Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Posted on June 21, 2018 at 3:30 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril
Profanity: Mild language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Extended and intense sci-fi/action peril and violence with many characters injured, eaten, gored, and killed, volcano,
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: June 22, 2018
Date Released to DVD: September 17, 2018
Copyright 2018 Universal Pictures

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is a mildly entertaining but utterly unnecessary fifth in the series inspired by doctor-turned blockbuster author Michael Crichton’s books.

It does recognize that if you’re going to keep making movies about reconstituted dinosaurs, it’s time to get them off that island. Yes, I remember they made it to San Diego in #2, but by now we feel we know every leaf and tree on the island that was once the theme park created by twinkly-eyed, mega-rich John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) with the help of scientist of questionable ethics Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong), where so, so many things have gone wrong, as Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) way back in the OG “Jurassic Park” back in 1993. He predicted that the results would be unpredictable, and not in our favor: “Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Dr. Malcolm is back again as this film begins, and he’s still not on board with dinosaurs existing at the same time as humans. He’s testifying at a Congressional hearing because the island has a retconned volcano eruption and if the world does not save them, all of the dinos will be wiped out. “Let it happen,” says Dr. Malcolm. That’s nature, and it will prevent them from wiping us out. But of course there are those who consider the dinos, however created, an endangered species now, and are trying to raise money to save them. This includes former all-business, now all-love-for dinos Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard, thankfully out of the stilettos and able to run in flats), paleovetrenarian Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda), and, of course, this movie’s house computer whiz and full-time scardy-cat, hacker Franklin Webb (Justice Smith of “Paper Towns”).

Just when it seems all is lost, Claire gets the dream offer from retconned former Hammond partner and ailing ultra-rich guy Benjamin Lockwood, who lives with his young granddaughter Maisie (excellent screamer Isabella Sermon). If she can persuade former love interest Owen (Chris Pratt) to help her extract samples of different species, Noah-style, he will put them in an isolated compound where they will never bother anyone or be bothered by anyone ever again.

Yeah, you know what Dr. Malcolm would say about that. He’d also say, “Never trust a rich guy, or, maybe, trust a rich guy but never trust his henchmen who want very, very, very much to be rich guys, especially after Dr. Wu shows up again, plus Buffalo Bill from ‘Silence of the Lambs.'” About that, though. Rafe Spall and Toby Jones use their best American accents for the evil want-to-be-rich roles but they are pretty bad at business. They accepted how much per dino?

So, basically, this is a movie of dinosaurs on the island running away from a volcano while humans run away from the dinosaurs (Remember — you don’t have to be faster than the dinosaurs. You just have to be faster than some other humans.), followed by humans running away from dinosaurs and evil humans at Lockwoods cool, creepy, Victorian mansion, followed by, oh yes, a big fat cliffhanger. Get ready for #6, “Jurassic World: Electric Blue-galoo.”

Here’s what’s good. Director J.A. Bayona knows how to tell a story with a camera, and the film is well-paced and stylishly told. The original had Spielbergian magic in the story-telling as well as the special effects, though. This one is several orders of magnitude down the evolutionary scale, so to speak, on both counts.

Parents should know that this film has constant sci-fi action and peril, scary animal attacks, volcano, characters injured and killed, including being gored and being eaten, murder, sad death, and guns.

Family discussion: Who was right about rescuing the dinosaurs? Do you agree that we keep creating technology we are not capable of controlling?

If you like this, try: the other Jurassic Park/World movies and the book by Michael Crichton

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Jurassic World

Jurassic World

Posted on June 10, 2015 at 5:54 pm

Copyright 2015 Universal
Copyright 2015 Universal

One problem is that we really do not know very much about dinosaurs, especially live ones, and especially genetically tweaked live ones. A bigger problem is that we keep ignoring what we do know about humans. Over and over again we see that humans are petty, greedy for both money and power, and very unclear about the line between optimism and hubris. Maybe someday we will figure out a genetic tweak to adjust that problem, but for the time being we are stuck with it, which is bad for us, but pretty good for movies. It gives us just enough of a framework for the storyline without interfering with the real purpose of the movie, which is, let’s face it, seeing people get chased by dinosaurs. And that is what happens, all right. A lot of people get chased by a lot of dinosaurs, and it is exciting and cool and a lot of fun.

Remember what Jeff Goldblum said in the first “Jurassic Park” movie?   The man behind the idea of taking dino DNA from amber and re-creating creatures who died out 70 million years ago compared the delays to the opening of Disneyland. Yes, Goldblum’s expert in chaos theory replied, but “if The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.” Despite the devastation inflicted on the planet in the first three movies (remember that optimism/hubris problem), things have moved on, and Jurassic World is now a flourishing theme park with 20,000 visitors at a time. Indeed, it is all a little been there-done that, the dinosaurs so tame there is actually a petting zoo portion of the park, where children can ride on triceratops. Investors want better returns and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the director of the park, is under a lot of pressure to create more “wow factor.” The dinosaurs are no more exotic than the elephant at the zoo. “We want to be thrilled.”

She and the eighth richest man on the planet, the CEO of the company who owns Jurassic World, have decided the best way to do that is to spend $28 million to create a bigger, smarter, angrier dinosaur made up of all the scariest parts of all the other dinos. You know, Frankensaurus. What could possibly go wrong?

Making up the rest of the human cast are some disposable red shirt types whose primary job is to be clawed and/or eaten, as well as Claire’s two nephews (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) and a couple of Navy vets who have been working on an experimental program to see whether raptors can be trained, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Barry (Omar Sy). There’s also a computer guy (Jake Johnson), a scientist (B.D. Wong), and the grand prize winner of the really bad idea competition, a military type (Vincent D’Onofrio) who wants to weaponize the dinosaurs and use them in combat.

There’s a terrific opening, as powerful talons crack through egg shells, terrifying literally from the very first second. Then there’s a clever twist to remind us that we are here to have PG-13-style fun. We have about an hour to familiarize us with the characters, the layout, and the vulnerabilities, oh, yes, and the characters. And the rest is people getting chased by dinosaurs in a variety of extremely intense and exciting and creative ways, and in many different locations. The 3D effects are jump-out-at-you scary. Howard makes the best of a thankless part.  Claire starts out as a caricature of a control freak, dressed all in Olivia Pope white, with perfectly groomed, razor-styled red hair.  We know how inhuman she is because she barely remembers the names of her nephews and refers to the dinosaurs briskly as “assets.” And she once went on a date with a print-out of the schedule.  It is fun to see her become more messy and human, though ridiculous that she never takes off her high heels and gets the vapors over seeing a Real Man do Manly things.

The real wow factor in the film is Pratt, who exhibits a natural Indiana Jones-style, all-American heroism. Not many actors can hold their own against a genetically modified T-Rex the size of Godzilla, but Pratt, whether dinosaur whispering or racing his motorcycle, is an old-school hero. Even if we don’t believe there is any chemistry between his character and Howard’s, his quiet confidence and skill are as much fun as all the CGI-asauruses.

Parents should know that this film includes very intense peril and violence involving big, scary creatures with lots of teeth, many characters (human and animal) injured and killed, some graphic and disturbing images, brief strong language, brief sexual reference, discussion of parental divorce.

Family discussion: Why did things go so wrong? Whose fault was it? How did the relationship of the brothers change and why?

If you like this, try: the earlier “Jurassic Park” movies and “Walking With Dinosaurs”

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Based on a book Fantasy Series/Sequel Thriller

List: Dinosaur Movies

Posted on April 4, 2013 at 8:00 am

This week’s 20th anniversary re-release of “Jurassic Park” is a good reminder to check out some other dino delights.  These are some family favorites, most of which have the same plot: the dinosaurs have to leave their home to move to a safer place.

1. “The Land Before Time” A group of little dinosaur pals go on a journey to find a safer place to live in this family favorite that sparked a series.

2. “Walking with Dinosaurs” This TV series combines real-life settings with CGI to explore the world of the dinosaurs.


3. “Fantasia” Disney’s animated classic set to symphonic music has a segment with dinosaurs set to Strindberg’s “Rites of Spring.”

4. “Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend” A couple protects surviving dinosaurs from a predatory scientist in this film starring William Katt, Sean Young, Patrick McGoohan, and future “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes.

5. “Dinosaur” Same plot.  But this one has voices of “The Good Wife’s” Julianna Margulies and “Nashville’s” Hayden Panettiere.

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Coming from Pixar!

Posted on August 20, 2011 at 6:51 pm

A panel at Disney’s D23 Expo 2011 has revealed some tantalizing details on two upcoming Pixar projects.  My friend Brendan Connelly at Cinema Blend reports that

The first announced feature, currently operating under the tongue-in-cheek title ofThe Untitled Pixar Movie About Dinosaurs, will be directed by Bob Peterson, an animator, screenwriter and director at the studio who’s probably best known for voicing the dog Doug in Pixar’s Up!.

Due in theaters during the 2013 holiday season, the film will exist in an alternate version of our world where the asteroid that hit the planet, wiping out the dinosaur population, missed.

People and dinos co-exist, just like the Flintstones!  We’ll have to be patient — it is currently scheduled for the holiday season of 2013.

And the summer of 2014, Pete Docter of “Up” and “Monsters Inc.” will bring us a Pixar movie that is about the brain, where ideas come from.  It makes me think of Epcot’s delightful “Cranium Command.”

Before that, we can look forward to next summer’s “Brave,” Pixar’s first movie with a female lead, and the prequel, “Monster University,” with more from Mike and Sully.

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Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Posted on July 10, 2008 at 5:09 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for intense adventure action and some scary moments
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: A great deal of action-style violence with some intense peril, many jump-out-at-you effects, reference to a sad death
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: July 11, 2008

journey to the center of the earth.jpgThe most impressive achievement from Brendan Fraser and Josh Hutcherson in this 3D action -adventure is holding our attention as it feels like we are being chased by a drooling dinosaur and squirted with something really ooky. Fraser plays a scientist and Hutcherson is the nephew who joins him on the title journey, and these two attractive and capable performers keep us interested in the story as the (almost literally) eye-popping special effects.
Unlike the the 1959 movie version , this is not based on the pioneering 1864 science-fiction Jules Verne Journey to the Center of the Earth. Instead, it is based on the idea that the book, also about a professor and his nephew who descend into the inside of the planet, really happened, and these two modern-day characters are following in their footsteps.
Fraser plays Trevor Anderson, a vulcanologist whose program is about to be shut down by the university for failing to produce any results. Distracted and upset, he has forgotten that his nephew with the obligatory attitude problem (Hutcherson as Sean) is about to come for a visit. Sean’s father Max, Trevor’s brother, disappeared years before. Trevor looks at Max’s copy of the Verne book and realizes that Max had figured out a system for predicting volcanic activity. He and Sean take off for Iceland to see if they can find Max’s discovery and perhaps find Max as well. Led by a beautiful guide with the obligatory skepticism problem (Icelandic native Anita Briem), they set off for the volcano and are soon descending into the earth’s core, where they find dangerous plants and animals, terrifying terrain, endearing little glow-birds, and many, many things that jump out at the audience.
Fraser is one of Hollywood’s most underrated actors. His range is limitless — in drama (“Crash” and “Twilight of the Golds”), romantic comedy (“Bedazzled”), silly comedy (“Encino Man”) and fantasy-adventure (“The Mummy” series) he is always completely compelling and authentic and perfect pitch in calibrating the size and tempo of his performance to the material. Hutcherson is a promising young performer. Both of them make it all believable and just plain fun, whether they are trying to jump across stones suspended in air or trying to stay on board a roller-coaster-ish runaway mine car. Part thrill ride, part video game, part virtual reality, it is a lively and satisfying update of a good old-fashioned Saturday afternoon serial adventure saga.


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3D Action/Adventure Based on a book Fantasy Movies -- format Remake Science-Fiction
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