Sunday, June 14, 2015

Movie Review: Jurassic World

The first trailer for this movie gave me goose bumps.  I can still remember seeing the first movie almost twenty years ago.  I remember being more terrified of the Raptors than the T-Rex.  I also remember having nightmares of Raptors coming after me.  I don’t remember being that little when seeing it, more so when I subtract twenty years from my current age, then I might seem like a scaredy cat, but it was the first scary type movie I’d really seen.  If you haven’t seen the original Jurassic Park, do take the time to see that before seeing this.  The subsequent entries did play a very small part of this movie, but it was mostly Jurassic World paying homage to Jurassic Park.

If you haven’t seen the trailer for some strange reason, the movie basically starts with the park having been open for some time and bringing in customers for years.  The place is packed and as two kids embark on a vacation with their aunt (Bryce Dallas Howard), she pawns them off on her assistant so she can do her best to sell the park’s next greatest attraction, a genetically engineered dinosaur.  I was pleasantly surprised to see Dr. Wu (from the first film), had returned, aged, but was still in charge of the genetics at Jurassic World (no longer Park after what happened in the first movie, I presume).  Unsurprisingly, the genetically engineered dinosaur surprises everyone and manages to elude any captivity and get into the park, despite the hero, Chris Pratt’s Owen.  Without giving away the rather obvious happy ending and obvious deaths, the movie is a lot of fun.

Today’s culture dictates that a movie of this magnitude is expected to meet certain needs.  Diversity in Hollywood is woefully lacking and other than the aforementioned Dr. Wu, there was only one other minority, Pratt’s sidekick, Barry, who was black.  The hero was a white guy, Pratt, and Howard played the damsel in distress who wore heels throughout the movie, in terrain that definitely required something else (I partially say this from experience after wearing wedges to the Grand Canyon and knowing how uneven the footing can be outdoors.  How Ms. Howard managed to run in heels is beyond me) and she was also white.  In this day and age, why is Howard’s character depicted as being money-hungry and work focused, unable to have a serious relationship with the charming Pratt?  Why is her ambition portrayed so negatively that you’re almost rooting for Pratt to save her because you know she can’t possibly save herself, even though she ultimately does save the day?  Why is Pratt portrayed as the Everyman character who is infallible, perfect in every way and utterly irresistible.  Pair this with the fact that it was two brothers (vs. two sisters or a mix of siblings) as the child focus, I found this bothersome.  I accepted it at face value, but it made me feel like everyone in the movie was white and male save for Howard.  What made Jurassic Park so amazing, and still outpaces this latest movie, is that it had a mix of everything.  Perhaps Crichton wrote the original book this way, but the movie makers would do well to allow some other races and genders be represented.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Movie Review: Spy

I am not usually drawn to comedy movies, the endings often feel empty, but Melissa McCarthy is a magnet unto herself.  The first trailer I saw I knew I had to see it.  A little free time and I might have missed all the previews, but I don’t feel like I missed much.

The premise of the story is pretty self-explanatory in the trailer, but Melissa McCarthy plays the role of meek, mousy, behind-the-desk spy operative for the CIA who is hopelessly in love with her assigned field agent, played by Jude Law.  When Law passes away, McCarthy is given the chance to jump into action with hilarious results.  I don’t want to spoil the turns through the story, but the trailers do not do the movie justice, not even close.

McCarthy, initially, doesn’t play the usual foul-mouthed heroine, but that comes through as the movie progresses.  After seeing a few of her movies,  I feel like I know what to expect from her, but in this instance I felt like McCarthy showed a much wider range of emotions than we’re used to seeing.  This was more obvious by the stark contrasts around her, none more than from Jason Statham.  I don’t know much about him outside of the Fast and Furious movie I saw him in, but he was over the top and very entertaining.  Rose Byrne also played against her usual type and that was positively delightful.  There isn’t more good than can be said about Miranda Hart, who was delightfully awkward.  This may not be a movie to see with the kids, but between this and Pitch Perfect, girls are indeed taking over the world!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Movie Review: Insidious Chapter 3

I know, another week, another horror movie.  I don’t know what it is about the summer, but a ton of horror movies tend to come out over the summer, perhaps because kids are out of school and like that sort of thing?  Last week’s Poltergeist was almost laughable compared to this week’s movie.  I’ve now seen all three Insidious movies and without a doubt, this is by far the scariest.  I credit much of that to the Rear Window where the Jimmy Stewart character is trapped in a wheelchair, creating a different kind of scare.

In the very first Insidious movie, the viewer is introduced to a family and a young son who falls comatose for reasons they can’t understand.  In the second movie, the same family is followed through much of the same story, but from a different angle.  In this third movie, much like Annabelle from that was spawned from The Conjuring, this movie takes place before the first two Insidious movies.

The real treat for the movie comes from Lin Shaye, who plays the medium of choice.  In a short article I read about her in Entertainment Weekly, she got a late start to acting and she has done a lot with her fifteen minutes of fame.  The early jitters for her character are surprising as we see her being far more confident and sure-footed in the following two movies.  She also plays the villain in that terrible Ouija movie I saw last year, fun fact for those still reading.

The third movie starts a few years before the viewer is introduced to the Lambert family (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne).  A young girl keeps trying to contact her mother who passed away a year ago and she has summoned something else to her instead of her mother.  The girl reaches out to Lin Shaye’s character, who initially rebuffs her, but she gets involved without really meaning to.

Without giving away huge spoilers, the movie is scary.  I had my eyes covered for long sequences of the film.  The villain was shrouded and often just out of sight, but this sort of filming made every sequence, practically from the beginning, that much more tense.  Worse yet, because the girl, Quinn, I think, is incapacitated for most of the movie, and so she is either stuck in bed or in a wheelchair and when something approaches, there is nowhere for her to run.  Even though the first movie had this element, it wasn’t told from that perspective.  I normally don’t give such ringing endorsements, but this is one horror movie that delivers and is very much worth seeing.