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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Summer Films - So Far


I've seen three "Summer Blockbusters" so far this season. I've already briefly written about Avengers: Age of Ultron. I've also seen Tomorrowland and Jurassic World.

The interesting thing about Brad Bird's Tomorrowland is that it's the one from the series of movies based on Disney rides/locales that doesn't have an obvious plot. Scripts for Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion practically write themselves (not necessarily successfully). But what do you do with Tomorrowland?

For the most part, I enjoyed their choice; a group of utopian scientists create a futuristic city in an alternate dimension to create life-changing technologies. This city eventually comes into conflict with a crisis in the real world. I love retro-futurism and this movie is pretty much built around that idea. I also really enjoyed some of the performances, especially Raffey Cassidy as Athena, who steals every scene she's in.

However, the plot conflict never really makes sense and the needless violent struggle at the end seems like the choice of a standard action film. I don't think the movie fully lives up to its ideals in giving us something we've never seen before. It's not as bad as it's box office tally would indicate, but it's not as good as I had hoped.

Ben and I saw Jurassic World last night. In the pantheon of Jurassic Park movies, I guess I'd say it's better than 2 and 3, but nowhere near as good as the original (duh). The problems are many, including a very rocky first 45 minutes, a bunch of terrible choices made by stupid characters, those same characters acting very implausibly and lackadaisically in the face of a developing disaster, and the expression of the same anti-technology bent that infests all the Jurassic Park movies. The escape of the new Indominus Rex dinosaur made no sense to me at all. Oh, and the fairly awesome Tim and Lexi from JP have been replaced by a whiny, petulant teen, and his pre-teen brother whose parents are going through a divorce. Ugh. Finally, the movie contains several scenes that are clearly homages to previous, better, movies, including Aliens, and doesn't nail any of them.

All of these dinosaurs were killed by one dinosaur.
Did they wait around for their turn rather than flee?
I know they're slow, but come on.

I did enjoy Chris Pratt and Bryce Howard, and some of the action sequences are pretty well done. And dinosaurs are always fun to see. But overall I thought the direction by Colin Trevorrow was lackluster. One of the greatest strengths of the original Jurassic Park was how Spielberg gave a sense of grandeur and dignity to the settings and the dinosaurs. Trevorrow is too busy rushing past everything to get to the next thing to really evoke that sense of wonder and scale necessary to what we're seeing.

I still need to go see Mad Max.

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