Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central, Star Wars

Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Series, created by George Lucas: a Television Review

Note: I am currently watching this series. Story Arc updates will be forthcoming.

Synopsis:

The Clone Wars have officially begun.  As the Jedi Order lead scores of troopers against the Droid armies of the Separatists, the Galactic Republic is falling apart at the seams.

Anakin Skywalker has moved from Padawan to Jedi Knight and General, even being granted his own Padawan, the snarky Ahsoka Tano.  General Obi-Wan Kenobi is on missions of his own.  And General Yoda is fighting right alongside the troops.  As the Jedi are spread across the galaxy

Yet not everything is as it seems.

General Information:

-Genre: Computer-Animated Military Action/Adventure

-Creator: George Lucas

-Length: 7 Seasons, 133 Total Episodes (19-26 minutes per episode)

-Rating: TV-PG (mild sexual innuendos, kissing, and risqué clothing choices, mild to moderate cartoon violence and gore depending on the season, use of the word “hell” throughout the first 6 seasons, mild use of alcohol, smoking and mentions of a drug called “spice” though it is never used on screen, moderate frightening and intense scenes with many later episodes being very dark)

-Where to Watch: Disney+ (with subscription), DVD, Blu-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Main Cast: Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano, Yoda, General Grievous, Chancellor Palpatine, Padme Amidala, C-3P0, R2-D2

-Page of Reference in RP1: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

Ok so I am going to try and do this review in the most comprehensive way for my brain.  First things first is a general review.  I love the narration of the film.  It feels like old 1940s News Reels that would play before movies in the theatre.  The whole “see the front lines as they advance against the enemy!” and “buy bonds! Help our troops” stuff.  The paint on their uniforms reminds me of how WW2 pilots used to paint their planes before going on a mission.  The pinups and the souvenirs that some of the troops have taken from the battlefield all scream this as well. It’s a really nice little nod to the fact that this is all about a war.

The animation style is a little odd, but it should be ok after a while.  And I do love the fact that they are treating the animation as an action movie with dynamic animation, film angles and action.

I am going to try to review this in “story arcs” since the officially released (and highly suggested) viewing order is not in the order they aired.

S2:E16 “Cat and Mouse”, S1:E16 “The Hidden Enemy”, Star Wars: The Clone Wars (animated film)

This is a really a great start to the series.  Everything is being explained in a way that is important and essential to the story.  There are internal conflicts that will come up.  And so many little things that I think will become subtle nuances and nods to World War II and The Cold War.

There was some use of obviously derogatory words in the series which don’t exist in our world, but you can tell were based off the inherent bias that comes when you are fighting an enemy.  It isn’t ok but I defiantly got the feeling from some of the terms that they are meant to be acceptable. 

Ventress is an interesting new character.  I’m digging the little flirty thing that she and Kenobi have going on. It s really funny and obviously ties back to unseen moments between them before we start watching what is going on during the war.

I’m really interested to see where all of this goes, and I hope that we get a lot of the other characters that I’ve heard so much about.

S3:E1 “Clone Cadets”

So, we get to see the behind the scenes of the Clone Soldiers training.  Its something that is really important to see.  Obviously, we know that the soldiers need training as any other military outfit will need to do.  Yet in the main films all we see is them working and fighting.  I like seeing these little details.

Its also kind of fascinating that they Jedi aren’t training them…though that does make sense because there aren’t enough of them to go around.  But I find it intriguing that bounty hunters are being used to train the troops.  It is a group of people that can train others and have the fighting abilities.

The show also brings up the question of morality of clones.  Are the clones their own persons? Or do you treat them the same as a non-sentient droid?  Is numbering them a way to dehumanize them?  What do you do when they malfunction due to the issues with the cloned DNA?  We also get to see the attitudes that different characters and even races have towards the clones from irritated to compassionate to indifferent.

S3:E3 “Supply Lines”, S1:E1 “Ambush”

At first, I thought “Supply Lines” was a continuation of “Clone Cadets” but that isn’t the case.

We got to see some of Senator Organa’s negotiation tactics.  We are getting the stories of how the Republic is getting around recruiting…or even is recruiting…the assistance of neutral planets.

Ventress is back.  We get to see how she is going to act and negotiate in the war.  And of course, seeing Yoda work in awesome because he’s so very small compared to the droid army, the clones…basically everyone around them.

The are doing a great job showing how fluid war is between the current fights on the ground, trying to protect the people of the planets they are on… the war and the battles are constantly in flux and you have to think on your feet.

The Separatists don’t mind being evil and sneaky when it comes to any of their missions.  Which I’m not surprised about.

S1:E2 “Rising Malevolence”, S1:E3 “Shadow of Malevolence”, S1:E4 “Destroy Malevolence”

Yay! Anakin and Ahsoka are back.  I can’t wait to see more of them in action. 

Of course, they go off course and seek out a rescue mission. And of course, it ends up being for the greater good.  They have saved a great Jedi General (and learned some more about Ahsoka’s past).

We get to figure out the weapon and hopefully they can get back to report on it.

This is the first time that we get to see General Grievous.  He’s an interesting specimen.

Now that we know who the enemy is, we are good to go to follow the rest of the story line with an attack on the ship and the new ion cannon.  Attempt number one to take out General Grievous.  We know how this will work if you’ve seen Episode 3.  This is all super interesting to see in the long run.

Anakin is off on another dangerous mission as per usual.  And he pulls it off.  We get to finally get a little bit of Padme.  She is one of my favorite characters in the universe but her storyline in the movies is quite unsatisfying.  I hope we get more of who she really is and what she is capable of.

The relationship between Anakin and Padme is going to be fun to see as it unfolds. 

S1:E5 “Rookies”

I don’t know if I can say it enough but the theming for this whole show is incredibly well done.  Between the old war reel feel of the intros to the war radio to how they get their armor painted.  It just has such a satisfying feel to it.

Ooh…I guess I’ve not really paid attention to the armor that Obi-wan and Anakin are wearing.  It’s a really nice combination of their Jedi robes and the armor the clones wear.  It’s a nice touch of solidarity with their armies.

And there is a Hoth-style situation with the droids infiltrating the quiet base in the midst of an asteroid shower.  I guess Domino team is getting the action they were hoping for.  The fact that the show gives us stories from all different levels of the military.  It isn’t just focused on Kenobi, Anakin and Ahsoka…  obviously Grievous and Dooku play major rolls but the fact that we see all the levels from training to the Generals makes for a very dynamic show.

S1:E6 “Downfall of a Droid”, S1:E7 “Duel of the Droids”

Yay a storyline where we will hopefully get more about Grievous and Anakin and Ahsoka.  I love seeing the two of them work together even though Ahsoka is so tiny.  She’s so young.

The way Grievous moves is so cool.  The animators have done and incredible job of giving him that balance between his old human self and the movements that humans would kind of stick to (things like a limp, his cough, the slouch) but then he does things that are so distinctively droid from his flips and the way he handles his weapons.  Its really an interesting feat of animation.

Poor R2-D2.  Though it is interesting to find out bits and bobs about droids as well.  I don’t know much about the extended Star Wars universe so its really interesting to me to get to find out things like the types of droids, what they look like, and their series numbers.  I like the little details that are super subtle.

Ahsoka verses Grievous.  That is a great battle.  The fights in this are so much fun to watch.  They really treat it like an action movie not a traditional animated show. 

S1:E8 “Bombad Jedi”, S1:E9 “Cloak of Darkness”

Padme Going to do this diplomatic mission alone will henceforth be known as mistake number one.

Cool we get to see Greedo’s people.  Grodians.  They haven’t’ really been in anything to date.  This was defiantly a trap.

I have no idea how no one figured out that Anakin and Padme were together.  Like there is a Jedi robe literally hanging in her private ship.  There are so many moments like this in the films that its insane to think that nobody figured out their more intimate and personal connection.

Its always great to get to see Padme working to get herself out of bad situations.  This is the Padme I love.  Not the lovesick girl that is in Episode 3.  The headstrong and courageous person she shows off in Episode 2.  I’m sol glad they decided to keep that in this show.

Seeing other Jedi is always a treat.  Since the focus of the main movies is the Skywalker story we just get to see so many of them in passing.  Shows like this are giving a chance to actually see not only the greater universe but to experience so many of the different worlds and the people on them.

More Ventress.  I’m all for that.  She’s an incredibly interesting character.  I still can’t figure out exactly what she wants out of everything.

Ahsoka is very brash.  She needs to get under control.  I understand that her Master isn’t always the most levelheaded…particularly when it comes to his attachments but still.  Though I guess being able to read the Viceroy well enough that she knew he would only respond to fear is a big deal.

Ooh.  Are we getting Ventress and Ahsoka?  The last fight se was in was great.  I love the way she holds her lightsaber. Its so different than many of the other force sensitive fighters.  Man.  Ventress is a beast.  And Ahsoka has so much raw and untapped power.  Geeze.  Where did she come from?

S1:E10 “Lair of Grievous”, S1:E11 “Dooku Captured”, S1:E12 “The Gungan General”

The lair of Grievous is fascinating.  We finally get an answer to how he has so many lightsabers.  This is the first time we see Grievous kill a Jedi and take the saber.  Its kind of horrible that these are his spoils from war.

Seeing more Jedi, how they fight, their personalities is going to make Order 66 even worse when it finally happens in Episode 3.  I’m glad to get more stories and more of the backgrounds of the world but it will make their deaths even worse in the long run.  It was bad enough that you know the majority of them die before or during this order.

Hmmm.  A set of bounty hunters actually captured Dooku and took his lightsabers.  That’s fascinating.  And the payment that they want to return him is a LOT of money.  This is one of the episodes that mentions “spice” which is implied to be a drug of sorts worth quite a bit of money.  It is mentioned at other times throughout the universe, but this is the first real mention of it in this series.

I’m sure Padme does not feel great about sending Anakin and Obi-wan into the fray without weapons.  It would be quite unsettling to send your partner into that situation in order to get ahold of a war criminal.

Anakin and Obi-wan always getting in trouble.  Let’s see how they get out of all of this.  That name sounds familiar.  Hando.  Where do I know that from?

Honestly, this is one of the less riveting storylines, but it is essential to the overall plot of the Clone Wars.

S1:E13 “Jedi Crash”, S1:E14 “Defenders of Peace”

Getting to see all of the different Jedi in this series is just a treat.  In my mind I knew that there were many of them from different races across the galaxy but since the main films focus on the Skywalker line this is the first time, we get to see other Jedi in more than just passing…or that one big battle scene in Episode 2 where a bunch of them come to the aid of Padme, Anakin, and Obi-wan.

Anakin and Ahsoka always getting into trouble.

Ooh that was a rough landing.  Such a crazy situation to be in with Anakin possibly dying, almost ending up in a star…. That was a lot.  I’m sure this will not be the first nor the last time these two will be in this kind of situation.

Sometimes I forget that this was meant to be for older kid and teens.  There are so many deep lessons in it.  This one makes an excellent point. 

While liberty is worth fighting for, is it worth killing for?

What is courage?  Is it fighting for a cause or sticking to your beliefs?

Are your beliefs worth dying for?  Does mounting a defense the same as fighting in a war?

When you don’t agree with the Creed you were raised under do you still defend it?

So many important questions that people often don’t think about.

S1:E15 “Trespass”

A new frozen planet that we haven’t seen before.  Just like we know that there are more desert planets like Tatooine its nice to see that there are other snowy and frozen planets, swamp planets…etc.  It shows so much diversity in the people that evolved from these kinds of worlds.

This episode is interesting because it’s the first time we are dealing with something that isn’t the Separatists.  There is obviously an internal conflict between the elected Senator and her people.  Everything points to something besides the Droid Army doing the damage here.  Maybe the planet/moon isn’t as uninhabited as everyone believed.

Oh, I don’t like the Chairman.  He’s really horrible.  He has the mentality of the Imperial Army and later the First Order.  This idea that there are people who are less than…who are not worthy or advanced enough to be protected.  That there are savages in the world.  It’s a horrible viewpoint.  All races and species are worth protecting.  He’s a hideous leader.

Diplomacy should always be tried first.  Finding peaceful resolutions and negotiations should be the first choice.

S1:E19 “Storm Over Ryloth”, S1:E20 “Innocents of Ryloth”, S1:E21 “Liberty on Ryloth”

So Ahsoka gets her first squad.  Let’s see how she handles losing men for the first time.  Such a teachable moment for Anakin.  This side is one that we don’t get to see from him in the Saga films.

There are so many heavy things that they deal with in this show.  Not just the morality of decisions that need to be made in war but how to deal with grief, survivor’s guilt, PTSD…the fear and pain that comes with it.  

Its time to come up with a better plan.  The reactions they have created are so incredible.  They not only fit the characters but also align with typical reactions seen in different situations of war and trauma.

Another of Anakin’s crazy plans.  Ahsoka gets the chance to be in charge.

For once we get to see them use a ship in a different kind of situation. I know that we often turn ships in space in a way that makes the most sense to our brains, but the fact is they don’t have to come from the same “up” direction.  Ahsoka using the bottom of the ship to protect the most important parts of the ship like there it is a blockade on the ground is absolutely genius.  There is no reason that these kinds of maneuvers shouldn’t be used more often.

Seeing so much diversity in the different species that are presented in the show is wonderful.  We don’t get much of the stories and interactions like this in the Saga films because it isn’t totally relevant to the story.  But in the extended universe like this we actually get to see what is happening on many of these planets.

Those are fun little mini AT-ST walkers.  It’s a great way to get around some of the battle fields.

Always more to the story than what is seen on the surface.  The Separatists are absolutely horrible.  You can see where the ideals of the later Empire come from.  We are seeing it through both the Separatists army as well as in some of the different worlds we have come across.  This idea that some people are meant to be possessed. That they are lesser.  Its only an ideology that leads to what happens later.

S2:E1 “Holocron Heist”, S2:E2 “Cargo of Doom”, S2:E3 “Children of the Force”

Ahsoka is grounded.  Its nice to see that even Jedi Padawan get grounded.

Cad Bane, a changling, and a droid walk into a bar…. Ok sorry but seriously.  It’s a good thing that Ahsoka had to answer for her indiscretion and that means that Anakin and Obi-wan were at the temple temporarily.

Interesting.  Kyber crystals with all of the information about every force sensitive child in the galaxy.  That is fascinating but makes sense that you would have to have some sort of list.

I like that we are getting to see what happens when Jedi work in tandem.  They can see greater futures, manipulate the Force in greater ways, and even break into strong minds if they work together to a particular goal.

Cad Bane is going to be another one of those fascinating characters.  I’m sure that we will see more of him in the long run.

Rating:

Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central

Big Trouble in Little China, created by John Carpenter: a Film Review

Synopsis:

Jack Burton is the all-American truck driver.  Big, burly, and rough around the edges.  When he arrives in Chinatown, San Francisco it seems like a normal trip.  He plays cards with his friend Wang Chi winning a huge bet against him.  In order to make sure he pays up; Jack decides to accompany him to the airport to pick up Wang’s childhood sweetheart turned fiancée who is on her way from China for their wedding.

As Miao Yin steps off the plane a Chinese street gang and sex traffickers called the Lords of Death attempt to kidnap a different girl but are thwarted by Jack Burton and her friend Gracie Law.  When this happens the gang instead grabs Miao Yin making off with her.  Jack and Wang follow in pursuit hoping to simply grab her back from the gang.

But when the duo stumbles into a gang fight and ends up facing down “The Three Storms”-a trio of ancient warriors with magical powers to control thunder, rain, and lightening- rescuing Miao Yin may not be as easy as the thought.  Especially not when the mysterious underground societies of magic that rumble beneath the Chinatown Jack knows and loves rear their ugly heads.

General Information:

-Genre: Fantasy Martial Arts Action Comedy

-Creator: John Carpenter

-Length: 99 minutes

-Rating: PG-13 (mild sexual innuendos and jokes, moderate fantasy and martial arts violence and gore, moderate profanity, mild use of alcohol and smoking, moderate frightening and intense scenes)

-Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video (Buy/Rent), DVD, Blu-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Main Cast: Kurt Russell, Kin Cattrall, Dennis Dun

-Page of Reference in RP1: 292

Review (contains spoilers):

This movie has no business being as good as it is.  It’s a martial arts fantasy action movie…about an ancient guy who needs a special green-eyed woman to marry in order to break the curse he is under.

It is ridiculous, over the top and atrociously cheesy but absolutely fantastic.

And I don’t know why!

There is nothing particularly great about any one part of this movie.  The effects are exactly what you would expect from a 1980s film.  Its kind of a traditional old school kung fu kind of movie.  Kurt Russel is…well….Kurt Russel.  The storyline is absurd.

But it all works.  I’m so glad that I finally sat down and watched this one.

Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central, MARVEL

Iron Man 3, created by MARVEL Cinematic Studios, based on characters created by Stan Lee: a Film Review

Synopsis:

Seven months after the battle of New York against Loki and his alien army Tony Stark is suffering from PTSD and major anxiety/panic attacks.  Due to this restlessness he is struggling with insomnia and this is causing issues with his girlfriend, Pepper Potts.

As the world begins to settle from the attack in New York a string of bombings caused by a new terrorist named The Mandarin start to occur.  The attacks are incredibly baffling to law enforcement and other intelligence agencies due to a near total lack of forensic evidence.  Happy Hogan, Stark’s loyal security chief, is injured in one of the attacks.  Due to this, Stark issues a bold threat… his address on international television and a challenge to The Mandarin himself.  Come and get me.

When his home is attacked, he and Pepper are nearly killed, the Iron Man suit saving her life.  Tony manages to escape in one of his prototype suits to hunt down The Mandarin himself.  Little does he know that a scientist from his past is about to resurface…and along with him a myriad of other problems…

General Information:

-Genre: Superhero

-Creator: created by MARVEL Cinematic Studios, based on characters created by Stan Lee

-Length: 131 minutes

-Rating: PG-13 (mild sexual innuendos and nudity, moderate violence and gore, terrorism, mild profanity, mild use of alcohol and drugs, moderate frightening and intense scenes)

-Where to Watch: Disney+ (with subscription), DVD, Blu-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Main Cast: Robert Downing Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley

-Page of Reference in RP1: MARVEL is referenced throughout the book

Review (contains spoilers):

I think the whole crew did a great job with this movie.

Downing depicted his PTSD and anxiety attacks like a pro.  They are real and visceral and occur at times when it seems illogical or plain bad timing.  Which is exactly what happens in real life when you suffer from these things.  Attacks like that and having your PTSD triggered is really damaging to your life and the relationships you are in.

Mandarin, the terrorist, being a façade is a great little twist too.  When I first saw the movie I hadn’t even though of that as a possibility but it does really make you think about the depth of that “face” you see on the news.  If that is really the person behind what is going on in the world.  And what gives a terrorist true power…the person in charge or the people who follow them

The ending is quite poetic as well.  With him giving up the suits and his ARC Reactor. And finding Tiny…because Tiny is the best.  It doesn’t change that Tony is Iron Man.  It just means that he ready for balance in his life.  Which is what we get to see in later movies with Iron Man in them.

Lots of conflicts and a lot to unpack about Tony’s life and journey along with the morality of what goes on with the Extremis treatment (and how it goes down in the comics is a whole other issue to unpack).  Overall I like this movie a lot of everything that wen into all of that.

Post Credits Scene:

Its great how they formatted the whole film with Tony himself telling the story.  It’s a nice little touch that he was actually telling it all to poor Bruce Banner who was asleep….poor guy.  He’s not that kind of doctor.

Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central

Hook, created by James V. Hart and Malia Scotch Marmo, based on the story Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie: a Film Review

Synopsis:

Peter Banning, a successful lawyer in San Francisco, is struggling with other aspects of his life.  Between his work and his children as well as his relationship with his wife, Moira, Peter seems unaware that his devotion to his job is not only straining these relationships, but they have been brought nearly to the breaking point.  When the family goes to England to celebrate Granny Wendy’s hospital wing dedication the family is thrown back into the world of Peter and Moira’s childhood.

Granny Wendy took in Peter as the first orphan that she helped raise.  Over the years she helpd so many other lost children that there is now a wing of the local hospital being dedicated to her work.  It is on the night of the dedication that tragedy strikes.  While Peter’s children, Jack and Maggie, are staying at the house with Granny Wendy’s housekeeper and one of her friends, Liza and Tootles, someone breaks into the house and steals the children.

Upon their return to find their beds empty Peter is confronted with the fact that the stories of Wendy and Peter Pan are not just stories at all…that he is actually Peter Pan.  And his children have been taken by the notorious Captain Hook and his crew.  But Peter doesn’t want to believe…can’t believe.  It is only when he is finally pulled into Neverland that Peter must confront his past.  The one that he chose to bury a long time ago when he fell in love with Wendy’s granddaughter, Moira.

General Information:

-Genre: Fantasy, Swashbuckler/Pirate, Action/Adventure, Family

-Creator: created by James V. Hart and Malia Scotch Marmo, based on the story Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie

-Length: 142 minutes

-Rating: PG (mild violence, mild profanity, mild use of alcohol and smoking, mild frightening scenes and deaths)

-Where to Watch: Netflix (with subscription), Amazon Prime Video (Buy/Rent), iTunes (Buy/Rent), DVD, Blu-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Main Cast: Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Dustin Hoffman, Bob Hoskins, Maggie Smith, Charlie Korsmo

-Page of Reference in RP1: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

This is by far my favorite rendition of Peter Pan. 

I love the characterization of Wendy and how they aged her.  She isn’t the same Wendy that you know from the Disney version of the story…or from Finding Neverland…or any other rendition of Peter Pan. And Maggie Smith does in incomparable job in her performance.

Peter is a scared and oblivious man that took on so many of the characteristics of Captain Hook that he always fought against.  Not just growing up but greed and selfishness.  Robin Williams does a spectacular job of portraying Peter from start to finish.

Moira and the children are fabulous.  Tootles and Liza are beloved side characters.

And the Lost Boys and Tinkerbell… Rufio in particular… are just how I imagined them when reading Peter Pan as a child.  They are crazy and imaginative and just children. Tink is delightful (and much better than the cartoon version of herself).

Hook in this film is the best Hook.  He is the swashbuckling, vindictive, and overly vain.  Dustin Hoffman was by far the perfect choice for this roll (though I would have been fascinated to see David Bowie in the roll…)

I love the story and the way things develop.  The set dressing is perfect from the house in England to the Lost Boys clearing to Hook’s pirate ship.

The costumes are extravagant and over the top.  Slightly cartoony in places but not in a way that would be considered out of place.  They tell so much of the story of the characters that we don’t get to hear.

And can we just agree that the whole film is a stunning work that expands the story of Peter Pan that we all grew up with.

I ALWAYS recommend this to families with older kids.  It is a great film to watch with the family and one that I continue to enjoy immensely even into my 30s.

Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, based on the world created by Michael Crichton: a Film Review

Synopsis:

Not long after the events of the Jurassic World theme park incident a group of mercenaries arrive on the island tasked with getting a sample of DNA from the Indominus Rex remains that are at the bottom of the park’s lagoon.  As the team evades various attacks, they accidently release the Mosasaurus from the lagoon into the ocean.

Three years later while the U.S. Senate debates whether the dinosaurs should be saved from a sudden but inevitable eruption from Isla Nublar’s volcano John Hammond’s former partner, Ben Lockwood, sets up a team with aid from Claire to relocate as many of the dinosaurs as they can to the California estate that Lockwood owns.  Claire speaks to Owen Grady to get his help…particularly to assist with getting his beta Velociraptor, Blue, off the island.

Unbeknownst to Claire, Eli Mills (Ben Lockwood’s aide) is planning to only acquire Blue to use in his experimentations to develop a new dinosaur to be used exclusively for war and combat…. And that Claire and her team are just collateral damage.

General Information:

-Genre: Science-Fiction Action-Adventure

-Creator: based on the world created by Michael Crichton

-Length: 128 minutes

-Rating: PG-13 (moderate violence and gore, mild profanity, mild use of smoking and alcohol, moderate intense and frightening scenes)

-Where to Watch: DVD, Blu-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Main Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, BD Wong, Jeff Goldblum

-Page of Reference in RP1: 63

Review (contains spoilers):

Ooof.  I just don’t really know what to truly say about this film.  Its better than The Lost World? That isn’t saying much though. 

I actually enjoyed the film overall but was really upset about the fact that we once again seemed to get a lot more of the “real” world and not as much of the island.  It’s a really fascinating study about the stupidity and greed of man…but that isn’t exactly what I wanted to watch when I chose to go and watch a Jurassic Park film.  I expect the morality discussions of bringing back and modifying long extinct animals…but the morality of man is something I wasn’t expecting from this film.

Generally good and I’m interested to see where the third film in Jurassic World is going, but I’m not sure when we are going to see this film come out.

And why waste such a treasure as Jeff Goldblum by sticking him behind a table….its just…sad.

Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central

Jurassic World, based on the world created by Michael Crichton: a Film Review

Synopsis:

Back on Isla Nublar, Jurassic World has been in business for many years.  It is a vastly popular attraction for families to come and explore, watching resurrected dinosaurs live in custom-built habitats. There are educational programs to attend, and even rides that take you out into some of the enclosures.

Zach and Gray Mitchell are sent to visit their aunt, Claire, who is the operations manager of the park. But when they arrive, she is far too busy with the latest attraction that will be opening in a matter of days: a new breed of genetically altered dinosaur named the Indominus Rex, developed by Jurassic Park geneticist Dr. Henry Wu.

Meanwhile on the island, Owen Grady (a US Navy veteran and ethologist) is training a small group of Velociraptors to see if their pack mentality can be utilized in other ways while researching their intelligence.  He has a group of four, that he has raised since birth, with Blue as his beta.  The research that he is doing seems to stem from the theories of Dr. Grant.

As Claire shows off the Indominus Rex to the owner of Jurassic World they discover that the enclosure may not be enough to keep everyone safe.  So, they task Owen with determining it’s security.  But during the course of the briefing, they discover that there may be more to the Indominus Rex than meets the untrained (and uninformed) eye… she seems to have disappeared, yet the enclosure is intact.  When a small group including Owen enter the enclosure to observe where she may have gotten to and fully assess the security Indominus shows just how clever and devious she truly is, using their desire to escape her jaws as way to become loose on the property.

With one of the most dangerous dinosaurs ever created on the loose, her nephews missing and millions of dollars (as well as park full of guests) at risk, Claire needs to think fast, and act even faster if she is going to prevent a major tragedy from occurring.

General Information:

-Genre: Science-Fiction Action

-Creator: based on the world created by Michael Crichton

-Length: 124 minutes

-Rating: PG-13 (moderate violence and gore, mild alcohol use, moderate frightening and intense scenes, large monster action sequences)

-Where to Watch: DVD, Blu-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Main Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, BD Wong, Irrfan Khan

-Page of Reference in RP1: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

I really enjoyed this film.  The feeling of the first Jurassic Park movie is felt all throughout the film and it is a really great call back when the boys end up in the old facility.  There is the great unknown moments and yet the whole movie has the feeling that everyone really should have known better and had better security protocols in place…especially since the park had been open for quite a large amount of time.

The boys are smart and use every opportunity they find to get out of the situation they end up in.  The big bad is actually a set of horrible humans and not just an accident or a moment of happenstance.  And we get an appearance by the ORIGINAL T-Rex from the first film!

Character interactions and writing are well done. And the effects truly look spectacular.  They took a page out of the book of the original trilogy using both CGI and animatronics to create a large number of the dinosaurs in the park.  Its things like this that cause the movie to hold up well over the years.

The velociraptors being an asset is new and I like that they seem to be building on the research of Dr. Grant from the first trilogy.  They have moved onto the fact that not only are the raptors social creatures but that their intelligence can be curbed for more productive actions and not just the instinctual actions of an animal.  It brings another level into the film.

What I didn’t like was that a few of the deaths and some of the action sequences felt unnecessary or brutal in ways that weren’t needed (like that of Zara, Claire’s assistant who is trying to look after and then find the boys when they dodge her)…

In the end I really did enjoy the film and since I haven’t seen the second I hope I like it as much as I liked this one.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central

Jurassic Park III, based on characters created by Michael Crichton: a Film Review

Synopsis:

In the waters surrounding Isla Sorna (now deemed a restricted access territory) Ben Hildebrand and the twelve-year old son of a good friend, Eric, have gone parasailing.  When the boat they are attached to is attacked and heads on a crash course for a rock formation the pair release the rope and crash land on the island.

Weeks later Dr. Alan Grant is working with a team that is making new discoveries about Velociraptors: that they were socially sophisticated.  And if they had not gone extinct maybe they would have continued to evolve, eventually becoming the Earth’s dominant species.  He and his assistant are approached during a conference by a wealthy couple to hire them for an ariel tour of Isla Sorna.  He reluctantly agrees to the trip after receiving funding for his research.

When they are in the air, Grant is knocked unconscious when he learns they are planning on landing on the island. When he finally wakes up and realizes they have landed, the group is attacked by a Spinosaurus which wrecks the airplane they came in on.

As he truly learns about what is going on with the couple and the actual purpose of the trip – to find the couple’s son, Eric, who was last seen parasailing near the island – Grant tells them his experience was on Isla Nublar…not Isla Sorna.  He is just as lost as they are.

As the group tries to find their way through the island and hopefully save Eric in the process they are chased by several different predators…who will make it out alive?

General Information:

-Genre: Science-Fiction Action

-Creator: based on characters created by Michael Crichton

-Length: 92 minutes

-Rating: PG-13 (moderate violence and gore, mild alcohol use, moderate frightening and intense scenes)

-Where to Watch: DVD, Blu-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Main Cast: Sam Neill, Willam H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Alessandro Nivola Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter

-Page of Reference in RP1: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

Watching this right after Jurassic Park II is actually fascinating because, while there is just as much action as there was in the second film, the action here feels more productive to the story.  It either is caused or causes character development or push the plot forward.

This isn’t to say that everything is good in the film.  Honestly, there are huge parts of it that aren’t as good as the original film. But I do like this one a lot better than The Lost World.

My favorite is that the raptors talk to each other… like birds or other flock/pack animals.  Their little interactions are absolutely lovely.  And the Spinosaurus isn’t half bad as the “big bad” for this film.  It’s a really interesting dinosaur and after seeing the T-Rex in the last two films a new dinosaur is kind of a welcome relief.

I liked the overall story here better than the last film and really enjoyed the fact that the kid was actually super smart in this one like the boy was in the first film.  It was a great little call back and really impressive that he managed to survive out in the wilderness, with dinosaurs, for EIGHT weeks.  With no supplies with him when he crashed into the island.  Not a lot of kids could do that. Even without the added danger.

The injuries, deaths and survivals fell more in line with the story line instead of some of the ones that feel out of place in both the film before and the film following this one.

I enjoyed this film and most of it seems to really stand the test of time.  Its all pretty solid from CGI to storyline.  A great way to end the original trilogy.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central

The Lost World: Jurassic Park, based on the book The Lost World by Michael Crichton: a Film Review

Synopsis:

Four years after Isla Nublar is abandoned by Hammond and his team due to the incidents of Jurassic Park, an upper-class British family has docked their yacht at Isla Sorna, located in the same grouping of islands.  While getting ready for lunch their young daughter is attacked by a group of Compsognathus, small pack-like dinosaurs who are looking for food.

Due to this problem John Hammond’s company has been taken over by his nephew, Pteter Ludlow, who wants to end the project Hammond is currently working on- a new interactive park that is built for conservation of the existing dinosaurs that have bred from those left behind during a new experiment on Isla Sorna- and instead, exploit the dinosaurs to save the company from bankruptcy.

Hammond contacts paleontologist Dr. Sarah Harding to document the dinosaurs and how they are living on the island.  As Dr. Harding takes off, her boyfriend Ian comes to see Hammond.  When he finds out what is going on at Isla Sorna he loses it and storms off to find Sarah on the island and keep her from a similar incident that he suffered on Isla Nublar.

Things seem to be going alright on the island when suddenly a large group of game hunters, clad in Hammond’s company logo show up on the island…and things start to go south very quickly.

General Information:

-Genre: Science-Fiction Action

-Creator: based on the book The Lost World by Michael Crichton

-Length: 129 minutes

-Rating: PG-13 (moderate violence and gore, mild profanity, very mild use of alcohol, severe frightening and intense scenes)

-Where to Watch: DVD, Blu-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Main Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Pete Postlethwaite, Arliss Howard

-Page of Reference in RP1: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

So, I honestly don’t remember a lot of this movie.  I know I watched it when I was younger because it was part of the Jurassic Park series…but other than that I really don’t remember much of what happened.

I find a few of the scenes to make little sense.  The T-Rex attack doesn’t seem to have a place (maybe a little when their baby has been taken, but coming back doesn’t feel right for animal behavior).  It seems borne of the desire for action and a big explosion verses actually progressing the story. And then the explanation feels forced for the scene to make sense.

The velociraptor scene is hard for me because I love the idea of the homage to Jaws with people getting pulled randomly down into the grass by the dinosaurs but again it doesn’t feel so much as a driving force to the story so much as another action/slightly horror element to keep things off kilter.  But I have to admit watching the raptors come in to the group in the tall grass is a really cool effect.

Besides that, the story feels sound. Its nice that some of the same actors were brought back even just for small cameo appearances. And I do love some of the other dinosaurs that they introduce in the film like the tiny, pack hunting Compsognathus. So cute. So vicious. So deadly…

 So not necessarily my favorite of the Jurassic Park films but pretty decent.  You do have to suspend a bit more of reality to make this one feel real in the reality of the Jurassic Park.

Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central

Jurassic Park, created by based on character from the book Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton: a Film Review

Synopsis:

Isla Nublar, just off the coast of Costa Rica, is being developed into a new theme park by entrepreneur, John Hammond.  He’s developed a new idea for a unique zoo/theme park hybrid featuring genetically cloned dinosaurs…but when a handler is killed by one of the velociraptors his investors begin to threaten to pull their funding.

He goes out to find a few reputable people to endorse the park to appease the investors.  He invited paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant and paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler as well as chaos-theorist Ian Malcom to come to the park before they open to see what is being offered.

The visitor center and a subsequent tour of the island in the fleet of electrical vehicles doesn’t necessarily go as planned…especially when one of the programmers is in cahoots with a rival group trying to jeopardize the entire project.

General Information:

-Genre: Science-Fiction Action

-Creator: based on character from the book Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

-Length: 128 minutes

-Rating: PG-13 (moderate violence and gore, mild language, smoking and mild use of alcohol, moderate intense and frightening scenes)

-Where to Watch: DVD, Blu-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Main Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, BD Wong, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Knight, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards

-Page of Reference in RP1: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

It has been a really long time since I have seen this series and I forgot how good it was.  The graphics and animatronics are killer good and hold up nearly 30 years later.  The writing is fantastic. The actors do a spectacular job and of course Spielberg is a incredible director.

There are so many little moments that I love in this film.  Moments where the kids do a great job acting terrified of the T-Rex or do stunts that would make adults freak out.  The drama of the velociraptors (which in my research I learned aren’t as tall or heavy as they are in film…which is crazy because I picture them the way they are in the movie) …and the scenes with the T-Rex are so impressive.  They are big and dramatic and drive the film forward.  But aren’t over the top and superfluous like they could be.

The science may not be as sound as it could be. Yet it isn’t completely unbelievable.

Generally, a great idea and wonderful execution.  I’d be interested to read the book and see how the final screenplay and characters differ from how they were written.

Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central, MARVEL

Iron Man 2, created by MARVEL Cinematic Studios, based on characters created by Stan Lee: a Film Review

Synopsis:

Six months after Iron Man was introduced to the world things start to go awry.  It should be an exciting time for Stark Industries with the announcement of their year-long Stark Expo: a scientific and inventions expo that is taking place throughout the world.  But that is tainted by a congressional summons that calls the viability of the Iron Man suit into question.

On top of that Tony Stark’s health is failing as the arc reactor that was and is keeping him alive is slowly poisoning him.  As he falls deeper into his depression as attempt after attempt to find a substitute fails he begins to become more and more reckless while trying to put legacy in place such as placing Pepper Potts in charge of Stark Industries as CEO.

When one of his most reckless decisions to date, driving in a race in Monaco, also pulls a new villain out of the wood work Tony must face up to the fact that his life and the Iron Man program, along with the fate of the world, is once again in his hands…

General Information:

-Genre: Superhero, Revenge

-Creator: MARVEL Cinematic Studios, based on characters created by Stan Lee

-Length: 124 minutes

-Rating:

-Where to Watch: Disney+ (with subscription), DVD, Blu-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Main Cast: Robert Downing Jr., Gweneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Jon Favreau, Samuel l. Jackson

-Page of Reference in RP1: MARVEL is referenced throughout the book

Review (contains spoilers):

Its been a while since I have seen this film despite Iron Man being one of my favorite superheroes.  There are just too many things to watch that Marvel and specifically MARVEL Cinematic Universe has created and with more and more shows and films on the horizon I’m not sure when I will get the chance to really watch these early films again.

But that being said one of the things that I think is so effective in the Iron Man world is that his villains are really just smart and pissed off people…right on Tony’s level.  They aren’t supervillains who have specific powers, or magic, or anything but their intelligence and the fact that they want revenge.  It really makes for an interesting human dynamic that Stan Lee often seemed to push into his stories (even those where other factors are at play).

This film is really interesting to watch this many years later. There is such a level of grief and depression that permeates the whole film that I didn’t really understand when the film came out 11 years ago.  Its in a lot of the little things that Stark does throughout the movie.  Some are big like appointing Pepper as CEO or racing in Monaco… others are small. Subtle. Like making sure that Rhodey has access to the suit. Or drinking too much… its just there throughout everything he does.

The introduction of Black Widow is nice too.  I enjoy the fact that the characters that eventually become essentials to the overarching Avengers timeline are introduced slowly throughout the films.  Natasha (Natalie in the film) adds a level to the film that just helps to enhance the whole feel of the film.  The subtle jealousy of Pepper, how she TKOs Happy in the boxing ring…just nice little additions to the film.

Like I said.  I love these films.  The CGI and other graphics and animations hold up even a decade later.  I love the dynamics of the characters and how fully fleshed out they feel.  And the writing feels well thought out and complete.  Not cheesy like other superhero films.

Great second film for the MARVEL Cinematic Universe.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.