that it spoiled things a bit. BUT it was better than I expected.

A slow burning romantic sci-fi drama. Just take it with a pinch of salt.

If you’re expecting a hard-hitting thought-provoking sci-fi flick, go watch Arrival. If you want a big, dumb Hollywood sci-fi love story, then give it a go. It ain’t that bad.

3/5 (Just)

*NEW* LIVE BY NIGHT REVIEW *NEW*

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Alright, alright.

The pace may have been a killer and we might have seen it all before BUT Affleck’s crime caper still packs a punch.

A group of Boston-bred gangsters set up shop in balmy Florida during the Prohibition era, facing off against the competition and the Ku Klux Klan.

The opening 20 minutes didn’t mess about. It set up Joe’s (Ben Affleck) past and got straight to business as he worked through the ranks from a petty thief to a bootlegger.

Being a noir nut, I was always going to be a little biased. It helps when some of Affleck’s better works; The Town, Gone Baby Gone (and now Live By Night) are heavily influenced by that very genre.

I’ve been impressed with Affleck’s transformation as a director. A maturity from his 90s blockbuster phase. And yes, I do think he will be a good Batman! Enough of these sad Affleck memes.

It was everything I expected from an Affleck penned gangster flick. I was already ticking noir traits off my imaginary checklist; embittered war veteran (check), disillusioned with the law (check), falling for a girl that can only mean trouble (CHECK! CHECK! CHECK!).

I say Affleck penned. He did have a little help from Dennis Lehane’s crime novel (Thank you @TheMarckoguy). A noir author I intend to read up on. A man that has penned such works as: Shutter Island, Mystic River and The Drop.

I was engrossed in Joe’s game. Playing off the Irish against the Italians in their turf war. Just to get a piece of the action and stay out of the cross-hairs. BUT it wasn’t long before the protagonist had to make a choice.

Always felt that Robert Glenister was a very underrated TV actor. Just watch BBC’s Hustle. I didn’t expect to see him feature as Albert White, the Irish kingpin. He was brilliant. I wish he was in this more. A callous adversary if ever there was one. A ticking time bomb.

The fuse? A woman, of course. Sienna Miller (Foxcatcher) wasn’t in the film as much as I thought. Especially after all the interviews and heavy advertising.

She delivered a good performance as the moxy Emma BUT somehow I think if she had more screen time with that strange Irish accent, she might have overstayed her welcome very quickly.

Brendan Gleeson made a much more memorable impression as Joe’s father. A relief after his dire cameo in Assassin’s Creed (The less we say about that, the better). Sheesh.

Another character I would have been happy to see more of. His fractious relationship with Joe was an interesting angle that wasn’t explored enough. A copper desperate to see his criminal son on the right path.

“So you’re threatening me with people that are more powerful than you? So who am I talkin’ to you for?” Affleck was fantastic. Another powerhouse performance. He looked like a tank with that Bat bulk.

The pace did meander in parts with the middle act taking the biscuit BUT thankfully that was relieved by cracking dialogue, great action pieces and fantastic cinematography.

No, really. Robert Richardson’s cinematography was something else. The sweeping shots across Miami were breathtaking alone.

The car chases were brilliantly shot. It felt like you were in the car with the robbers as they evaded capture. And of course, no gangster flick would be complete without bodies being bullet ridden by Tommy guns.

I was a little disappointed with the female roles. Miller didn’t really come across as a strong femme fatale and Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy) was completely wasted in her role.

The pair had good chemistry BUT there just wasn’t enough drama. Affleck missed an opportunity for sparks to fly when an old friend from Joe’s past crept out of the woodwork. Shame.

At first, I kept wondering why Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon) was reduced to such an unnecessary cameo as the sheriff’s daughter. However, there was an interesting turning point with her character that took me by surprise and allowed the actress her moment to shine. A good performance.

Despite my niggles, Affleck perfectly captured a gritty criminal underworld full of rich and dark characters. Chris Cooper (American Beauty) played the holistic sheriff with aplomb. Happy to turn a blind eye on Joe’s “business affairs”. Appropriately calling him, “The Mayor of Evil”.

The tense encounters with the KKK saved a labouring middle act. The suspense and heated exchanges soon brought me back into the fold. The only problem with a noir is that the end game is always the same.

The fiery final act was worth the wait. Nail biting, gripping and action packed. Even if Affleck gave us umpteen false endings. Seriously, I kept thinking the film had finished. Only for something else to pop up.

A little predictable, long at the tooth BUT tense, gritty and still a bloody good watch.

3/5

*NEW* THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN REVIEW *NEW*

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Not that magnificent BUT still worth a watch. Yee-ha!

Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.

It’s always going to be tough to follow in the footsteps of the iconic 1960 Western classic (When does anything ever beat the original?) BUT thanks to a talented cast and some action packed set pieces, this did just enough to stand on its own two feet.

I was happy to see another Western (NOT penned by Quentin Tarantino) sneak into the busy schedule of endless rom-coms, sci-fi epics and teen blockbusters.

The slow burning opener didn’t build my hopes up. The lacklustre lines, the cliched townspeople, that feeble introduction to a weak and weasley villain Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard – Jarhead). I was reaching for my tomahawk!

BUT thankfully once the mysterious Joe Chisolm wandered into town, my griping was subdued.

I couldn’t think of anybody better to follow in Yul Bryner’s footsteps than Denzel Washington. He was everything you expected. Cool, calculated and somebody you wouldn’t want to mess with.

The initial ‘getting the gang together’ spiel did take a while BUT I didn’t mind watching each member make their introduction into the mix.

Chris Pratt stole the show yet again by being . . . Chris Pratt. He’s no Steve McQueen BUT the card wielding smooth talker delivered enough charm and quick witted one liners to keep things entertaining.

It was good to see Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket) get a meatier role as Jack Horne. If Hodor came from the Deep South, he would probably look like him. “I think that bear’s wearing people clothes”.

Ethan Hawke was brilliant as the decorated veteran Goodnight Robicheaux. I wish more was made out of his partnership with the knife wielding Billy Rocks.

Finally Byung-hun Lee was able to show off those blade skills in something other than a G.I. Joe movie!

The pace dragged like a mule in the desert. BUT once the gang finally warmed up to one another and the uneasy alliance began, I was pleasantly surprised.

The heated tension subsiding into idle banter. Faraday (Pratt) and Vazquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) delivered some of the better exchanges.

I was a little disappointed that the feisty Haley Bennett (Hardcore Henry) was pushed into the background after taking a pivotal role in persuading the men to save the town. BUT this was always going to be about the Seven.

And that was the problem. There were too many characters. Luke Grimes (Fifty Shades of Grey) was completely unnecessary. He brought nothing to the mix. Another cook spoiling the broth.

Martin Sensmeier got lost in the thick of the action after making an impressionable introduction as Red Harvest; the Comanche dispatched on a tribal quest.

Mauro Fiore’s cinematography was breathtaking. He really captured the picturesque landscape. Brilliant.

And one thing can be agreed; Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day/The Equalizer) knows how to deliver a shootout!

The tension was perfectly executed as the gang bumped heads with “the local law enforcement”. Ticking all the boxes for a good ol’ fashioned Western.

I was hoping that Sarsgaard would have been a little stronger. He was such a nothingy villain.

I could get that with an army of a hundred mercenaries and endless wealth that he would be a little cocky BUT every scene he was involved in, he just didn’t do anything for me.

I wasn’t unsettled or hooked. Just bored and wondering what Denzel and that dude from Guardians of the Galaxy were up to?

For those familiar with the original, it stayed very true to the story line (Despite claiming to be a “reboot”). BUT it was still somewhat of a mixed bag.

It delivered enough bang for your buck and really pushed that 12A limit to the max with the violence. The number of flying axes and endless machine gun fodder. The body count was crazy.

BUT with so many characters in play; too many got lost in the mix of endless explosions and casualties, which spoiled things for me.

However, despite a drawn out pace and weak villain, this was still a fun, action packed blockbuster that complimented the original and delivered a thrilling and satisfying finale.

Let’s hope this might trigger a comeback for the Western.

3/5

*NEW* SUICIDE SQUAD REVIEW *NEW*

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Meh. I didn’t hate it. Didn’t love it either.

Based on the DC Comic, the government gives a team of supervillains a chance at redemption. The catch: their mission will probably kill them all.

The first 30 minutes was brilliant. It hit the ground running and got straight to business. 

Director David Ayer’s rapid quick cut editing and mad eclectic soundtrack ticked all the boxes as each dysfunctional member of this demented squad were introduced with their own theme song and back story. 

A little silly BUT it gave off that Guardians of the Galaxy vibe. 

BUT despite doing a good job of flicking through everybody’s origins and getting them into the mix as quickly as possible, more time should have spent on that.

I don’t think newbies or non-DC fans need to know too much going in BUT I was more intrigued in the back stories we were teased with than the Enchantress’ apocalypse plot.

We only had a taster of the warped relationship between Harley Quinn and the Joker in several flashbacks. 

The biggest scene stealer and the one I was looking forward to seeing was (of course) Margot Robbie (Wolf of Wall Street). 

She captured Quinn perfectly. Mental and vexing in one scene, troubled and lost the next. And not too bad on the eye either (What?). She really picked up the pace which tragically lagged.

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Jared Leto, on the other hand, failed to make an impression on me. I was unconvinced by his clips in the trailers. 

I said the same thing for Heath Ledger back in the day BUT he proved me wrong tenfold and became one of the best Jokers I’ve seen.

I mean there were a lot of factors going against Leto. BUT after hearing all the weird method acting rumours and the lengths he went to get into character, he was only in this for 15 minutes. 

He looked the part BUT in one scene, he won me over; the next he infuriated and that laugh! Sounded like he was trying to cough up something stuck in the back of his throat.

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He wasn’t really necessary or needed in this piece as Harley’s origin story was rushed through too quickly.

BUT this wasn’t the Joker’s movie. It was supposed to be about the Suicide Squad. If Leto is to feature in future movies (A BIG IF), then he might still have time to convince BUT right now . . . Meh.

I had to agree with someone who said this movie should have been called Deadshot. We had more exposition and focus on Will Smith’s hitman than we did on anybody else. 

We had his troubled relationship with his daughter. Animosity towards the Caped Crusader.

I thought this could be a different role for Smith BUT he provided his usual spiel and whether it was the shoddy lines in the script, it just didn’t work.

His fractious relationship with Joel Kinnaman’s Flag was the only thing that broke up the monotonous action.

I was impressed with the effects and Deadshot’s shooting skills BUT it soon got very repetitive and very dull.

I haven’t really rated Kinnaman in his Hollywood endeavours (The less we say about Robocop, the better) BUT he was great as Flag. The rock that was weighing down on this batch of parasites.

Jai Courtney’s Boomerang should have been so much better than he was. 

His quips and quirky behaviour had potential BUT wasn’t really explored. All we knew was that he carried cans of beer and a pink unicorn under his jacket. Okayyyyyyy thennnn.

Karen Fukuhara’s Katana was a waste of time. An unnecessary addition to a bloated squad. 

Everyone else had a quick synopsis about their past. All we got was a quick flashback to an irrelevant street brawl to explain why she was late for the party. 

Oh . . . and some guff about her sword bearing the soul of her dead husband?! What? Why? By the end, I didn’t care.

Adam Beach’s (Windtalkers) Slipknot was also another waste. His introduction nothing more than a statement from Flag (and a poor one at that). 

Jay Hernandez’ (Hostel) Diablo just moped around. His personal reasons for not fighting so freakin’ predictable that by the time he wanted to share, I wanted him gone.

Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje (LOST) was another disappointment as Killer Croc. The make-up and effects were brilliant BUT he was in the background far too much. 

Viola Davis (The Help) and Ike Barinholtz (Bad Neighbours) made more memorable turns!

Frankly, Davis wasn’t in this enough BUT thankfully we might be seeing more of her.

The second half ruined the whole thing. It took such a sombre turn and got far too serious with our motley crew all suddenly growing a conscience. 

I didn’t think the team really gelled enough to forge proper bonds and considering how violent and anti-social they were, they decide to look out for each other and become pals in one night? Come on. It hampered the momentum of the piece a treat.

They spent so much of the running time squabbling, escaping or sulking. The relationships were either forced or clichéd. 

The middle act meandered along and when we weren’t subjected to petty feuds, we had a ridiculous end of the world plot that had me in stitches.

The supernatural stuff didn’t work one bit. Cara Delevigne (Paper Towns) did her best as the Enchantress BUT her character was far too weak and the shoddy CGI didn’t do her any favours. 

What was the deal with her demon dance?! She was supposed to be summoning a death machine NOT dancing to Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies”.

The story line got so stupid that you began to wonder why we needed these guys in the first place. 

Especially when we had cameos from a couple *COUGH* SPOILERS *COUGH* members of the Justice League. And that finale was so hammy and stupid. The demon fight sequence – what da fuq?

Mixed bag, to say the least. I’ve seen a lot worse. 

A mad riotous opening first half was spoiled by a lagging pace, clichéd dialogue and a complete mismatch in tone with a ridiculous finale. 

If Ayer (Training Day) could have kept that mad energy and stopped trying to be like every other superhero film, then we would have had a winner.

A fun mess that’s not completely worth the mauling it’s received. 

Despite DC’s feeble efforts, I still have high hopes for Justice League and that these are all teething problems. 

BUT if that flops then I fear the end of a franchise before it even began.

2.5/5

*NEW* SPECTRE REVIEW *NEW*

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Bond is back but bigger and better?

Well done, Mr Craig. You have finally won me over. To be honest, I loved his first outing in Casino Royale (my favourite in the Craig era). He had the charm, the one liners and the look. Ticking all the boxes. BUT Quantum of Solace delivered a much darker and angrier Bond. It was far too intense and serious for me. This had been attempted before with Timothy Dalton in A License To Kill to mixed results.

I didn’t have a problem with a darker Bond. Pierce Brosnan’s efforts (my second rated Bond) was bordering on cartoony CGI and Roger Moore territory. The Saint may have got away with it in the 70s BUT Die Another Day nearly ended it all. A game changer was needed. I respected the change BUT not the direction. It felt like they were trying to turn Bond into Jason Bourne.

However, it was the first series of Bond films that featured an ongoing story arc. Skyfall was very disappointing. For an entry that marked 50 years for the franchise, I expected something a little more. It was over hyped, overlong and if not for a surprising closing act, I would have rated this as one of the weaker offerings.

The one thing I could commend Skyfall for was the little things. The humour, Moneypenny, Q, the Aston Martin DB5. All the things that drew me to Bond in the first place. It gave me hope. Now here we are. The 24th entry of a super spy series. And boy,what a film.

The opening sequence for SPECTRE was fantastic. Slow burning, tense but action packed with a high octane helicopter sequence. As soon as Craig made his introduction, I was sold. The very pinnacle of the iconic spy. Cool, calm and slick. Casually adjusting his cuffs while donning a rifle.

Even Sam Smith’s opening theme delivered. At first listening, it sounded like a bland Eurovision track. BUT I have to say it has grown on me and really fitted the film.

It was great watching Craig enjoy the 007 status. The charisma. The debonair style. Very much in the vein of Sean Connery (My favourite Bond). Old school. Perfect. It brought something that had been lacking in the others. Humour.

I don’t want to say too much about SPECTRE as I want people to see this. BUT for the die hard fans, like yours truly, we witness the return of one of Bond’s most iconic villains. And I couldn’t think of anybody better to take on this prestigious role than Christoph Walz. He was superb. Slimy, sinister and on scene stealing form. My only gripe with his performance was that there wasn’t enough of it.

Dave Bautista was a unit. After his impressive turn in Guardians of the Galaxy, I wasn’t surprised that the former WWE star was offered the role of a Bond henchman. It was a shame that they chose to make him silent. He delivered his best impression of the Mountain from Game of Thrones. His scrap with Craig was one of the best villain fight sequences I’ve seen. You felt every punch.

For all the hype around Monica Bellucci’s role as a Bond girl (Or woman, should I say?), I was left wanting. Steady now. If anything her character was completely unnecessary. She certainly looked stunning and proved all those critics wrong griping about her age BUT her “love scene” with Craig came off unintentionally comical. Kissing while trying to talk chunky bits of dialogue didn’t work and killed the chemistry.

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However, Bond finally met his match with the feisty and resourceful Lea Seydoux. The pair’s chemistry and friction certainly kept things watchable when the pace seemed to drop.

The action sequences were brilliant. The plane chase sequence in Austria was mental. The car chase around Rome was fantastic with the new Aston Martin DB10. It was fast, frantic and hilarious as Bond battled to work out the prototype while dealing with henchmen and Italian pensioners fancying a late night drive.

What I also loved about this was how Logan brought in the rest of the team. It was great to see Ben Whishaw getting more screen time as Q. He had a much better rapport with Craig and was even brought out on location like Desmond Llewelyn used to with Connery. BUT at the expense of Naomie Harris’ Moneypenny.

She still made a made a memorable impression. Especially during a phone call with Bond mid car chase. Ralph Fiennes had a tough act to follow after Dench’s brilliant turn as M. BUT it was good to see him bring something new to the role and get in on the action.

It might help to have seen the other Craig entries BUT you won’t be too lost as Logan and Mendes briefly recap the story arc. As much as SPECTRE ticked the boxes, it wasn’t all perfect.

BEST BOND FILM EVER? Certainly not. The middle act lumbered the pace and when the action scenes had subsided and the couple were travelling, I could feel myself fidgeting after the 90 minute marker. Thankfully, things picked up when Walz was properly brought into the mix with his Dr No-esque lair.

This could have been cut by 30 minutes and been stronger for it. It was good to see a little more cheese and fun with this installment but for some it might be seen as a step down. And after 24 films, there are only so many different twists and turns that you can do with the Bond films. You can’t help BUT retread through old ground. There are only so many homages you can do before it gets repetitive.

The closing finale was fantastic and certainly left a satisfying if cryptic ending. Will Bond die another day? Especially when Tomorrow Never Dies? With the box office booming, is the world not enough?

Slick, stylish if a little overdone, Bond is back and on form. BUT better? Not quite, 007 but good enough.

3.5/5

JURASSIC WORLD REVIEW

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Revisiting the monster hit that tore up the box office and . . . Meh.

I loved the original. An iconic piece of film making that I have lost many a Sunday afternoon watching again and again.

It was always going to be hard not to draw comparisons. BUT this was just about en par with the misfire that was Jurassic Park III.

A new theme park is built on the original site of Jurassic Park. Everything is going well until the park’s newest attraction, a genetically modified giant stealth killing machine, escapes containment and goes on a killing spree.

Apart from unintentionally sparking a race quibble with an inappropriately named dinosaur, the film was flawed from the get go. You didn’t know about the little race row? Allow Mobeen and Lamboo to educate you . . .

It wasn’t all bad. I was just a little disappointed. The opening didn’t get things going. Of course, the Jurassic films always had that slow burning build up before the dinos would inevitably break free or unleash mayhem.

BUT it didn’t help that the characters were so cliched and uninteresting. Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins’ divorce stricken brothers were irritating beyond relief.

Judy Greer was reduced to another minor and meaningless supporting role as their mum. However, her only contribution; the best line of the film; “Remember. If something chases you. RUN!”

Chris Pratt. The man of the hour. Was pretty much . . . Himself. Normally, his spiel works BUT his smooth talking snappy one liners didn’t really deliver this time around.

Is the only role the guy can play? Star Lord as a raptor handler should have been a winner. BUT it just didn’t do it for me.

He fared better as the film went on. Especially when it all kicked off. Stepping up and actually trying to be a different character.

The lovely Bryce Dallas Howard was very good as the workaholic aunt hell bent on making Jurassic World a money making business.

It shouldn’t have worked but I liked how she managed to evade dinosaurs, fight raptors and chase after her nephews . . . in heels.

Some of the cornier exchanges were a bit hit and miss BUT Howard and Pratt’s chemistry saw it through.

Vincent D’Onofrio was wasted as Hoskins. He did his best BUT it’s all been done to death with Ingen. It really was the same old predictable guff. We had all the backstabbing and hidden agendas in The Lost World. Dull.

Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi) may have channelled his inner John Hammond with the eccentric millionaire Masrani BUT he did my head in.

And for some reason, he was the only helicopter pilot on the whole island. Seriously? All those soldiers, weapons and dinosaurs. No pilots. Talk about squeezing pennies.

I feared with the overindulgence of CGI in films these days that the dinos would fail to reach the levels that Stan Winston had delivered. When Jurassic World was first unveiled, the iconic John Williams score blared through the speakers, that excitement from my inner fan boy still buzzed.

BUT once the score had subsided, I realised how rubbish the layout of Jurassic World actually looked. I’m not sure whether writer/director Colin Trevorrow was making a statement at how corporate involvement can ruin every aspect. If so, then fair play. If not, then the set designers need a little talking too. It looked like a cheap Dino Disneyland.

The real stars for me were thankfully the prehistoric predators. And they still stole the show. The animation and special effects were fantastic! The chase sequences were tense, exhilarating and racy. Everything I had hoped for.

And the creepy introduction of a new dino demon picked up massive points. The gene-splicing element certainly made things a lot more interesting. A new intelligent species that hunts for sport. Brilliant.

A simple question about what happened to it’s sibling; a cold stare from Clare (Howard) and I was intrigued . . . “She ate it”.

Every time the Indominus Rex (Terrible name, I know) appeared, I felt that same fear as a little kid when the raptors and T-Rex appeared in JP.

The jungle sabotage sequence was superb. A perfect homage to Aliens. The dino camouflaged in the trees. The mercenaries’ life monitors with their pulses beeping in the background. The inevitable outcome reaching it’s nail biting conclusion.

Funny enough as the dinos were unleashed, the two lads actually improved. They worked together and were nowhere near as annoying as Lex and Tim. Trading bickering for resourcefulness. Redeemed.

Jake Johnson (New Girl) didn’t do too bad as the new ‘Dennis’, I mean, Larry. A mad tech geek that really hasn’t got a clue. He delivered the laughs that Pratt and co failed to.

Trevorrow certainly appealed to the JP fan in me. There were a number of nods and references that made me smile (Mr DNA being a particular highlight). It was great to see B.D Wong return as Dr Henry Wu (Wu who? Come on, you remember him. Thank God. Neither did I).

Composer Michael Giacchino delivered another fantastic soundtrack and took on the reins with aplomb.

The special effects were immense (The pterodactyl attack – Words escape me), the dinosaurs stole the show BUT can we have some better characters?

All the naff one liners and cheesy encounters just made me miss Grant and Malcolm. Hell, even Laura Dern’s ear piercing wailing.

Fun enough effort that falls short of the original.

3/5