Category Archives: Action / Adventure

Review: Jurassic World (2015)

Director: Colin Trevorrowjworld-banner-44

Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins

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It has been 22 years since the original Jurassic Park movie was released, a franchise that spawned two sequels, yet a fourth movie had always been in discussion for many years. Rumours linked the previous film’s stars to having roles in the new movie. Both Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum’s names were mentioned. There was even the potential of a group of dinosaurs escaping from the island and running amok on the streets, a vision of pterodactyl’s swooping and attacking a group of school children in a playground had the internet awash with potential plot spoilers. In fact, the original draft of the script, simply entitled Jurassic Park 4 included, believe it or not, human dinosaurs. In a sort of mad professor style, a load of human guinea pigs were injected with a special formula to make them part human, part dinosaur and was an idea apparently green lit by the man himself, Steven Speilberg. Fortunately, like many other idea, it was quickly shelved and the rumours faded away. Fast forward a few years and the rumours came back again, only this time the cast would be entirely new (with one exception) and there would be a fully functioning park, the movie would be called “Jurassic Park: Extinction and it would include tame Raptors who would act as security guards – which is not that far from the truth.

 

Despite previous efforts and deleterious results, Ingen have still pushed forward with their goal to have a fully functioning Jurassic Park. This time, the “Park” has been replaced with “World” and John Hammond’s legacy lives on. Now owned by a multi-millionaire businessman, Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) and with Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) left in charge, Jurassic World is performing at an even level. As quoted by Claire, the public are no longer impressed by seeing a dinosaur. Seeing a stegosaurus is just like seeing an elephant at the zoo. A statement which holds truth during one scene of a teenage boy looking on his mobile phone while behind him a T-Rex devours a goat left for him to eat. The only solution is to take it to the next level and create a new dinosaur. To play God. The brief was to create a dinosaur that would be bigger, louder and have more teeth and Jurassic World’s latest creation is about to do more than that. Genetically engineered from the DNA of other animals and dinosaurs, the Indominus Rex has been created ready for the public to see, but a monster, not just a dinosaur has been created who has heightened intelligence and soon, like all previous attempts, the worse happens.

 

The main plot of Jurassic World is very similar to the previous incarnations, especially with the inclusion of children. Zach and Gray are Claire’s nephews, with whom she rarely sees, who visit Jurassic World and become lost in the park with a rampaging Hybrid dinosaur on the loose. The writers have tried to develop character back stories in order to offer a moral, but it is inevitably the dinosaurs that once again steal the show. Chris Pratt plays Owen, a former Navy Seal who has been working hard with the Raptors in order to tame and control them, an idea that Ingen show great interest in. He is called in by Claire to offer advice on the new dinosaur enclosure, to ensure security is of the highest order. But, Owen has concerns as he quotes: “You just went and made a new dinosaur? Probably not a good idea…” Director Colin Trevorrow takes the helm of this next installment in his first major production (with Steven Spielberg returning in an Executive Producer role) and honors the franchise by producing an often dark, but terrifying movie. The same fear we have seen from the original is still there played as an homage to the first movie, but the scares are often and plenty with the action never stopping. Several references to the original movie are seen throughout, including original cast member, Henry Wu (BD Wong) who reprises his role and Trevorrow’s vision of this Jurassic Park is stunning, not just visually, but in periods of extreme intensity.

Both Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt take the lead roles in the movie to perfection. There is interesting development from Dallas Howard’s character whose persona changes throughout the course of the movie, a theme encouraged throughout by the script writers. Chris Pratt has become what Hollywood has been craving for years, an all American action hero. Reminiscent of a young Harrison Ford, Pratt provides the muscle, heroism and the sex appeal of a leading man, but delivering some of the movies funniest lines as part of the package.

 

Despite the plot having major similarities to its predecessors, Jurassic World is a piece of thoroughly entertaining cinema that brings back the thrill, excitement and the emotions of the first time we ever saw the dinosaurs back in 1993. It ticks every single box in terms of a blockbuster and the fans of the franchise will be not only satisfied with the results, they will be truly blown away.

 

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Review: American Sniper (2014)

7    Oscar  Oscar Logo 15

American Sniper

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner

It is during the opening sequence of American Sniper where we discover the true intensity of the movie. Marine Chris Kyle is positioned at the top of an abandoned building in Iraq, his rifle is positioned and we are looking through the telescopic sight first at an Iraqi soldier and then the attention is drawn to the ground where a mother and her son emerge from a building, the son clutches something to his chest under his jacket as his mother whispers instructions. The boy then sets off running towards Kyle’s fellow American troops and Kyle’s finger is poised on the trigger…

The beauty of Clint Eastwood’s direction is the level of intensity he can produce from a moment such as that, but the true story of Chris Kyle is depicted brilliantly not just through the direction, but through the story and the acting.  Eastwood has taken the focus of the story and balanced it between the war in Iraq and a normal life for a soldier returning home, which is anything but. The main part of the movie is in Kyle’s difficulty to separate his home life from the life he risks everyday fighting in the war. His decision to join the marines came to him through his father predominantly. His father would teach him and his brother to stand up to bullies and be strong and this is what exactly, as young men, they chose do. When the Twin Towers were attacked in 2001 this form of ‘bullying’ spurred Kyle on to want to fight and it was soon evident his skills lay in using a rifle.

Chris Kyle had four tours of Iraq and the movie follows each one of them and also the life he shared at home with his wife and children. Like most soldiers returning from active duty, the adjustment to a life at home is difficult with everyday noises drawing dark memories to his life in conflict. In Iraq, Kyle is witness to the brutality of the enemy and an unknown assailant, also useful with a rifle, is his main target.  The price on his head from the Iraqi’s is substantial, but the bounty refuses to deter Kyle in his mission to capture Osama Bin Laden’s number two and bring an end to the war.

Bradley Cooper portrays the role of Chris Kyle in a performance that has seen him nominated for an Oscar and understandably so too. Although Cooper performs superbly, I don’t think this is his strongest performance to date. Certainly not in comparison to Silver Linings Playbook in which he was also nominated. Sienna Miller is almost unrecognisable as Kyle’s wife, Taya, in a strong role in which the depiction of her struggles with her life married to a marine is executed superbly with the emotional distress that any woman in her position would go through. It is one of the best roles I have seen her in.

My admiration goes fully to Clint Eastwood. A master in his field both in front of and behind the camera he shows no signs of letting up, even at 84 years of age. The pace and passion of the story is sublime and Eastwood doesn’t hold back for some of the more uncomfortable scenes of life that is happening every single day as our soldiers fight. The drama and intensity are with us throughout the whole movie and supported by a wonderful cast you can see how this has been nominated for best picture at the Oscars. I personally am not sure it has the strength to go on and win, but it is still an exhilarating experience not to be passed up.

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