Review : Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom

“When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event.”

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom in many ways, goes both backward and forward in the stylings of the Jurassic Park and World movies we’ve gotten so far. The first Jurassic World was like the blockbusterfication of the franchise, and Fallen Kingdom takes some of that, but then also tries to take the movie back to its Jurassic Park roots in its philosophy and horror beats. It’s starts off in the future of the end of Jurassic World, but quickly shows that much of the movie will be in a more suspenseful and stripped back styling of the original. A lot more tension, much more of a horror feel to certain events, and less mass dinosaurs, more meaningful dinos. This movie also did well its advertising to mislead where it was really taking the story, so for that I was greatful, as it lead to some nice set pieces I had no idea were coming. I think also the film makers knew creating the same spectacle over and over wasn’t possible, and that they would have to adjust the narrative to fit. The story here is both smaller and yet still broader, as the main narrative is a small self contained story, but it has much larger over arching implications going forward. Those larger story points were also established well, as they didn’t seem just shoe horned in to allow for a third film. Part of the cast is back here, and you do miss some of those who have been left out, but the new additions do a good job also, it just would have been nice to have some of the more memorable characters from the previous film here too, but maybe they will return in the third movie. All in all, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom isn’t any better or worse than the first Jurassic World, it’s just different, and how you feel about it is likely up to which camp you find yourself in more. If you’re spectacle over subtle, you might prefer the former, if you’re suspense over sensation, you might prefer the latter, but if you just like dinosaurs, you likely enjoyed both.

Review Score : 7 out of 10

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Review: Ocean’s 8

“Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly Met Gala.”

The biggest problem with this movie, is that it isn’t the original. Now I know what you’re saying, “but stef, the most recent oceans movie is a remake”, and you’re right, the problem is, it’s a remake of a terrible movie and thus made itself the de facto original. I’m definitely getting ahead of myself though, let me start over. Ocean’s 8, is for all intents and purposes, a sequel or a continuation of the recent Ocean’s franchise, if maybe at a tangent. To start with, this movie does everything those movies did, except not as good, and well, not as originally. We get the same first third of character introductions, followed by the heist, the antics, and the escape. That in itself would be enjoyable enough, but the movie tries to take things up a notch, but all it does is make everything seem way too easy, and way too convenient. This has less characters, but somehow less character development than those movies, it has a great heist, but no stakes, and there is no real antagonist here. If anyone is wondering, there is a reason for this team being all women, even if it’s delivered in a single throw away line, and the team do all seem very capable and good at what they do. The issue is, we’ve seen it all before, and we’ve seen it better. There are some nice twists and turns, but you never feel like things could fail, and you need those stakes to care. This movie is also too long, and it might not literally be too long, but it feels too long, and that’s not a good thing. There definitely is no shortage of acting talent here, and everyone really does embody their roles and their individual quirks (even if some seem like straight carbon copies from the last films), but to me, the real stand out here is Anne Hathaway. She is given the PERFECT role, and just hits it out of the park and I think will be what most people remember this movie for. All in all, Ocean’s 8s biggest flaw, is that it’s the 4th movie in this franchise, and not the first. That being said, they knew it was the 4th, and they knew a lot of people were ready to write this movie off from the jump due to its all female cast, and it’s a real shame that I can’t recommend this movie higher, because individually all the parts are here, in some form or the other.

Review Score: 5.5 out of 10

Review : Solo – A Star Wars Story

“During an adventure into the criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.”

Solo, a Star Wars story, brings us the first of the real plan by Disney to expand the Star Wars universe they acquired not long ago. It tells the backstory of one of the series’s most popular and important characters, Han Solo, and to and extent, his copilot Chewbacca and the millennium falcon. There was a lot of debate before this movie even came out, about wether it should have even been made. To many people, the mechanisms by which Han became who he did by the time we see him in a New Hope, are things that would only be ruined by showing us an exact backstory, while others thought it would be great to see what makes a man shoot first. I’m somewhere in the middle, I don’t mind seeing a well told story in this universe, but if I had to choose whose, I’d have likely chosen a different character first. That left me as going into this movie with reasonable expectations, and they were mostly met, but this movie should be better than that. We kind of have high stakes I guess, we kind of have a villain….I guess, and we definitely see the reasons for Han being Han (wether you wanted to know or not). That kind of leaves this movie in the middle for me, nothing really stands out. It’s all finely done and all that, but nothing really jumps out. There’s maybe one wow moment, but that’s also if you know what you’re looking for, the rest of it really does seem very tame. This of course is exactly the worry fans had after the Disney acquisition, and this movie seems almost as proof of this. This movie could be any space centric sci-fi movie, it just happens to have Star Wars characters in it, and even then, some people will never be satisfied with their portrayal by newer actors. I think Han and Lando come off really well in their respective portrayals, and there are definitely moments when I fully SEE Han in Ehrenreich’s performance, but without the rest of the Star Wars world and knowledge I already know and have, if you swapped these characters out, I don’t think anyone would know this was Star Wars really. All in all, Solo is a fun movie, especially for younger viewers, but I feel like real Star Wars fans will be left wanting after, and I hope that’s not how it’s going to be going forward.

Review Score: 6 out of 10

Review : Deadpool 2

“Foul-mouthed mutant mercenary Wade Wilson (AKA. Deadpool), brings together a team of fellow mutant rogues to protect a young boy of supernatural abilities from the brutal, time-traveling mutant, Cable.”

The original Deadpool movie was real game changer. For the first time we got a hard R, 4th wall breaking, violent, funny, pop culture referencing, totally unapologetic movie, the likes of which we hadn’t seen before. The problem with being a game changer, is it is really hard to do that twice, and that the real story of Deadpool 2. This movie is every bit as bloody, full of swears, action packed, and somehow maybe even funnier than the first, but it can’t recreate than never been done kind of feel the first had. It seems almost like a harsh criticism, but this movie would be a better than the first, if the first didn’t exist. Everything here is done up, there’s s bigger budget, they’re more characters, more of just about everything, plus some unexpected heart. The only thing this movie doesn’t have is that now we’ve seen it before. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this isn’t a good movie, or that it isn’t super enjoyable and entertaining and all that, I’m just saying that it sits a bit below the first one, but only for those reasons. We get a bigger plot this time, and with the origin out of the way, we get to spend an entire movie basically, with the merc with a mouth. This movie is also really surprisingly good at hitting you in the feels, and really not under cutting the emotional moments with needless humor, especially as there is already so much of that humor through out, those touching moments can really breathe and they come off super sincere. In many ways, Deadpool 2 is more commercial than the first, and that might not be hardcore fans biggest wish, but it makes this movie much more accessible, and while I won’t go so far as to say it dumbs down the material, there is just that bit of the shock and flair of the original, that’s not here.

Review Score : 8 out of 10

Review : Rampage

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“When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago.”

When I first heard they were going to make this movie, my first thought was, but why? And now that I’ve seen it, I still don’t know. This movie, for those who don’t know, is based on a classic arcade game of the same title, involving some giant animals and a lot of destruction. If we’re being honest though, this movie was really made on the large shoulders of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and made for him. The real point of this movie is to use him, as a tool to make some bank, and its honestly pretty apparent, because this movie is absolutely ridiculous. Like, as ridiculous as it gets really. Every time something happens, every time a decision is made, anything a plot point is moved forward, there is almost no reasonable explanation for why anything goes the way it does, and how, but, what did I really expect. This is really the definition of a “popcorn” movie. One of those movies where you’re meant to just turn off your brain, eat all the snacks, and laugh at the jokes. And honestly, you could do that, but if thats not who you are, or not what you want to be about, you’re going to be sitting in this movie thinking to yourself, who made this, why they made it, and how they convinced some of the actors in it, to be in it. All in all, Rampage is just an over the top, balls out, brain off kind of movie that can only I think really be enjoyed by certain kinds of people.

Review Score : 4 out of 10

Review : A Quiet Place

“A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.”

A Quiet Place not only stars John Krasinki, but is directed by him also as he acts alongside Emily Blunt, and the very talented Regan and Marcus Abbott. It’s seems almost ironic that there is so much to say about a film that has hardly any spoken lines but if any movie right now deserves to be talked about, it’s this one. This movie does so many things right, and honestly, it doesn’t really do anything wrong. When I was in school, I was once given a project to make a short film, that was silent, no sound at all. It’s one of those things designed to teach you about visual storytelling, the main principle of which is, don’t say, show. Taking a concept like that, and ramping it up to the max, A Quiet Place, places most of its storytelling, character development, and emotional evolution in the hands of visual storytelling. It’s uses ambient sound to a masterful degree, while always keeping its eye on colour, framing, and pacing. This movie is a brisk 90 minutes, and that’s because there is not a drop on fat on it, allowing it to not waste a single frame or moment. When you add in the handicap of not having any real verbal or audible exposition, this movie is forced almost to use every inch of screen, to further that story. The cast here is small, really just 4 people, but they are all fantastic, and they are able to deliver a real emotional heft, without nearly a word being uttered. The movie also uses sound and the lack there of when necessary, to keep a level of tension, that is so high strung, for most of this movie you will be unable to look away for fear of missing something. Ever so often, there is s movie like A Quiet Place. Made for only 17 million, already more than clearing its profit targets, while also genuinely delivering a real go to the cinema worthwhile experience. This is a small movie in its scale, but it’s massive in its ambition, and it easily checks every box of film making. All in all, A Quiet Place is a fantastic sci-fi, horror, thriller, amazing ride that hooks you from the first frame, to the last. Movies like this are what people go to the cinema for, and I hope it makes all the money in the world.

Review Score : 9.5 out of 10

Review : Ready Player One

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“When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.”

Spielberg is back! Kind of…. Ready Player One is a really interesting movie, and it is for a few different reasons. This movie operates and exists on a few different levels, and how each of those affects you, is going to be really specific and personal to each person, and thats means things can get a little weird. So to start, this movie is an adaptation of a very popular book, using the same story about an open online world of virtual reality that has pretty much taken over life for most people, and that of course, makes it a very important and wanted commodity. Now, the narrative aside, thats where this movie no longer leans on the workings of a regular film, in order to go from start to finish. This movie relies so heavily on nostalgia, and easter eggs, and just everything pop culture in general, that for much of the movie, its more about that, than it is about coherent story telling. Now, I’m not saying that I didn’t get goose bumps now and then, and I’m also not saying I didn’t have my own little pop culture fandom jollies, but when I wasn’t having those moments, I wasn’t having that much fun. And thats why I said this movie is going to be so personal to people. If you were born in the 2000s, and you’re not a real fan of things from before that, I feel like literally 90% of this movie could fly straight over your head, and if that happens, then all you have to rely on is the actual narrative, and thats legitimately the weakest part of this movie. Even then, this movie makes another weird division of itself by having seemingly one story line set in the real world, and the other in the virtual world, and there is a lot to wow you in the virtual world, but we know its that world and that makes it lose it awe, theres nostalgiAWE, but there isn’t that actual typical Spielberg awe that we have grown to know and love. So what is this movie exactly? Its a piece of entertainment whose specific level of entertainment to each person will be drastically different, and that makes this movie really hard to quantify like I usually do. All in all, I have to judge it based on its merits and how it affected ME most of all, but this is definitely one of those reviews where I think the actual body of this review is more important than the actual score at the bottom, but take them each for what they’re worth.

Review Score : 6.5 out of 10