Movie Review: Jurassic World: Kingdom (2018)

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Plot: 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 is a damn fine movie, even though it is technically a sequel and almost the 8th (under correction) of the entire franchise. It doesn’t suffer from repetitive writing and its success comes from the fact that the writers and directors knew that they shouldn’t spend too much time on Isla Nublar, and that they should move their cast as fast off the island as possible and continue elsewhere. There is also the considerable charm of Chris Pratt, as well as the beautiful and talented Bryce Dallas Howard, who returns as Claire, the previous operations manager at Jurassic World, and approver of the Indominus Rex.

It is three years after the destruction of Jurassic World, and the dinosaurs are facing extinction again. A volcano is set to erupt on Isla Nublar and take all the now de-extinct dinosaurs with it. Lobbyists are protesting the rights of the dinosaurs, and it is clear that the government does not feel that the dinosaurs deserve the same protection as other endangered animals. Some might say that you can’t really blame governments for adopting this stance. Dr. Iam Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) is prepared to say that maybe the universe is sorting out this problem and correcting the mistake Jon Hammond made by making dinosaurs breathe again. Claire is leading a lobby group, and just when she thinks that the dinosaurs can be saved, the government says they are just not doing it.

She is given a lifeline when she’s contacted by Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), Jon Hammond’s previous cloning and business partner. They had a falling out, and the reason is later revealed as a handy plot device which I won’t be telling you. Lockwood, aided by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) organizes a convoy to Isla Nublar to save some dinosaurs, and they enlist Claire’s help and that of Owen Grady (Pratt) to especially track the very intelligent Blue, the only remaining velociraptor on Isla Nublar. (They say Blue is the second most intelligent thing on the earth, and I disagree, he’s probably first and humans the fifth)

The convoy heads off to the beautiful and now smoking island, and ulterior motives from some are soon revealed. Double crossing and dangerous behavior is the game of the day and it is soon evident that the worst creature on Isla Nublar is in fact not any of the dinosaurs.

The support cast is fantastic. Justice Smith (as Franklin Webb) provided a number of hilarious moments with his complete freak out in any and every situation. It was a great decision to include this character and actor, and balances things nicely with the hyper-masculine Owen Grady on the other side.

Daniella Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez is a great addition and helpful to bring some female power to the group. She’s straight to the point and a genius and I really liked that she was so integral to the story while not getting some stupid love story to dumb her down.

Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood, granddaughter of Benjamin Lockwood, was adorable and managed to remain a big part of the story.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom starts a little choppy, and the hearings at government feels insincere, but it finds it feet fast as soon as the original duo take over the acting of the film. It is a much darker version of its predecessor, and much different than I expected. There are some moments where I really jumped and squealed and wanted to pack some dinosaurs in my backpack and run away. I don’t want to give too much away, but some of the villains are so creepy that they could have a spinoff and just be villains (well they could have had). There’s lovely footage in the film of Owen Grady bonding with Blue, showing the remarkable intelligence of the Velociraptor, and that was done beautifully. It is a strict reminder that animals aren’t cruel because they are malicious, their actions are nothing but instinct, whereas their human counterparts will eternally find ways to destroy and hurt anything “lesser” than them.

I still think Pratt and Dallas-Howard have zero chemistry, they seem terribly suited even in the film.  They just seem so incompatible and not really comfortable with each other. Big up to the producers who put Dallas-Howard in sensible shoes this time, and didn’t have her running around after dinosaurs in heels like in the first film, because the smack down they received for that took away from a really entertaining film.

The handy plot device is a clear move to keep our main characters morally clean in what happens towards the end of the film. Some might say it was poor writing and an easy out, and some may be right. However, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the Fallen Kingdom is wildly entertaining, thrilling and a good way to keep the franchise alive.

Rating: 8.10

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Watched, Read, Loved: October 2017

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My battle cry should be: “What a Month!”. 2017 in particular has felt like a whirlwind. Every month, so busy, so rushed. Work has been mad. Growing career wise is exhausting. There have been a number of unpleasantness in my team – people resigning, a sexual harassment case (super happy to report that my esteem for my company rose with how they handled the matter), and naturally just the normal amount of pettiness, drama, laziness and idiocy I’ve come to expect from working professionals. However, that said, some demented part of me enjoys working in such a difficult environment. It is enormously satisfying when people bend to your will, see your point, praise your efforts and start acting less like two year olds. I’m probably going to go crazy while doing it, but man, what a ride.

Some things are stressing me out still – waiting for my final results to get my degree is one particular one, and my University is as relaxed about releasing results as they usually are. It is so frustrating to be on a cliff, waiting for an answer, so close to the finish line. That and the course was pretty damn hard, so I am STRESSED. One moment I am convinced I passed and the next moment I’m sure I failed. I’m not the most pleasant person to be around right now, of that I can assure you.

I am also planning my oldest sister’s baby shower. She’s married with a baby on the way; I applaud myself when I comb my hair in the morning. These are the paths we take. However, planning an event is something that always stresses me out – I am such a perfectionist and if I don’t feel something is nice, I get really grumpy. With that is all the baby things too – stressing me out, because my ovaries are going to die soon (I might remove that sentence, I might not). Looking at children in the mall and wondering why anyone would put up with that is what I think of the most, yet at the same time there is something to be said about leaving a legacy. But I also like having my entire salary to myself, and let me tell you, pregnancy seems to come with many ailments that makes me want to revise my previous notion that pregnancy isn’t a sickness.

To load more on my plate, I’ve literally started loading things off my plate. That’s right – I’m at the “healthy lifestyle” game again. It’s a pretty pompous term, but I enjoy using it and it is certainly a better one than the word diet. I’m taking it very basic – cutting out most carbs and eating veggies and protein, with lots of water. I don’t drink any sugar carbonated drinks, so that isn’t a problem, but I do consume copious amounts of Coke Light. Working on lessening that too, as my primary objective is living as clean as possible and not consuming pseudo junk. I like to think I’ve become a regular at our local Parkrun, my total tally of walks is now somewhere around ten. I’ve even done one on my own, because I’ve realized that fitness and companionship aren’t always something that can happen at the same time. So far I’ve lost 3kg, which is obviously slower than I’d like, but it is a consistent trend downwards that makes me happy. I am also sleeping better and feeling more alert, which are two things I desperately needed.

So after an entire dialogue about all my problems, here’s what went down entertainment wise this month.

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Thor: Ragnarok (2017): This was one of the big ones I wanted to see. My darling favorite superhero returned to the big screen, and I was ready. Thor has never been my favorite franchise of Marvel, but on a science level it has always worked really well. This time around Waititi joined in to direct (and star), and I actually watched it TWO times in cinema – super super rare for me. The second watch did highlight some issues – some of the pacing is off, especially by Tessa Thompson, but it was still so much fun that I am not willing to alter the 8.5/10 I gave it.

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It was also Halloween month, so I picked up Hocus Pocus for the very first time in my life. It was okay, I’ve definitely seen worse and better, but I did enjoy the drama of the three witches and how excellently they acted it out.

Dis Koue Kos, Skat, was my Afrikaans feature for the month. Think Eat, Pray, Love, with less praying (and travelling). Anna-Mart Van Der Merwe, a South-African film legend, stars in this excellent film as a newly divorced woman settling into her new life. I had  a lot of fun with it.

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Lego: Ninjago movie (2017) – This was October as well?! October WAS a long month! I had a lot more fun with this than I thought I would, which is saying something.

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Star Trek (2009) – it took me nearly ten years to watch this, and I am happy that I finally did. Review coming soon.

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I kept it pretty simple this month with reading, revisiting the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. It’s simple reading, perfect for stressful days where you just need a bit of chill and sexy vampires.

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The real reason for the little amount of movie watching that went down can be pinned to Spartacus. I finally started the series. It’s pretty good despite awful dialogue, though just not one of the shows to watch with your parents / child. EVER.

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What have you been up to this month?

Movie Review: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

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Plot: Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

*Contains minor spoilers*

How is it possible that it has been 5 years since The Avengers? It seems like only yesterday. At the time it was one of the coolest and most interesting action hero films I’ve ever seen, and created an avalanche of Marvel-watching for yours truly. And it was great for its’ time – Joss Whedon did a fantastic job, even though it was a large CGI feast and if you hadn’t watched previous MCU films, well, sorry for you because that story would have made no sense at all. Since then we’ve been exposed to the good and the bad of superheroes, often with directors resigning in protest against MCU’s heavy handed control. There has been unfortunate mishaps (in particular, The Dark World was really just crap), and Marvel started to have a tired, repetitive tone to all their films. It was all good to look at, but man, it was all the same. Marvel Studios and DC Comics recognized superhero fatigue was quickly starting to rear head, and Marvel took some preventive actions while DC realized they needed to make proper films. Dr. Strange of 2016 was a visual stimulation we had not yet beheld, Deadpool went R-rated with its graphical violence and strong language, Wonder Woman finally proved that female superheroes could work and that DC miraculously still had a smidgen of sense, and Guardians of the Galaxy was original, quirky and fun as hell.

Ragnarok is the best film in the Thor franchise, which up until now has been the seemingly poorer relative of the MCU. Directed by the uniquely talented and marvelously hilarious Taika Waititi, prepare yourself for Marvel as you’ve never seen it before. You now by the multiple reports on this director that he’s the director behind What We Do in The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople. The man himself is an eccentric gem, and his humor is as evident off-screen as it is on. His distinct directorial style reverberates throughout Ragnarok. He didn’t write the material for the film but the nature of the humor is a clear indication that he’s all over it. Ragnarok is hilarious – I have never laughed quite so hard at a superhero film before. I laughed and snorted and spit out some of my drink – nothing is too sacred or serious for Waititi to omit. Dangerous portals are “the devil’s anus” and weapons are called “melt sticks” in such a deadpan way that you simply expect Waititi to walk out and wave at you. He is there, and you will have to listen only to know, but I won’t give away his character – I laughed too much at him and would like people to find him on their own. He is also able to bring out the best in Hemsworth and in the character of Thor – Chris Hemsworth is at his finest while playing Thor as a big, lumbering hero who can be quite the meathead but also has a heart of gold. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) returns as the “is he or isn’t he?”baddie, and to be honest I sometimes detect a weariness in Loki’s eyes – he’s so clearly intellectually superior to Thor that his brother’s antics must get exhausting. Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) makes a momentary appearance with his mindboggling magic tricks, and learn both brothers lessons in manners. It works, because unlike Civil War, this isn’t Avengers 2.1 – the entire MCU doesn’t pitch to join in on the fight. It is also more unique, less CGI extravaganza and a complete Thor movie, not a derivative movie that depends on the success of previously established MCU successes (Looking at you, Homecoming).

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The scramble for Marvel to include women, brought on by their rival DC’s wonderful Wonder Woman, brings us two females of note – the villain Hela (fantastically devious performance from Cate Blanchett) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). They are even on the poster. It is a positive turn of events, and I’ve seen complaints regarding Hela being one-sided, but I really thought her great and so refreshingly devious – like just mean and no worries about being so. Two times Oscar winner Cate Blanchett brings all her powers, and if one thing I wish they’d given her more time – she’s devious and crazy and cruel, and for the first female villain from Marvel, she’s absolutely wonderful. I’m all for conflicted villains, and Karl Urban’s Skurge certainly has inner conflict, but a pure, evil villain can be such fun, and watching Hela prove that Odin isn’t as squeaky clean as suggested was one glorious ride.  Valkyrie is a potential love interest, as Natalie Portman gets discarded with one single line (another flaw). I am quite pro a love interest that fights on her own and isn’t a damsel, so we will see how this goes.

The Revengers are endless amounts of fun. The movie reaches its conclusion without filler nonsense, the end is quite dramatic and heroic and Chris Hemsworth is as utterly gorgeous as always. Some of the humor is smart, some of it is blatant, and some excellently inappropriate. There is a buddy comedy vibe between Thor and The Hulk, which is endearing and hilarious. Be ready to adore Thor, The Hulk and even Loki – they are clearly having the time of their lives. The post credits scene is interesting and suggests something I thought would happen, and it can only mean great things.

Have you seen Ragnarok? Let me know your thoughts!

Rating: 8.5/10    

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Movie Review: Jurassic Park II (1997)

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Plot: A research team is sent to the Jurassic Park Site B island to study the dinosaurs there while another team approaches with another agenda.

Rating: 6.5/10

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I’m building up to the release of Jurassic World (It’s already been released, but I’m always a few days behind with everything) and I really hoped this would be at least nearly as good as the first Jurassic Park. It really isn’t, though. Where Jurassic Park has a storyline that runs well throughout, this one never gets running and it really feels as it the story changed half way through because they got bored with the original idea. The kids in the first movie were moderately tolerable (I am NOT a fan of putting midgets into movies that aren’t about midgets) but this time around it feels calculated and insincere. Julianne Moore plays a character that supposedly knows how to be quiet and track animals and she manages to make such noise in her first moments on screen that I would have stomped on her if she was a T-Rex. I loved seeing a very young Vince Vaughn (and miraculously he kept his but covered in this movie!) and Jeff Goldblum returning as Dr. Ian Malcolm. Those were pretty much the highlights for me, because the dinosaurs were old stories this time around and the story didn’t mesh particularly well. It is a significant comedown from the first movie but it is not horrible (I mean, dinosaurs remain cool even if the story is shitty). I liked the preservation of nature route they attempted to take with the story and how they showed how greedy human kind is. I do hope the last movie is better though!!

Movie Review: Jurassic Park (1993)

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Plot:  During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok.

Rating: 8/10

I’ve been fangirling ever since I saw the new trailer for the Jurassic Park movie that is being released this year. I decided that it was exactly the right time to go revisit my childhood and watch all three movies again.

Revisiting this was so much fun. I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed it as a child, because I can have an actual comprehension of the plot while still going EEK for the dinosaurs. After reading up on this, I see plenty of people say the plot is slightly lacking, but I found it a sturdy one, except maybe that it wasn’t fully explored how all the systems went down and how the T-Rex went on such an epic rampage.

The movie is great. I think the visual effects put a lot of current movies to shame: It was 1993, I was THREE years old, and yet this movie still manages better effects than current movies.

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Character lovin’

Favorite: I loved Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern). Firstly, she was a relatively capable female character, scarce to the 1990’s, and she was just as equipped to deal with mad dinosaurs as the men were. Secondly, this quote from her:

And this:

Dr. Ian Malcolm: God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs.
Dr. Ellie Sattler: Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth.

You just got to love a girl that talks like that.

Thirdly, that mumbling she does to herself is a very accurate representation of what I do when I am thinking to myself and forget other people are around me. I laughed and laughed at that.

I loved Jeff Goldblum’s as Dr. Ian Malcolm. He was a bit cheesy and very clearly a bit slimy, but it was obvious he had brains and definite opinions. I agreed with him on the following conversation because that is something I’ve always thought about any form of cloning, that people should GET what they are doing when they are cloning:

He knows from the start that the mere notion of bringing back dinosaurs from extinction is was asking for trouble, not even surprised when things started going wrong.

I liked Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) even though I found him a bit douchy. But hey, he is a scientist, and male scientists can be known for their douchyness 😉

THOSE DINOSAURS:

This is a movie that isn’t 3D, the visual effects are old compared to what we have today and yet you still notice how massive the T-Rex is the sound they make and how scary they appear. I really enjoyed the scenes where you grasp how majestic the Brachiosaurus is and how they renamed her to a “Veggie-Saurus”

Let me just say, someone needs to fire their health and safety representative. If it has been noted that the T-Rex is intelligent enough to search for weak spots in the fence, why not put up a secondary one that he CAN’T test? And then have multiple electrical lines running so that one is always on?

Also, open doors in animal enclosures, maintenance rooms IN enclosures, trees in roads. Seriously, someone needs to be fired.

Also, that severe oversight in using Amphibian DNA that has the capability of changing their reproductive organs was something that would never, ever have happened with proper research, FYI.

This movie is truly a showcase of excellent directing. You can feel the genius of Steven Spielberg looking at you from behind the scenes – the plot is well executed and the scenes flow into each other.

Jurassic Park is a wonderful trip down memory lane. I found this movie so terrifying as a kid and now I find it only highly entertaining. It was a great start to the franchise and really worthy of all the applause it got on its’ release.

Blindspot 2015: Magic in the Moonlight (2015)

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Rating: 7/10

So my Blindspot choices are moving along really nicely. I can’t believe that we are now somewhere halfway through the year. How is it possible that six months have gone by?! My choice this time around was Magic in the Moonlight, directed by Woody Allen. I love his signature washed out romantic feel that all his films has. I adore Midnight in Paris especially, and was rather excited to see if this movie held up. It also stars Emma Stone and Colin Firth, possibly two of my favorite stars in entertainment today.

Magic in the Moonlight is, most importantly, extremely watchable. It is in no way the greatest movie ever made or of extreme cinematic achievements, but it is beautifully shot and well executed. The movie moves at a great pace and is really a stylishly experience from start and finish. I think the dynamic between Stone and Firth is really well balanced – Stone’s Sophie is incredibly smart and witty and onto Stanley (Firth) to prove him wrong. Stone is really amazing and I can’t help but adore her. She is funny and talented and really just the cutest little thing. She is able to carry a story when the dialogue or plot drags, and this helped in the case of this film – the plot is just slightly drawn out at the end and when you reach the end you do feel that the movie could have ended fifteen minutes ago. Colin Firth… ah, man. He is so attractive for an older man and he really excels in any Mr. Darcy type of movie (the I’m an ass but my love for you makes me a better man). Even though Stanley is a prick, you root for him and hope he succeeds in anything he takes on. I also loved the suits he wore in here – gorgeous and classy and he does that with the signature upper crust English style that he was born that way perfectly).

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Although the story drags in some places, I had a really enjoyable time with this gorgeous movie. I did find the conclusion both lacking and drawn out in the wrong places, but that feeling was minor and didn’t distract from the overall satisfaction of finally getting to see Magic in the Moonlight.