Movie Review – “Sorry to Bother You” (2018)

 

 

The best way I can describe a rather indescribable film like “Sorry to Bother You” is as an incredibly stylized and bizarre take on “Get Out,” ingrained in the fears and culture of an ever-evolving world and the impact that has had on the African-American community. All while its characters proudly proclaim their senses of individuality and fighting for what they believe is right and fair, yet still having a sense of humor and over-the-top style. “Sorry to Bother You” is just as funny and strange as it is trying to make about the hypocricy of the world.

Set in Oakland, the film follows Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) as he tries desperately to find a job in a shrinking economy. Cassius settles on a job as a telemarketer, but gets no where until a coworker (Danny Glover) suggests that he use his “white voice” so the callers won’t hang up on him immediately. Cassius sees quick success with this and feels that he has finally found his calling in life. His company notices his success and gives Cassius a promotion to a “power caller” just as his coworkers organize a strike. Now Cassius has to choose between a life of luxury and purpose or fighting alongside his girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson) for what he believes in.

 

 

I’ve had difficulty talking about films like this, “Get Out” and “Black Panther,” because I’m not the target audience. Which is a great thing to have being made at a time like this – we need films that speak to a wider range of people, instead of trying to please everyone. There have been plenty of relatable films for me, so let’s see what other types of stories can be told! This is even more incredible because these films are amazing pieces of cinema, from intriguing mysteries and stylized action pieces to, now, zany comedies. Even if I don’t fully understand the rational fears and sense of style in these movies, I can still appreciate and respect that it so perfectly captures and represents that style proudly.

For this reason, I highly recommend “Sorry to Bother You” as it sees just how far it can tow the satire line. It is as unpredictable and crazy as it is funny and poignant. The film is proud of its style and heritage, while taking a vastly different and modern approach. If you enjoyed “Get Out,” then this film is right up the same alley while amplifying the style and comedy to the maximum setting.

Final Grade: A-

 

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Marvel Cinematic Universe: From Worst to Best

 

 

I think it’s safe to say that no one has had quite an impact on the film industry at the moment like Marvel studios. Since 2008, they’ve now released twenty movies in their shared universe, typically releasing three movies every year, with each film building off the the events of the last to make a shared cinematic universe that everyone is trying to copy now. They’re films are some of the highest grossing movies of all time, and they’re single-handedly keeping superheroes as the most popular genre at the moment.

Everyone has seen their movies and eagerly wait for their next entries to see where they’ll take their dramatic, funny and always entertaining movies next. So now that Marvel studios has released exactly twenty of their own movies, I feel now is a good time to look back and countdown all of them from their worst to their best.

Keep in mind that I’ll only be looking at the entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not every movie Marvel had a part in. Which means no X-Men movies, Spider-Man movies with Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield, and unfortunately no Deadpool films. With that said, these are how I would rank all of the MCU movies.

 

 

Number 20 – “Iron Man 2”

As a direct sequel to the first film in this cinematic universe, “Iron Man 2” takes everything that made the first film likable and charming and makes it obnoxious. This film is loud, irritating, makes the least amount of sense of any Marvel film and has the worst pacing of any film in this series. It doesn’t really have a lot going for it, especially when the lasting image of this film are the annoying conversations between Downey Jr. and Paltrow talking over each other. Easily the worst film in the series.

Number 19 – “Thor: The Dark World”

Not as annoying or irritating as “Iron Man 2,” but this films’ crime is that it’s so boring. The characters are dull, the plot is forgettable, the way it uses the other nine realms of Asgard is lame, and it feels like nothing is accomplished. The only saving grace of this film is Tom Hiddleston’s always great performance as Loki and how he’s given a chance to do way more than he did in “Thor.” Speaking of which…

Number 18 – “Thor”

Like “The Dark World,” this one is just forgettable. It is better due to the heroic character arc of its lead, and many of the scenes with Thor learning to live on Earth are funny in that “fish out of water” style. Beyond that, there is nothing worthy to be seen in “Thor.”

Number 17 – “The Incredible Hulk”

This one now feels like the black sheep of the cinematic universe and is often forgotten among the many other super heroes. It also didn’t help that Ang Lee’s “Hulk” was always on people’s minds and that Edward Norton didn’t want to keep playing the Hulk after this movie. For the time, this film had great special effects and it made good use of the Hulk’s size and scope. But there was really nothing else going for it.

 

 

Number 16 – “Doctor Strange”

In the grand scheme of this universe, “Doctor Strange” doesn’t really have much going for it outside of its stunning visuals and the odd journey its title character goes through. It is impressive at times, but other moments are just so bland and predictable that it makes for an average blockbuster.

When the best character in your film is a piece of clothe, you know you goofed on a few things.

Number 15 – “Iron Man 3”

Some people really hate this one because of how it mistreats the comic origins of its villain. I always overlook that and instead remember “Iron Man 3” for making me laugh so hard. For a long time, it had the best sense of humor of any Marvel film and loving most of the film as a result – it basically sent the standard for how comedy in Marvel would be handled in the future. But beyond this, the plot is nonsensical and full of holes, and the climax leaves a lot to be desired. Not the strongest Iron Man tale, but far from the worst.

Number 14 – “Ant-Man”

Now we’ve reached that films that are just…fine. Perfectly serviceable summer blockbusters that were a lot of fun while I was watching them, but had no reason to watch them again after my initial viewing. “Ant-Man” did everything right, especially in scale and storytelling, but didn’t leave much of an impact on me. The film did it’s job and gave us a unique superhero with a very similar personality to many of the other Marvel leads. It wouldn’t be until his next film that we would get a better taste of his personality.

Number 13 – “Avengers: Age of Ultron”

The best way I can describe “Age of Ultron” is that it is a sequel to an experience. Rather than being it’s own thing, it tries to replicate something that cannot be topped and captured again. Even though “Age of Ultron” is, in many ways, an improvement over “The Avengers” in terms of storytelling, tension, dialogue and character dynamics, everything it does tries to be “The Avengers” all over again. It just doesn’t feel as genuine this time around.

 

 

Number 12 – “Captain America: The First Avenger”

Now we move onto the ones that I thoroughly enjoy, starting with quite possibly the best superhero origin tale. Right from the beginning, our lead shows us his charm, compassion and likability that would become his defining characteristics, with some of the best scenes being little moments to prove that he’s not trying to be a great soldier, but a good man. This whole movie is like if Captain America made a movie, cutting out the nitty-gritty and leaving only that which the filmmakers feel is important. Certainly one of the more underrated Marvel films.

Number 11 – “Ant-Man and the Wasp”

We come to the most recent Marvel film, one that won me over with its charm and likability. I appreciate the smaller-scale character driven piece, especially since it was a palette cleanser after “Infinity War.” I ended up loving every character in this film, which is a testament to the writing and acting throughout.

Number 10 – “Iron Man”

For a long time, this was my favorite. It was the one to start it all and introduced us to Robert Downey Jr.’s unparalleled acting abilities. But then time passed and we got better made superhero movies. Tales that had better character arcs, and much better climaxes. It showed that “Iron Man,” while still a solid entry in the shared universe with great acting and writing, is weaker compared to films will see later on this countdown.

Number 9 – “Spider-Man: Homecoming”

The most realistic and authentic of the Marvel films, “Homecoming” was more of a treat than I initially gave it credit for. The comedy felt genuine, the dialogue was fresh and witty without being over-the-top, and Tom Holland plays the best Spider-Man to date, perfectly balancing the line between the comedy and drama of being Spider-Man while still learning how to be the best hero possible. It is as refreshing and honest as we’ve gotten from Marvel.

 

 

Number 8 – “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”

While I initially thought of this one as little more than a funny summer blockbuster that was another sequel to an experience, I thought more about “Guardians Vol. 2” and how it blurred the line between really funny scenes throughout with very intense and emotional moments. This thread is forever connected because of the theme of family and how each character has a different interpretation of it. This is far more than a funny summer blockbuster and it deserves all the credit it gets.

Number 7 – “Black Panther”

I know this one is special for a lot of people, and for very good reason. It is a game-changer in terms of what it is saying and what it represents, while still remaining as thought-provoking as a superhero film can get. For me, watching “Black Panther” was like a gateway to vast and diverse culture that I wanted to see even more of. I respect this film for what it accomplished and what it was trying to say, while still being a whole lot of fun.

Number 6 – “Thor: Ragnarok”

Speaking of fun, here is the most balls-to-the-wall insane entertainment of any Marvel movie. It is uproarious, thrilling, charming and so crazy that it’s hard not to crack a smile just thinking about it. The whole film never takes itself too seriously, unlike the previous Thor films, and just has as much fun with Asgard as it possibly can, leading to some of the coolest sequences of any superhero movie.

 

 

Number 5 – “Avengers: Infinity War”

The most ambitious and epic movie out of this universe. Everything about this film felt big without sacrificing the smaller character driven moments. The pacing is stellar and everything about it felt satisfying while keeping the fun-loving Marvel style. This film is what ten years of development leads to, and it did not disappoint.

Number 4 – “The Avengers”

When I think of Marvel movies and what they’re capable of doing, “The Avengers” is typically the first thing that comes to mind. It was an event when it came out and felt like more than just a normal film-going experience. No body have ever made a movie quite like “The Avengers” at the time, and it still hasn’t been topped by anyone except by Marvel. This has become the standard for summer blockbusters now with it walks that tight rope between tense character-driven drama and witty comedy. It may seem small now compared to “Civil War” and “Infinity War,” but “The Avengers” is still just as mind-blowing today as was in 2012.

Number 3 – “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

Now we get the truly great Marvel movies, the ones that transcend being just summer blockbusters. I wish I could say all three of these last ones are a tie for number one, but instead I’ll place “The Winter Soldier” here because it not only works as a wonderful political thriller, with some of the best action sequences in the entire cinematic universe, especially the highway fight scene, but because of struggle to find the difference between right and wrong in a world that is constantly evolving. The fact that it’s Captain America that undergoes this struggle makes it even more interesting as we watch him personally struggle with his beliefs against the rest of the world. A simple yet highly effective movie.

Number 2 – “Captain America: Civil War”

Now take what “The Winter Soldier” said about the difference between right and wrong in an ever evolving world and add in a personal yet passionate conflict between its leads, and you have the most human portrayal of superheroes I’ve seen in a long time. It is amazing how well this film works on so many levels and never stops being entertaining for even a moment. The acting, the writing, the pacing and tension is solid throughout, but the relationships are the star of this film, especially with how brutally real they feel. It’s one of the few Marvel films that made me think about what these heroes were fighting for and what they were doing to the world at large, all while still being thoroughly entertaining.

 

 

Number 1 – “Guardians of the Galaxy”

This may come as a surprise to some, since I wrote off “Guardians of the Galaxy” as little more than a dumb popcorn flick in my initial review. But the more I thought about how different this film is from every other Marvel film, and as they released more superhero tales, the more I looked back on this film and realized how smart, witty, emotional and stunning this film can be. On paper, this film should not work – every one of these characters are assholes, while four of the five main cast members aren’t human, one of which can only say three words. Yet through clever writing, unbelievably captivating performances, an unparalleled soundtrack and the best world building of any Marvel film, we get a gem amongst some already awe-inspiring movies.

But the main reason “Guardians of the Galaxy” is my number one is because it was a risk. Marvel had no idea if this film was going to win people over. Unlike their other products with heroes that everyone knows about and could turn a profit even if they made a bad movie, only die-hard comic book fans knew who Star Lord, Rocket and Groot were. Marvel took a huge chance by doing a story that, not only didn’t contain any previously established characters, but was filled with characters that were far from heroes. Hell, two of it’s characters were a CGI raccoon and living tree! But despite all of the odds, this is the most memorable, fun and heartwarming film that Marvel has ever released.

With Marvel dominating the film industry at the moment, as well as how many companies conduct their business, it’s safe to say that their movies aren’t going anywhere, especially since “Black Panther” and “Infinity War” are in the top ten highest grossing films of all time while still being critically praised. These films keep finding new ways to tell fascinating and surprisingly complex stories that seem to keep getting better over time. As long as people enjoy people becoming more than what they are, Marvel will always have a special place in our hearts.

 

 

Movie Review – “The Blob” (1958)

 

 

Meet the definition of cheese and camp for science fiction in the 1950s – “The Blob.”

Looking beyond the laughable yet effective special effects, mostly consisting of running slime down a slope, and the story being made up of adults playing rebellious teenagers while trying to stop an alien amoeba creature, I feel the main reason people still talk about “The Blob” is because of the lead actor – Steve McQueen in his film debut.

Despite the fact that he does not look like a teenager in his Mister Rogers sweater, all the elements of what made McQueen so likable are here – cool, suave, rebellious, but with a heart of gold. Even if this is just a B-movie with a cult following, McQueen gives an A-list performance and sells that this is a teen that feels like he has the world against him. Effectively, he’s playing the boy who cried wolf, as the whole town doesn’t believe there is a gelatinous monster and every time he spots the jelly, it vanishes. He spends the rest of the movie proving that he’s not insane and trying to save the town from being consumed by the blob, and McQueen lives in the agony and pain of his character.

 

 

Beyond this, “The Blob” feels like a beach party movie that turned into a low-budget monster film, with it’s overplayed rebel teens versus the police plot and how the adults just don’t understand the kids these days. This plot takes up far more of the film than the story about the monster terrorizing the whole town. Then there’s the 1950s groovy theme for the Blob that feels like something out of “Scooby-Doo.” The whole film is campy fun like this, but it never takes itself too seriously so that the mood becomes disturbing, despite the fact that citizens are being dissolved by an alien jam.

Overall, “The Blob” has certainly earned its cult status, even if it belongs on “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” It’s a strange mix of a rebel teen tale and a B-horror movie and works as both for the most part. The effects are minimal and dated, but still get the job done, especially during the climax. And of course, Steve McQueen turns in a captivating and heartfelt performance that he would become known for long after this film. Watch this one with some friends and some alcohol, and you’ll have a blast.

Final Grade: C+

 

Movie Review – “Ant-Man and the Wasp” (2018)

 

 

2018 for Marvel will certainly be remembered for the release of “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” which have quickly become the two highest grossing superhero films of all time, while “Black Panther” gave us a stylized look at a diverse culture and “Infinity War” showed the epic potential of the superhero genre at its most extreme. In the scheme of things, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” feels small and rather unnoticeable compared to everything else Marvel has done this year, much like its heroes powers. Though honestly, I believe that was the intention of “Ant-Man and the Wasp.”

This is a palette cleanser after the intense and convoluted “Infinity War” blew everyone away. It doesn’t try to match that ambitious style and instead goes for a low-stakes yet funny and character-driven action piece. It matches the style and tone of the previous “Ant-Man” while upping the charm of its cast and their relationships. While “Ant-Man” was strictly a heist film, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” plays out unlike any other film Marvel has produced, due to the love-hate relationship of its two leads, and it is a welcomed addition.

 

 

This makes “Ant-Man and the Wasp” an improvement over “Ant-Man,” while never trying to be anything more than fun summer blockbuster that often feels like a buddy cop film.

Set two years after the events of “Civil War,” Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been under house arrest for fighting the Avengers and is nearing the end of his imprisonment. But after he has a strange dream about going back to the Quantum Realm, he tells Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) about it, and is subsequently kidnapped. Pym believes that Lang is the key to finding his long lost wife, Janet, who has been trapped in the Quantum Realm for 30 years and set out on a mission to rescue her, along with Pym’s daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). But when a new villain that can phase through solid matter surfaces, Lang is forced to become Ant-Man again and finds that Hope has her own suit with shrinking abilities.

 

 

The main thing I took away from “Ant-Man and the Wasp” was how charming and likable the entire cast is while remaining flawed and broken characters. The lengths Scott and Hope go to for other people had me smiling all throughout the film, especially in the early scenes. The way Scott is reintroduced to us as a passionate, loving father with a lot of free time on his hands, thanks to his house arrest, is one of the most touching and heartfelt scenes in any Marvel film. While Hope is determined and focused, yet seems to really love being a super heroine, taking every opportunity she can to show off her skills. I fell in love with these characters again from their first scenes, while appreciating the filmmakers downplay the romantic interest to focus on character development.

In fact, many elements from the first film are downplayed. Luis (Michael Pena) and Scott’s group of ex-cons have only a handful of scenes and one really great scene involving a group of black market dealers. Instead, the film uses this time to show the conflict between its leads, namely Scott’s lack of commitment to the mission and Hope’s inability to care for anything besides the mission. This creates tension that feels honest without saying too much about it, lending well to Rudd and Lilly’s acting abilities and their on-screen chemistry.

 

 

The comedy in “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is effective, but more so in the cute way it plays with the characters powers. Some of the funniest scenes involve objects or people growing or shrinking, especially Luis during the climax or Scott getting shrunk to the size of a kid while in an elementary school. The dialogue is sharp and witty without coming off as over the top or begging for jokes, letting most conversations play out as naturally as you’d expect for heroes who can control ants. It’s not the funniest Marvel film, and some jokes aren’t as effective as others, but it has several hilarious scenes that add to the cute charm of this film.

Overall, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is the exact opposite of “Infinity War” – small, low-stacks, while focusing on just a handful of characters that go on a journey that should be simple and gets more complicated over time. And that’s exactly what Marvel needed right now. After such a big epic that felt like a bit too much at times, it’s pleasant to watch a superhero film that focuses so much on family relationships. Rather than winning the audience over with effects, action sequences or even comedy, this one does it with little moments of heroes becoming human, highlighted by superb acting all around. This is one of the more fun, laid-back Marvel films, and it certainly one worth seeing.

Final Grade: B+

 

Movie Review – “Cheyenne Autumn” (1964)

 

 

“Cheyenne Autumn” is another case where the story of how the film was made is far more interesting than the film itself, much like “Spartacus.” This is the last western that John Ford ever made and was based on the true events of Northern Cheyenne Exodus of 1878, as group of nearly 200 Cheyenne Native Americans marched from their designated land in Oklahoma, given to them by the American government, back to their homeland in Wyoming.

Ford chose to make this his last western as a way to apologize to the Native American community after decades of portraying them as the heartless villains in his other westerns, such as “Stagecoach” and “The Searchers.” Instead of the rugged cowboy risking his life to save a town or a girl from the clutches of the evil Indians, the roles are reversed – The Native Americans are the heroes for fighting for what they believe in, and the cowboys are the villains for trying to stop them.

That being said, “Cheyenne Autumn” takes a lot of artistic liberties with history, namely the path the Native Americans take to get back home being vastly different and the many side plots of other forces trying to stop them outside of the U.S. cavalry. And although Ford made this film as a way to show his love and passion for the Native American people, it is not without the Hollywood touch that tends to be a bit racist. Namely, several of the lead roles for the Native Americans are played by non-native actors, with the biggest one being Ricardo Montalban played Chief Little Wolf and Gilbert Roland as Chief Dull Knife.

 

 

So the whole idea of racial equality is muddy and unclear with this film – it’s hard to promote a message about the power of Native Americans when you don’t cast native actors in the lead roles.

Beyond this, “Cheyenne Autumn” has no sense of direction or plot. Large chunks of the film are dedicated solely to side plots that never connect to the main plot. This includes a nearly 20-minute sequence involving an elderly Wyatt Earp (played by Jimmy Stewart) hanging out in a saloon and playing poker. Earp never meets up with the Cheyenne, nor does anybody in the town he’s in – it’s all just comedic filler. Even the presence of Jimmy Stewart in this role doesn’t help the meandering plot and dull pacing. But the biggest offender of this huge scene is that it isn’t funny, thus wasting everyone’s time in a film that’s nearly three hours long.

As the final western made by John Ford, it is admirable to make this film as an apology to those who didn’t need to be portrayed as the villains. Ford was the one to start the trend of Native Americans being the antagonists in most westerns, which would lead to so many things about cowboys and Indians. So to see the same man that started this trend come forward and say it was wrong of him to do gets my respect.

However, beyond this, there is nothing special about “Cheyenne Autumn.” It is dull, without emotion or passion, and is a sign that the western genre was dying as the energy and flare for the dramatic is missing. If you’re curious about this film, it’s better just to read up on the behind-the-scenes than it is to actually watch this film.

Final Grade: D+

 

Movie Review – “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” (1963)

 

 

There’s an innocent yet touching charm to “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” that really made it infectious and fun from start to finish, mostly powered by the relationship between its likable yet traumatized father and son (Glenn Ford and little Ron Howard). The joy they go through feels honest, while their conversations about life and dealing with death feel down to earth, all while they both deal with the lose of the person they cared about the most in the world. It never comes off as preachy or heavy-handed, finding the right balance between drama and comedy to make it heartfelt.

Glenn Ford plays Tom Corbett, who recently lost his wife, leaving him to raise their son Eddie (Ron Howard) alone in New York City. After the two take some time to adjust to their new lives without a wife and mother, Eddie decides that the only way they’ll both be happy again is if they find another woman who can be both. Thus, Eddie decides to play matchmaker and find his father a new wife, whether he’s ready for another relationship or not.

Ford plays the role of single father with dignity, strength and compassion, all while trying to keep up with Eddie’s shenanigans. He is selfless in his pursuit to give Eddie the best life he can without his mother, despite both of them still being in a lot of pain over her lose. Little Ron Howard, yes the same Ron Howard that would directed “Apollo 13” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” has far more class and charm than you would ever expect from a child actor, even out-acting Glenn Ford in some scenes about handling his mother’s death. Together, they create a touching and inquisitive relationship that serves as the backbone of this movie, helping to keep everything in perspective.

 

 

Yet the film is as funny as it is charming, as Eddie over does it on the matchmaking and ends up finding multiple women who would all desire to be with his father. Eddie’s innocence plays a key factor into all of this, taking a lot of what his father says to heart and dumping it onto these women in the classic child manner. Roberta Sherwood plays their live-in maid, who serves as the voice of reason as their lives get more and more chaotic and filled with women, all while she learns Spanish over a record. The standout amongst the many women is Stella Stevens as a would-be Miss America contestant afraid of socializing and embarrassing herself, who is surprisingly intelligent and sophisticated while taking everything in stride.

Overall, “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” perfectly balances the tragedy of losing a family member and the comedy of trying to find a quick replacement. It’s built upon the relationship between it’s two leads and how much they really care for one another, without sacrificing anything for laughs. Every performance is stellar, especially from the leads, and the film always feels honest and heartfelt. It’ll have you smiling throughout, just like it did with me.

Final Grade: A-

 

Movie Review – “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” (2018)

 

 

The problem with films where you’re supposed to “turn your brain off” is that movies, even at their dumbest, are an emotional state. Cinema is meant to make you think and feel about these larger than life stories. If it fails to do that, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about the movie, but that we shouldn’t be wasting our time on films that failed to connect with us on an emotional and intellectual level.

I went into “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” with the intent of turning my brain off and seeing how well the film experience turned out. You’d think a movie about rescuing dinosaurs from an exploding island would be the perfect film to just sit back and watch a bunch of cool action sequences, interjected with scenes of Chris Pratt being his goofy self and scientists being morons, but the “Fallen Kingdom” tries to make you think about if the dinosaurs deserve to die or be preserved. Did scientists go too far by bringing back these dinos in the first place and this is nature’s way of correcting that mistake? Or is this God’s punishment for our attempt to gain his power? How much power should we have in this situation and did we have too much power?

This is what I mean – You can’t turn your brain off when the film keeps asking all these philosophical questions about how much power man should have over nature. It was created, in a way, as a cautionary tale about taking the power of genetics too far. That, and to make a ton of money and the box office by putting dinosaurs and Chris Pratt back together again.

Granted, the “Jurassic Park” did the same thing, by making a smart, thrilling, epic tale that was essentially “Frankenstein” but with dinosaurs. The difference now is that “Jurassic Park” had a clear vision, playing out as more than just an action set-piece, but as a film that dared to challenge our ideas of control and power.

 

 

“Fallen Kingdom” on the other hand, has no idea what it wants to say, while also losing all the whimsy and awe of its predecessors. There is no character or charm to this entry, where everything feels manufactured and insincere. Even for a film that bragged about its use of practical effects over CGI, the whole movie feels fake.

Set three years after the events of “Jurassic World,” the former tourist destination has now turned into a land where dinosaurs roam freely and governments of the world debate over what to do with it. This decision is made more difficult when the volcano on the island becomes active and threatens to destroy the remaining dinosaurs. It is up to a covert operation, led by Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), to save as many species of dinos before the volcano erupts, but even they’re not sure where all of these creatures will be taken afterwards.

The problem with “Fallen Kingdom” comes down to its less than engaging cast of characters, both human and dinosaur. They do not improve upon the characters or their motivations from “Jurassic World,” which were already weak and shallow, especially its two leads. They make this even worse by giving them annoying sidekicks, one who refuses to smile and another that shows the writers seem to hate Millennials.

 

 

But the characters that really suffer are the dinosaurs. In the previous films, it felt like each majestic creature had their own personality or traits, from the dominant and assertive T-Rex to the calm Brontosaurus to the cunning Velociraptor. But here, none of the dinos get a chance to do anything other than run away from the exploding island or try to eat people, some even doing both at the same time even though they have no reason to. We’re not given a reason to care about these ancient animals losing their home or going extinct again, because it’s all treated as one big action sequence.

The action sequences are serviceable, merely getting the point across before moving on to the next big sequence filled with CGI dinosaurs. There’s no big moment in this movie that quite compares the final climactic fight in “Jurassic World,” which given its setting and scenario is disappointing to say the least. Honestly, the most thrilling scene here takes place in the back of a truck and features just one dinosaur as Owen and Claire try to work with it. Outside of that though, the action scenes in “Fallen Kingdom” are nothing to write home about.

 

 

Overall, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” isn’t sure if it wants to be an action-packed adventure or an intellectual film about man’s power over nature, so it ends up doing neither very well. The script doesn’t make any sense, the acting is bland and forgettable and the dinosaurs are not given any time to shine. The effects range from impressive to laughable, especially near the end, and the film leaves a lot more to be desired with its unique premise.

Final Grade: C-