Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • IMDb: link

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom movie reviewThis franchise is officially out of ideas. Again. The latest entry in the Jurassic Park franchise is a mishmash of plot from the previous entries without much of anything original or surprising to offer. This is the film where you know what’s going to happen every step of the way including when a dinosaur is about to jump out of the water or break through a window. And the film, of course, finds a way to shoehorn the trademark T-Rex shot in an attempt to remind you of better times. If it held any of the wonder of the first Jurassic Park the script’s lack of brains might be tolerable. However, it just feels tired. And dumb. Damn, this movie is dumb.

As in both The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III, the plot involves those who survived returning to the park, greed and avarice of supporting characters getting in the way, and lots of running and screaming. The film returns the central two characters from Jurassic World in former park head Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Velociraptor wrangler Owen Grady (Chris Pratt, whose humor is one of the film’s few saving graces) who set out to Isla Nublar to save the dinosaurs when things, wait for it, go unexpectedly wrong.

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

by Alan Rapp on June 21, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  • IMDb: link

Won't You Be My Neighbor? movie reviewFor decades Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood filled the public airwaves with television aimed at young children and a focus on allowing children to be themselves and a core belief that each of us is unique and special. It was created and designed by a seminary student named Fred Rogers who was looking to for a way to use television to teach an audience with a slow-paced show concerned with connecting individually with his core audience in a way which was very much the antithesis of your average children’s program focused on slapstick, action, and (often blatant) consumerism. The documentary from Morgan Neville takes a look at the man’s life and legacy which had a profound impact on generations who grew up in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood.

Other than touching lightly on how Rogers got into television, and some of his own childhood issues which informed his view of the world, the documentary focuses mostly on the man’s life work and the television show without diving too deeply into his personal life. If there’s one lesson the film does impart, it’s that Fred Rogers was the same person in real life as he was in television.

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The Incredibles 2

by Alan Rapp on June 14, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Incredibles 2
  • IMDb: link

The Incredibles 2 movie reviewLook on almost any list of the best super-hero movies and you are more likely than not to find Pixar’s 2004 film The Incredibles. Taking the basic structure of hero family first introduced in The Fantastic Four and updating it with a variety of smart characters and great visuals, the film remains the only good Fantastic Four film we’ve seen to date. Despite other Pixar franchises like Cars and Toy Story earning multiple sequels, in the middle of the super-hero movie boom The Incredibles has remained dormant. That is, until now.

Picking up immeadiately following the events of the first film, The Incredibles 2 opens with the family fighting off the Underminer (John Ratzenberger) and dealing with the fallout from their illegal actions to save the day. It seems that the world still isn’t ready for super-heroes to return, but an eccentric billionaire (Bob Odenkirk) and his tech-savvy sister (Catherine Keener) have a plan.

The Incredibles 2 is great fun. However, if the movie has a weakness its how much of a retread it is of the original as we get most of the movie focused on a single member of the family’s heroics and wait until the end before bringing the entire Parr family together in costume.

This time around it’s Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) who takes center stage. Believing that her less reckless form of crime-fighting is the best option to rehabilitate heroes and their image, the billionaire brother and sister put their money into focusing on Elastigirl’s heroics and playing off her celebrity to win public support back to the supers’ side. The result is some great action featuring the matriarch of the Parr family. There’s a moment in the film when Elastigirl goes on the hunt for the villainous Screenslaver (Bill Wise) through the shadowy streets of the city that features some of the best visuals we’ve seen in any Pixar movie to date.

That of course leaves Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) home with the kids. This provides its own entertainment as Bob struggles to help Dash (Huck Milner) with his schoolwork, help Violet (Sarah Vowell) with boy trouble, and deal with all of Jack-Jack‘s powers, all while wishing he was the one out fighting crime instead of his wife. The last also provides for the return of Edna Mode (voiced by writer/director Brad Bird). While I wouldn’t necessarily trade these sequences for more action, in the end I would have preferred to see the entire family together for more of the film the second time around. It may not quite measure up to the original, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had with a sequel that was worth the wait.

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Ocean’s 8

by Alan Rapp on June 6, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Ocean’s 8
  • IMDb: link

Ocean's 8 movie reviewI love heist films, and I love the Ocean’s 11 franchise. Admitting this, I may be willing to cut the latest film more slack than the average viewer. Without a doubt, Ocean’s 8 is the weakest of any of the four films. It lacks the style and pace of director Steven Soderbergh‘s 2001 film as Gary Ross drags out scenes far more than necessary. It also doesn’t help that the script lacks the wit of the original, often struggling to put its charismatic stars in the best situations.

Borrowing quite a bit from the 2001 film, Ocean’s 8 begins with Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) getting out of prison and immediately putting together a crew of old friends (Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, and Mindy Kaling) and some new acquaintances (Awkwafina, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter) for a score she’s been planning for years. The cast is great, and they work well together. However, the script struggles early in offering much of interest for them to do together on-screen. The fact that the heist is far more straightforward, and lacks the last-second surprises of the previous films, also is a bit of a disappointment. That said, once the set-up is complete and the heist planning begins, things pick up.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story

by Alan Rapp on May 24, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • IMDb: link

Solo: A Star Wars Story movie reviewIn many ways Solo: A Star Wars Story is the antithesis of Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi. Solo plays things ultra-conservative, continually dumbs down the plot for the audience, and relies heavily on nostalgia. The result is a fun, if flawed and unambitious, film that offers fans the Cliff’s Notes version of Han Solo‘s (Alden Ehrenreich) past.

Star Wars fans will know the planet Corellia. Aside from being the homeworld of Han Solo, the planet played a major role in various storylines of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Solo: A Star Wars Story is the first Star Wars film to give fans a glimpse of the world… and it’s about and underwhelming as possible. It doesn’t help that the only scenes we get involve a young Han, saddled with a Dickensian backstory which turns him into Oliver Twist, working along with other local younglings as a thief.

If the film has a major flaw its the first 30-45 minutes which struggles mightily to set-up the story and at times is borderline bad. Thankfully, once Han makes some new friends and the heist plot is introduced, things begin to pick up.

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