Sunday, June 24, 2018

Jurassic World and Incredibles 2

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return for another adventure in the latest (planned) Jurassic World trilogy. Fallen Kingdom picks up a few years after the last film, the Island threatened by an extinction level event that will kill off the last of the dinosaurs. It's up to Howard and Pratt to track down "Blue" (The last film's surviving Raptor) and rescue her from the island along with several other species. Working under the auspices of the benevolent Lockwood and his company, the pair quickly find themselves pawns in a larger game of corporate espionage.

Fallen Kingdom is a fun and somewhat frivolous ride with plenty of eye-popping visuals. The dinosaurs own the film (as they should) and we get plenty of huge action sequences. The trailer spoils much of the early portion of the film and we quickly move from the island and, oddly, condense the film's primary narrative to fairly enclosed spaces. The movie loses much of it's charm when it exits the jungle and we're left shut in for a majority of the films run time.

7 out of 10, and a mild recommend. Great big budget Hollywood fun.


A movie fourteen years in the making...

And, of course, Pixar manages to re-capture much of the magic that made the first film work as well as it did.

Unfortunately, the film also walked back some of the previous film's progress and character arcs in order to fulfill some familiar themes. Whereas we left the family about to do battle with the Underminer, the film opens at that point and we see that things do not go very well in the battle that follows. In fact, it goes downright awful and the massive damage to public property reinforces the public's outcry against super heroics. The family, once working like a team, are now back to squabbling and uncertainty with their lives.

Luckily, multi-billionaire and pro-super advocate Winston Deavor has a plan to bring heroes back into the public's good graces. His entire plan revolves around the less "destructive" Elasti-Girl, and the Parr Family must now make due with Mom leaving the nest and letting Dad be the home-maker. Cue the shenanigans!

While much of the film feels like a familiar retread, there are some great sequences and the characters are faced with some new challenges. New Heroes step into the mix and a new villain, the nefarious "Screenslaver"!

8 out of 10 and a recommend.

Sunday, June 3, 2018


This review may contain spoilers.

In an age where smart cars are driving themselves, "Upgrade" doesn't seem so far off from where we are heading. Like all good sci-fi stories, there's the ever encroaching progress of technology that threatens to remove our humanity and replace it with something "better" and more capable. People are replaced by machines- they don't drive their own cars, human police rely on drone cameras, we're given implants, and the list goes on. And all of this surrounds and weaves it's way through this "Deathwish"-inspired jaunt or vengeance.

Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) is a stay at home mechanic specializing in classic cars. His wife is a tech-savvy of the Cobalt corporation. After delivering his latest rebuild to Eron Keen, the couple are victims of a malfunctioning smart car and a gang of street mercenaries. His wife is killed in front of him and Grey is left a paraplegic from the neck down. The police investigation stalls and Grey is at rock bottom, looking for an end. Which is where Eron steps in and offers the man another option- installation of STEM, a computer chip that will fuse and activate the nerve responses and move Greys' body for him.

What transpires is a blood-fueled roaring rampage of revenge as STEM reveals itself to be far more advanced than Eron suggested and far more capable of helping then Grey thought imaginable. With the hosts express permission, STEM is even able to turn Grey's body into a deadly weapon. But don't be fooled by the action, the suspense, or the direction of the story- this is a tale of horror at it's very core.


9 out of 10....

--- But why do I describe it as a "horror" film when it is so clearly an action yarn of revenge? Because that's not what this is.... spoilers below.

**** SPOILER ****

**** SPOILER ****

**** SPOILER ****

Because this is a tale of technology versus humanity. STEM is ruthless in it's attempts to exact brutal retribution on the gang responsible. Grey is, at times, forced to watch in horror as STEM sets about the task of protecting the body it now inhabits. There is no mercy, no compassion, and there is no stopping STEM. As it asserts more and more control of Grey, he finds himself losing control of what it means to be human. This is a tale of body horror at it's very core, masked and distracting with a tone of action until the brutal conclusion that left me stunned as I watched the scrolling credits.