Posted in 2020-2029, Film Review

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)

© Lionsgate

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent – Film Review

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan, Ike Barinholtz, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio, Neil Patrick Harris, Tiffany Haddish

Director: Tom Gormican

Synopsis: Faced with the prospect of a declining career, actor Nick Cage (Nicholas Cage) is offered the chance by a wealthy super-fan to revive his career, which gets him entangled with the CIA…

Review: For any actor, there is likely to be that one role that they dream of getting in their career. A role that will perhaps win them a prestigious award, or one that goes on to define their career. In the case of Nicolas Kim Coppola, or to give him the name many will undoubtedly know him by Nicolas Cage, pinpointing such a role is hard to nail down. For a career that began in 1981, he’s an actor that has gained a reputation, particularly in recent years, for his over-the-top and eccentric performances. Some of which, in the age of the internet and meme culture, become forever immortalised. But perhaps, the role that will define his career, is the one he’s playing here: a fictionalised version of himself.

Nick Cage is facing a career crisis. He’s trying hard to get major roles, but no one is willing to offer him the parts he’s going for. As such, he fears that his career as an actor may be coming to a close. As he has been solely focused on his career, his relationships with his ex-wife and daughter have become distant. However. when Javi (Pascal), a wealthy Nick Cage super fan, offers him one million dollars to be the guest of honour at his birthday party, it’s an offer he cannot refuse. The two men begin to strike up a friendship, bonding over their shared love of movies. This is until Cage soon finds himself unexpectantly working with the CIA when it’s revealed that Javi is a dangerous drug kingpin who they suspect could be behind a high profile kidnapping.

Pitching such a premise that is reliant on a very meta premise like this could have very easily gone horribly wrong and looked like the ultimate ego-driven and narcissistic vanity project for the actor at the centre of it. But fortunately, Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten’s script doesn’t come across that way at all. It is instead a tribute to an actor whose roles have given audiences so much over the years, from the award-worthy to the performances in films that are so bad they’re good. For passionate fans of Cage and his work, there are references aplenty to some of his most iconic performances of the past that die-hard Cage fans will absolutely love. But it would be easy for the film to just point out a previous performance and call back to it for some nice and easy nostalgia. The film finds plentiful amounts of humour in the situation that Cage finds himself in.

Speaking of Cage, having had something of a resurgence with his brilliant performance in last year’s Pig, this is yet another reminder of the man’s talents as an actor. Sure, playing yourself (or a somewhat fictionalised version) is not the most challenging of tasks, but Cage is clearly having a blast with this material and by consequence so will the audience, especially if you’re a fan of Cage’s filmography. Alongside Cage, Pedro Pascal is equally brilliant in his role as Nick’s new best friend/number one fan. The bromance the two of them strike up, bonding over their favourite movies is heart-warming, especially if you share that deep love of movies that these guys do. Furthermore, with some of the misadventures they get up to whilst Cage is staying at his home provides for plenty more moments of hilarity. The Cage/Javi bromance takes centre stage, which unfortunately means that the CIA side plot does feel tacked on, and both Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz do the best they can with what limited screen time they have.

The film does lose a bit of steam at various points when it deviates away from the central bromance. However, it’s not long enough to drag the movie down, especially given the man and the legend at the centre of it all. The funniest film of the year by far, and it will take some beating for another film to pip this one to the honour of the best title of the year as well. Two more worthy accolades in the career of someone whose work has already brought so much joy to so many. Long may that continue.

Brilliantly self-aware and doesn’t take itself too seriously, with a hilarious buddy comedy at its centre, a worthy celebration of the legend that is Nicolas Cage.

 

Posted in 2020-2029, Film Review

Jurassic World Dominion (2022)

© Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment

Jurassic World Dominion  – Film Review

Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Isabella Sermon, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, BD Wong,

Director:  Colin Trevorrow

Synopsis: With humanity and dinosaurs now being forced to co-exist on the planet, the fate of both species is left hanging in the balance when a terrifying new threat to the food chain emerges…

Review: “I wanted to show them something that wasn’t an illusion. Something that was real, something that they could see and touch.” In many ways, these memorable words spoken by Richard Attenborough’s John Hammond during the original Jurassic Park film explaining his thought process for the creation of the attraction could reflect the vision of Steven Spielberg. Dinosaurs were creatures we all learned about in school and Spielberg’s genius vision for that very first film brought these magnificent creatures to life in ways that had never been previously imagined on the big screen, undoubtedly inspiring the imaginations of millions of audience members across the world. It’s a vision that, despite the best efforts of Hollywood, has never been fully replicated in spite of five films across nearly three decades.

Set four years after the events of Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, dinosaurs are now living alongside humanity on Earth, threatening humanity’s position as the dominant species on the planet. Owen Grady (Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Howard) are trying their best to protect their adoptive daughter Maisie (Sermon) and the super-smart raptor Blue. However, upon the discovery of a horrifying new threat to the world’s global food chain, coinciding with a sinister plot by a mysterious new organisation to kidnap Blue, Owen and Clare must work together to uncover this plot and save the planet and humanity from extinction, which captures the attention of a trio of very familiar faces in Drs Alan Grant (Neil), Ellie Satler (Dern) and Ian Malcolm (Goldblum).

Ever since this franchise came roaring back onto our screens with Jurassic World, it has always delivered one thing to the best of its ability, and that is the thing that most people come to these films for: namely, the dinosaurs. While nothing will ever top the moment we saw a dinosaur for the very first time in Spielberg’s classic (especially with that iconic John Williams score) the film finds new ways to incorporate these prehistoric beasts into play. Whether it is the wonder of seeing dinosaurs for the first time, the thrill of discovering new dinosaurs, or dinosaurs escaping a volcanic eruption, the franchise has consistently delivered enthralling dino action.

With this closing chapter clocking in at 146 minutes, Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael’s screenplay does little to justify to warrant such a runtime. The first act is a little rough as it tries to juggle one too many different plot threads, with what could have been some interesting ideas getting quickly discarded. However, once it finds its feet, it delivers the exciting dinosaur popcorn fun you’ve come to expect from the franchise. The standout moment comes in a particularly thrilling chase sequence that feels like a hybrid combination of Jurassic World meets Mission Impossible meets the Bourne franchise. You could very easily pick some enormous dinosaur-shaped holes in the plot, but there is no denying that it delivers some gargantuanly fun popcorn entertainment.

While Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard once again give serviceable performances as the franchise’s leads, the franchise has some exciting new blood in the form of DeWanda Wise’s Kayla, a badass pilot who lends her skills to help rescue Blue and uncover this threat to the word’s food supply, while Mamoudou Athie also injects some exciting new blood as an employee at what is essentially InGen mark II. However, by far and away, the joyful aspect of the film is the returns of the beloved original trio of Dern, Goldblum and Neil. While Dern and Neil haven’t been seen since the franchise’s nadir (Jurassic Park III, in case you were wondering) it is so pleasing to see this beloved trio reunite once more, and especially for Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm, who is thankfully given a lot more to do this time around and once again proves himself to be this franchise’s MVP with his wit and humour.

With such a magnificent start to the franchise, it is a shame that in all the three decades since that game-changing first film, there has never been a film that has come nearly as close to recapturing that majesty, and the one who arguably came closest was Spielberg himself with The Lost World: Jurassic Park. While this closing chapter is an improvement on its predecessor, it is getting to the point where you think that they have accomplished all that they can and that now it might be time to let this franchise rest.

While the whole film could have been devoured by an unfocused first act, once it finds its claws and with the delightful return of the beloved cast of the first film, this concluding chapter to the Jurassic franchise found a way to reach an imperfect, but satisfying conclusion.