Friday, June 12, 2015

JURASSIC WORLD movie review

You thought the Jurassic Park series ended with the third movie, but life found a way. Life always finds a way.

Jurassic World is the fourth installment of the Jurassic Park series. They have finally opened the dinosaur theme park to the public, and shockingly(!), something goes wrong, and it's up to raptor trainer Owen (Chris Pratt) and park manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and a few other people to protect all the tourists.

Jurassic Park didn't set up a world ripe for sequels (good ones, anyway). I just watched the trilogy for the first time over this past week, and the first film was truly a blockbuster to behold. A simple yet beautiful classic. Its sequels are not as great. The second one is incredibly boring, and while I admit that I really like the third film, it feels like a Jurassic Park one-shot rather than a sequel that expands/adds another layer to what the first film establishes. This time, they've finally opened the park, and it manages to become the series' best sequel.

Fun, fun, fun. That's what this movie is. Simple, old-school blockbuster entertainment that works. It's mostly due to director Colin Trevorrow, who really payed his respects to the original through many different facets, be it the score, some establishing shots, and even through some thrilling set pieces, bu he also wasn't afraid to add some of his own flavor to the film. I love it, the film feels like your back on the island but with a fresh set of eyes, excitedly exploring this new, modernized theme park.

Although it pretty much misses the mark with its corporate desire for profit commentary, I feel its still a worthy summer blockbuster. There are a lot of wonderful moments of joy and wonder throughout the film, quickly followed by sequences that are either so intense or very entertaining (or both at the same time!). It's definitely one of the most fun experiences I've had in the theater all summer.

We've moved away from the Sam Neill/Jeff Goldblum era of the series, and now we're introduced to what hopefully becomes the Bryce Dallas Howard/Chris Pratt era. Pratt, taking time off from leading aliens, is now training dinosaurs, and as expected, he's loads of fun in the movie. He just lends himself extremely well to that with his general likability and his on-screen charisma. The real star of the movie, at least to me, turned about to be Bryce Dallas Howard, who really shines in the film. She's technically the lead character with the main character arc. The arc itself didn't really do much for me, but her acting transition was really good, and she totally steals the finale of the movie.

The rest of the characters are rather forgettable. Their individual character storylines are pretty uninteresting, like Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins' brother relationship, and how the older brother can't talk to girls and the younger brother feels bad about this completely irrelevant parents storyline. It's not really compelling material, and the film even recognizes it, as its pretty much dropped in favor for dinosaur action. There are also forgettable characters such as some scientist guy and also Vincent D'Onofrio's character who are pretty flat. The film has a lot of these characters and rapidly transitions between them in the first act, which made the film unfocused and uneven for quite a length of time as it tried (failed) to develop these characters, but as I said, it later drops the useless material, and from there, it just escalates.

Jurassic World is a simply entertaining blockbuster that, while failing at its commentary, opens up another breathtaking world to explore cinematically. It proves there's definitely still some life in this previously dormant franchise.

Monday, June 1, 2015

SAN ANDREAS movie review

I'm kinda disappointed the Rock didn't punch the tsunami back into the ocean.

San Andreas is a disaster film starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson depicting the series of unfortunate events that would (probably not) happen if the San Andreas fault line would go off. It follows rescue pilot Ray Gaines as he is given the chance to reconnect with his wife (Carla Gugino) as they try to save rescue daughter (Alexandra Daddario) from the earthquake.

I was pretty excited for this film, because The Rock has loads of on-screen charisma, so I love it when he stars in over-the-top and cartoon-y action movies like the Fast & Furious series or even last year's Hercules. Plus, who doesn't love a dumb fun disaster movie?

Well, this isn't that. This film is so dull and boring that it managed to neuter the Rock. I don't know how they did it, but they took one of the most charismatic actors working today and gave him a melodramatic role that accurately showcased how not to present the Rock. He's clearly not the best dramatic actor yet the movie gives him loads of scenes that are meant to be emotional, and he just doesn't execute them well. To top it off, they don't even try to build off his charisma or likability. True, he has one nice sequence where he saves a bunch of people, but other than that, he just comes off as stern.

He's terribly miscast, but the supporting cast is rather good. Daddario plays a much needed role after her minor yet notable appearance in True Detective. She plays a capable survivor and she's quite likable in the role. Paul Giamatti may have been the best actor to come out of the film. He's no Ken Watanabe in terms of disaster film exposition, but he was, to some degree, over-the-top enough to make me enjoy and stay awake through all the exposition.

The film could be described as a bunch of well-made, thrilling sequences with a lot of boring background noise in between. There is no denying those action sequences are well-made, but you still have to sit through tediously long conversations for more than half the time (I swear, a waitress stated that she'd read out the specials, and I believed that she would because that wouldn't even have been the most boring conversation of the movie). San Andreas is also another disaster film with the same old family reconnection drama. It's boring melodrama and I've grown tired of it.

There's probably only two ways a disaster film could appeal to me now. It could either be ridiculously fun disaster film, where they don't take the drama too seriously and just focus on the entertainment value or it could go the Godzilla (2014) route by not attempting at giving the characters any deep substance and instead develop the larger, thematically relevant story. Honestly, that masterpiece of a disaster movie is probably the bar I'll set for disaster movies from now on.

San Andreas is harmed by its drive to develop its main characters through its boring, melodramatic story. The action sequences are thrilling, but the Rock is excruciatingly dull. Highly recommended to drink coffee during the calm moments.