Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Inside Out movie review.

With films such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, and Up to their credit, as well as seven Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature, Pixar have truly become a household name in the world of animation. Making films that appeal just as much to adults as they do to children, they’ve endured with some of the most beloved animated films of all time. However, since the debut of Cars 2 in 2011, they’ve fell into something of a slump with varying successes, perhaps an inevitability following their golden age of back to back perfection from 2007 to 2010.

Perhaps a two year break was just what they needed to get them back on track. So who better to do it than Pete Doctor? Hired in the company’s early days and having written the first two Toy Story films, he found himself shot to prominence after directing the smash hit Monsters, Inc. The rest is history, as the man later returned to direct Up, a film that brought critics and audiences both to tears and their feet, and which practically defined everything that made Pixar a spectacular filmmaking force. Six years later, he returns with the first of Pixar’s two big releases of 2015, Inside Out. For Doctor to not only bring Pixar back to their prime, but to best even his own career best effort was clearly no easy task… and yet by some miracle, that’s exactly what he did.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Jurassic World movie review.

One must often wonder what John Hammond’s original vision for Jurassic Park would have turned out had it not been sabotaged by Dennis Nedry. 22 years after Steven Spielberg’s original blockbuster, we finally get to see that vision realized in the fourth film, Jurassic World.

Longtime readers are no doubt familiar with my adoration of the original Park film, as well as my furious disdain for its two sequels. For those reasons, I initially dreaded, laughed off, and completely derided the idea of a fourth entry ever getting made. It really is difficult to recapture that same lightning in a bottle. However, with the film attracting a fantastic set of actors and technicians, as well as the guidance of newcomer director Colin Trevorrow of Safety Not Guaranteed fame, all of those bitter feelings and fear were replaced by hope and optimism.

So for all of these reasons, I’m glad to say I can breathe a huge sigh of relief, and say that this was not a disappointment. A dazzling and thrilling adventure, Jurassic World is an epic dose of popcorn excitement.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Brief thoughts on Spy.

Melissa McCarthy became an unlikely breakout star in 2011. Then known for her CBS sitcom Mike & Molly, she crossed over into film with the Paul Feig directed/Kristen Wiig scripted Bridesmaids. A film that became a surprising smash hit both critically and commercially, the film somehow managed to transcend genre bias within the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to secure both an Original Screenplay nomination, but more surprisingly, a Supporting Actress nod for McCarthy.

McCarthy is something of an oddity after all of that. Her next films would feature her in double acts alongside Jason Bateman and Sandra Bullock, but rarely did they hit. When McCarthy is able to play an actual character, she’s hilarious, but when she’s nothing but a punchline, she’s insufferable. So, it’s with much relief that I’m glad that the movie Spy allows her to better use her talents, but the actual film is a mixed bag of varying success.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Jurassic Park III movie review.

What more can I say about Jurassic Park that I’ve never said before? It’s my favorite movie of all time. I adore everything about it. Unfortunately, its legacy isn’t perfect. We’ll see if Jurassic World somehow rectifies this, but the series has never generated the best sequels. The Lost World was a major disappointment that left a bitter aftertaste for years to come, but was still very successful at the box office, and in the CGI overload that dominated the late 90’s, that was enough to get another sequel in production.

Jurassic Park III was the first film in the series not based on one of Michael Crichton’s original stories. Originally, he did meet with producers to get story ideas, but none of them (including where teenagers became stuck on the island) made the final cut. Steven Spielberg also stepped down as director to turn the reigns over to Joe Johnston, best known at the time for Juamnji. When the film was released, critics were once again mixed, but it was still a success at the box office, albeit to a lesser degree.

Even as someone who enjoyed the movie when I was younger, I was quite disappointed in it. Then as the years progressed, I became angry with it. I have talked about it several times before, but in the years since, I’ve heard varying points of view, including a common defense that it can be enjoyed as a B-Movie, a fun action movie that exists to get a group of people on and off an island in a short amount of time. I like to think of myself as reasonable, and I like to think that age has mellowed me. Coupled with more critical experience in my years, you’ll probably be surprised to know-


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Lost World: Jurassic Park movie review.

In anticipation of Jurassic World’s upcoming release, I’ve decided to post reviews for the two Jurassic Park sequels leading up to the fourth film’s release.

As most of you know, Jurassic Park is my favorite movie of all time. I love its characters, I love its story and suspense, I love its music, and I love that it was the first time that dinosaurs in movies got the grand scope and scale that they deserved, as well as treating them like grounded, feeling animals rather than bloodthirsty, mindless brutes. To this day, it remains one of Steven Spielberg’s most popular films, as well as his most financially successful. For those reasons and more, a follow up was inevitable.

Though Spielberg had proved a capable sequel director, the book’s original author, Michael Crichton, had never had the same experience. The two, as well as writer David Koepp, began brainstorming for ideas, and two years after Crichton finished his novel, Spielberg unveiled the next installment in the series, The Lost World.

When it was released, the film sparked a polarizing critical response, especially those comparing it to its predecessor, but it proved to be another success for Spielberg at the box office. Moving out of the more carefree and wondrous light with slight horror touches of the first film, this sequel was painted in a darker, more environmentally driven action mode. Admittedly, I used to like this movie a lot when I was a kid, but this is one of the rare Spielberg films that haven’t aged gracefully. I find myself having to divide my thoughts into separate mindsets. As a standalone film, it’s more mediocre than outright awful, but as a follow up to an outstanding film, it’s downright embarrassing.