15 June 2015

JURASSIC WORLD + The JURASSIC PARK Trilogy

JURASSIC WORLD

Working Title:
Jurassic Park 4

USA, 2015
Director: Colin Trevorrow

7,5/10








For months I was ranting about how bad all the teasers and trailers look, how bad all the CGI looks, how bad this movie will be, and that it will probably be even worse that the unnecessary "Poltergeist" remake, so I went into it with absolutely no expectations at all, aside from that fact that I expected it to be bad... and now I feel like a complete douchebag, because... well, I really enjoyed it!


"Jurassic World" is a direct sequel to "Jurassic Park", ignoring 2 & 3, taking place 22 years later on Isla Nublar in a new fully functioning Dinosaur theme park that once again becomes a killing field when a genetically modified Dino-hybrid (Indominus Rex) breaks loose and runs amok across the park. It's obviously far from being as amazing as "Jurassic Park", the editing is often very amateurish (awkward cuts, horrid continuity - Kevin Stitt, what the fuck??), it possesses a few hair-raisingly stupid plot points and some of the CGI actually looks rather questionable - but aside from that, "Jurassic World" is a terrific piece of popcorn summer entertainment that delivers the goods by giving the audience excellent Dino-action, many wonderfully suspenseful scenes and lots of
really hilarious humor.

Colin Trevorrow's super-strong, super-tight direction surprised me a lot. His debut feature "Safety Not Guarateed" (some kinda time-travel comedy) was more boring and tedious, than exciting, but "Jurassic World" (yes, this is just his second feature!) is diverting and gripping from start to finish with absolutely no dull moments at all. He's no Spielberg, but he knows how to perfectly make and perfectly pace a semi-intelligent monster film that is able to satisfy old-school Jurassic-fans and younger audiences at the same time.


The first half is quite foreseeable, while the second half caught me off-guard with a few totally unpredictable plot twists and one of the msst amazing climaxes I've ever seen. Seriously, the finale is not just badass to the max, but also delivers perfect fan-service in form of the probably greatest Dino-fight of the entire JP-franchise. [SPOILERS] I had tears in my eyes (no shit!) when one of the main characters releases the Tyrannosaurus Rex from its enclosure and lures him into a fight with the Indominus Rex, a fight that got even better when a Mosasaurus and one of the Raptors come to help. People were applauding, I was cheering and had a big fat grin in my face - yes, the finale was that awesome and for that, I give the movie an extra 1/2 point.

Chris Pratt delivers a splendid performance as cocky but charming Raptor trainer, and the great Vincent D'Onofrio once again proves that every movie gets better with him in it. Seriously, this guy is fucking amazing in everything he's doing. Also great: Jake Johnson (outrageously funny), Nick Robinson (super-cool) and BD Wong (more badass than I expected). Main actress Bryce Dallas Howard is basically pretty good, but her character is just dreadful, and supposed-to-be-cute Ty Simpkins is clearly miscast and comes off as irritating. No wonder there are countless of Imdb boards full of people discussing whether his character
is autistic or not.


Michael Giacchino's ("Star Trek 1+2") score is majestic, John Williams' "Jurassic Park" theme is still as beautiful as always, John Schwartzman's ("Armageddon") cinematography is as gorgeous as always, and the scenes with the motorcycles, with the Gyrospheres, with the Raptors hunting a car, with the Pteranodons attacking the park, with D'Onofrio's character trying to take over and enjoying the killing ("Are you recording this?" *grabs a cup of coke*), or with the soldiers trying to defeat the I-Rex... these scenes are all just wow!

After some consideration, I've decided to endorse "Jurassic World" and all possible subsequent sequels. Remind me to thank Colin Trevorrow for a wonderful cinema experience ;-)




The "JURASSIC PARK" Trilogy

JURASSIC PARK

USA, 1993
Director: Steven Spielberg

10/10












Some people say, the "Indiana Jones" trilogy is the best thing Steven Spielberg has ever done. Some say it's "Jaws", some think it's "Schindler's List", some even say it's "E.T." (*shakes head*). My favorite Spielberg film will forever be "Jurassic Park", the incredible adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel of the same name. In 1993, at the age of 11, I completely and utterly fell in love with it, and 22 years later, I'm still madly in love with it.


A charming and super-wealthy entrepreneur builds a theme park on a remote island with real living dinosaurs that were created from prehistoric DNA. During a preview tour with a selected audience (his two grandchidlren, a paleontologist, a paleobotanist, a mathematician and a lawyer), a major power breakdown occurs which allows the dinos to escape and run amok.

The story is simple, yet highly original, totally fascinating and extremely thought-provoking, perfectly dealing with the pros about how awesome, groundbreaking and informative it would be to re-create prehistoric creatures, and the cons about how dangerous it can be when man messes with nature. At first, it all seems to be so fun and easy to create, own and maintain the most unique theme park in the world, but when suddenly something unexpected, something unforeseen happens, the creators' naivety and happiness quickly transforms into incomprehension, panic and depression.


I have difficulties finding anything about it that is NOT good. Ah, fuck it. Absolutely everything about "Jurassic Park" is amazing. Spielberg's direction is so pitch-perfect, it's insane. Every shot is spot-on, every scene is paced and set up in an immensely magnificent way. The build-up is slow, but intriguing. The action is gripping, intimidating and entertaining at the same time. Character development and chemistry are both fantastic, every single character is super-likable, even the not-so-sympathetic semi-baddies are somewhat nice. Massive kudos to Crichton and David Koepp ("Stir of Echoes") for the masterful screenplay which is almost too good to be true.

Acting-wise, everyone's just great, especially Jeff Goldblum in his best performance since "The Fly" as quirky chaos theorist ("How do you know they're all female? Does somebody go out into the park and pull up the dinosaurs' skirts?"), the beautiful and still underrated Laura Dern as lovely and tough-ass survival chick ("T-T-Rex? You said you've got a T-Rex?"), the ever-so-awesome Sam Neill as grumpy dino expert ("Big Tim, the human piece of toast."), and the man with the most beautiful white beard of all time, better known as Richard Attenborough, as gullible millionaire ("We spared no expense.").


Also very superb: the super-talented and stunningly believable kids Ariana Richards ("I am not a computer nerd. I prefer to be called a hacker!") and Joseph Mazzello ("What do you call a blind dinosaur? A Do-you-think-he-saurus."), Wayne Knight as obese and thieving computer network engineer ("Uh uh uh! You didn't say the magic word!") and Bob Peck as ultra-cool game warden ("Get off the stick. Bloody move!").
 Oh btw, have I mentioned that I think no-one can look as happy as Laura Dern in the scene when she first sees the Triceratops... and that I also had a MAJOR crush on her in my teenage years? :)

The dinosaurs all look simply fantastic, not just the animatronic models, but also the computer-generated ones. It's baffling how great the CGI still looks, compared to lazy modern-day CGI. Sure, it's not perfect, but you can clearly see that they worked their asses off to make it look as realistic as possible. Frequent Spielberg-collaborator John Williams' majestic score is one of the best and most memorable pieces of music he has ever composed, frequent John-Carpenter-collaborator Dean Cundey's cinematography is breathtaking to the max, the editing... the settings... the entire production design... man, everything about this movie is so frigging awesome!!


Highlights: the very first T-Rex scene + water ripple (one of the most suspenseful scenes in movie history), T-Rex vs. toilet, "Spitter" vs. Dennis Nedry, climbing over the fence, "I think we're back in business!", raptors in the kitchen, the jell-o warning, sneezing Brachiosaurus, car in the tree, Gallimimus stampede, and the amazing finale where my beloved T-Rex saves the day.

"Jurassic Park" is, and forever will be, the greatest dinosaur movie of all time.
Mr. Spielberg, you did it. You crazy son of a bitch, you did it.




THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK

Working Titles:
The Lost World / Jurassic Park 2

German Title: Vergessene Welt - Jurassic Park

USA, 1997
Director: Steven Spielberg

6/10






After the incredible success of "Jurassic Park" (1$ billion worldwide), it was clear as day that there had to be a sequel. At first, Steven Spielberg and David Koepp requested Michael Crichton to write a sequel to his "Jurassic Park" novel. In 1995, by the time Crichton was finished, Spielberg and Koepp developed ideas for a screenplay, which subsequently was written by Koepp alone. Although Joe Johnston ("Jumanji") was originally in talks to direct the sequel, the job ultimately went to Spielberg.


The result: a massive letdown. "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" (awkward title - where's the '2', goddammit?) isn't a bad film, but compared to its mighty predecessor, it's just mediocre. It's undoubtedly one of Spielberg's weakest movies to date, and hey, even Spielberg himself doesn't like it! Quoting from "Steven Spielberg: A Biography", he got very impatient with himself during production: "It made me wistful about doing a talking picture (...) I got the feeling I was just making this big silent-roar movie (...) I found myself saying, 'Is that all there is? It's not enough for me.'"

The main problem with "The Lost World" is that it feels lukewarm and half-hearted... as if the people involved weren't exactly keen of doing this. Jeff Goldblum is good, but without Dern and Neill on his side, his performance has "I'm not into that" written all over. The guest appearances from Attenborough and the kids are more or less forgettable. Spielberg's direction is very weird, his usual filmmaking brilliance almost non-existent. Some really breathtaking scenes are overshadowed by many questionable and/or predictable and/or boring scenes that come off as merely frustrating. The storyline is bogus (back to the island - surprise: a second island! - more dinos - bring dinos to San Diego - T-Rex escapes and delivers some sorta King Kong attack - the end), there's some more rather questionable performances from hit-or-miss actress Julianne Moore and worse-comes-to-worst douchebag Vince Vaughn, and a surprisingly mediocre, annoyingly un-catchy score by John Williams.


Of course, there's still enough great scenes that make this sequel watchable and rather enjoyable, most notably the insanely suspenseful trailer-over-the-cliff scene, one of the most breathtaking scenes Spielberg has EVER filmed. Holy shit, I'm not able to properly express how much I love this scene. If only this would have been in the first part... *sigh* Ok, move on. There's the tense Raptor attack with the expedition team hiding in the tall grass, the slightly Mad-Max-style arrival of the hunters and paleontologists with all their super-cool vehicles, and several quite hilarious moments in the San Diego finale. For the greater part, the pacing is rather solid, Pete Postlethwaite is just superb, most of the Dino effects look great and two-time Oscar-winning cinematography Janusz Kamisnki's ("Schindler's List", "Saving Private Ryan") work proves to be a great substitute
for Dean Cundey.

Still, "Jurassic Park: The Lost World" is no match for the original. It's good, but it's no attraction. It didn't drive kids out of their minds and it never will.




JURASSIC PARK III

Working Titles:
Jurassic Park: Extinction / Jurassic Park: Breakout / Return to the Island: Jurassic Park III

USA, 2001
Director: Joe Johnston

3/10







As underwhelming and mediocre "The Lost World" might be... it's a masterpiece compared to "Jurassic Park III", one of the worst and most superfluous big-budget sequels ever made. Spielberg got tired of doing Dinosaurs, so he gave Joe Johnston the permission to direct the threequel from a script by Alexander Payne (won Oscars for "The Descendants" and "Sideways"), Jim Taylor (won Oscar for "Sideways") and Peter Buchman ("Eragon")... a script that wasn't completed when the shooting for the film began... a script that, according to Johnston himself, was never actually finished:
"We never did have a final script. We did not have a final script until after we wrapped the movie. We shot pages that eventually went into the final script but we didn't have a document. (...) We had a script for the day we were shooting and maybe the next day and sometimes a week ahead of time, but we never had a story that had a beginning, middle and end while we were making the film." Erm... no comment.


Well, as expected, "Jurassic Park III" ended up as frustratingly bad and completely superfluous follow-up that makes you rather watch something like "Carnosaur" or "Raptor Ranch". I wasn't sure what to think of it after I first saw it on the big screen. I was confused and couldn't make up my mind about it. Years later, when I saw it on DVD, I finally realized what's so wrong about it: it's a boring movie with no spark of intelligence, poorly directed and atrociously written. Nearly all of the characters are unlikable and apart from Sam Neill and Laura Dern, nearly all of the actors are pretty much miscast, especially Téa Leoni who delivers one of the most unbearable performances I have ever seen, constantly screaming and yelling and annoying the fuck out of me. "Jurassic Park III" is actually so bad that even a fantastic actor like William H. Macy comes off as really, really awful.


Considering the super-entertaining movies Joe Johnston made beforehand ("Jumanji", "Honey I Shrunk The Kids"), it's really odd seeing him struggling so hard with the material given. He wasn't able to find the right tone, constantly switching between supposed-to-be-funny over-the-top comedy and supposed-to-be-badass over-the-top action, NEVER finding the right tone. The calm scenes are tedious and tiresome, while most action-scenes look/feel rushed and over-edited. The cinematography is fine and there a couple of scenes that are pretty good, like the one with the Pterosaur or the one in the cage, but that obviously doesn't help much when you have literally no storyline, when the CGI is surprisingly looking mediocre, when Don Davis' ("The Matrix 1-3") blaring soundtrack is turning you half-deaf while Leoni's constant screaming ("Beeeeeeen! Eeeeeeeric! Beeeeeeeen!") is slowly driving you insane.

Now, THAT is one big pile of shit.

12 comments:

  1. I wasn't going to bother going to this, especially after watching Part III last week on TV (Beeeeen! Eeeeeeeric! Beeeeeeen! is right. Blrgh.) But since you've given it your endorsement, I think I'm gonna actually take in a movie in a real-live theatre for a change and go see it!

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    Replies
    1. It's really worth it. Makes you forget about the crappy threequel and even manages to be better than the sequel. I had a fun time!

      Delete
  2. Ha! Glad you enjoyed it after all your complaining you CGI hating douchebag! ;-) I thought it was good fun but as I am still completely in love with the original Jurassic Park I was never going to love it. It's a good summer cinema film and that is it for me

    Agree with you 100% across the board about Jurassic Park. It's one of my all time favourite films. Like you I love everything and can complain about very little.

    I do like The Lost World slightly more than you because it is great fun but if you were to get right down to it I get that it is an easy film to find holes in it. Jeff Goldblum saves it.

    I HATE Jurassic Park 3 with a passion. I hate everything about it so much. It's hard to believe it is part of the same franchise

    Great reviews as always!

    K :-)

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I am a CGI hating douchebag and no, je ne regrette being a CGI hating douchebag - but not all CGI is worth hating :D

      Woohoo, had no idea that you love JP as much as I do! *fistbump*

      At least, I dig Lost World now more than back then. I was highly disappointed after first seeing it in the cinema, but over the years, I started to like it more.

      3 is pure garbage. It's really hard to believe that it is a part of the JP franchise.

      Many thanks! :-)

      Delete
    2. I absolutely love Jurassic Park! It's probably one of my most viewed films helped by the fact that at least one of the films airs on tv here at least once a week!

      *fistbump*

      Delete
  3. Great reviews!

    Ha ha, laughing at Karina's message...

    "Glad you enjoyed it after all your complaining you CGI hating douchebag!"

    Enjoy your day :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karina is such a charmer, isn't she? ;-) She's allowed to give me any name she wants to :D

      Thanks, enjoy your day as well!

      Delete
  4. YEEEEESSSS! YEEESSSSS!!! MOSASUR!!!!


    now that I got that out of my system, I'm glad you enjoyed this modern Summer blockbuster done right! Seriously,that Dinosaur tag-team...imagine Jack Nicholson's Joker grin maxed to a 10...that was my face and I don't care if people around me looked at me funny! It was one of the most perfect Monster final fight I'd seen since GMK: Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghodrah All Monster Attack!!!

    As for the trilogy: Jurassic Park is an important film for me. It's one of the film that DEFINES me. Lost World was okay, not too good but it's far from bad. Very far!

    Jurassic park 3?...I actually liked it! yeah, it's dumb and overblown with its budget but hey, it's a survival flick with lots of dinosaurs. I would rather see it than any of Carnosaur series actually. I dunno, I guess, apart from MOSASAUR! my other fave dino was the Spinosaurus...before J3 included it

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    Replies
    1. Very well said, Kai. T-Rex, Mosa, Raptor & I-Rex is like the best Godzilla movie never made. All Monsters Attack is badass, but not as badass as that amazing climax in Jurassic World!

      I'm not sure if JP defines me, but it sure is one of the most impressive films I have ever experienced.

      3... well, some like it, some hate it. I've seen it three times and still don't like it - and I doubt I ever will.

      Delete
  5. Great reviews across the board man, can't disagree with them across the board!

    ReplyDelete

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