Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

In any situation, the T-Rex is still (as the kids might say) the GOAT

It was a fourteen year wait we all endured (along with the third film in 2001) before 2015’s Jurassic World brought back dinosaurs to the theme park, and was probably the best since the original classic back in 1993. Three years later, we have Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Fallen indeed. It is like going to a great destination but having your GPS take you though places you never knew existed, resulting in you feeling somewhat interested, but wishing for other scenery on the route.

That is not to say that the special effects are bad. There are some cool looking shots (especially a somewhat heartbreaking one that I will get to later). The story does seem simple enough, but hardly enthralling. After the events of Jurassic World, the dinosaurs stuck on the island are in danger as the volcano is on the brink of eruption. The debate begins over whether to let nature take its course or have the animals saved. One who sides with their demise is Dr. Malcom (Jeff Goldblum, who is barely in the film more than five minutes). A group led by Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is doing what they can to save the animals.

Claire is reached out to by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), who helps run the company of Benjamin Lockwood (the always wonderful James Cromwell), a one time former partner of John Hammond. Mills wants Claire to help save as many animals (eleven species if I remember correctly) as possible, meaning she will need to reconnect with Owen (Chris Pratt), since he is the only one who can connect with his old pet raptor blu.

One problem I also had with the film was the generic characters we get that are to be expected in a Jurassic film. We have the main military head guy (Ted Levine), who we know will leave the island with far fewer men than he came with. There are two of Claire’s friends/assistants, Zia (Daniella Pineda) and Franklin (Justice Smith). While Zia is the tough no-nonsense one, Franklin is the (somewhat annoyingly) scared of everything one (though he did at least bring bug spray). There is also, of course, the child. This time is Lockwood’s grand-daughter Maise (a fresh new face talent named Isabella Sermon). It is standard law that any kid in the Jurassic universe is one of the smartest characters, if no the smartest. I almost forgot the great character actor Toby Jones as a villain who wishes to sell the dinosaurs to the highest bidder.

All of these actors are all talented, no doubt, but it is (some of) the characters making stupid choices that made me upset. The most bizarre moment of the film is when a certain character learn’s something of their past, which is a rather big plot twist. Remember when I said this film was like taking a trip to a great place but the journey was uncomfortable?

Parents, if your kids have seen a Jurassic Park film before, they are fine here. There is nothing sexual (one kiss), just thrills and some blood. Middle School and up is totally okay.

The ending we get to is actually one that can show some promise. Perhaps there is enough left in the tank for one more Jurassic Park film, provided they work out the script and not rush it (which is what I felt during this current film). As for the heartbreaking scene, you will know it when it happens (it involves a Brachiosaurus). Perhaps that may symbolize the end of this franchise, or maybe not.

Perhaps, life may find another way.

 

Overall: Two Stars **

The Queen (2006)

The Queen

Helen Mirren is The Queen. Simple as that.

As we near the upcoming 20th anniversary of the tragic death of Princess Diana (and having just viewed the very well made Netflix’s Original Series The Crown), I decided to revisit 2006’s The Queen. While viewing it, I tried to do something I had not done while viewing the movie before: trying to judge every part of the movie without focusing entirely on the performance by Helen Mirren.

It was no easy task. Helen Mirren gives a powerhouse performance as Queen Elizabeth II, so much so that in the few moments she is not on-screen, her presence is still felt. When I first saw the film, I knew virtually nothing about the history of the Queen herself, only the event that was Princess Diana’s death (I was 10 when it happened).

The movie starts of with her majesty meeting her new Prime Minister, Tony Blair (Michael Sheen, who is stellar). It is clear that Blair is bringing in a new, youthful era to the country. When told that he wishes to be called by his first name instead of his title, the Queen asks, “Has anyone given him a protocol sheet?”

Fast forward to the tragic day at the end of August of 1997, when the Princess and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, died in a car accident in a Paris tunnel. receiving the news, both the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip (an under appreciated James Cromwell) are stunned to find out that the Prime Minister is hoping for the royal family to make a statement. This is supported by Prince Charles (Alex Jennings), who in turn has to look out for his sons. It is a week that brings back many memories to people, as it is clear that the People’s Princess had touched all corners of the world.

The film has many scenes of quiet beauty: Simple walks in the palace, strolls with the Queen Mother (Sylvia Syms), talks on the phone, and (most of all) a very brief encounter with a stag. All scenes are played out with exquisite taste and care by director Stephen Frears.

Parents, the movie is a moderately gentle PG-13. There is no sex/nudity, just some swearing (one brief F-Bomb). There is also a little bit of gore revolved around hunting, show with a decapitated head of an animal. I would say middle school and up.

In the end, the movie belongs to Helen Mirren. When I first saw the movie, I knew little about the source material, yet I was still able to realize how dominate she was in the title role. It is one of the best performances an actor has given. You don’t see her acting at all during the movie. All you see is a woman who, despite her power, is still human. She still feels, still reacts, still makes hard decisions, and still manages to accept them.

Like the real life Queen Elizabeth II, this film is a surplus of dignity, power, and grace.

 

Overall: Four and a Half Stars ****1/2