JURASSIC WORLD REVIEW

Jurassic-World-poster-Mosasaurus

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

*NEW* DEATH WISH REVIEW *NEW*

I must have had one watching this tripe . . .

Well, that was what I thought I was going to say.

Regardless of what I think of the man, Bruce Willis can still hold his own in this violent revenge flick.

Dr Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is an experienced trauma surgeon, a man who has spent his life saving lives. After an attack on his family, Paul embarks on his own mission for justice.

After the ghastly ratings, I expected something really dire. Being a fan of the original cult crime classic, I wasn’t the happiest to hear of a remake. I mean who could top the icon that was Charles Bronson?! BUT I found this latest rehash surprisingly watchable.

The rapid opening sequence (with a fantastic panning shot) riddled with reports of shootings all over Detroit spoke volumes. Finger on the pulse stuff for a generic shoot-em-up. Especially with what’s been happening with gun crime in the US.

Willis’ robotic introduction didn’t give me high hopes . . . At first. He was always going to have a tough act to follow. BUT it added a degree of cynicism to the surgeon as he apologised to the copper whose partner he couldn’t save. And then moved over to the next bed and saved the monster who killed him.

The family melodrama was incredibly cheesy BUT easy going enough as we waited for the inevitable to happen.

The pacing did leave a little to be desired BUT I wasn’t bored. I liked the fact that Kersey didn’t turn into a stone cold killer straight away. A slow burning montage showed a gradual transformation as this down beaten man grew frustrated with the system and his psychiatrist (Wendy Crewson – Air Force One).

Dean Norris was literally playing Hank from Breaking Bad as Detective Raines. Tied by the rules and hoping for the best.

It took a good 40 minutes before Kersey began his vigilante spree. Donning his Unbreakable hoodie and terrorising the streets.

I was a little sceptical that the tone felt as muddled as its message. It may have raised debates about gun crime and vigilantism BUT it was a bit hard to be taken seriously when Willis would then shoot a drug dealer to a bloody pulp in the next frame.

A scene between Kersey and his father in law (Len Cariou – Blue Bloods) was incredibly hammy as the old boy fended off some poachers and preached about “a man defending his own”. Yawn.

The mismatched song choices killed off the seriousness of certain scenes. Using YouTube to learn how to shoot and assemble guns to AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ spoiled what could have been a satirical boiling point.

However, the consumerization of gun culture was brilliantly encapsulated with Bethany, the sales girl at the Jolly Rogers’ gun emporium: “Easy forms to fill, nobody ever fails gun safety class, 100 per cent American made”. Talking about weapons like they were new cars. Kersey’s smirk at such hypocrisy said it all.

The vengeance spree was violent enough as the vigilante ‘honed his craft’. Working his way through the food chain. Looking for the ones who tore his family apart. An unsavoury interrogation with a shady car mechanic did not make for easy viewing after just eating a big ol’ bowl of spaghetti. That’s all I’m saying.

To be honest, I was more surprised at how ‘tame’ this really was. Especially when the director at the helm was Eli “Hostel” Roth. Normally the master of disgust BUT I was relieved to see that NOT everything was taken from the original i.e. the unsavoury rape scene.

It is what is. A violent actioner. Willis held his own and carried the film. It killed the time and deliver what I expected.

It wasn’t perfect and the kills were hardly memorable. I still remember Bronson’s newspaper kill (No, he didn’t kill a guy with a newspaper). BUT nowhere near as unmemorable as Wendy Crewson’s psychiatrist or Vincent D’Onofrio as Kersey’s useless (and incredibly annoying) brother-in-law. Nothing more than a meaningless red herring.

You could pick at the fact that if the police were looking for a vigilante in a dark hoodie, you wouldn’t walk into a public nightclub in said garb with pistol in tow. Come on!

BUT despite the muddled politics and mismatched tone, did we really expect this to be anything other a bloody shoot-em-up?

I just wish that cheeky trigger pose didn’t come off so tacky. Sorry, McClane. Charles Bronson, you ain’t.

2.5/5

*NEW* THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN REVIEW *NEW*

1080

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

JURASSIC WORLD REVIEW

Jurassic-World-poster-Mosasaurus

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

THE JUDGE REVIEW

The Judge New Poster

Time for a bit of R&R

Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall team up to tackle the courtroom in a predictable but highly watchable drama.

So what’s it about? Big city lawyer Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr) returns to his childhood home where his father (Robert Duvall), the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth and, along the way, reconnects with his estranged family.

I was surprised at the flogging this film got. I was pleasantly surprised. But then these days, I go into a cinema with such dread it’s hard not to be.

Now the first 30 minutes had me looking at the little hands on my watch. It was slow and predictable with RDJ “Starking” it up. Some people will disagree but I’m sorry. He was Tony Stark with a law degree. A fast talking ruthless lawyer with no respect for the courtroom or his peers. A perfect case example being when he openly urinates on one of his opposing counsels, ol’ Bernard from The Santa Clause, David Krumholtz.

“Did that just happen?”, laughs Downey Jr. Unfortunately, yes. And boy, has Krumholtz put on the pounds.

But once Hank returns home and reunites with his estranged father, the iconic actor that is Robert Duvall, tempers rise, old wounds are re-opened and the movie hits its stride. Duvall and Downey Jr are brilliant together and really bring their A-game to deliver a decent pairing.

It’s all a little predictable with the pair first sparring, barely speaking. That is until the murder charge. What helps is that despite it being arguably a TV movie story line, the two Roberts prove what good acting can deliver. Interest. That’s not to say that there wasn’t revelations along the way. Some worked well. Others did not. But I won’t divulge details.

There were certainly some heartfelt moments between father and son but there were also a number of missed opportunities that could have made this more than just watchable.

Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel) plays her part well as the old high flame who stayed home. She has good chemistry with RDJ which helps make their inevitable and corny relationship sequences watchable. The outcome, however, was so predictable and all a little too easy with no real friction.

The same could be said for Hank’s fractious relationship with his daughter (Emma Tremblay – The Giver). The pair worked well together and it would have been nice to see more of that but it’s all resolved so easily with a trip to Grampas.

Billy Bob Thornton was, to be expected, very good as the snake toothed Dwight Dickham (I don’t think there was supposed to be an intentional pun in the surname). However, Thornton’s role was limited to mere grimaces and the odd jibe which was a shame considering the actor and potential that the rivalry could have delivered.

Especially after his turn in Fargo, this role was ripe for making a worthy adversary to RDJ but the film very much focuses on the father/son dynamic. A shame because by the end you realised that anyone could have played the role.

Vincent D’Onofrio (Law and Order: Criminal Intent) was quite good as the older brother, Glen. However I wish more was made out of Hank and Glen’s rocky relationship. A revelation that is revealed later on could have been a perfect opportunity for a lot more confrontation but was (again!) resolved so easily with Glen taking the higher ground.

Jeremy Strong (Zero Dark Thirty) was brilliant as Dale. A brother with special needs and a passion for 8mm film-making. It worked well and added something to the brothers dynamic. It also allowed for some entertaining but also endearing moments. Entertaining in the fact that Dale has no filter and tells the truth when he really shouldn’t.

A subplot involving Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl) went no where. And to be honest was completely unnecessary. It had the potential to be made into something much more but was merely a running joke. A joke that wasn’t that funny and didn’t fit in with the tone of the film.

The courtroom scenes were well done but didn’t quite hit the heights that you wanted. When Duvall’s character is finally cross examined, there is a lot more tension and drama to be had. Dax Sheppard (Without A Paddle) did a convincing turn as the useless aid, throwing up before every court session to fight the nerves.

That was the issue for me. It tried to be light and comical in one instant, then dark and dramatic in another and it didn’t really excel as well as you would hope at either.

It’s well acted, watchable and certainly hits home by the closing moments. JUST . . .

Don’t JUDGE (what?) it by it’s overlong running time, there is still plenty to be had in watching two fantastic actors do what they do best. I just wish they had a better story line and script to work with.

BUT still worth a look.

The jury has reached a verdict 3/5