REVIEW: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom [2018]

They’re alive. Like me. Anyone who read/watched Jurassic Park in the 1990s should have known the product of John Hammond’s hubris: a marriage between mankind’s extinction and evolution into something more. This is what the themes of control and the lack thereof portend. To play God is to risk losing everything we have built in the past 300,000 years. Because whether we bring back that which nature destroyed (dinosaurs) or create something wholly new (through genetic manipulation and cloning), we breathe life into a being not meant for the present…

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REVIEW: The Lost World: Jurassic Park [1997]

So you went from capitalist to naturalist in just four years. That’s something. It’s one thing for a movie to spawn a sequel for no other reason than money—especially at the Hollywood level where the capitalistic gains of producers usurp the artistic worth of its creators. But it’s another to ask the artist who spawned the property to go down that bankrupt well with them. This is exactly what happened when the time came to follow-up the smash hit Jurassic Park, however. The original book was a bestseller that only…

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REVIEW: Isle of Dogs [2018]

You’ve heard the rumor, right? I feel like the twee sensibilities of writer/director Wes Anderson might be catching up to him. Moonrise Kingdom was a sort of rejuvenation proving both exactly like his oeuvre and wholly unique as its child’s perspective lent a fresh voice to his usual brand of artificial melodrama. But rather than propel him forward, it seems it may have pulled him back. The auteur’s follow-up was the hilarious The Grand Budapest—perhaps his funniest tale to-date despite ringing hollow in a way that turned endearing artifice into…

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REVIEW: Thor: Ragnarok [2017]

Good luck with that, new Doug! Marvel fatigue has officially hit me, but not like a ton of bricks as much as a nagging sense that the studio is merely going through the motions. Unfortunately this slow unraveling is worse than a huge misstep because it means that a shift back onto the rails is less likely, especially with everyone hailing Thor: Ragnarok as a franchise entry that “breaks the rules.” If that means “push plot to the background for bloated excess dragging pacing out to the point of realizing…

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REVIEW: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou [2004]

“Esteban was eaten!” It’s ambitious, hilarious, visually complex, and kind of … boring. I hoped that last adjective was merely the distant memory of a twenty-two year old expecting more out of Wes Anderson‘s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou when first released in theaters due to his infinite love for The Royal Tenenbaums two years previous. I thought perhaps that its failure—a relative term since it being my least favorite of the auteur’s films doesn’t mean it’s not still a three-star entry within a brilliantly quirky oeuvre—was courtesy of…

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REVIEW: Le Week-End [2013]

“That’s the nicest thing I’ve ever put in my mouth” Children are our legacy—our immortality. We sacrifice everything to raise them in our image, hoping for the best until they’re set free as fully formed adults ready to continue the cycle. And through our rosy-colored glasses of optimism we assume the journey ends happily in a successful second act for them and a well-earned third unencumbered by anything but love and adventure for us. Sadly, however, such broad ideas often prove little more than fantasy as decades spent in the…

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REVIEW: White House Down [2013]

“My father is a very special man!” It’s a shame Hollywood blockbuster fare has a contractual obligation for contrived happy endings with unnecessary and unsurprising “twists” because Roland Emmerich‘s newest disaster porn entry White House Down is a legitimate winner until its cheesy finale. There’s actual suspense, authentic humor, and charismatic leads to hook us into its plausible terrorist attack scenario with plenty of action to sustain our interest over its two-hour plus runtime. But just as James Vanderbilt’s script inches towards the finish—and our government protocols are severely tested—cliché…

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REVIEW: Jurassic Park [1993]

“Spared no expense” Dinosaurs have captivated us for centuries—their bones dug up and reassembled in museums and theories about whether they’re descendants of reptiles or birds ebbing and flowing with technological improvement and scientific expansion. So it’s no surprise techno-thriller author Michael Crichton eventually put them at the center of one of his novels, using their appeal and mystique to help craft a cautionary tale about genetic manipulation and the hubristic nature of man. Optioned for adaptation before it was even published, Steven Spielberg looked to bring the giant beasts…

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REVIEW: Independence Day [1996]

“We will not go quietly into the night” The man who proved we could only take so many disaster films and yet still made more, Roland Emmerich shouldn’t be denied the astronomical success of the one that jump-started the genre’s big budget revival in the first place. After giving us the rather smart science fiction actioner Stargate, he and writing/producing partner Dean Devlin came up with the treatment for Independence Day as a response to the constant questions about their opinions on alien life. Wanting to take a step back…

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REVIEW: Battleship [2012]

“It’s the North Koreans—I’m tellin’ ya” Screenwriters Erich and Jon Hoeber actually made paying Hasbro a boatload of cash for their seemingly unnecessary board game property a relevant story point in their big budget, science fiction actioner Battleship. The fact they had to conjure up a humanoid alien race with reptilian characteristics and cloaking technology to keep gigantic flying nautical vessels off radar is beside the point. The American public loves extra-terrestrial invasions, thinks Andy Roddick’s wife Brooklyn Decker is hot, and can’t help getting revved up when their armed…

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REVIEW: Morning Glory [2010]

“The anchors of the show are, ah, difficult and … semi-talented” Director Roger Michell is a sleeper. Do you recognize the name? It rang a bell with me, but I couldn’t quite place where it was attached in the past. His newest work, Morning Glory, is much the same. All the promotional material used producer J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot shingle as selling points, leaving the director’s identity far in the distance as something of worthwhile mention. Also, if you ask five people on the street that have heard…

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