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.

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

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Image is property of Defender Films, Piki Films, Madman Entertainment, The Orchard, Vertigo and Sony

Hunt for the Wilderpeople – Film Review

Cast:  Sam Neill, Julian Dennison

Director: Taika Waititi

Synopsis: In the heart of the majestic New Zealand landscape, a national manhunt is launched after a mischievous teenager and his grumpy foster uncle, run away into the forest.

Review: The incredible and quite breath taking New Zealand countryside has certainly featured on the big screen before, most notably in Peter Jackson’s tremendous Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as his not-quite-as-tremendous-but-still-great Hobbit trilogy. It’s quite fitting then, that New Zealand born director Taika Waititi, in his latest film, a character makes a quite brilliant reference to the former trilogy, as the main characters find themselves in a very similar situation to one in the Lord of the Rings, but this is by no means a similar movie to the aforementioned trilogy.

There are no rings or orcs to be found here, instead we have Ricky Baker (Dennison) a troublesome teenager who has been given a chance for a new life with new foster parents. All appears to be going well, yet due to various circumstances, Ricky and his “uncle” Hec (Sam Neill) begin an adventure in the New Zealand shrubbery. All the while, the duo become the centre of a massive manhunt in order launched by the authorities in order to bring these two home, and a hilarious and very heartfelt adventure begins.

Adapting the screenplay from the novel Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump, Waititi blends the humour of the story (of which there is plenty) and this is combined with some brilliant acting from the two main leads. It is clear that upon their first meeting Uncle Hec is not exactly keen on Ricky, but through time, they begin to develop a connection and an understanding of one another and the path that lead them to meet. Neill is tremendous but more often than not it is Dennison who steals the show with his obsession with everything “gangster” related, even going so far as to name a dog after a very famous rapper! The chemistry between the actors is tremendous, and the dialogue between them is equally so, and Waititi himself makes a cameo that is a contender for cameo of the year.

As well as the quite brilliant LOTR reference, there are plenty of other superb either visual nods to classic movies, or some rather amusing references to other Hollywood classics packed throughout this quirky picture. The cinematography is also spectacular, with Waititi taking full advantage of the New Zealand landscape in a similar vein to Jackson with both of his Middle Earth trilogies, with plenty of awe-inspiring wide shots that will make the viewer feel like they are in the deep dark wood with the characters. With a great soundtrack to boot, Waititi has crafted a quite brilliant piece of film-making that combines memorable characters with a very genuine, heartfelt story that is hilarious to boot. Given that his next project is a massive Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, namely Thor: Ragnarok, a universe that is known for its excellent use of humour, the director is certainly going from strength to strength. MCU fans can rest assured that this Marvel picture is in very safe and capable hands, hands that might be able to lift Mjolnir!

With a very witty and sharp script from Waititi, excellent performances from the lead duo, fasten your seat belts for a very entertaining romp through the New Zealand wilderness! 

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