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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Happy Women’s Day South-Africa: Top 15 Favorite Kick-Ass female characters on screen

Today is Women’s Day here in South-Africa. Over here we like public holidays quite a bit (although India has TWENTY ONE), so we are all having a day off today – Whoop!

To celebrate, I made a list of strong female characters on screen. I think we can all agree that there are too few well written, complex female characters, but these ladies below are amazing and did their job extremely well in their respective films!

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Fifteen: The Black Widow – Marvel movies

Female superheroes have increased marginally, and I am really happy about that. My only negative comment is that I am confused why female superheroes need to either wear skin tight leather suits or skimpy Wonder Woman outfits while their male counterparts wears aerodynamically pleasing outfits or war clothing. We have a far way to still go in this genre, but at least we can all agree that Natasha Romanoff kicks ass multiple times on screen and is a fully functional member of the squad. I really enjoy this character, and I think Scarlett Johannson has done a great job bringing her to the screen. It annoyed me a bit that her infertility was this massive discussion in one of the movies – the reproductive capability of her male teammates have never been discussed.

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Fourteen: Katniss Everdeen

Katniss as a character has many flaws – she is selfish and can’t choose between two men. While that is certainly a crime, I have never been able to really judge her too harshly for it. Her world is dark and horrible, and she has nothing wonderful. Turning away from the caring of a good man? It seems nearly cruel to expect her to do that.

But despite this obvious flaw, I really thought the character was badass and capable, and honorable to take her younger sister’s place in a situation where she was guaranteed her death.

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Thirteen: Hermione Granger, The Harry Potter series

If this had been a literary list, Hermoine would have been much higher. Film Hermoine is great and Emma Watson did a good job with her, but my opinion remains that the film adaptions didn’t do justice to the sheer magnificence of the novels, on any level. Anyway, this isn’t a Harry Potter discussion, so I will just mention that Hermoine Granger is the reason those two boys stayed alive. She is strong, intelligent, fiercely loyal and brave, and her contribution to the wizarding world and the feminist cause must never be forgotten.

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Twelve: Elle Woods, Legally Blonde

When Legally Blonde dropped in 2001, every single person on this planet was charmed by Reese Witherspoon and the ditzy genius she created. There were tiny dogs, buckets of pink, manicures and textbooks, all in one film. I placed Elle Woods on this list because we too often forget that it is perfectly possible for a woman to love pink, to be girly and to be very determined, intelligent and capable all at one time. Another excellent thing in the film was that sisterhood won out in the end, and Warner Hungtinton the Third was booted on his ass.

Caroline

Eleven: Caroline Forbes, The Vampire Diaries

As the only series character to make it on to this post, you must know that I am very much team Caroline. Another pretty blonde girl who shows determination, loyalty and passion for life! In season one, Caroline works on your nerves pretty much incessantly. She’s insecure and whiny, and seems to be shallow and petty. However, the second she becomes a vampire and she realises that she will live an eternity in her own head, she gets a grip in such a remarkable fashion that I became her biggest fan.

I am no man

“I am no man”

Ten: Eowyn, Lord of The Rings

Perhaps the lady with the most iconic quote on the list, Eowyn, shield maiden of Rohan, is on first impression another lady who waits while her beloved father figure wastes away at the hand of the dastardly Wormtongue and her brother rides to war against orcs. It quickly becomes clear that this is a proud woman who was raised by warriors, and that she is simply tired of being left behind while those she loves die around her. She finds a way on to the battlefield, and if that chilling and rousing speech Theoden gives before his final ride isn’t enough, Eowyn steals everyone’s thunder by killing the leader of the Nazgul. She also gets her super happy ending at the end, which pleased me to no end.

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Nine: The Bride, Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino is a phenomenal film maker, and the roles he creates for women are legendary. The Bride is one such character, hell bent on revenge and making people pay for what was done with her. Uma Thurman brings this vengeful character to life with scary finesse, and even though this isn’t my favorite Tarantino film, the character itself is impressive as they come.

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Eight: Hit Girl, Kick-Ass

She’s super tiny, she swears like a sailor, she wears a bright purple wig and her father is Nicolas Cage. Who doesn’t love her? I was a major fan of both movies, and it would be amazing if they could make a third. Hit Girl is the best part of this franchise, showing that gender and size is insignificant when it comes to being a bad ass.

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Seven: Rey, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The horror when Disney bought Star Wars was paramount. Everyone was sure it would be a disaster, and no one could even get a moment of sleep due to the inordinate amounts of stress this franchise was causing in their adult lives. LUCKILY, Disney actually ended up doing a great job, and introduced a bunch of new characters that were able to flow nicely with how things had been done in the past. One of the best new additions was Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, a survivor and a strong female character who can do things for herself. I really enjoyed this character – she is a fantastic blend of purity and strength and was wonderful and empowering to watch.

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL

Six: Rita Vrataski, The Edge of Tomorrow

A nice little situation of role reversal, Emily Blunt was a hardened war veteran who saved Tom Cruise’s ass REPEATEDLY from aliens. I loved the character – she was sassy, strong, smart and the heroine of the day.

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Five: Vesper Lynd, Casino Royale

Did you also just rub your heart because of the pain that shot through it when Vesper was mentioned? It HURTS. Vesper is hands down the best Bond girl that has ever been onscreen. Her sharp brain kept her well equipped to banter with Bond, and her eventual control over Bond ripped out my heart. The fact that Casino Royale is the best Bond film out there certainly helps, but this character in herself is powerful and strong and determined, attributes that were completely left out during the writing process for the other female characters over this incredibly long franchise.

Ellie Sattler Laura Dern

Four: Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jurassic Park

I mentioned in my review of Jurassic World that it felt awful to realize that Dr. Ellie Sattler, who was in the very original Jurassic Park in NINETEEN NINETY THREE was a better, well written and strong female character than the running-in-heels-Bryce-Dallas-Howard. Dr. Ellie Sattler, played by Laura Dern, is super smart, professional, excels in her field and gets to see Dinosaurs in JP. I have loved and admired this character from my childhood till now, and I am eternally grateful to the writers that they allowed this strong character to see the light.

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Three: M, The Bond Franchise

Dame Judi Dench is literal life goals. She is classy, successful and revered, and a girl can just dream to be her when she grows up. M is Bond’s boss, the only person who can try to control him, and their relationship is amazing and complex. I love the power of M, and Judi Dench is incredible to behold as this woman who puts her country above everything in her life.

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Two: Furiousa, Mad Max

Homegirl Charlize Theron teamed up with Tom Hardy in the return of Mad Max, and what a job she did. Furiousa is powerful and intense, and her survival skills in the mad world she finds herself in is incredible. The film should have been titled Furiousa, as it is about her and how she helped the wives escape from that dreadful man. The entire film is one big celebration of sisterhood and sticking together, and I could only cheer on the women as they battled for their freedom.

Shoshanna

One: Shoshanna Dreyfus, Inglorious Basterds

The final accolade was difficult to award, because all of the ladies on here are amazing. However, I do think that Shoshanna is worthy, and that her role in Inglorious Basterds is incredibly important. I loved her – her courage and determination, her absolute hatred of anything Nazi, and her eventual success at revenge.

Well, there you have it. There are hopefully a million other female characters that can be mentioned by you below, and I look forward to seeing your opinions!

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)

Jurassic Park

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.