JURASSIC WORLD (transfer) review

These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.

Let’s face it, this movie has been in the making for a long time (since 2007, I think) and we were/are hoping that it’s been worth the wait. I won’t waste any time, I’m going to try to keep this spoiler-free, so let’s get right into it.

Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard (GOLD [2017], PETE’S DRAGON [2016], 50/50 [2011], and the upcoming JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM [2018]), Chris Pratt (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 [2017], THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN [2016], THE LEGO MOVIE [2014], and upcoming films Marvel’s AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018] and JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM), Nick Robinson (EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING [2017], THE 5TH WAVE [2016], THE KINGS OF SUMMER [2013]), and Ty Simpkins (THE NICE GUYS [2016], IRON MAN 3 [2013], and INSIDIOUS [2010]). In support: Vincent D’Onofrio (CHIPS [2017], THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, MEN IN BLACK [1997], and the upcoming remake DEATH WISH [2018]), Jake Johnson (THE MUMMY [2017], MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES [2016], TV show NEW GIRL, and the upcoming TAG [2018]), Judy Greer (WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES [2017], ANT-MAN [2015], CARRIE [2013], and the upcoming Marvel’s ANT-MAN AND THE WASP [2018]), Irrfan Khan (The Da Vinci Code’s INFERNO [2016] and LIFE OF PI [2012]), and BD Wong (THE SPACE BETWEEN US [2017], MULAN [1998], TV show GOTHAM, and the upcoming JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM).

Directing and co-writing: Colin Trevorrow (THE BOOK OF HENRY [2017], the upcoming STAR WARS EPISODE IX [2019], and writing the upcoming JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM). Co-writing: Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES [2011], THE RELIC [1997], and upcoming films Disney’s live-action MULAN [2018] and AVATAR 3 [2021]), and Derek Connolly (KONG: SKULL ISLAND [2017], MONSTER TRUCKS [2017], and upcoming films JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM and STAR WARS EPISODE IX). Composer: Michael Giacchino (WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, ZOOTOPIA [2016], TOMORROWLAND [2015], and upcoming films Pixar’s COCO [2017] and JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM). Cinematographer: John Schwartzman (THE BOOK OF HENRY, SAVING MR. BANKS [2013], THE BUCKET LIST [2007], and upcoming films FIFTY SHADES FREED [2018] and STAR WAR EPISODE IX)

Story on top, review on the bottom.

(SUMMARY)

We open to Zach (Nick Robinson) and his younger brother Gray (Ty Simpkins) who are about to embark on a family trip to the now-opened dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, which is headed by their semi-estranged aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). Gray is more than excited to be in this place, but Zach seems rather detached at first, but eventually warms up. Claire is an incredibly work-driven woman who sadly doesn’t spend time with her nephews to show them the park and leaves them with their personal guide, Zara (Katie McGrath), and even reveals that her scientists have spliced together a completely new dinosaur called the Indominus Rex, revealed by Doctor Henry Wu (BD Wong) to be bigger than a T-Rex. We are also introduced to Owen (Chris Pratt), the park’s very own raptor whisperer and his rocky business relationship with Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), who admires the way Owen handles the raptors and sees these intelligent animals as weapons to use for the military against their opponents, to which Owen knows is a colossal mistake, knowing that these raptors only listen to him because they’ve built a relationship since they were hatched, and it’s not a relationship with them thinking that he’s their mother, but uneasy respect. Of course, everything starts going to hell when the Indominus Rex finds a way to escape its paddock and turns the entire park into a warzone. Now, with Owen’s help, Claire must reunite with Zach and Gray and get everyone off the island.

(REVIEW)

To be honest, I never truly believed I’d go into this movie thinking it would be JURASSIC PARK’s equal. It’s a movie that changed cinema with ground-breaking CGI, and perfectly blended horror, action, and wonder. To boot, it was a smart movie. It wasn’t just about a group of people on an island of dinosaurs that run amok. It was about how the advancement of science shouldn’t be wielded like a children’s toy and must be considered if the risks truly outweigh the reward, and shows what happens when there is no contingency plan for when shit hits the fan. Granted, it was far from a perfect movie, but mix all those fantastic elements with a hint of badassery, it’s hard to not like the film as a whole. I knew JURASSIC WORLD wouldn’t be that well-written or impactful, but I was holding out for it to be at least better than LOST WORLD. Boy howdy was I pleased.

Let’s start with what didn’t work, in my opinion. First, D’Onofrio is usually an incredible actor, and coming off his success as Kingpin from Netflix’s DAREDEVIL, I was really curious to see what he was going to bring to this film, and he brings… nothing. His character is there to provide one of the stupidest sub-plots that you can squeeze into a sci-fi like this: turn the subject matter into military weapons. Seriously, writers? It’d be better if Hoskins was like the park’s captain of the soldiers-who-hunt-dinosaurs-if-they-escape and Owen was his most trusted lieutenant who had duel jobs as the park’s raptor trainer. Instead, he’s one of those character who you can write off and the movie would progress just fine. Or worse yet, I won’t spoil anything for anyone, but he does blatantly set up the notion of a sequel. Literally, that’s his only purpose. Not someone we give a shit about. He’s just there to let us know that a sequel could happen.

While I’m on the subject of characters, I really didn’t like Zach. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Nick Robinson. I’m a huge fan of the TV show MELISSA AND JOEY, and Nick is such a presence on screen, but he had to pick the most two-dimensional character that could possibly exist: I’m a moody teenager and I hate everything and I’m just going to ignore everything and listen to my music because I’m just a bad ass. You know what you little dip shit, you’re about to go to a theme park WITH F*****G DINOSAURS, AND YOU’RE MISERABLE???? HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN??? Are you all mopey because you’re leaving your girlfriend? Dinosaurs or pussy, dude? Let’s face it, dinosaurs win EVERY TIME!!! THEY’RE DINOSAURS!!! And never mind his moodiness, he has like no character arch. He comes to this island with an attitude that makes me want to throw a great big pile of shit at him *REFERENCE* and seems rather distant of his brother, or worse, is incredibly cruel to Gray for no rhyme or reason, and even once he starts to care about him… well, that seemed to just come out of his ass. Why do you suddenly care if Gray is getting the full Jurassic World experience? You don’t even want to be here, you hairy scrotum! Nick Robinson played the role well, I just didn’t like the role he was given.

Also, there’s a lot of sub-plots… and they don’t go anywhere. Owen and Claire went on one date. Okay… why was THAT relevant to the story? I think if you watched the movie and fast-forward to ANY point in the story, you wouldn’t really guess that these two had a history together. They’re not divorced, they’re co-workers who went on one date. Oh the drama…

***SPOILERS***

***

***

Also, what’s with the sub-plot of Gray finding out his parents are getting divorced? That was clearly just added to see Gray deliver is a crying performance. As well as Simpkins delivering on that performance, that sub-plot goes absolutely nowhere. Sure both the mom and dad come to Isla Nublar together to find their kids, but… okay, are we going to elaborate on this subject at all now that everyone’s together? Nope? We’re just going to cut to Owen and Claire have a chat and cut to the credits? Cool. Thanks for telling us about a plot that won’t be developed. Awesome sauce *sarcasm*.

***

***

***END SPOILERS***

On a slightly lesser note, why was Judy Greer in this movie? This woman’s got acting talent that can wipe the floor of most actors in Hollywood, so why is she playing a nothing character? Literally, ANYONE could have played Zach and Gray’s mom, and it would have been fine. But no, Greer plays their mom that does NOTHING in the movie other than foreshadow, which is pointless because this is JURASSIC PARK (kinda); dinosaurs running around eating people is kind of a given in this franchise. Also, why was there literally just ONE little pterodactyl with an Indominous Rex head? Anyone else think that was just random for the sake of random? But fine, whatever.

But for as much as I hate some of the characters… and seemingly much of this movie now that I’ve read through some of it, I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t like this movie. For as many problems as it has, it does a great deal more good than bad.

The moment you step out into Jurassic World itself and the immortal Jurassic Park theme starts playing, I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear. I remember reading the review on Collider.com about how the reviewer would have been perfectly content just exploring the theme park itself and just do away with the chaos and death, and I have to say, I’m in complete agreement. The park itself is absolutely gorgeous to look at. Bright colors, large crowds, it makes the 8-year-old Peruvian boy in me giddy with delight. The fact that the movie takes a beat to actually let us in on some of the attractions, such as feeding the mosasaurus and, how awesome is this shit, lowering the bleachers below the tank water to see the reptilian fish underwater. SO F*****G AWESOME, I’M JEALOUS!!! And a petting zoo, a f*****g petting zoo. Never in my life have I ever been so jealous of an 8-year-old kid getting to hug a baby brachiosaurus, or riding a baby triceratops. Makes me wanna punch those f*****s off and have my turn. F*** YOU KIDS, I LOVED DINOSAURS FIRST!!!

Another unique thing that you might notice in this movie is that the raptors are somewhat given personalities. You can tell there’s a complicated relationship between Owen and the raptors. These are clearly wild animals that want to maim everything in front of them, but there’s clearly some kind of connection they have with Owen that makes them understand that THIS human isn’t meant for eating, but for respecting. This relationship really shines through later on in the story, both for the best and the worst, but always makes sense and even provides a couple of the tensest and somewhat heart-warming scenes. Plus, totally awesome when Owen and the humans team up with the raptors to hunt down the Indominus Rex.

The Indominus Rex is pretty fearsome for a newbie and is a rather well-written monster whose motives and actions make sense. It’s been in captivity all its life, has had no other interaction with anyone or anything other than a crane that lets it know that it’s feeding time. So when it does escape, its rampage makes sense. It’s smart, it’s vicious, it’s something I don’t want to run into on a Saturday night drive home. Nah, bro. Just nah. So no one needs to worry if whether or not the new Rex is a lame new element. It really isn’t.

***SPOILERS***

***

***

The only real problem with the Indominus Rex is this: Owen comments after seeing all the dead brachiosauruses that it’s killing for sport. If any of you have been following the movie as it was being developed, there were some fan theories going around that maybe Indominus had some human spliced into it because the only creature on Earth that hunts for sport is a human. I guess I can chalk this one up to another plot point that doesn’t go anywhere.

***

***

***END SPOILERS***

As much as I bash the characters, Pratt and Dallas Howard have great chemistry. Maybe Pratt makes it easy because he’s such a charismatic actor. But hey, what do I know? In fact, both Pratt and Dallas Howard are great. They’re plots go nowhere and are pretty pointless, but they play their characters very well. Especially Dallas Howard. It’s so strange, though. Her resume consists of some pretty awful movies. TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE (2010), TERMINATOR: SALVATION (2009), M. Night Shyamalan’s LADY IN THE WATER (2006), and SPIDER-MAN 3 (2007). It’s curious how this wonderful actress even has a career after being in some of the most hated movies in their respective franchises, but here she is in JURASSIC WORLD, practically headlining it and she’s great. I knew she had talent, but there was never a movie that really showcased it. This may be her best performance yet, but here’s hoping that she will get better roles because I know she can act the f*** out of a movie if she was given better material.

And there’s a nice throwback to JURASSIC PARK’s character Tim, who was a dino nerd; now it’s Ty Simpkins playing Gray. While certainly Tim was clearly more knowledgeable about dinosaurs, he was a far more annoying character than Gray. Gray is probably younger, but there’s a certain gravity that he has about him; a youthful strength that he plays so well that doesn’t feel like he’s needy or frustratingly helpless.

And yes, Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus are incredible comic relief.

***SPOILERS***

***

***

For anyone who wants me to dish out my thoughts on the Indominus Rex duking it out with the T-Rex, don’t kid yourself. It’s beyond f*****g awesome. Oh my god, to see these titans chomping down on each other and f*****g each other up, oh my god oh my god oh my god, so much SQUEE, and then the velociraptor enters the fight, overload of badassery, my brain can’t take much more of this, f***, three-way fight! T-Rex and velociraptor versus Indominus Rex, holy mother of shit! And then the Indominus Rex gets it by getting eaten by the mosasaurus. In case you can’t tell, it was f*****g awesome. I mean, clearly it’s fan service since the T-Rex is clearly the fan favorite of the franchise and needed a win after getting straight murdered in the third movie by the less popular Spinosaurus. Still, the only real downside to the fight is that the Indominus Rex is killed rather anticlimactically; not by the T-Rex, but rather randomly by the mosasaurus.

***

***

***END SPOILERS***

While this movie has glaring, even frustrating problems, there is more than enough awe-inspiring visuals, badassery, and fan service to more than make up for it. It may not have the brain of JURASSIC PARK, but it plants its feet as the second best Jurassic Park movie, which I think is something any fan of the franchise can walk away happy with.

4/5

PS: If you recall the scene where the pterodactyls are attacking the tourists, you probably remember seeing a guy fleeing from the dinosaurs with a pair of margaritas. You wanna know who that is? Famed singer Jimmy Buffett! No joke, look it up online! It’s really, hilariously, him!

jurassic-world-poster-dino-chris-pratt

Advertisements

THE BOOK OF HENRY review

What the hell is this movie?! The advertising for this flick is beyond misleading. Oh, as of this moment while I’m writing, I haven’t seen the movie, but… seriously! The trailer starts off like a gender-swap GIFTED (2017). The kid is a genius who handles the taxes of the house, his mom works as a server and plays video games, and… pretty sure the younger brother is just cute pandering. The boy meets a girl he likes at school and then things go dark. Like… schoolgirl’s step-father may be abusive, dark. Like… end the trailer with the mom holding a sniper rifle, dark.

And then one of the film’s poster looks like this!

the-book-of-henry-banner

There’s sniper rifles in this movie, kids! Be confused! Be very confused! But all that being said, I’m excited for this movie. It looks like it could be so insane that it’s entertaining.

Well, here’s a look at the cast. Starring, we have Jaeden Lieberher (MIDNIGHT SPECIAL [2016], ALOHA [2015], and ST. VINCENT [2014]), Naomi Watts (CHUCK [2017], the Divergent Series ALLEGIANT [2016], EASTERN PROMISES [2007], and the upcoming direct-to-TV Divergent Series ASCENDANT, due out… who knows when), Jacob Tremblay (SHUT IN [2016], ROOM [2015], THE SMURFS 2 [2013], and the upcoming THE PREDATOR [2018]), and Maddie Ziegler (1 episode of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, 1 episode of DROP DEAD DIVA, and the upcoming animated French-Canadian film LEAP! [2017]). In support, we have Sarah Silverman (POPSTAR [2016], A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST [2014], WRECK-IT RALPH [2012], and upcoming films BATTLE OF THE SEXES [2017] and Disney’s animated RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 [2018]), Dean Norris (FIST FIGHT [2017], SECRET IN THEIR EYES [2015], TV show BREAKING BAD, and the upcoming DEATH WISH [2017]), and Lee Pace (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY [2014], LINCOLN [2012], and TV show PUSHING DAISIES).

Now for the crew. Directing is Colin Trevorrow, known for JURASSIC WORLD (2015), SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (2012), and the upcoming as-of-yet-titled STAR WARS EPISODE IX (2019). Penning the screenplay is Gregg Hurwitz, known for 7 episodes of TV show V. Composing the score is the awesome Michael Giacchino, known for ROGUE ONE (2016), INSIDE OUT (2015), MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL (2011), and upcoming films SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017) and WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (2017). Finally, the cinematographer is John Schwartzman, known for FIFTY SHADES DARKER (2017), THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012), THE GREEN HORNET (2011), and upcoming films FIFTY SHADES FREED (2018) and STAR WARS EPISODE IX.

Overall, yeah, kind of excited, but more curious to see just how weirdly bad this movie gets. I’m just hoping for some entertainment, not expecting a good story.

This is my honest opinion of: THE BOOK OF HENRY

(SUMMARY)

Eleven-year-old Henry (Jaeden Lieberher) is smart. Gifted. He lives with his loving single mother Susan (Naomi Watts) and his younger admiring brother Peter (Jacob Tremblay). Henry also has a crush on his neighor, Christina (Maddie Ziegler), whom he starts to believe is being abused by her police chief commissioner step-father Glenn (Dean Norris). However, his efforts to trying to save her are constantly thwarted due to Glenn’s status and his age. But as he starts to put an elaborate plan together to save Christina, things go horribly wrong for Henry.

(REVIEW)

Oh man, don’t hate me, y’all, but… I kinda like this movie. I hesitate to say it’s good, but I really like a lot that I saw. Yes yes, the tone is inconsistent as hell, but I barely care.

So yeah, the movie starts off about as… well it actually starts off pretty obnoxious. You have an intellectually gifted kid who’s only with his peers because he thinks it would help him develop more appropriately, yet when he’s supposed to talk to the class about what he wants his legacy to be and the other kids are doing what the assignment calls for, he gets so annoyingly dramatic and is all like, “I don’t put stock in legacy. It’s not about what we do. It’s about who we surround ourselves with. Our friends and family.” I winced in pain from that. But honestly, my problems with the movie end there.

From this point on, it’s a long series of character and relationship development that I honestly got really hooked by. Henry likes to make contraptions. He’s a somber kid, loves his mother and brother, fiercely loyal to them, and even has a cute battle-of-attitudes with Susan’s best friend and co-worker Sheila (Sarah Silverman). Susan is a single mom, but all the household responsibilities are taken over by Henry. He pays the bills, handles bonds, banking, all that stuff while she comfortably sits around playing video games. And for the record, Naomi Watts playing GEARS OF WAR (2006) is the greatest cinematic gift to the world since a bearded, witch-hunting, flaming-sword wielding Vin Diesel. She’s deeply loving toward her two sons and has a cute relationship with Christina, though I could have done without their complicated hand-shake. Peter is… well, okay, he’s the cute-pandering kid who’s there to be adorable, but even he has some character traits. He wants to be an inventor like Henry, even though this doesn’t really amount to anything later on in the movie, and loves spending time with Henry. I love these characters and their relationship toward one another. It’s cute and it’s engaging. I loved it.

And speaking of Watts, I thought she was SO GOOD in this movie! There’s not one moment where I didn’t believe her acting. Every scene, from the happy mother, to the emotional, to the grieving, to the bad-ass, I bought everything. Sure, there’s a lot of shit that was way too convenient, like Henry overhearing an illegal weapons transaction in a gun store where a shady man drops the name of a shady character and uses that later on in the story, but whatever, the pay off was fun, making the ending feel even more victorious and Watts knocks it out of the park for me. I laughed and cried with, and cheered for her as a woman who has to learn how to learn to find confidence in herself and learn to do things on her own. It’s a nice character arch. Of course, now that I’m typing this out, everything that I’m talking about is probably the very reason why this movie is getting such low ratings and negative reviews. What kind of mother lets her eleven-year-old son do all the important housework and she literally does nothing but drink and play video games? Well, if Susan was a more despicable character who forced Henry to do that work so she could be a lazy good-for-nothing and wasn’t a loving mother, this would be a much bigger problem for me. But since it’s Henry that put that responsibility on himself and she’s just going along with it, I can’t say that I agree with them if that’s where the criticism comes from. I would understand, but I don’t agree.

Some minor annoyances in the movie before I head into spoiler territory. As much as I enjoy Silverstone as an actress, and for all intents and purposes, she’s not bad in this, Sheila is a little too 80’s diner cliché for me. She has that nasal-y speech pattern that makes her sound like Fran Drescher, and because she’s youngish, attractive, and bustier, her boobs are out in the open, it’s a little too on the nose for my taste. Thankfully, I do enjoy the playful banter she has with Henry and how she does show that she cares about him later on, lending itself to a pretty tender and heartwarming scene… er… that is if you can ignore the VERY OBVIOUS BAD TOUCH moment. What the hell, Silverman?! You didn’t argue that shit?! Actually, there seems to be quite a few of those in this movie with adults being unnecessarily close to children, but I guess this isn’t a big deal since some of those moments are between a mother and her young children, but still… half an arm distance away, y’all.

It’s pretty hard to talk about the meat of the story without getting into spoiler territory, so that’s what the remainder of this review will be.

***SPOILERS***

 

 

***

 

 

***

 

Wisely hidden from the trailers, Henry dies early on in the movie. This sort of comes out of nowhere and the tone shifts tremendously. The first quarter or third of the movie is all happy-peppy family togetherness, with hints of harsh drama, like why someone should or shouldn’t interfere in public abuse and Henry’s desperation to try and save Christina from Glenn (Dean Norris). But then suddenly, we get an eleven-year-old having a seizure, then immediately told that he has a tumor that’s going to kill him. And I was remarking on the sniper rifle thing and the happy family picture above. Yeah, we haven’t gotten to that point yet, and we’re already treated to a dead child. If this is also a contributing factor to the negativity toward the film, I get that too. It’s almost fairy-tale too happy at first and then the movie throws this at the audience. It would bother me more if the acting wasn’t so damn powerful.

 

Yeah, the acting in these few scenes is absolutely heartbreaking. When Henry deduces that he’s going to die, he’s absolutely paralyzed with fear and uncertainty. The way he requests to be left alone, you can’t help but get invested in the emotions, especially as he later tries to set everyone up after he passes. I know I’ve rambled about Watts a lot already, but I absolutely love her in this movie and a good performance should really be commented on when it warrants. You not only see that shock and uncertainty of how she’s possibly going to take care of herself and Peter, but the utter inner destruction of knowing that she’s saying a slow good-bye to him. Both Lieberher and Watts run through gauntlets of emotions and they’re absolutely fantastic together.

 

And it’s here where that Silverman “bad touch” moment happens. They have a heart to heart and admit that they really do like each other and before she leaves, she plants a kiss on his lips. Yeah… it’s a little too ewie for me. Hell, I think Henry had the same reaction as I did because that kid’s eyes widen. I’m with you, kid. Ew.

 

So when Henry does die, he leaves behind a notebook that goes through every scenario he went through as he tried to call child protective services to save Christina, but utterly failed, going through why any official channels won’t work. And by the way, I’m declaring this a movie line, but when Peter reads Henry’s book, he runs down and hilariously shouts, “Mom! I think Henry wants us to kill Glenn!” Oh my god, I’m still laughing about that. God, I love Tremblay. Even when he’s given thin roles, he knows how to make them entertaining as hell.

 

Not all of the writing is good post-death scene. In fact, a couple of scenes are downright awkward. Susan is told to go home to grieve, but Sheila races after her and have a really weird and senseless conversation. It was such bizarre writing that I don’t actually remember what she was babbling about. Something about her car, or some shit. There’s also a somewhat inappropriate comedy moment when Peter’s at school with a lunch box full of unhealthy food, looking at it like he’s bored, and then says, “Anyone wanna trade from some fruit?” And then a crap ton of hands lay down fruit as they take his treats. Funny, but… this is barely ten minutes after Henry’s death scene. We’re still wrestling with the emotions of that. The comedy is really out of place here.

 

But these gripes don’t anchor the movie down too bad as it starts picking up again when Susan starts following Henry’s instructions, nabs herself a flawless plan to literally murder Glenn and get away with it. It’s so silly to see her taking directions from a recording, especially when Henry’s voice is commenting on things that he couldn’t possibly know would happen. But yet again, this would be a bigger problem if Watts wasn’t so damn hilarious as she discovers that she’s a pretty decent shot with a sniper rifle. Not that she ever utilizes it when she’s got Glenn in her sights, which… didn’t make much sense.

 

Yeah, after she drops off Christina and Peter at their school’s talent show, she’s off to try and kill Glenn. She’s out deep in the woods and you know what she does to lure him out? She makes whistling sounds through a walkie-talkie to which he follows the whistling to the designated place where she’s going to kill him. I say again, a sound that is coming from a walkie-talkie taped to a tree at least a quarter mile away in a forest… Glenn heard that whistling from within his enclosed house. It’s about as stupid and senseless as it sounds. In fact, this whole scene is pretty out there. Her arm knocks over a doohickey which does this thingy- basically, it makes a bunch of noise that she’s supposed to ignore as she snipes a child-abuser and said child abuser doesn’t hear that racket when he’s not that far away. Eventually, all that shizz opens up a collage of family photos that somehow means that Susan can’t pull the trigger. But I do like that when Glenn realizes what she’s up to moments later that he can’t fight against her determination and kills himself, eventually resulting in her adopting Christina at the end of the movie. And as anyone can tell you, I’m a sucker for adoption stories… even though that wasn’t the focus of the movie, it worked well enough for me. Sure, there’s probably a million ways around this situation for the guy. He is the police commissioner after all, and Susan’s a waitress at a diner who doesn’t know how to pay her own taxes. I can’t imagine a court case lasting long in her favor. But the fact that they decided, “Screw it, forced happy ending,” saves a little time and I liked this ending as is.

 

***

 

 

***

 

 

***END SPOILERS***

Overall, it’s not a perfect film. Far from it, actually. In fact, I hesitate to say that it’s even good, as most of the things that I love about the movie are likely the reasons why it’s not getting well received by critics and audiences. But I won’t lie. I love the acting. I love the family bonding. I love how even within dramatic shift in tones that shouldn’t work still managed to keep me both interested and emotionally invested. It’s hard for me to know how to recommend this movie and who might enjoy it. My highest recommendation is to watch the trailer and get a sense if this movie is for you. If you think it might be, play it safe and see it at a matinee screening, in case you don’t like it, you at least didn’t waste too much money. If you think it’s not for you, I can hardly argue and I see why it wouldn’t be. But as for me, I’m happy I saw this movie and do see myself revisiting it. Maybe not twice at the theaters, I certainly won’t own it on Blu-Ray, but if it was on Netflix or TV while I was channel surfing, I’d watch this again, definitely. Maybe it’s just a guilty pleasure, but it’s still a pleasure to watch it nonetheless.

My honest rating for THE BOOK OF HENRY: 4/5

book-of-henry-poster

FIFTY SHADES DARKER review

And to nobody’s great shock, we got ourselves a sequel! Cue unenthusiastic “woo.” This is how you get punished when you spend the week watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Haha, actually, a little honesty, I kinda liked the first one. I mean, not in a “so artistic and amazing” kind of way, but in a “so bad, I’m enjoying myself” kind of way. I had fun with how bad the script was, how unemotional the acting was, how stupid the story was as a whole, but it was enjoyable. In a way though, I saw how it could have been a good movie, but that’s a whole different rant. From the look of things… it looks just as seriously bad and it looks like it’ll be more or less the same, except with a role reversal and a mysterious young woman who… might be a ghost? I have no fucking idea, but I’m kind of excited for this schlock.

Let’s take a look at the cast. Reprising their roles are Dakota Johnson (HOW TO BE SINGLE [2016], BLACK MASS [2015], and THE SOCIAL NETWORK [2010]) and Jamie Dornan (ANTHROPOID [2016], MARIE ANTOINETTE [2006], and TV show ONCE UPON A TIME). Johnson’s proven to be decent when given the right material, like in BLACK MASS, but so many other films she’s been in give her nothing to work with to make her stand out. Or maybe I just think she’s cute and want her to be more than a pretty face. Dornan… yeah, I actually have less to say. I remember him in ONCE UPON A TIME, but beyond that, I can’t say I’m familiar with his work. So… onward. Others include Bella Heathcote (THE NEON DEMON [2016], IN TIME [2011], and TV show THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE), Kim Basinger (THE NICE GUYS [2016], CELLULAR [2004], and BATMAN [1989]), and the ever amazing and only redeeming quality in these movies despite her limited role, Marcia Gay Harden (GRANDMA [2015], THE MIST [2007], and TV show TROPHY WIFE).

Now for the crew. Directing is James Foley, known for PERFECT STRANGER (2007), CONFIDENCE (2003), and some episodes of TV show HOUSE OF CARDS. Writing the script is Niall Leonard, known for a lot of stuff that I am not familiar with. And this never ceases to tickle me, composing the music is Danny Elfman, known for ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (2016), AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015), and pretty much anything Tim Burton. Finally, the cinematographer is John Schwartzman, known for THE FOUNDER (2017), SAVING MR. BANKS (2013), and THE GREEN HORNET (2011).

Overall, yup, I wanna see this. I could use a good laugh. In fact, I will be sorely disappointed if this flick isn’t as stupidly entertaining as the first one. We shall see.

This is my honest opinion of: FIFTY SHADES DARKER

(SUMMARY)

Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) is a miserable wreck without Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), whereas Anna’s doing rather well for herself, being an assistant to a high-end publisher, but clearly still misses Christian. But after an encounter at her friend’s art exhibit, they go out for dinner together and he convinces her that he wants to change. So the two rekindle their relationship while maintaining their bondage edge. But as Christian begins to open up about his past and those involved eventually makes their relationship even more complicated when those forces begin to threaten Anna.

(REVIEW)

YES! YES, SHOVE THAT BLAND, EMOTIONLESS ACTING UP MY ASS! OH GOD, MAKE ME DEEP THROAT THAT HORRIBLE DIRECTING!! FUCK YES, ALL THAT HORRIBLE WRITING ALL OVER MY FACE!! DO IT, YOU FUCKING WHORE OF A MOVIE!!

……………… So yeah, that’s how I’m starting this review. Ironically, I think my over-the-top intro to my opinion is a lot more graphic and intense than anything you’ll find in the movie.

In a few ways, this is a rehash of the first flick. Christian comes along and acts weird, and this somehow translates to “we should date.” Awe hell, the awkwardness starts before that. Anna gets invited to her friend’s art exhibit and is met with a lot of photos of her hanging on the wall open for bidding. First off, this friend is Jose (Victor Rasuk), the friendzoned guy with a massive crush on Anna. If his goal was to score this piece of bland ass, you wouldn’t hang pictures of her on the wall in your exhibit, without her expressed permission, up for purchase by random strangers, especially if she’s “your best work.” Trust me, if women were written to be horribly misrepresented in the first one, men get their turn in this. But onward with this opening scene. Mid conversation as Anna sees this, guess what happens. Every single one of those pictures is bought… and not one of these characters immediately comes to the conclusion that it was Christian. No no… he has to appear a few seconds later and the creepy-ass statement, “I don’t want strangers gawking at you.”

Now, any real woman worth her brain would have hightailed it out of that joint in a microsecond. Instead, this movie insists on being adult-Twilight and have these creepy actions mean nothing and Anna agrees to a dinner date. All in the span of probably less than five minutes, all that sadistic bodily harm that she endured in the first movie might as well have been an immature shoe-throw. Because that’s how women react to abuse, right?

Barely ten minutes into this movie and I’m fighting tooth and nail to not burst out laughing, but this holds for a vast majority of the film.

There’s another scene where Anna demands a “road map” of Christian’s emotions. Essentially, she wants him to open up to her about why he is the way he is. He then takes her into another room, opens his shirt, and with the use of lipstick – I shit you not – plays a game of connect-the-dots with the cigarette burns on his chest that coincidentally make a square-ish shape, all the while he’s getting a chubby off of it. What the fuck can you say about this shit?! And I think they have sex right after.

This movie is marinated in scenes like this. They are beyond awkward and hilarious. And it still doesn’t take away the standard bad writing. Character choices and motivations don’t make sense. Like why does Elena (Kim Basinger) care about who ends up in a romance with Christian? Is she in love with him? If the answer is yes, then it’s never explored. Her general role in the movie is to randomly appear in places and make threats to Anna. And what about Leila (Bella Heathcote)? For how dramatic her role gets, it’s barely touched upon and resolved about as quickly. This subplot could have been completely removed and you wouldn’t have missed a thing. Same thing could be said about anything involving Elena. Nothing is developed and nothing is giving the audience a reason to care other than just how much of a soap opera it’s really trying to become.

Oh, and how about that sequence with Christian and the helicopter going down? Am I spoiling something? No! I’m really not, actually! Why? Because there’s a third movie coming out in a couple years, so you know he didn’t die! Again, this movie takes such dramatic turns, but they don’t let any tension build or even, you guessed it, develop it. Even if you didn’t know there was a sequel coming out, the sequence lasts for about five minutes between the it’s execution and resolution. It’s pointless.

How about our leads? Nope, nothing is explored or taken further. I don’t recall seeing anything done different between the two characters. You don’t learn anything new about Anna, and the new things about Christian aren’t compelling because, whether due to natural bad acting – which I don’t believe out of Dornan – or bad direction, the audience is never given a chance to care. Neither actor is very good here, but then again, how can you make any sentence sound natural? Neither Emma Stone nor Ryan Gosling would be able to make this work. Maybe Harden does a decent enough job, but that’s saying very little considering how much she’s in the movie. A lot more than in the previous film, so that’s a plus. Thank you, Harden, for adding a lot more class to this movie.

Oh, and seriously, I’m a heterosexual male, I watch porn, I can appreciate a naked woman… but I am seriously sick and freakin’ tired of Dakota Johnson’s tits. This woman’s bodily exposure makes Megan Fox look straight-up decent.

Would it even make a real difference to mention the subplot about Anna’s creepy boss, Jack (Eric Johnson)? Of course there is! Because it’s fun! At first, you’d think it’s building up to a Twilight-esk love triangle. But nope! They meet early on and Christian is immediately a dick. He buys the company, becomes her “boss’ boss’ boss,” direct quote, and then quite sporadically gets so pissed off with Anna’s relationship with Christian and practically sexually assaults her. That’s not how this character was built up, except through a lazy bit of dialog before the incident happens. I mean, wow, men in this are fucking assholes in this story. They’re all jealous, possessive, abusive, psychotic, and all are down right creepy. Because… Men: We’re all just rectums with teeth!

Guys, there’s so many more things to go over, but we’d be here all day to get it down. This was an amazing experience, but it’s a trainwreck of a story. You know what the sad thing is? Similar to the first movie, I can see how someone could make this into an interesting story. Like, getting into more intense BDSM, maybe Elena could represent the relationship he could have had with his biological mother had she not died, I don’t know. A more clever and passionate writer could have done something with all of this. But instead, we get this bucket of horse shit. It’s terrible. But like its predecessor, it’s a gloriously entertaining kind of terrible. Yes, I enjoyed myself thoroughly and I kinda want to see it again. Just take a few shots of your favorite liquor, turn off your brain, and bask in this masterpiece of nonsense and stupidity.

My honest rating for FIFTY SHADES DARKER: 1/5 as a whole, 4/5 for entertainment value.

fiftyshadesdarkerposter

THE FOUNDER review

Hey, a movie about the founding of McDonalds. Because… why the hell not?

Ehh, based on the trailer, it’s not exactly based on McDonalds being created. It looks like it’s more or less based on how it became a world-wide sensation, if I had to hazard a guess, and Michael Keaton’s character is the man that made it like that. I’m not sure, but anything with Keaton’s name is probably worth seeing.

Let’s look at this cast, huh? Keaton is a living legend isn’t he? Considered to be one of the greatest actors today, and I don’t think you’ll hear many arguments. From his early comedy days, to his iconic turn in Tim Burton’s BATMAN (1989), all the way up to his ironic (but brilliant) turn in BIRDMAN (2014). He’s a man who’s talent continues to inspire and entertain for generations. Still kickin’, he’s a class act no matter what he’s in. Speaking of class acts, Laura Dern is in this too! Yup, famed veteran of JURASSIC PARK (1993) is still kicking ass and taking names like she’s always done. WILD (2014), CERTAIN WOMEN (2016), and OCTOBER SKY (1999), she’s not just an impossibly beautiful face, but a hurricane of emotional talent that glues your eyes to the screen. Other talents include Nick Offerman (SING [2016], HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 [2015], and TV show PARKS AND REC), Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring films, YOUNG ADULT [2011], and WATCHMEN [2009]), and Linda Cardellini (AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON [2015], the live action Scooby Doo movies, and TV show MAD MEN).

Now for behind the scenes. John Lee Hancock, known for SAVING MR. BANKS (2013), THE BLIND SIDE (2009), and THE ROOKIE (2002). Writing the script is Robert D. Siegel, known for TURBO (2013) and THE WRESTLER (2008). Composing the music is Carter Burwell, known for HAIL, CAESAR! (2016), SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (2012), and IN BRUGES (2008). Finally, the cinematographer is John Schwartzman, known for JURASSIC WORLD (2015), THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012), and THE ROCK (1996), and will be working on the next two Fifty Shades movies.

This could be an interesting movie. Even if it isn’t, I’m sure we’ll get some solid performances out of the insane cast. So I’m looking forward to it.

This is my honest opinion of: THE FOUNDER

(SUMMARY)

Set in 1954. Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is a traveling salesman, trying to sell a new kind of milkshake maker. Problem is, he can’t sell one. That changes when he gets a call that a burger stand wants to buy eight of his product. Unable to believe his luck, Ray travels to the burger stand, called McDonalds, ran by brothers Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac McDonald (John Carroll Lynch). Immediately taken with the fast service, he learns their story and eventually decides that he wants in on the venture. Although not completely trusting of Ray, they accept his notion that if they attempt to franchise a second time, McDonalds could be the new American symbol. Ray is accepted into the business, so long as any changes within the restaurants are approved of by the brothers. But what begins as a passionate expansion of a brilliant idea soon inflates Ray’s ego as he begins to make ideas without the brothers’ consent, becomes detached from his loving and supportive wife, and starts to slowly turn McDonalds into his vision.

(REVIEW)

Oh crap, this was a haunting. Er, in a good way. This movie’s great! … Yeah, this might take some explanation.

But, movie first. So Keaton is the center of the damn universe in this flick. He is beyond amazing, but that shouldn’t be any surprise. Keaton’s always that way. The way he portrays Ray is so unbelievably layered and complex, you’re never quite sure what to make of him. One minute, he’s a normal guy, fast-talking, just trying to make a living like everyone else. There’s a connection the audience can make there, a guy starting at the bottom. He gets frustrated when things go south, trying to keep a positive attitude. He’ll even snap at his supportive wife, but not without apologizing immediately after. You see a man in love with this new concept of fast-food and only wants to see it go national. You see his passion get the better of him sometimes, so it’s hard to hate the guy. But then when he starts ignoring his wife, despite her active support, even getting the hots for another man’s wife, so it’s impossible to say that he’s a good man. See how this guy is written? First you get him, then he’s an asshole, then he’s charmingly passionate, then he’s a jerk-off supreme leech who couldn’t find success on his own and stole the success of other men. It’s the ultimate story of a hero’s downfall.

I should also be clear that I haven’t done much research into this matter, so I can’t attest to how despicable the real Ray Kroc was, but if half of this story is true, then I’d say the movie isn’t that far off. I’ll probably look into it at some point in the future to see what was fabricated and what was true. I imagine, because this is a two hour product placement of McDonalds, the company of said restaurant probably requested that certain details not be shared or only to be hold in half truths. I’m not sure how much I believe that the brothers’ first restaurant was that passionate about the service that even they would be out in the parking lot sweeping up garbage. I might believe the tennis court make-believe training segment. I don’t know if I believe that the brothers didn’t want to franchise more after their first foray into it. Something’s telling me they wanted to, but lacked the persistent know-how that Ray would eventually provide. Most everything else seems pretty legit and well-backed by the movie itself.

But it doesn’t end with Keaton. Both Lynch and Offerman are spectacular and have incredible chemistry. Their relationship is explored just the right amount. You love Mac for his ferocious loyalty to Dick (insert immature joke here), for giving up his dreams of working in the film industry to work with Dick. He is so cheerful and endearing in how much he loves his brother and is part of his accomplishments, even sacrificing his health once to make that dream larger. And Dick is lovably confrontational toward Ray when their ideas start to clash, putting the spotlight on his wonderfully “serious business” voice with his “my eyes will eat your face off” angry stare. But he’s a kind and practical man when not pushed and thoroughly unapologetic. I love how these two have a tried and true passion for what they created. Having a set of morals that shouldn’t be broken, even in the face of adversity or the promise of greater wealth. They aren’t greedy men and are happy with and proud of what they have now. Which makes it such a particularly painful moment when Ray snatches everything from under them, not just “taking” their idea, but… have you ever heard of the phrase “highway robbery?” Even that doesn’t seem to quite cover it! It’s heart-breaking and makes you wonder what the differences are between McDonalds today versus back in the last 50’s when there was a different attitude and care for what they were doing. Sure must have been something.

Oh and who else was wonderful? Dern, oh my god. Why, God? Why do you tease us with these blessings you send us? She is amazing, despite how limited her screen-time is. Ethel is Ray’s wife who shows nothing but support for her husbands ventures, but her support is either not appreciated enough, or completely overlooked. She’s grown tired of him not being home to enjoy their lives together, but sees the lovable passion in his eyes when he comes across McDonalds. Even when their friends are laughing at him, and she herself doesn’t have the highest regards for this latest scheme, she still shuts up those nay-sayers and still shows him support. But all that success goes to his head and even when she’s taking active responsibilities in the company, she’s totally shafted when he not only eyes the wife of another man that would ultimately be under his employ and offer up some innovations to the company that he would utilize, but divorces Ethel one random night during dinner and tells her it in the most nonchalant way. God damn, Dern’s face speaks volumes. Shock, heart-ache, bewilderment, that feeling of “it all amounted to nothing,” by heavenly Jesus, that’s the very moment that Ray became a monster to me. Dear God, I hope Ethel is a fictional character because if she isn’t, I hope Ray is burning in a special place in hell for what he did to her.

And I love seeing Wilson on screen, no matter how brief. It always tickles me when I see Linda Cardellini, gah, I love the talent that drives this movie.

Now on a personal note, I currently work in the restaurant industry. I won’t lie, I think I would have loved to work for McDonalds when it started off. If the story presented to us here is true, then there was a genuine passion to make their restaurant the best of the best. There was real training, a hands-on approach to show how the process of whatever needs to be done. I’ve worked in a few food-service places and with the exception of this burger joint I used to work at, no place cares enough to do real training. It’s “throw your new employees to the wolves and see who comes out dead, or limping. Also, I feel like the story here feels hauntingly similar to restaurants I work in now. “Franchise, franchise, franchise!” “Franchise the darn thing!” These words ring horrifyingly and hilariously loudly in my head. The same mistakes were being made in real life as they were in the movie. Like, quality isn’t consistent, nor are menu items. Proper training is shrugged away, and essential items are often overlooked for restocking or replacement for what seems like to be an invasion of the brand to make more money as opposed to making each individual restaurant an equally great, or be it’s own uniquely amazing place. The original owners of McDonalds seemed to be content with less, so long as their stores were great, but as soon as greed sets in, it takes away from what’s already established.

So as you can see, I’m absolutely head-over-heels for this. Maybe it’s just about time we got a legitimately good film in January that I will take anything that’s half decent, but I do think it’s a great movie and I recommend it to anyone. It’s funny, it’s bad-ass, it’s compelling, it’s interesting, it’s everything a good biopic needs to be.

My honest rating for THE FOUNDER: 5/5

poster_founder