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 : Incredibles 2

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“Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for Jack-Jack while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world.”

That tagline would make it seem like the original Incredibles came out last week, and that this second iteration is just the next episode, and not 14 years later. This movie however, does treat it as if the original movie was a week ago, and it picks up right after the events of the last movie, and goes forward from there. 14 years is a long ass time, and that brings a lot with it. The more time goes past with a beloved movie like the predecessor to this, the more fondly we hold it, and the higher the expectations are of any sequel. The weight of expectation couldn’t be much bigger than those on the shoulders of this movie, and glad to say, it pretty much doesn’t let down. This movie takes almost everything from the original, and ramps it up. More supers, more powers, more action, more adventure, more heart, its all here. Its even more political and ideological, there’s a much heavier feminist slant, and a real great critique of the real responsibility of being a super, and what that should be and mean. We get a great combination also of old and new characters, with a thoroughly amazing voice cast of talent here, and they are all truly spot on. Brad Bird also shines here, back in animation where he probably just honestly belongs. His directing holds a great pace, and there are so many creative and stunning visual choices, especially with the use of powers on display, it really is a shame it took us 14 years to get back here. The movie isn’t perfect, and it may have some very minor detractions to it, but overall, the Incredibles 2 is pretty much everything all the fans of this franchise could have wanted and were waiting for. It also did have a bit of a feel of being a middle movie, so looking forward to not waiting another 14 years for the hopeful end of the trilogy.

Review Score: 9.5 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 : Kingsman – The Golden Circle


“When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.”

Kingsman the golden circle, or just Kingsman 2, tells the continued story of unrefined youth turned super spy Eggsy, in a brand new story. Everything about Kingsman 2 is meant to be bigger and better. More action, more stunts, more fights, more guns, more everything. For the most part we do get all the “more”, but we could have done with a touch of the “less” also. The Kingsman sequel definitely makes some sacrifices for the sake of bigger and better, but in that we do lose a little of the soul that made the first movie so memorable. Bringing in their American counterparts in the Statesmen, the movie basically doubles its cast of over the top, but super charismatic spies, and allows for an entire new style to be used to great effect. All the great action you would expect is all here, where the movie falters, in its character development. All these new characters have their times to shine, but that spreading of the spot light, does mean less time to dive a bit deeper. I also feel like this movie made some choices in an attempt the deepen our emotional connections with characters, but served only to take some of the best characters out, most like in preparing for third and likely final entry in the Kingsman saga. Just like the original movie, this movie is certainly over the top, and doesn’t shy away from pointing the camera directly at the lesser flattering areas sometimes, and in some cases, some might find it goes too far. The new additions to the cast are also all fantastic, and do a great job to build out the world, as well as allow for some interesting match ups going forward. All in all, Kingsman 2 is every bit the over the top action movie you would expect it to be, it just lacks a bit of the deeper soul that made the first movie one of the best movies of 2014.

Review Score : 8 out of 10

Review : It


“A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of clown, begins hunting children.”

First off it must be said that I spent the majority of this movie looking off to a safe blank spot on the cinema wall, needless to say, if you’re not sure if this movie is “scary” worry not….its f$&@#ing terrifying. As the synopsis implies, this movie is heavy on the clowns, but what really matters here is it’s also super heavy on the story, and character development. It sees a cast of very talented young actors, who all add real emotion and depth to the story here, and you give you that human and emotional hook that a movie like this really needs. Lead by Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, and Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard we become deeply aquanted with the losers club, and the circumstances that bring them all together. They have great chemistry as a group, and each is capable of standing on their own, acting wise. Then we get to Pennywise….the dancing clown. In roles such as these (made famous by another actor already), making your performance stand out is a real task, one however, accomplished perfectly by Bill Skarsgård. I know a lot of his terror comes from special effects, wether make up or digital, but a large part here is also his acting. His tone, delivery, cadence and even movement really bring to life many of our nightmares. On top of all this however, this movie also shines because of its writing. Based of course on the popular Steven King novel, and adapted for the screen by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman, It brings just as much dramatic, emotional, humorous story telling as it brings scares. It also benefits from not needing to rely on jump scares, but more often than not it uses real tension, and real emotional connection to scare the shit out of you. All in all, It is more than just a scary movie, it’s just a really good movie (that happens to be scary as shit and I recommend seeing it in the light of day), and really good movies deserve to be seen, and seen in cinemas.

Review Score : 9 out of 10

Review : Dunkirk

“Dunkirk (2017) Robert Paege Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.”

Firstly, it must be said, the British navy had the sweetest coats ever, so stylish and I’m sure some warm, unto the movie now. In some ways Dunkirk is unlike any other Chris Nolan movie, and in some ways it’s like the best of his movies. This movie is first and foremost an education in film making. This movie is absolutely gorgeous, and uses some of Nolan’s most effective and trademark camera techniques (like when he locks a camera down to something then let’s that thing role or spin), and here those methods work really well to build tension and a real awareness of tight spaces. This movie is also anchored by an amazing score from Hans Zimmer, which is in itself anchored by a ticking clock that goes through the entire movie save the last 3 or so minutes. Together the cinematography and score, when added to Nolan’s directing, make for a movie that people will probably use to teach these things years from now. This movie isn’t perfect however, and the one real flaw it has, is a bit of a gaping hole. There are a good few characters for us to follow here, set on three different time lines, but we get about zero character development for any of them, which makes feeling for them in situations of danger difficult. Don’t get me wrong, you feel the danger, but the characters in danger could be anyone really and it wouldn’t even matter that it’s Harry Styles or not. The real question here is does this lack of the movie’s soul hurt it, and how much does it? Well it does, and it does hurt. We see some of these characters no some horrible things, and they’re either never redeemed, or given sufficient background to give those actions meaning. All in all, Dunkirk is a triumph of film making, but it can’t transcend to being a triumph of film.

Review Score : 7.5 out of 10