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Movie Review: “Jurassic World: Dominion” is an Overambitious Mess

We’ve come a long way since the first “Jurassic Park” (1993). And by that, I mean we’ve gone down, WAY down. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two Jurassic Park movies. I didn’t mind the forgettable third film, but it wasn’t good.

Then, director Colin Trevorrow decided to reboot the franchise with a film about what would have happened if the park actually opened, and it was a promising start. “Jurassic World” had a simple plot, it was relevant, and a whole lot of fun. However, that slight spike plummeted after the tragedy that was “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”, and now has officially crashed after the unfortunate end to this trilogy.

“Jurassic World Dominion” had all the potential with the return of original cast and the idea of what happens now that the dinosaurs from the park are out in the real world living among us. But somehow, they managed to take that potential and squander it with a convoluted plot, redundant dinosaur scares, and forced, corny dialogue.

In “Jurassic World Dominion”, we are seeing the effect of dinosaurs being part of our world.  There are basically two stories going on; one follows Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen (Chris Pratt) as they try to protect their sort of daughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon), from those who want to study her genetic make-up. All the while, Ellie (Laura Dern), Alan (Sam Neill), and Ian (Jeff Goldblum) unite to investigate the shady dealings at BioSyn which is now run by another Jurassic Park character, Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott). Genetic experimentation done by BioSyn has created an “ecological disaster” that might destroy the world’s food chain.

I’m not sure how much the plot matters here. Trevorrow clearly just wanted a reason to show off the dinosaurs and provide enough nostalgia for fan service.

It seems Trevorrow bit off more than he can chew. He had all the key ingredients to serve up a satisfying conclusion, but somehow, he didn’t create the right recipe. Though I’m sure he put a lot of effort into this script, he missed a huge opportunity to better connect the original characters with the new ones; and failed to deliver a screenplay that had us invested in them. Any sort of “development” is rushed, and the emotions that are supposed to feel impactful are never earned. The cast and this franchise deserved so much more from this “grand” finale.

Though “Jurassic World Dominion” isn’t a roaring success, it does rumble out some joy. Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcom is hilarious. The man is effortlessly entertaining. And of course, the dinosaurs! The kid in me still enjoys seeing the different dinos running around and terrorizing on screen. But I don’t think this morsel of fun justifies the two and half hours of chaos and confusion.

The only takeaway from “Jurassic World Dominion” is that the franchise is ready for extinction.

Rating: D+

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You can also watch my ICTN review of the film along my thoughts of “Ozark” Season 4 in the video below!

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Top 10 Best Films of 2020

10. Soul

“Soul” follows, Joe (Jamie Foxx), a music teacher who has lost his passion for music and sense of purpose. But when he is transported into another realm to help someone find their spark, he discovers a new appreciation for life.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for this movie. Whether you have a dream you haven’t accomplished yet, or you feel as though your life hasn’t amounted to anything; take a second to reflect on all the good you already have. Your health, your family, your friends; our life is not as bad as we sometimes make it out to be. And remember to appreciate all the little things, even if it’s as small as a good slice of pizza.

9. Words on Bathroom Walls

“Words on Bathroom Walls” follows Adam(Charlie Plummer), a passionate cook who appears to be a typical teenage boy until an incident in his High School reveals he has schizophrenia. He is expelled, and forced to finish out his senior year at a Catholic High school. It’s there he meets, Maya (Taylor Russell). Their relationship in the film is tender and sweet, but the beauty of “Words on Bathroom Walls” is getting to see perspective on a mental illness that isn’t shown often, especially through a romance. This is something else that deserves representation and understanding. And though the film centers around Adam and Maya, the relationship between Adam and his mom is just as powerful. Her tenacity shows us a mother’s love is unconditional.

8. Let Him Go

After the death of their son, Margaret and George Blackledge (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner) have held on to the light in their life, their grandson, Jimmy. But when their daughter-in-law (Kayli Carter) remarries to an abusive man, Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain), he takes both her and Jimmy away to his family’s secluded home in North Dakota.  Margaret and George leave their ranch in Montana, and go on a mission to save what’s left of their family. Some may not find this movie special, but it transported me back to the theaters with how well it was shot and the incredible performances. You can’t help but feel for this couple, and want them to do whatever is necessary to get their grandson back.

7. On the Rocks

Bill Murray plays, Felix, a playboy art dealer who, long ago, walked out on his wife and children for the first of many women. He’s selfish and self-centered, yet you can’t help but love the guy. When he hears his daughter, Laura (Rashida Jones), is concerned about her husband’s many work trips, he assumes the worse and encourages her to look into the matter with him.  This film is such an easy and humorous watch. This is in big part due to the natural chemistry between Murray and Jones. Felix is trying to make up for lost time by taking this unfortunate circumstance as an opportunity to spend quality time with his daughter, who he genuinely cares for. “On the Rocks” highlights a sweet, yet unconventional father/daughter relationship, while also shedding a light on marriages that could use a little refresher.

6. Irresistible

I know politics is a touchy subject, but the beauty of “Irresistible” is that it really doesn’t try to sway you on either side. They focus more about how ridiculous a campaign can get and how much it costs. It’s not about conservatives versus liberals. Instead, the film makes you question the two party system. The all-star cast which includes Steve Carrell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, and MacKenzie Davis all give top-notch, hilarious performances. The banter between Carrell and Byrne alone makes this film such a delight. “Irresistible” is the insightful, laugh-out-loud comedy we needed during this election year. Putting into perspective what is truly important in any leadership role. 

5. The Kid Detective

To all my fellow “Harriet the Spy” lovers, this movie is what I imagine happened to the male version of Harriet. Abe Applebaum (Adam Brody) was a once celebrated kid detective. Even adults used his services. But after he fails to solve the mystery of a kidnapping of a young girl/friend, he is no longer the same quality detective. Fast forward to his 30’s, he’s a washed up drunk, taking any minor case he can get to make end’s meat. That is until he is presented with his first murder case. I know a lot of you probably haven’t heard of this film, but it’s a really fun watch. Brody carries the movie with his wit and charm, but the story is just as engaging. “The Kid Detective” is truly the hidden gem of 2020.

4. Onward

I’m surprised by how high I have this film on my list, but since January I can’t get this movie or the ending out of my head. It’s one I get emotional just thinking about. On the day of Ian Lightfoot’s (Tom Holland) 16th birthday, he and his older brother (Chris Pratt) are given a gift from their late father. Turns out it’s a spell that will bring their dad back to life for 24 hours,  giving Ian a chance to finally meet his father. But the spell doesn’t go exactly as planned. At first glance, this seems like a possibly boring, one disaster after another road trip that will end predictably. It’s safe to say that’s not the case. Although this is a film about a son seeking a relationship with his father, it also recognizes those in our lives who unexpectedly became a father figure and shaped us into the person we are today.

3. Palm Springs

Not since “Groundhog Day” has any film with the similar formula been worth raving about (Except for maybe “Happy Death Day”). That is until “Palm Springs”. It manages to put a refreshing spin on the romantic comedy genre and time loop narrative. Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti) are two wedding guests reliving the same day. Samberg and Milioti are a dynamic duo with amazing chemistry. The film is heavier than you might expect. Nyles and Sarah are stuck together without even death as an escape. A romance grows, and soon they are partners in crime making the most of their care-free new existence; even if it comes with a rapid loss of meaning. “Palm Springs” is funny, sweet, and has a surprising little twist. 

2. Uncle Frank

If I could give anyone the Oscar right now, it would be Paul Bettany for his powerful and gut-wrenching performance in this film. I really hope this movie doesn’t go under the radar during award season, because it deserves recognition for its performances alone. Set in 1973, the film follows a teenager named Beth (Sophia Lillis) who leaves her rural Southern home to study at a New York University where her beloved Uncle Frank (Bettany) teaches. While there she discovers Frank is gay, and has been living with his long time partner, Wally (Peter Macdissi) – a secret he’s been keeping from his family for years. After the passing of his father, the three of them take a road trip home to North Carolina, and Frank is forced to face the worries and trauma he’s been running from. This film is my biggest tear-jerker of the year. I’m talking ugly crying. Watching Bettany play a character who has to hide his true self from his family in fear of how they might react is heartbreaking, and sadly, still relevant. “Uncle Frank” is a film everyone should watch.

1. Promising Young Woman

If you’ve heard me talk about this film, it should come as no surprise that it would make the top of my list. The movie has romance, comedy, mystery, revenge, and an all-star cast. “Promising Young Woman” features Carey Mulligan as Cassie, a med-school dropout who seeks revenge on a traumatizing past event. Not since “Hard Candy” have I enjoyed such an enticing revenge story. Mulligan is at her best, showing such complex emotions. She varies from cold-hearted to heartbreaking. This is a cautionary tale that would serve well in high school and college classrooms. Especially geared towards men who don’t seem to understand what consensual sexual activity means. The film goes beyond the actions of the men responsible for the sexual assaults. It also highlights those who turn a blind eye, and even the parties responsible for defending the guilty. “Promising Young Woman” is funny, dark, unforgettable, and for me, it’s the best film of the year.

The Best of the Rest:

11. Black Box

12. Shithouse

13. A Secret Love

14. Yes God Yes

15. The Trial of the Chicago 7

16. The Mauritanian

17. Da 5 Bloods

18. Freaky

19. Another Round

20. The Broken Hearts Gallery

Top 5 Worst Films of 2020

5. The Rhythm Section – I except more from Jude Law and Blake Lively at this point in their careers.

4. Underwater- A Knockoff underwater version of “Alien”. But bad, so bad.

3. The Sunlit Night- Terrible movie with the most forced and awkward sex scene.

2. The Prom – Had no idea James Corden was a bad actor until this film. Honestly, I couldn’t pay attention anything else.

1. The Witches (2020) – I almost forgot this movie happened. I’d like to keep it that way.

Trevor’s Top 10

10. Yes God Yes
9. Sonic the Hedgehog
8. Freaky
7. The Mauritanian
6. Palm Springs
5. The Old Guard
4. The Kid Detective
3. Promising Young Woman
2. Irresistible
1. Uncle Frank

Movie Review/Interview: Set Designer Carlos Felipe Leon talks “Onward”

“Onward” is the first MUST-SEE movie of 2020. The film follows two teenage elf brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt), who are on a quest to finish a spell that will allow them to spend one last day with their father, who died when they were too young to remember him.

I sat down with set designer, Carlos Felipe Leon, to discuss the bonds with our siblings, which film’s setting/world he’d like to spend 24 hours in and more about the movie! Check out the interview w/ Carlos AND my full ICTN review of the film below!

“Onward” opens in theaters March 6.

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Movie Review: “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” Fails its Predecessor

Jurassic World was everything we had been waiting for since the first Jurassic Park was released in 1993. The park was opened and running smoothly. It was also set in some attractive green scenery. Of course, one day everything goes wrong when a wild test subject is let loose and the whole park falls apart! A simple premise with so much entertainment. Now what happened to that kind of writing with this sequel?

Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom starts off okay enough. It’s been three years since the tragic incident and the Jurassic World theme park is no more. But now an impending volcanic eruption on the island will wipe out the existing dinosaurs and render them extinct once again. The question is do we save the dinosaurs and bring them to the states, or do we let them die? For Dr. Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), the decision is easy. Let the dinosaurs die and save humanity from a potential life-threatening attack. However, previous park staffer, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) still feels a connection to the dinosaurs and jumps at the opportunity to save them when approached by Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), the one time partner of Jurassic Park mastermind John Hammond. Mr. Lockwood and his caretaker/right-hand man, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), plan to rescue the remaining species from the island and bring them to a sanctuary where they will be allowed to live in peace.

Only problem is they need the skilled velociraptor trainer, Owen (Chris Pratt), to come along this mission and find Blue, the only raptor left of its kind. FYI, the best thing about this movie is the connection between Blue and Owen. Luckily, Claire finds Owen in his new quiet life, building a cabin in the middle of nowhere. How convenient and cliché. After some banter about their previous relationship she convinces him to join the mission and save Blue.

I won’t go into the plot any further than that to avoid spoilers, but eventually we are taken on a chaotic ride.

There are many problems with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom; beginning with its characters. With the exception of Pratt, Howard, and the best character, Blue, I could careless about anyone else on screen. In fact, who are all you people? Claire brings along two new faces, feisty “paleo-veterinarian” Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda), who knows everything about these creatures but has never actually seen one in person, and tech-geek Franklin (Justice Smith), who constantly screams at any sign of danger. They had no business being in this movie. Because again, who even are you?

The villain is weak and their “evil” motive is just lazy writing. There were other characters too but, honestly, I just don’t care enough about them.

Though the film has intense action-packed sequences that will keep you enthralled till the end, the ridiculous story is unforgiving. Oddly enough, I’d still say it is worth watching the action on the big screen, but don’t go in with high expectations. Grab some popcorn and try not to think too much while watching.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom leaves the door wide open for another sequel, and maybe, the writers will get it right on their third try with what will hopefully be the final chapter.

Rating: 2.5/5

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom hits theaters June 22.

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