REVIEW: Jurassic Park III [2001]

No force on Earth or Heaven could get me on that island. It’s almost ironic to discover David Koepp—screenwriter of the franchise’s previous two installments—was the one to think up the “simpler” story concept that Peter Buchman (with revisions by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor) ultimately built upon for Jurassic Park III. The man responsible for adapting The Lost World into an overstuffed cash-grab of a bloated sequel swooped in just weeks before another fully storyboarded and ready-to-go draft went into production with the advice to condense its focus. You…

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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: Jaws [1975]

You’re gonna need a bigger boat. Actor Richard Dreyfus called Jaws a “nexus point” during his question and answer period before a recent screening of the cinematic classic and I can’t think of a better descriptor. His words were relevant as far as his career, but also the medium as a whole. Here was a work of art that overcame a troubled production to become the first true blockbuster—a term that ultimately changed the face of the industry itself—and provided a sterling example of what it meant to utilize the…

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REVIEW: Ready Player One [2018]

Ninjas don’t hug. You can’t help but drown within the pop culture vacuum of Ernest Cline‘s Ready Player One while reading. He throws references left and right—most often for no other reason than to namedrop as though he’s racking up geek-cred points within a nonexistent game. There becomes such an influx of information that you begin to see just how flimsy and redundant the plot behind the superficial artifice is in its reworking of common dystopian tropes utilized to bestselling success in the YA world. It’s a thin veil similar…

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REVIEW: The Post [2017]

Quality drives profitability. Let’s be real: every Steven Spielberg film is a must-see, hype-driving machine. He’s a cinematic giant who rarely chooses a project to direct without extreme enthusiasm and artistic purpose (whether the result proves timeless or not). But no one could be blamed for letting excitement crescendo higher than usual upon hearing about his latest, The Post. Still in the midst of post-production on Ready Player One, Spielberg chose to drop everything while the visual effects artists did their thing to put Liz Hannah‘s script in front of…

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REVIEW: Midnight Special [2016]

“Where do you belong?” Is young Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher) the savior of the human race, born to unsuspecting parents inside a cult known as The Ranch in order to bring them salvation? Is he somehow an expert hacker infiltrating the NSA’s foolproof satellite transmissions courtesy of an uncanny technokinetic power no one can explain? Or is he simply a boy, a son, hunted by forces that do not understand him—forces that would scoop him up and use him for their own selfish gains as either a God or a…

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Picking Winners at the 88th Annual Academy Awards

For those handicapping at home, here are the guesses of Buffalo film fanatics Christopher Schobert, William Altreuter, and myself. Jared Mobarak: Here’s hoping Chris Rock does his best Ricky Gervais as far as not caring about political correctness or duty to kissing up to the celebrities all dressed-up nice because having him host the 2016 Oscars ceremony amidst the whole #OscarsSoWhite controversy is an opportunity not to be squandered. Two years in a row with no black actor/actress up for gold? That’s a major problem with The Academy and the…

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REVIEW: Abe Lincoln in Illinois [1940]

“And this too shall pass away” Talk about destiny. If the tale woven by Robert E. Sherwood is to be believed—and I can’t find anywhere online that doesn’t exclaim Abe Lincoln in Illinois to be as accurate a telling as any—this humble young man bounced between Kentucky and Indiana before a fateful journey to New Orleans exposed the quaint town of New Salem, Illinois and its beautiful Ann Rutledge never wanted to be a politician let alone President. Sure, he didn’t want to be a farmer working alongside his father…

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REVIEW: Bridge of Spies [2015]

“So everyone will hate me, but at least I’ll lose” I’m sure it was a foregone conclusion that Steven Spielberg would choose to direct Matt Charman‘s Bridge of Spies himself the instant it crossed his Dreamworks desk. The story possesses all the earmarks the director has gravitated towards for years, namely an unlikely hero finding himself in the position to do something historically extraordinary to save those who aren’t. “Unlikely hero” because who would peg an insurance lawyer—reveling in smooth talk about his firm’s willingness to cover one collision despite…

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REVIEW: Jurassic World [2015]

“This will give parents nightmares” As all good sequels must learn, the key to success is delivering on the promise set forth by the original while also providing something fresh and improved. Just ask James Cameron, a master at the task, who injected action-packed life into both Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgment Day without negating or watering down the mythology still relevant beneath those newfound popcorn blockbuster sensibilities. Neither The Lost World nor Jurassic Park III did it. They decided to both reinvent the wheel and forget what the appeal…

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Picking Winners at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Things look pretty cut and dry where the Academy is concerned in 2015. The Oscars are always a somewhat watered-down look at what really mattered in the past year of cinema and this installment is no exception. In fact, it may be all water at this point. That doesn’t mean there can’t be some intriguing surprises in the second-tier categories like Best Animated Feature (I really hope How to Train Your Dragon 2 loses to one of the other much more aesthetically and conceptually unique nominees) or Short Film Animated…

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