Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom Review

After the longest break from the cinema in years, I finally saw the Jurassic World sequel. I’d managed to avoid spoilers and there was a lot of good buzz about the film so I was pretty optimistic going in.

Jurassic World in 2015 surprised me, it was a really fun return to this universe and Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas-Howard seemed like good fits to lead this franchise.

Straight from the off JWFK (awkward abbreviation I know) indicates this will not be as light and fun as Jurassic World. It still has its moments of levity, but the overall tone is more like a kids horror film. This change-up works well, meaning it feels different to JW without really being all that different of a story to its predecessor.

A few years age passed since the events of the first film and the islands volcano is now active, as you may have guessed from the trailers. This is where he first half of the film takes place. It makes for some visually stunning scenes on the island, and even if there is some ridiculousness in terms of what characters get away with, you have to suspend your disbelief in these films, this is about dinosaurs after all.

From there the film pivots quite clumsily from big dinosaur and jungle action to a smaller area, and during the third act we really get a taste of that horror element I mentioned earlier. These scenes were the most engaging for me in the film and showed something a bit different to previous Jurassic movies.

There is a clear point in the film when it changes course and pivots but it’s done with no real subtlety. We have a character introduced who is clearly a bad guy, and the intentions of the antagonists are made clear. That’s pretty much all the depth we get from the villains, as aside from that it’s a similar situation to Jurassic World, with anew dinosaur introduced.

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas-Howard carry the film on their shoulders, with the two sidekick characters being odd additions. One I found annoying the other to be a bit more interesting but still not really important to the story. Jeff Goldblum is in the film but his part in the trailer is pretty much it, so don’t expect much from him.

At times Fallen Kingdom to wrestle some meaningful issues, addressing that these creatures are not monsters, just animals,but animals that are used to being top of the food chain. This comes into focus at the end of the film and the choices made here are interesting as I thought for a moment they was going to do something very brave from a franchise point of view but it wasn’t to be.

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom provides more of the same for the franchise, and it’s an entertaining film, but what they do next in the franchise will need to bring something new to keep me engaged as a fan.

Good: Spectacular island scenes, tense monster chases, addressing moral issues and my hero Chris Pratt.

Bad: Tiring premise, annoying sidekick, lukewarm lava and T-Rex Machina.

7/10 – More of the same from Jurassic World.

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 Review

The sequel to Marvel’s surprise success Guardians of the Galaxy is finally here and reunites us with Star Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot for another intergalactic adventure. Considering I adore the first one so much I would call it my favourite Marvel movie, even over the first Avengers, my excitement for GotG2 was sky-high. 

The reason I love the first was down mainly to the chemistry between the whole team of guardians, and that is here in bucket loads in the sequel. The quips and jokes fired back and forth between them are mostly successful with some really funny moments sprinkled throughout the film and that comedic tone is something that is really evident throughout. This is the closest to a straight up comedy out of anything that Marvel has produced, with a joke being delivered in even the most emotional moments of the film.

The jokes pay off thanks to the great performances around the board whether its Dave Bautista’s Drax delivering a brutally honest assessment of Mantis’ looks to Rocket and Star Lord bickering over who has tape to stop Baby Groot (incredibly adorable) blowing people up, everything works thanks to the chemistry between them. Yondu and Nebula return from GotG 1 and both have a more involved role this time round, with both getting probably twice as much screen time but only Yondu is really given a real arc in the film. We do find out more about Nebula’s Daddy issues, but aside from that she’s the same grunting angry girl we saw before. In terms of new characters we have the introduction of Mantis to the team, who brings a different dynamic to the group as she connects with Drax to hilarious effect.

We also get Kurt Russell as Ego the Living Planet. I won’t say much about this character other than to praise Kurt Russell’s performance, he really does go all in despite the craziness of the character and it speaks volumes for where we are with Superhero films that an actor as iconic and legendary as him is willing to play a character that is so out there and obscure even to some comic book fans.

A big part of superhero movies is the action we get in them. There is a great space chase scene here which is like a more colourful version of a star wars scene and being a huge fan of that I loved it. In terms of normal action there is a scene featuring Yondu that stands out in my memory, but most of the action is pretty standard and never wowed me. It is rare to wow someone with action these days, but I was expecting a little more from this film here.

The main plot line is your standard superhero thing, someone wants to take over the Galaxy and it’s our heroes job to stop that, but the dynamic between the heroes and the villain strays from what we have come to expect. A lot of time is spent on this relationship and it makes up the bulk of the film. Whilst it may come at the expense of some other story arcs (I would have liked to have seen more of Gamora/Nebula) it did hook me throughout the film.

Guardians of the Galaxy had one of the best soundtracks in any movie ever, and I was all ears to find out what made it onto the Volume 2 soundtrack. Unfortunately I think it’s fair to say it doesn’t hit the same heights as the first,  as after a promising start the soundtrack largely fades into the background Having said that, it had an almost impossible task beating “Hooked on a Feeling” and “Come and Get Your Love” from the first Guardians soundtrack, so perhaps I’m being harsh here.

Verdict

This film has managed to deliver exactly what I was asking for before I went into it, but I think deep down I wanted it to be something more than that. The unspectacular action and basic story hold it back from being in the top echelon of Superhero films, even with the unique hero/villain dynamic. The Guardians themselves are the real draw to this film, and assuming you loved the first, you will find Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 to be a fun and entertaining film.

7.5/10 – Another solid entry in the MCU, just lacks that “wow” factor. 

Jurassic World Review – Disneyland with Dinosaurs

Jurassic World is the fourth film in this franchise that has been laying dormant for over a decade. This time around we see the park that we was always promised in the previous films but this time it’s been a success for a number of years. For me seeing the full park in action with all the attractions, with John Williams’ incredible theme playing, was enough to put a stupid cheesy grin on my face and will likely do the same for any fans of the previous films.

Rawr-some!

First off this films looks spectacular on the big screen, which I’m sure you know considering this movie is the fastest grossing movie at the box office ever so you’ve probably seen it. The dinosaurs, characters, and environments all look brilliant and the action is easy to follow (something the transformers movies should take notes on).

Chris Pratt is quickly becoming my new favourite actor (pronounced “Man Crush”) with this film showing a slightly more serious character but keeping that sense of fun and humour we saw in Parks and Recreation and Guardians of the Galaxy. He is backed up by Bryce Dallas Howard who I liked on the film – i haven’t seen much of her before but she delivered a strong performance for me. The kids in the movie are both as solid as you’d expect. I did feel that some of the other characters were a little unnecessary but more on that later.

The “Indominous Rex” that acts as the main big bad Dino in this one is probably the scariest dinosaur we’ve seen in this franchise so far, at least it is until you actually see it. I do feel like that is an area American/western world movies could learn a bit from the Japanese & Chinese movies. The monster is never as scary if you see them all the time and i felt the movie was doing that well for the first part of the film by not showing the dinosaur in full just glimpses of its strength. There are a few scenes in the film which really did wow me, which it takes a lot to do nowadays. I won’t spoil anything but the “tracking beacon” scene was awesome!

“Just the parts they didn’t like”

The supporting roles played by Irrfan Kahn and Vincent D’Onofrio are both performed well enough but both, particularly D’Onofrio’s military stereo type, felt a little unnecessary given there was already plenty happening. D’Onofrio’s characters desire to weaponise dinosaurs is unbelievable (I realise we are talking about a dinosaur theme park.. but you’ll see what I mean) and did make me think “Seriously.. they’re going to go there?”.

Irrfan Khan plays the parks owner, which at first was fine but the things he does towards the end were not really giving anything and the running helicopter joke just didn’t work for me.My only complaint about the dinos was the overuse of the classic “dinosaur snout slowly entering shot and sniffing next to the character” which felt like it happened 4-5 times.

Final Thoughts

My experience with Jurassic World was pretty much exactly what I expected from it – that being really good fun with big dinosaurs eating people and Chris Pratt being all Chris Prattish. I got exactly that. If you like Jurassic park 1 or 2 you will have a good time with this return to form for the franchise. Here’s hoping they can keep it up.

8/10 – There’s Dinosaurs…Just go see it.