Monthly Archives: June 2015

Jurassic World

Movie:  Jurassic World

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:    It is a sunny day on Isla Nublar, and no one is thinking about the events that occurred 22 years ago when a bunch of angry velociraptors got loose and munched on a bunch of people in Jurassic Park.  This is Jurassic World, a super modern theme park where people can safely view genetically grown (and in some cases modified) dinosaurs in complete safety.  There is a gigantic sea monster that leaps out of a pool to snag a shark on a line for his lunch, and the resulting wave is reminiscent of a Splash Zone at Sea World.  There is even a petting zoo for the kiddies with small tame dinosaurs waddling about.  There are fun rides, and plenty of stores and restaurants for visitors to the island to spend their money at.

All is running smoothly under the supervision of the park’s operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), but her boss, CEO Simon Masroni (Irrfan Khan) is looking for ways to up the ante in terms of thrills and new dinosaur attractions.  After all, the public gets bored easily, and this is a business looking to make money.  Enter animal trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), who seems to be able to train velociraptors to obey his commands.  In the shadows is Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong), a genius at mixing up batches of dinosaur DNA for new and improved critters.  Watching over all of the activities is head of security Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), making sure everyone is safe on the island.  It had better be safe, because Claire’s sister has sent her two sons Zach and Gray to spend the day as Claire’s VIP guests.

It has been 14 years since Jurassic Park was in the theaters.  What can a fourth offering of dinosaurs running amok offer?  For one thing, the special effects are amazing.  Look forward to the scenes with the gyroscoptic spheres, which are basically people riding in a glass bubble among the dinosaurs.  There is plenty of action and mayhem, but some clever scenes akin to Spielberg’s Jaws where tension builds more from the anticipation of something happening rather than constant action.  Plus as you ladies are no doubt aware, there is a new hunk in town and his name is Chris Pratt.  Right now Pratt can do no wrong, and he carries this film on his shoulders.  Action, FX, star power, this movie has the whole package.  This is the box office champ of the 2015 summer blockbuster season.

Huh?  What the….:  I’m no mechanic, but I am thinking that vehicles that have been sitting in a garage for 22 years don’t just start up right away by putting in a new battery.  Not to mention a battery that is also 22 years old….

Dialogue Nuggets:  “No one is impressed with a dinosaur anymore.”

Hoskins – “Extinct animals have no rights!”

Owen – “Everything in this jungle is trying to murder the other.”

“What’s a code 19?”   “Asset out of containment.”

Zach – “Dude, off-road!”  Gray – “But they told us to go back!”

Owen – “It didn’t eat them.  It’s killing for sport.”

Claire – “You can track them, can’t you?”  Owen – “I was with the Navy, not the Navajo!”

Claire  to nephews – “Tomorrow you will be home, and your mother will never let me see you again.”

BOLO Alert!   Be on the look-out for obvious product placement in this movie.  Among others, find the Coca Cola, Mercedes, Starbucks and  Brookstone sightings.

Best Cameo:  Jimmy Fallon is great in his training video for people about to get in the park’s gyroscoptic bubble vehicles.

Jurassic 5:  Yes, keep an eye on that sneaky Dr. Wu at the end of the movie.  There will be another dinosaur flick.

 

 

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Aloha

Movie:  Aloha

Rating:  3 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:    Come to beautiful Hawaii, the tropical paradise of the Pacific.  Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) has returned to Hawaii and Hickam AFB, although he is no longer an air force officer.  And his former girlfriend Tracy (Rachel McAdams) is now married to Major John Woodside (John Krasinski) and has two children.  So as Sam the piano player once famously said to Ilsa, a lot of water has gone under the bridge.

These days Brian Gilcrest is a contractor, working for billionaire Carson Welch (Bill Murray) on a hush-hush space satellite program.  As a VIP of sorts, Brian has Captain Allison Ng (Emma Stone), F-22 fighter pilot, assigned as his escort officer to assist him in his duties.  Captain Ng is a native of the state, 1/4 Hawaiian, 1/4 Chinese and 1/2 Swedish, and insists on giving Brian a running commentary on the island’s history and customs.  Gilcrest, having been stationed there as an air force officer, believes he knows enough about Hawaii without her help.  As if the satellite program wasn’t enough to worry about, Gilcrest is tasked to negotiate with the native Hawaiian tribal government on rights to a new gate for the air force base.

If there wasn’t enough on Brian Gilcrest’s plate, he has four star General Dixon (Alec Baldwin) on his back to not screw up the high visibility satellite program, code named Brave Angel.  While we don’t get a lot of background, there is obviously some history between the two men from the time when Gilcrest was on active duty.

This is a very good movie, character driven with darn good acting.  The only problem is there are too many major plot lines struggling to be resolved in just two hours.  There is the troubled Brian Gilcrest coming back to Hawaii with all sorts of unresolved feelings for former flame Tracy, and her issues for Brian and the husband as well.  The attractive and ebullient Captain Ng has inserted herself into Brian’s life and mission.  There is a brief treatment of the native Hawaiians and their attempts to maintain relevance in their own land.  Oh yeah, and then there is the enigmatic and charming Carson Welch and the all important satellite project.  It just feels like none of the story lines had enough chance to breathe on their own, but it was a brave effort anyway.  Worth seeing, especially in the summer season of movies that mostly blow stuff up.

Huh?  What the….:  Emma Stone as half Hawaiian and Chinese?  Those other Swedish genes really kicked butt!

Actor To Watch:  This movie would have benefitted with more of Alec Baldwin in it.  He has become one of the best character actors in the business, with a real flair for comedy.  If he ever gets the right vehicle he should win an Oscar.  Just saying.

Dialogue Nuggets:   Gilcrest – “Colonel, I am here to save you and your big, white obsolete whale.”

Gilcrest – “I don’t even remember why we broke up.”   Tracy – “We broke up because you didn’t show up for a vacation!”

Gilcrest – “I saw that missile coming and I didn’t get out of the way.  I didn’t care.”

“We have stuff to deal with before the famous Gilcrest exodus.”

Tracy – “Was he angry?”   Daughter – “He decapitated Santa Claus!”

Carson – “You can’t stop the future with one silly desperate act.”

Gen Dixon – “One more thing, Mister Three Day Beard Guy.  Stay away from Allison Ng!”

Gilcrest – “Well, I remember the good times.”   Gen Dixon – “THERE WERE NO GOOD TIMES!”

 

Spy

 

Movie:  Spy

Rating:  3 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:    Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is an ace analyst for the C.I.A., and is invaluable directing hotshot field operative Bradley Fine (Jude Law), giving him live intelligence and directions via his earpiece that not only allow Fine to complete his missions, but Susan is often the voice that keeps him alive on his dangerous forays into the field.  Technically Susan has been trained as an operative at the C.I.A.’s “Farm”, but she is too valuable back in the office to ever venture out in the cold, and besides, she prefers to live vicariously through her secret and unspoken love for Bradley (oh so) Fine.

The world of espionage is a dangerous place, and constantly evolving.  Circumstances dictate that assistant director Elaine Crocker (Allison Janney) send a new agent into the field that is unknown to enemy intelligence agencies.  Having never left Langley, Susan Cooper is the perfect choice to go undercover and track Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), a Bulgarian master criminal with access to a nuclear weapon.  Needless to say, Susan Cooper cannot remain in the background to simply “track and report activity”; she soon becomes embroiled in all the action.  Fellow C.I.A. agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham) seems to shadow Susan on an unofficial basis, despite not being assigned to the operation.

This is a multi-faceted type of movie.  During the first scene followed by credits, they are obviously copying the James Bond signature opening, graphics plus song, with some success.  There is plenty of dramatic action, shooting and fighting aplenty, but there is also a tongue in cheek element going on that tells the viewer this is also a bit of a comedy film as well.  The whole nuclear bomb plot is a thinly disguised McGuffin, to quote Hitchcock.  It mostly gives McCarthy a chance to tear-ass around Paris, Budapest and Rome to pull off various escapades.  Jason Statham steals the show whenever he is on screen.  His Rick Ford is akin to an action hero version of Inspector Clouseau; just wind up Rick and watch the mayhem explode around him.  Statham is hands down the funniest part of the film.  Good stuff.  Expect to see Spy 2 soon….

Huh?  What the ….:  I seriously doubt C.I.A. operatives are all trained to fly jet planes and helicopters, just in case they might need to some day.

F Bomb Alert!  – Movie exceeds 50 of them.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Bradley Fine – “I couldn’t do what I do without you in my earpiece.”

C.I.A. Version of Q:  “I think it is very brave you’re sacrificing your life for your country.”  – Susan – “I’m coming back!”  C.I.A. Q – “We’ll see….”

Rick Ford – “How did I get in this shitbox of a hotel room?  Because I’m a real spy!”

Susan (reading cover identity) – “Why do I have ten cats?  Isn’t that illegal?”

Susan – “Are you okay?”  Rayna – “No, I have a dead man’s hand on my ass!”

Susan to female assailant- “You’ve got a lot of rage inside that jump suit.”

Susan to Rick – “Don’t do that thing with your thumb again!”

Post Credits – Stick around for the last bit of tomfoolery.

San Andreas

Movie:  San Andreas 

Rating:  3 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   Everybody wants to move to the West Coast, am I right?  Live it up in the sunshine in Los Angeles or San Francisco, be one of the beautiful people.  Well, here’s three words to think about:  San Andreas Fault.

Meet Ray (Dwayne Johnson), a helicopter rescue pilot for the Los Angeles Fire Department.  He has over 600 rescues to his credit, and he is very good at his job.  Relationships are another matter, as he is about to sign divorce papers from his wife Emma (Carla Gugino), who plans to move to San Francisco with boyfriend Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd) and her daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario).   But family matters are cut short when a major earthquake rips through Nevada, and the Hoover Dam goes bust, and havoc ensues.  Ray and all available rescue personnel are ordered to Nevada to assist in the disaster.

Meanwhile, other peoples’ lives move on.  Emma heads to Los Angeles, and her daughter Blake goes to San Francisco with future step-dad Daniel.  At Cal Tech, seismology expert  Professor Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) has just tested new technology to predict earthquakes, and wouldn’t you know it, just in time for the little machine to start blabbing dire warnings all over the place.  SPOILER ALERT!  THE WEST COAST IS TOAST!!!

I am generally not a big fan of the disaster movie genre, but this film is pretty decent.  It helps to have real star power, not just in Dwayne Johnson, but excellent actors and pros like Paul Giamatti, Carla Gugino, and Ioan Gruffudd.  Then there is young Alexandra Daddario, who is very attractive and could soon move up to starring roles.  And of course, for the action/adrenaline junkies, there is mayhem and special effects galore to satisfy your thirst for destruction.  So go ahead, check this film out.

Huh?  That the….:  Pretty young thing Natalie is in a major car wreck, windshield busted out, car rolling over multiple times, but by golly the cell phone that she was just talking on somehow stays in the car so she can call for help….

It is not a game day for baseball at the ball park in San Francisco, but for some reason the bases were left on the infield.  Better fire one of the groundkeepers….

Forget about balancing the budget.  The National Debt is about to increase by about 20 trillion dollars….

Soundtrack:  Stay for the credits and listen to a wonderful version of the classic song, California Dreaming, performed by Sia.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Student – “Professor, could that happen here?”   Professor Lawrence – “Well, it happens every 150 years, and we’re about 100 years overdue.  I’d say it’s not a question of if, but when.”

Blake – “I can’t believe Daniel just took off!  What an asshole!””

Emma on phone leaving message for Daniel- “You left my daughter?  If you’re not already dead, I’m going to fuc*ing kill you!”

Ray – “We’ll have to auto-rotate down.”  Passenger – “Auto what?”  Ray – “We’re going to crash.”

Professor Lawrence – “In seismology, what we are experiencing is called a swarm event.”