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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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“Infinite Storm” Interview with Naomi Watts & Malgortzata Szumowska

“Infinite Storm” tells the powerful, true story of Pam Bales, a climber who encounters a stranded stranger during a blizzard and must get them both down a mountain before they freeze to death. I got the chance to speak with the star of the film, Naomi Watts and director Malgortzata Szumowska about the movie. They discuss why an act of kindness from strangers can have a lasting effect, the person in their life that had the biggest positive impact, and more.

“Infinite Storm” opens in theaters on March 25, 2022.

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Rapid Review: “Fresh” is a Deliciously Good Time


Mimi Caves directorial debut serves a familiar dish, but with a “fresh”, new taste. 

I hate to spoil anything about Fox Searchlight Pictures’ “Fresh”, so I’m going to keep it brief. 

The film follows, Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones), a young woman whose tirelessly looking for love through dating apps. The opening scene of the movie is an awkward, horrible first date. Noa is left feeling hopeless, and thinking that she’ll ever find a good guy. Her best friend, Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs) is always by her side to console her and tell her she doesn’t need a man, but Noa still hopes for that special someone. 

On a random evening at the grocery store, a handsome, charming man named Steve (Sebastian Stan) hits on Noa by the produce section. Sparks fly and they begin to date. They seem to have a true romantic connection. After a few dates, Steve suggests taking Noa away for the weekend. Unfortunately, this dream vacation quickly turns into an unthinkable nightmare.  

Cave’s debut feature goes from rom-com to a dark, provocative horror. Audiences may think they’ve seen this story before, but it hasn’t been told quite like this. For starters, the film features a Grade-A cast. Stan’s character is unlike anything he’s played before. Between this film and “Pam and Tommy”, he’s proving his incredible versatility as an actor. And Edgar-Jones gives an unforgettable performance, as she brings a whole new level to the “damsel turns badass” story arc. 

Screenwriter, Lauryn Kahn carves out a sharp, witty, and thrilling script. Caves brilliantly brings Kahn’s words to life with her directing. The film’s images range from picturesque to beautifully grotesque. “Fresh” delivers the whole package. It’s a deliciously, twisted horror/comedy that leaves you craving more. 

“Fresh” is available to stream on Hulu on March 4, 2022.

Rating: A

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“Cyrano” Interviews with Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr., & Joe Wright

I got a chance to speak with director, Joe Wright (“Pride & Prejudice”, “Atonement”) and actors, Haley Bennett (“The Magnificent Seven”) and Kevlin Harrison Jr. (“Waves”) for their new film, “Cyrano”.

The film opens in select theaters on February 25, 2022.

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Interview: Alex Wolff talks “Pig”

PIG is the sleeper hit that has stayed with me since viewing earlier this year. The film follows a truffle hunter (Nicolas Cage) who lives alone in the Oregonian wilderness, but must return to Portland in search of his beloved, stolen, truffle pig.

The film also stars Alex Wolff, who plays opposite Cage as rich kid Amir. It’s a role Wolff values for many reasons, including his admiration for Cage. “Nick is on a very small list of what I believe is the greatest artist. Nic is a like a magician in making you feel like you’re an equal. Making you feel like you’re in this together. So I think initially it was like wow like this the Nicolas Cage. The person I modeled my career after. But it’s just Nic now, we developed a deep, profound, long lasting, friendship that has been one of the most rewarding of my life,” Wolff explains. He proceed to say that Cage is a person he really clicked with and they filmed this project during a time when they both needed each other.

In the film, Nicolas Cage’s character, Rob, is a former, world-renowned chef who remembers every meal he ever cooked. And when I asked Alex, what’s the most memorable meal he’s ever had, he responded, “Wow do you know I actually haven’t been asked that question, but I feel like if I were a reporter that would be a question I’d ask. A meal that I remember, there’s a few thanksgivings ago my mom made a meal that was really good and I’ll never forget it. That, and then, Thanksgiving about seven years ago in the south with my dad’s family. They made some sweet potatoes with a little bit of marshmallows on top and I’ll never forget it. Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the year.”

PIG has been raved among critics and audiences, currently rated 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film features powerful performances and an unforgettable screenplay. “Every step of the way this movie has shocked me. I just feel like I’m trying to take it in and I never expect this to happen again because it’s just one in a million,” Wolff added.

If you have yet to see PIG, it’s truly a must see. Nicolas Cage is at his best, and the film will leave craving more.

Rating: 4.75/5

PIG is now available On Demand.

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“Love is Love is Love” Interview with Eleanor Coppola

“The latest feature film from award-winning director Eleanor Coppola (Paris Can Wait, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse), LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE tells three stories that explore love, commitment, and loyalty between couples and friends.  In the film’s first story TWO FOR DINNER, a married couple (Joanne Whalley and Chris Messina) find an unconventional way to transcend long distance through technology, but discover they were farther apart than they knew.  In SAILING LESSON, a long-married couple (Kathy Baker and Marshall Bell) tries to reignite their honeymoon-phase heat through a spontaneous sailing trip… and unexpected events arise.  And in LATE LUNCH, a young woman (Maya Kazan) who recently lost her mother gathers together a group of her mother’s friends (including Cybill Shepherd, Rosanna Arquette, and Rita Wilson) to share memories.  Surprising revelations ensue.”

I spoke with director Eleanor Coppola about the film, her inspiration behind the stories, how the movie speaks to underserved audience, and much more.

Blue Fox Entertainment will release LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, November 12 and on VOD Tuesday, December 14.

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“Love is Love is Love” Interview with Eleanor Coppola

“Hard Luck Love Song” Interview w/ Michael Dorman & Sophia Bush

Roadside Attractions’ new film, “Hard Luck Love Song” is based off the song “Just Like Old Times” by Todd Snider. It’s a gritty love story about a troubled musician living out of motels and making bad choices. One night he reconnects with his old flame and the two experience an emotional and unforgettable evening. I spoke with the stars of the film, Michael Dorman and Sophia Bush, to talk about personal discoveries, what puts them at ease when meeting new people, and more.

“Hard Luck Love Song” opens in theaters October 15, 2021.

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Movie Review: “Dear Evan Hansen” Plays a Powerful Song

“Dear Evan Hansen” is the Tony Award winning Broadway musical that’s been adored by millions. But for some reason, the film adaption doesn’t seem to be translating to audiences.

Sadly, I have yet to see this musical on Broadway, but look forward to one day hearing the soundtrack performed live. I am clearly in the minority of my colleagues, but I enjoyed this movie. I went in completely blind. I didn’t know the storyline or a single song beforehand; maybe that’s why it was easy for me to fall for this film.

For those who also might not know anything about this premise, “Dear Evan Hansen” follows Evan (Ben Platt) – a socially awkward High School senior with an absentee father, a loving mom (Julianne Moore) who is constantly working, and not a single friend to sign the cast on his broken arm. In an effort to help with his anxiety, Evan’s therapist suggests he write a letter to himself, encouraging himself throughout the day.

On a random day at school, the brooding at times hostile student, Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan) decides to sign Evan’s cast. The sweet moment is short lived because he finds one of Evan’s letters in where it mentions Connor’s sister, Zoe (Kaitlyn Dever) – Evan’s crush. He angrily pushes Evan, steals the letter, and keeps it in his coat. The next day, Evan is called to the principal’s office where Connor’s parents (Amy Adams and Danny Pino) are waiting for him. Connor has committed suicide. The only note he had on him was Evan’s letter, which they believe Connor wrote for him. The letter paired with his signature on Evan’s cast convinces his parents that this was his one true friend. In that moment, Evan can’t help but go along with the lie. He has good intentions, but the events that follow can be tough to watch.

I’ll admit, when this film gets going and the talented cast is pouring their heart into a heavy conversation about depression, suicide, or internal struggles, it can take you out of the moment when one someone suddenly burst into song. Most of the time you forget this film is a musical until the singing starts again. However, once the music begins, and you’re actually listening to the lyrics, you’re pulled back in by the powerful message the songs have to tell. And I guess there’s backlash for Platt playing the role of a high schooler at age 27, but I’m not sure why? Adults have played High School teens for years in film and television. Platt looks the age and embodies the high anxiety, awkward character, not to mention, his voice is incredible. It’s a true gift for fans of the Broadway show to see Platt reprise this role.

The majority of the high-profile cast do a wonderful job. But praise should be given to Kaitlyn Dever who plays the role of Zoe so effortlessly. She excels in her delivery and emotion as a sister who struggles to grieve the brother that was so cruel to her.

The runtime of 2 hours and 17 minutes is a bit long, but I’m not sure what to cut out. Every scene felt vital to the story. It’s understanding not everyone will be able to bare the length of this somber tale, but the film does end on an uplifting note.

“Dear Evan Hansen” may not be a smooth track, but it provides a compelling message that is still relevant to teens today: be kind and make efforts to those kids in school who are closed off and have difficulty building relationships. I remember those students. At times I even felt like those students.

Though it won’t appeal to everyone, “Dear Evan Hansen” is an emotional and heartwarming musical.

Rating: B-

“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” Interview

“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie”

“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” is a film adaption of the musical about a teenager from England who wants to be a drag queen. It’s a touching and beautiful movie about embracing the “real” you. I sat down with the director and stars of the film, Jonathan Butterell, Max Harwood, and Lauren Patel. They discussed the film and even played a little rapid fire game!

Check out the interview and the film when it opens on September 17, 2021.

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Movie Review: “The Green Knight” and “Paper Spiders”

David Lowery is an Irving High School alum who has gone on to make critically acclaimed films like “Pete’s Dragon” and “A Ghost Story”. His new movie, “The Green Knight,” is a Medieval, fantasy re-telling of Sir Gawain based on the 14th century Arthurian poem. Watch the video below to find out my thoughts on the movie, along with a review of the independent film, “Paper Spiders”, starring Lili Taylor (“The Conjuring”).

“The Green Knight” opens in theaters July 30, 2021 and “Paper Spiders” is available to rent on various VOD platforms.

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