Barbie

Barbie is confused. Ken is insecure. But the really weird thing is that Barbie is self-aware. I’ll get back to that.

If this film had to be made (and over a billion dollars in box office receipts indicates, yes it did) Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling were great casting decisions. They were both injection-molded in real life as Hollywood stars that seem flawless, from Ryan’s abs to Margot’s, well, everything. I dare you to find a blemish on either face.

They’re both perfect as the original incarnations of the Mattel toys. Then came…the other ones. You know, Beach Barbie, Doctor Barbie, Astronaut Barbie, President Barbie, Mermaid Barbie…and Ken. The first point made in the film is that Ken is nothing without Barbie. He’s more or less an accessory, off to one side and at the bottom of the toy box.

 

I don’t think it’s spoiling anything to reveal that Barbie, after suddenly dreaming of death (to the great horror of other Barbies) enters the real world in an apparent coming-of-age quest for purpose.

 

There’s even a Weird Barbie, well-played by Kate McKinnon. In an appropriately weird exchange, human Barbie proclaims, “I’m not pretty anymore. I’m not ‘stereotypical Barbie pretty.” Then, narrator Helen Mirren says to the audience, “Note to the filmmakers: Margot Robbie is the wrong person to cast if you want to make this point.” There’s an uncomfortable pause as Robbie turns toward the camera and lets this sink in.

 

Fans are apparently in an uproar over this line that was voted the worst in the movie.

 

But they get over it, and Barbie continues her self-assessment, confronting Will Ferrell, CEO of Mattel. He tries to “put Barbie back in her box”—a transparent metaphor for her literal repackaging as the unaware doll. Ken then goes rogue and takes over Barbieland, and the two confess to gawking strangers that they lack genitals. Hardy har.

 

Barbie’s conundrum is a less-than-nuanced layered onion of conflicting wants, needs, and perceptions. By the end of the film, the audience should be feeling confused, but Barbie confidently struts into the office of her…I’m not going to spoil that one.

 

So what’s the message of this movie? Is there more than one? Perhaps therein lies its power. Like Barbie, it can be whatever you want it to be.

 

Barbie is too good to be real, but she wants to be real until she’s real.

Barbie can do anything. Women can do anything.

Ken is nothing without Barbie. Tear down the patriarchy!

Barbie is stressed by her own perfection, don’t expect her to do it all.

She wants to be Everywoman, just don’t demand it of her.

She wants to be pretty, but don’t objectify her.

Why can’t everything just be the way it used to be? Make Barbie great again.

 

Around and around we go, with little girls everywhere as beneficiaries or collateral damage. At some point, the Mattel greed machine determined that a superhuman role model was the way to empower and motivate generations of toy-loving impressionable children. Of course, they just wanted to make money. Did they really care about empowerment, feminism, diversity, and inclusion?


So, best not to overthink this one. People are having tons of fun with it, and that's what going to the movies should be all about.

 

I never played with a Barbie, Ken, or GI Joe, so I’m fairly mystified by the phenomenon this movie became. I played with Silly Putty. Silly me. Go see Oppenheimer. There won't be a Silly Putty movie.


 

Barbie (2023) runs 1 hour 54 minutes and is rated PG-13.


๐Ÿ˜Ž


If you like fiction and you're in the mood for over 50 short stories, please consider buying "Natural Selections," at Amazon.com.


Or if you'd prefer seventy non-fiction stories inspired by a town in Illinois, please consider buying Park Ridge Memories also on Amazon. Click on the image below.




Oppenheimer

The film Oppenheimer is a black hole into which three hours of your life will disappear, so make sure you go to a theater with comfortable seats.


I have a passing interest in physics, having taken a pass on physics in college. I cut so many classes it would take Schrodinger to determine if I was in the class or out – or both. (that’s a physics joke for certain friends.)

 

If you’re a fan of The Big Bang Theory, you’re about to meet all of the names that were routinely dropped by the science nerds on the show. Of course, everyone knows Einstein, but here we get to meet Oppenheimer, Bohr, Heisenberg, Fermi, Teller, Feynman, and others.

 

A little terminology you’ll encounter during the film, and a side note that Alfred Nobel, of the Nobel PEACE prize fame, invented TNT. A kiloton of TNT is one thousand tons (two million pounds) of dynamite. One stick weighs less than half of a pound, so try to visualize four million sticks of dynamite! A megaton is one MILLION tons (two billion pounds.) It’s hard to even imagine what that would look like.

 

Christopher Nolan directs this fascinating look at the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, commonly called the father of the atomic bomb, the scientist who directed the Manhattan Project. The famous endeavor was headquartered in Los Alamos, New Mexico but divided into four compartmented, super-secret locations, one of which could have killed my mother, but I’ll get to that.

 

Oppenheimer is one of those dark, complicated individuals, so brilliant and sure of his expertise that he becomes something of a rock star in a very competitive scientific community. He likes to blow things up, like relationships, and that’s where the focus of the movie dwells for a long time, since we all know how it ends. BOOM.

 

Nolan, who loves dark personalities like the one he created for Batman in The Dark Night, clearly enjoyed peeling away the layers of “Oppy,” as the main character came to be known.

 

Oppenheimer realizes the potential for a nuclear chain reaction early in the film and says to a fellow scientist, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking? A bomb!”

 

That one was for the audience, along with other out-loud thoughts to help us understand. In a lecture to physics students he states that light can be both a wave and a particle, new thinking at the time. He was on the forefront of quantum theory.

 

Cillian Murphy, familiar from other villainous roles, is perfectly cast as the fedora-wearing leading man. Emily Blunt is solid as always, as his wife. But Matt Daman as Temporary Brigadier General Leslie Groves, was a casting mistake. He’s too likeable and has done far too much comic work to be taken seriously, though a slight hint of humor is appropriate in a few scenes when he’s trying to understand the true nature of the project he’s leading, and the possibility that it could destroy the world.

 

Robert Downey Jr. is perfect as Lewis Strauss, a Cabinet member wannabe who will stop at nothing to be appointed. We’ve certainly become familiar with bullying lawyers and Congressional committees, but it’s interesting to see it play out in the 1940s. Antisemitism, communism, McCarthyism – there were a lot of “isms” back in the good old days.

 

But back to my personal interest in what Oppenheimer accomplished.

 

My mother seemed almost Forrest Gump-like in her encounters with historical figures. I’m grateful that she told me these stories. For a young woman to leave a sheltered suburban life in 1940 to work in Hyde Park at the University of Chicago speaks volumes about her intellect and courage. She became a secretary in the Music Department on the south end of the campus.

 

A scene in Oppenheimer takes place in an unused football stadium at the University. Mom was working about a half mile away while the first controlled nuclear fission reaction in history took place. It was one compartment of the Manhattan Project, named for the New York location of the Army component of the eventual 130,000-person endeavor.

 

Have you heard of Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois? Well, Enrico Fermi was down the street from Mom, directing the insertion and removal of shielding lead rods from a self-sustaining prototype reactor, being careful not to set off a nuclear explosion or meltdown that would have predated Chernobyl by 46 years. They worked under cover of the name The Metallurgical Laboratory, now an historical landmark. They succeeded with their test on December 2, 1942, avoiding a blast that would have vaporized my mother and much of the south side of Chicago. A meltdown might have created an unlivable mess for thousands of years, encompassing most of the city and suburbs. If you consider the “exclusion zone” around Chernobyl with a radius of 19 miles, the Willis Tower is only eight miles away. And by the time of Chernobyl they supposedly knew what they were doing. In 1942 this was entirely new and barely understood.

 

When the resulting nuclear bomb was eventually detonated in New Mexico, scientists expressed a very real concern that the chain reaction they were about to unleash might ignite Earth’s atmosphere. Instead, a terrifying new weapon entered Mankind’s arsenal, causing Oppenheimer to regret his work and state, “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” Still, it was that or allow the Germans to develop the bomb first, use it against our allies and change history in a very detrimental way. 

 

Or was it? The Germans had already been defeated, yet work on the bomb continued. We then dropped a bomb on Hiroshima, and a second on Nagasaki, populated and industrial areas respectively, to see what would happen. Japan was not given time to surrender after the first bomb before Hell was revisited upon the Earth three days later.

 

President Truman is cast in a new light here, portrayed by Gary Oldman, and the lust for power on the world stage we see on the evening news is proven not to be a modern tendency. It’s as old as mankind.

 

You can go to the concession stand or the bathroom at just about any point during this film and not feel the need to catch up, but it’s definitely worth seeing.

 

Oppenheimer (2023) runs 3 hours and is rated R.


๐Ÿ˜Ž


If you like fiction and you're in the mood for over 50 short stories, please consider buying "Natural Selections," at Amazon.com.


Or if you'd prefer seventy non-fiction stories inspired by a town in Illinois, please consider buying Park Ridge Memories also on Amazon. Click on the image below.


 

M3gan

     

            We’re always up for a Blumhouse movie. Jason Blum created Blumhouse Productions in 2000 and quickly established a reputation for a particular flavor of horror films. If you’re not sure if you’ve seen any, they include The Purge, Split, Get Out, Us, The Invisible Man and The Black Phone.

            Get Out was a sleeper that debuted as a streaming offering, then went on to win an Academy Award for best screenplay and gross $255 million worldwide. Shot in 23 days, it was Jordan Peele’s breakout success as writer and director with an edgy social commentary in a horror wrapper.

            So, that’s a tough act to follow. We’d credit beginner’s luck, but at the end of the day, it was just good entertainment with a creative concept and great scripting. According to Jason Blum, it is the quintessential Blumhouse film: low budget, high on entertainment and social commentary, all in the hands of a director no one believed in.

            And I’d say they’ve done it again.

            Blumhouse pictures tend to be steeped in gore, but not as gratuitously as, let’s say, Saw. So you’ll find yourself squirming a bit and on the edge of your seat, but remember, you’re there by choice. Each Blumhouse film feels unique. They haven’t resorted to the formulaic feel of teen slasher films. You get something new with each offering.

            As with many trends in filmmaking, our fear of new or unfamiliar technological breakthroughs often give birth to new genres in the SciFi category. If you watch the news at all, you’ve been hearing a lot about Artificial Intelligence or AI. Recently, ChatGPT has dominated headlines with stories of cloned voices, computers that write sermons and college papers, and WHO KNOWS WHAT’S NEXT. Clearly the robots are about to take over. This is nothing new if you’re a fan of the Battlestar Galactica reboot. The scariest robot of all is the one you can’t tell is a robot, right?

            Well, we can certainly tell that the newly created children’s toy named M3gan is a robot. She retains enough jerky movements and dilating camera eyes to ensure us that nothing could possibly go wrong. But of course, M3gan is a learning AI, and that’s when her role as protector of her paired child owner, Cady, becomes problematic.

            Longtime fans of robot science fiction recall Issac Asimov’s brilliant laws of robotics. They are: 1) a robot shall not harm a human, or by inaction allow a human to come to harm. 2) a robot shall obey any instruction given to it by a human, and 3) a robot shall avoid actions or situations that could cause it to come to harm itself.

            Well, scrap that. M3gan didn’t go to that school. With knowledge comes power, and M3gan has plenty of both. (Note: some reshooting was required to reduce this film’s rating to PG-13.)

            M3gan has a creepy resemblance to actress Elizabeth Olsen, younger sister of the famous Olsen twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley. Her movements often appear human, thanks to her costume wearing human actress, twelve-year old Amie Donald.

            Eventually, M3gan goes on a rampage. How do you stop something that can outsmart and out muscle you? I guess you’ll have to see M3gan before someone tells you!

 

M3gan (2022) runs one hour 42 minutes and is rated PG-13.


๐Ÿ˜Ž


If you like fiction and you're in the mood for over 50 short stories, please consider buying "Natural Selections," at Amazon.com.


Or if you'd prefer seventy non-fiction stories inspired by a town in Illinois, please consider buying Park Ridge Memories also on Amazon. Click on the image below.


 

 

 

 

 

Nope



If you enjoyed Jordan Peele’s 2017 sleeper, Get Out, you might expect a lot from his latest effort as writer/director. But a career based on a breakthrough success is bound to disappoint, much like his reboot ofThe Twilight Zone, in which he attempts to fill the shoes of the legendary Rod Serling. Who does that? Serling was a brilliant writer and captivating on-screen personality. Peele is neither. 

However, we found ourselves caught up in Nope and gave it a “Not Bad” despite its excessive length, questionable characters and odd little sub-plots. Did Peele think he needed to bury a movie within a movie to keep it interesting? Entire plot lines could be removed. That would make the film easier to follow and shorten it up just about the right amount.

 

The movie opens with OJ Haywood and his father working their horses on a ranch in a generic western locale. Things get weird pretty quickly, resulting in the death of Haywood Senior. Daniel Kaluuya, who starred in Get Out, is the quiet older brother to Emerald, his far from quiet sister and polar opposite.

 

Before long, power is being drained from electric devices of all kinds. Horses are agitated and breaking free from their stalls. And OJ sees something hiding behind an unmoving cloud, an object that is “moving too fast” and behaving generally like stereotypical reports of UFOs.

 

In a financially motivated quest to capture a high-quality video of the object, Emerald contacts a legendary cinematographer who owns a hand-powered film camera. A local tourist trap carnival, a local fixture reminiscent of Wall Drug and other “must see” disappointments out west becomes the backdrop against which tales are told of an incident years earlier when a murderous chimpanzee went berserk on a TV show. The traumatized surviving child actor now runs the attraction.

 

After a few shadowy glimpses of the flying marauder, we’re treated to some nicely executed special effects and long scenes in which we discover that not all UFOs are ships. At this point the action is more than slightly reminiscent of "War of the Worlds." 

 

Nope is streaming free on Peacock, and for that we are grateful. 

 

 

Nope runs 2 hours, 10 minutes and is rated R.


๐Ÿ˜Ž


If you like fiction and you're in the mood for over 50 short stories, please consider buying "Natural Selections," at Amazon.com.


Or if you'd prefer seventy non-fiction stories inspired by a town in Illinois, please consider buying Park Ridge Memories also on Amazon. Click on the image below.


 

Beast

If you’ve seen Cujo and Jurassic Park, substitute a crazed lion in the role of the scary starring animal and you’re ready for an hour and a half of “Lion King Goes Wrong.” And we’re not talking about Mufasa. Think Scar, the ugly brother with an attitude.
There are three primary lines of dialogue in Beast. First is, “Stay here, don’t go anywhere,” which is frequently spoken by Dr. Nate Samuels to his two teenage daughters. Of course, they never listen, wandering off into clearly risky situations that multiply the dangerous plot lines.
 
The others are, “I’ll be right back,” and “I promise you everything will be ok,” often used together. The promise is the source of a poorly timed outburst by Samuels’ older daughter Meredith, angry over the split up of her parents and the subsequent death of her mother. Apparently, Doc Samuels made unkept promises in the past. But seriously, you’re going to bring this up while stranded in a broken-down vehicle under attack by an insane lion? 
 
The parallels with Jurassic Park become obvious once you make that connection. Early in the film, Meredith is seen wearing that film’s t-shirt. Trapped in a Jeep, falling over a cliff, a leading male actor with an injured leg, keep looking. The lion did everything but eat someone sitting in an outhouse. The fear of being eaten is a real crowd pleaser.
 
Of course, Doc Samuels, played by Idris Elba, has the skills needed to suture his friend’s leg wound using a readily available medical kit while under attack in the Jeep. Idris Elba’s name sounds like an anagram for something: Perhaps Ladies Rib, Bride Lisa and Ariel Bids (another Disney reference,) but that’s just silly.
 
Beast is exciting, however ludicrous. Eventually lions are both hero and villain. Poachers are bad guys, and anti-poachers are bad guys to the bad guys. The message here may be, if you want to see African wildlife, Disney World’s Animal Kingdom may be a better choice.
 
Baltasar Kormรกkur, whose work includes Everest and The Deep, does a good job of maintaining action and suspense. The movie was actually filmed in South Africa over a period of ten weeks. At 6-foot-2 plus, Elba has the necessary physicality to fight a lion with a knife, wade through crocodile-infested swamps and catch a snake mid-strike, all questionable decisions.
 
Also questionable was the decision not to cast Elba’s real-life daughter in the role of Meredith, after which she didn’t speak to him for three weeks. Perfect for the angry daughter role.
 
We saw Beast on National Cinema Day for a ticket price of $3.00. That seemed about right.

๐Ÿ˜Ž


If you like fiction and you're in the mood for over 50 short stories, please consider buying "Natural Selections," at Amazon.com.


Or if you'd prefer seventy non-fiction stories inspired by a town in Illinois, please consider buying Park Ridge Memories also on Amazon. Click on the image below.


 

Thor: Love and Thunder

Thor: Love and Thunder is the latest entry in Marvel’s Phase Four. Each phase contains one “Thor” title, though he has been a central figure in eight films. 

If you’re having trouble keeping up, here are the movies in Phase Four, spanning the last two years. At the end of this review are listed the first three phases from Marvel.* Seeing them all is a commitment probably best left for superfans. I have seen most of these, but do not consider myself a diehard. There are plotlines and characters (like Doctor Strange) I don’t like.

 

  • WandaVision (2021)
  • Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021)
  • Loki (2021)
  • Black Widow (2021)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
  • What If...? (2021)
  • Eternals (2021)
  • Hawkeye (2021)
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
  • Moon Knight (2022) 
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
  • Ms. Marvel (2022)
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) 

 

So, do you need to see all of the Thor movies to appreciate Thor: Love and Thunder? Probably not, but there will be elements a fan will pick up on that you won’t. The plot lines are far less ambitious than other Marvel films, but maybe they need a breather. Some of the titles have become really complicated and very dark.

 

Chris Hemsworth is Executive Producer and star of this latest creation. Natalie Portman is the female lead, a selection that was both controversial and disappointing to fans of the franchise. At 5 foot 3, she is a full foot shorter than Hemsworth, who is incredibly ripped. She spent ten months in a gym preparing for the role, and it only slightly bulked up her diminutive body, previously better suited for her role as a ballerina in Black Swan. Apparently, she got over a grudge against Marvel that caused her to state she would never be in another Marvel film. Really? Not even as The Mighty Thor? There are other actresses, possibly even lesser-known stars, who could have played this role more convincingly.

 

The real star of this film is Christian Bale, as Gorr the God Butcher. Intense in any role he takes on, he is the wielder of the shadow-monster summoning Necrosword, seeking vengeance for the death of his young daughter and on a mission to kill all gods in the universe.

 

That brings us to Zeus, played by an old, fat Russell Crowe who at six feet tall looks short next to Hemsworth. Greek Gods are a departure from the Marvel Universe, but he’s in the post-credit trailer, so I guess he’ll be back.

 

Gorr kidnaps all the children from New Asgard, a Norwegian tourist attraction and fishing village, just as Jane Foster shows up as Lady Thor. But don’t call her that, she prefers The Mighty Thor. She’s dying of cancer, is Thor’s old love interest, and is somehow able to pick up Mjรถlnir, Thor’s powerful hammer. But each time she does it weakens her as a mortal.

 

Enter Thor’s backup weapon, StormBreaker, a battle ax that is jealous of his relationship with the hammer.

 

The Guardians of the Galaxy make a short appearance. That puts two of today’s leading “Chris’s” on cameral together. We’re only missing Chris Evans (Captain America) and Chris Pine (Captain Kirk.)

 

This should rightfully be characterized as a comedy. There are a ton of sight gags and one-liners. The scriptwriters threw everything at the wall, and it all stuck. Of course there are monsters and battles galore, with lots of flying through space in a Viking ship led by two giant and very vocal goats. Yeah, silly.

 

But ultimately this is a love story. Gods have feelings too, no matter how they try to suppress them. But Portman and Hemsworth? Again, not sure this works.

 

Perhaps save this one for home viewing. It should be there soon. We were the only two people in the theater.

 

 

Thor: Love and Thunder runs 1 hour, 58 minutes and is rated PG-13.

 

Phase One:

  • Iron Man (2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • Thor (2011)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • The Avengers (2012)

Phase Two:

  • Iron Man 3 (2013)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Ant-Man (2015)

Phase Three:

  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Black Panther (2017)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  • Captain Marvel (2019)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

 

*(For this list I explored the “TotalFilm” section of the GamesRadar website.)


๐Ÿ˜Ž


If you like fiction and you're in the mood for over 50 short stories, please consider buying "Natural Selections," at Amazon.com.


Or if you'd prefer seventy non-fiction stories inspired by a town in Illinois, please consider buying Park Ridge Memories also on Amazon. Click on the image below.


 

 

Top Gun: Maverick

If you loved 1986’s Top Gun, you’re also going to love Top Gun: Maverick. It’s essentially the same movie, albeit with a weaker soundtrack and a leading man who is 35 years older. Tom Cruise, at age 60 is aging well, here reprising his role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. His films are a showcase for his physicality, generally running at top speed as viewed from a distance or riding a super-fast motorcycle. He’s known for doing many of his own stunts. At age 60, his hair is too consistently dark, as if he fell in a vat of blacktop sealer. Some gray highlights, befitting of a sexagenarian, would look cool. Still, he’s one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood.

 








 

Sadly, the same cannot be said of Val Kilmer. The 62-year-old fell victim to throat cancer, resulting in the loss of his voice. Top Gun: Maverick carved out a role for him as a debilitated admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, unable to speak, and near death. A nice poster size photo of the younger man is displayed at his funeral. (Kilmer is still alive, battling his disease.)

 

But will Cruise inevitably fall victim to the aging Hollywood hunk syndrome? Those who embrace aging lengthen their careers. He’s been deceptively protective of his 5’7” stature. That makes him short by most standards. So it helps that the U.S. Air Force dropped a height requirement for pilots in 2015. He still would have qualified, but on the end of the spectrum intended for female aviators. Co-star Jennifer Connelly, Maverick’s love interest, is also 5’7” so Cruise must be standing on a box for this shot:


 

Connelly, at age 51, was only 15 when Top Gun appeared in theaters. Here she plays Penny Benjamin, a bar tender with a 13-year-old daughter who adds little to the script, but provides a foil for our aging hero. Penny understands Maverick better than he knows himself, and is often filmed standing quietly nearby with an all-knowing smile, or repeating the phrase, “Don’t give me that look,” even when walking away.

 

This film, like the original, takes place mostly in the air, or in Penny’s bar, where all the nick-named flying aces banter to the point of fist fights. They’re a competitive bunch, but are about to be pitted against each other to qualify for the top six spots in a real-life mission to destroy an Iranian nuclear production facility. It’s an impossible mission, one that will require “two miracles” to pull off. Maverick, reluctantly recruited as the crew’s trainer, intends to bring his crew home alive. Jon Hamm does a good job as his commander, and of course the perennial captain Maverick has a problem with authority.

 

The flying and dogfighting scenes in Top Gun: Maverick are spectacular. The 130-minute movie seems much shorter, some of which is edge-of-your-seat footage in the cockpit of several fighter jets.

 

One notion needs to be dispelled. Only missiles can travel at Mach 10, and that is a recent development. Maverick taking the “Darkstar” experimental prototype to that speed is a fantasy. The traditional about-to-pass-out G-force plot device is probably overused a bit here, but to good effect, and ejections at hypersonic speed are a death sentence.

 

Despite some moderately corny exchanges early in the film, the action and some underlying psychological baggage provide riveting intensity that make this worth seeing. You don’t need to have seen the original Top Gun, but I heard one movie-goer comment, “I’d like to see the first one now.”

 

Top Gun: Maverick runs 2 hours, 10 minutes and is rated PG-13.


๐Ÿ˜Ž


If you like fiction and you're in the mood for over 50 short stories, please consider buying "Natural Selections," at Amazon.com.


Or if you'd prefer seventy non-fiction stories inspired by a town in Illinois, please consider buying Park Ridge Memories also on Amazon. Click on the image below.


 

Jurassic World: Dominion

It certainly hasn’t been 65 million years since we first learned that “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear,” but to see Laura Dern and Sam Neill (ages 55 and 74 respectively) next to the much younger Bryce Howard and Chris Pratt, it sort of feels like it may have been that long. It’s a bit shocking to realize that almost thirty years has gone by since 25-year-old Dern stuck her arm in Stegosaurus dung in that memorable scene from Jurassic Park. And we have aged thirty years as well. If you’re young, the entire series merits a weekend binge. But make no mistake, this is a Jurassic World film. The “Park” team is flattered to be along for the ride, and the ”World” team is honored to work alongside them. 

I’ve written previously about my crude editing of Jurassic Park for viewing by my young children. Today’s kids are used to atrocities on film far worse that a T-Rex eating a guy in an outhouse, but it’s time that this fantastic franchise comes to an end.

 

Jurassic World: Dominion indeed needs to be the final sequel to the best dinosaur film ever. Some segments are more than cute referrals to the five previous films. It’s been too long for that. It feels more like stealing at this point. Perhaps a weak script is to blame, but some segments feel like re-shoots of old material. The special effects didn’t need to improve much over the years since the originals were so good, but certainly the vast increase in computing power has simplified and shortened rendering of a larger stable of extinct beasts.

 

Those beasts have now spread worldwide and are struggling to adapt to a variety of climates, while humans try to get used to coexisting with them. But of course, Lewis Dodgson, the deranged head of Biosyn is out to do more than just control the dinosaurs and help humanity. He’s taken a Monsanto-like approach to genetic engineering of crops that can survive plagues of escaped Cretaceous locusts. That’s the underlying story, with the heroes of Jurassic Park and the new stars of the Jurassic World series on parallel paths to expose Biosyn and also save the cloned granddaughter of John Hammond.

 

The meeting of the two teams of Jurassic stars is probably the most engaging part of the film, unless you consider the abundance of adorable baby dinosaurs. That’s Spielberg playing to the kids in this PG-13 movie, but it works for animal-loving adults too.

 

Despite a somewhat awkward start, some corny dialogue and lots of scene setting and explanations, eventually the film hits its stride and that old about-to-be-eaten dinosaur magic carries the film to Its patented conclusion. Jeff Goldblum is back as Malcolm to inject his dry humor in carefully administered doses. And B. D. Wong returns as Dr. Wu in a last-ditch effort to redeem himself and save the world.

 

Two hours would have been adequate to tell this story, but there’s never a lag in pacing, and the kids will definitely want to see this, maybe with their parents.

 

Jurassic World: Dominion runs 2 hours, 26 minutes and is rated PG-13.


๐Ÿ˜Ž


If you like fiction and you're in the mood for over 50 short stories, please consider buying "Natural Selections," at Amazon.com.


Or if you'd prefer seventy non-fiction stories inspired by a town in Illinois, please consider buying Park Ridge Memories also on Amazon. Click on the image below.


 

 

 

Barbie

Barbie is confused. Ken is insecure. But the really weird thing is that Barbie is self-aware. I’ll get back to that. If this film had to be ...