Jurassic World

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Jurassic World  (B).  A one-sentence review would suffice: If you liked the other Jurassic Park movies (and don’t mind a certain lack of originality), you’ll like this one.  The corporate types have finally made a go of dino-cloning, so that mysterious Costa Rican island is now a successful dinosaur theme park.  But the public bores easily, so the park must constantly develop new and scarier species to keep the rubes coming back for more.  Naturally, corporate hubris gets a little come-uppance from Mother Nature.  Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) is an able hero and velociraptor wrangler, but the script doesn’t really showcase his genial charm like Guardians did.  I liked Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village) in the role of the tightly wound corporate honcho who has to deal with the rampaging reptiles (and rescue her nephews, who happen to be visiting the park the same day things go wrong), but the movie has taken some feminist flak for not making her character more heroic.  Take the PG-13 rating seriously; there is some pretty bloody dino-carnage in this one.

50/50

A new review from The Movie Snob

50/50  (B+).  From what I understand, this movie is based on a true story.  Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Inception) is an ordinary 27-year-old guy living in Seattle.  He’s got a somewhat flaky artist girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard, The Help), a loud and vulgar best friend (Seth Rogen, Paul), a father with Alzheimer’s and a mother who is somewhat smothering (Anjelica Huston, The Grifters).  And, it turns out, he’s got cancer–a rare and somewhat difficult to treat variety.  (He learns from the internet that he has a 50% chance of survival; hence the title of the movie.)  He gets his diagnosis early on in the movie, and the rest of the movie is just about how he and his loved ones try to deal with his new reality.  He also starts going to therapy with a psychology doctorate student played by Anna Kendrick, further perfecting her aggressively cute persona from Up in the Air.  I thought it was a good movie, although the Seth Rogen character is so over-the-top obnoxious that you kind of wonder why he and the mild-mannered Adam are best friends.

The Help – a concurring opinion

From The Movie Snob

The Help  (A).  Movie Man Mike beat me to the punch on this one, but let me add a few words of praise of my own.  Like Mike, I grew up in the South, but unlike him I did not experience anything in my youth like the culture depicted in this movie.  I understand the movie and the book (which I haven’t read) had gotten a lot of pushback from people who resent The Help as yet another tale of the early civil-rights movement that puts a white person (in this case a spunky young female journalist) at the center of the action.  I can appreciate the criticism, but I could not help being blown away by this movie.  Skeeter (Emma Stone, Zombieland) is the journalist who returns home to Jackson, Mississippi in 1963 after graduating from Ole Miss.  Somehow, and seemingly alone among her family and friends, she has acquired a glimmer of awareness of the injustice (and bizarreness) of the relationships between well-to-do whites and their black maids.  She decides to write a book about that relationship from the point of view of “the help,” and she needs some of the maids to tell her their perspective.  Two maids step forward, knowing it may cost them their jobs or much worse.  The older of the two is Aibileen (Viola Davis, Doubt), who carries a lifetime of hurt behind her controlled demeanor.  The younger is Minnie (Octavia Spencer, Drag Me to Hell), whose high-spiritedness is bound to get her into trouble.  Al the actors do a fine job, including Bryce Dallas Howard (Spider-Man 3), who is fearless as the hatefully racist queen-bee Hilly Holbrook, and Cicely Tyson (Because of Winn-Dixie) in a small part as the maid who raised Skeeter.  I found it an immensely powerful movie.

Eclipse

The Movie Snob reports on a recent release

Eclipse (D-). Seriously, do even teenaged girls really like these terrible Twilight movies? They are s-o-o-o slow! Nothing ever happens, and when it does, it’s very seldom. In this latest installment, human Bella (Kristen Stewart, Zathura), vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson, New Moon), and werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautin, New Moon) hang around and yak incessantly about who’s in love with whom, who’s not in love with whom, and if and when Bella is going to get changed into a vampire herself. Blah blah blah it goes. Meanwhile, really evil and good-looking vampire Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard, Terminator: Salvation) is inexplicably kept off the screen virtually the whole movie. So is the other attractive gal vampire Alice (Ashley Green, New Moon). What is up with that? This was a really painful experience. Avoid it!!!

Terminator Salvation

New movie review from The Movie Snob

Terminator Salvation (C-). I was no huge Terminator fan to begin with, but I thought they were at least above-average action fare–even T3: Rise of the Machines. This one, however, didn’t work for me. There’s an opening flashback in which a condemned murderer named Marcus Wright agrees to donate his body to science after his execution. Then we flash forward to 2018, when the world is a post-apocalyptic wasteland and the war rages on between Skynet (the machines) and the Resistance (the humans). John Connor (Christian Bale, Laurel Canyon) is a charismatic leader within the Resistance, although he is not part of the high command. Wright suddenly turns up, looking none the worse for having been executed a couple of decades earlier, so he sets out to try to discover who has brought him back to life and why. Lots of stuff gets blown up as killer robots pop up every so often. The attractive Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village), plays Connor’s very pregnant wife and is given nothing in particular to do. Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club) surprisingly pops up in a small role.

For me this movie had some problems rather like Christian Bale’s early bomb Reign of Fire, in which dragons(!) are roused from hibernation and lay waste the Earth. One big problem is how the humans are able to keep a decently functioning military intact, despite the robots’ awesome power and firepower. How do the humans manufacture all their jets, helicopters, weapons, and other technological wonders? And pump and refine all the oil necessary to make them go? For that matter, what do these people eat? There’s not a crop or herd animal in sight, and if there were the machines would presumably terminate them. Finally, how do these people (John Connor in particular) survive getting pummeled and tossed by the Terminators? Seems like one punch from these metallic behemoths ought to crush your organs to jelly. I can suspend disbelief as to a military computer system becoming self-aware and attacking humanity. But when a virtually unstoppable robot throws a human being across a room and into a metal girder, I can’t believe that person is getting right back up to continue the fight.

Spider-Man 3 – take two

From The Movie Snob

Spider-Man 3 (B-). I don’t have too much to add to Mike’s analysis. This movie is pretty much more of the same — too much more, at 2 hours and twenty minutes in length. It’s just too long. And after seeing Spidey get slammed through walls and into steel girders for the 20th time, I started to think come on, he’s not Superman for crying out loud. And I go back and forth on whether Kirsten Dunst (Midnight Special) is actually attractive or not; this movie had me more in the “not” category. Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World) was much more fetching. But you be the judge.

Lady in the Water

From the desk of The Movie Snob:

Lady in the Water (C). The latest offering from M. Night Shyamalan–supposedly based on a bedtime story he made up for his children–just did not work for me. The director reteams with Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village) as the title character in this modern-day fairy tale. The talented Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Cinderella Man) plays Cleveland Heep, a stuttering sad sack of a guy who is the superintendent of a rundown Philadelphia apartment building. He is suddenly given a purpose in life when Howard’s character, named Story, suddenly appears in the apartment swimming pool and claims to be a sea-nymph-type creature called a narf. She has come to our world to find and unblock a would-be writer whose writings could change the world for the better. Heep comes to believe her and does everything he can to aid her in finding this person and then returning home, which also involves protecting her from another supernatural being, a wicked wolf-like thing called a scrunt. Other eccentric tenants in the apartments also come to play important roles in the quest to help Story. On the plus side, I admit that I was constantly wondering what was going to happen next. On the minus side, I was annoyed at the . . . well, I can’t really say why I was annoyed without crossing over into spoilers. Let’s just say that the movie doesn’t have any major twists like most of Shyamalan’s movies do, but it has plenty of minor twists that kind of bugged me after a short while. And the movie was a little too long, as movies tend to be these days. Still, I’ll keep seeing M. Night’s films because he does at least try to do things that are interesting and different. Gotta give him credit for that.