Posts Tagged ‘chris pratt’

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Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

May 8, 2017

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russell, Vin Diesel (voice), Bradley Cooper (voice)
Director: James Gunn (Guardians Of The Galaxy, Slither)

Bottom Line: I’m kind of surprised at the overwhelmingly positive reviews Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 has received because it was kind of disappointing to me and the actual critics have a tendency to be harsher, particularly on popcorn flicks. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not bad. I mostly enjoyed myself while watching Vol. 2, but the biggest reason the first film was so fun was because of how fresh and original it was – and that was made clear when repeat viewings hardly matched the joy of watching it for the first time. The action/comedy hybrid approach still works well here and Vol. 2 is plenty funny – hilarious at times even – but it’s not as funny as it wants to be. There were more than a couple of jokes that elicited no response from the audience. Dave Bautista as Drax The Destroyer really brings the laughs this time around and pretty much any time Baby Groot is on screen, you can’t help but smile.

Where Vol. 2 comes up short is mostly in the story department. It’s funny a lot of the time and the characters are as charming as they were the first time around but, without getting too “spoilery”, 90 minutes into the movie I realized we had answered the question of “Who is Star Lord’s father” and little else. What’s the point of a Guardians Of The Galaxy movie if there’s nothing to “guard” against? And because of that lack of conflict, the movie seems to drag in the second act as Star Lord gets to know his dad and the action screeches to a halt. On the bright side, Michael Rooker’s Yondu – the blue-skinned dude with the whistling arrow – is given a much deserved expanded role and his character is a surprising highlight in the sequel.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is a fun time at the movie theater and because of that, general audiences are probably going to love this movie. If you were a fan of the first film, this sequel probably won’t disappoint you. It’s funny and charming, plus it has some emotional edge to it, but most of the movie plugs along without any real conflict and while Kurt Russell is great, as always, the character he plays feels more like DC’s Green Lantern than the quality stuff we’ve come to expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Vol. 2 is plenty enjoyable, but all the comedy really overshadows the other weaknesses in the script and I suspect this will be more apparent on repeat viewings. And really, this movie could have used more Groot!

Replay Value: Just like the first film, this movie will never be better than the first time you watch it.
Sequel Potential: Vol. 3 already announced and release date is hinted at for 2020. Plus, the Guardians will be in the next Avengers movie.
Oscar Potential: Groot and Rocket look amazing, but the rest of the visual effects were kind of a let down. The first film got nominations for Makeup/Hairstyling and Visual Effects, but I’d say Vol. 2 probably won’t get any nominations.

Grade: 6/10 (recommended)

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Jurassic World (2015)

June 13, 2015

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Vincent D’Onofrio
Director: Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed)

Bottom Line: I remember when rumblings of a Jurassic Park 4 first started and there were rumors of dinos with guns in the plot and I can’t say I was excited about the prospects for that film. I am happy to report that while some aspects of that concept made it into Jurassic World – in the form of trained raptors and Vincent D’Onofrio’s character wanting to use dinosaurs for military purposes – this movie is much more in the spirit of the first JP film.

From the moment I heard that Jurassic World would feature a functioning park, I couldn’t wait to see it on the big screen. As a huge fan of amusement parks, an operational version of John Hammond’s vision from the first film really intrigued me and the creators of this film bring Jurassic World to life in stunning detail – it looks and feels like a combination of Universal Studios, a high quality zoo, with a splash of SeaWorld. Indeed, the scene-stealing Mosasaur is set up very much like Shamu. The set designers do an incredible job and the park is set up exactly as it looks on the impressive Jurassic World website. We have a petting zoo with young dinosaurs, kayaking down a prehistoric river, and venturing into the fields with live dinos in the (not so) indestructible Gyrosphere. The dinosaurs also look great, but it’s an interesting testament to Steven Spielberg’s original visual effects team how little improvement there has been in that department since the 1993 film.

The plot is similar to past films – a couple of kids make the trip to the island to visit their aunt and tour the park before all hell breaks loose when the Indominus Rex escapes its paddock. The what? Ah yes. In this movie, the park has been open for ten years or so and attendance has dropped while watching a T-Rex feed has become as ho-hum as checking out a tiger at the local zoo. So much like our real world would, the powers-that-be ponder how to turn things around and come up with the idea of creating their own dinosaur: the Indominus Rex, a combination of the tyrannosaur and something else everyone will be able to guess before they even realize it’s supposed to be a surprise. Watching the I-Rex cause carnage is great summer blockbuster fun and seeing velociraptors respond to human training was far less lame than I was expecting.

Like all the Jurassic Park sequels and quite unlike the original, the cast plays second fiddle to the dinosaurs. Chris Pratt is always enjoyable, but as Owen Grady, the raptor whisperer, his usual welcome charm and sense of humor is far less prominent than it has been in most of his other roles. Bryce Dallas Howard is okay as the kids’ aunt and park operations manager; I can’t think of any role of hers that I’ve ever thought she’s been particularly good in and this one is no different. The best addition to the cast has to be Jake Johnson (of “New Girl”), who plays a control operator rocking a vintage Jurassic Park t-shirt he found on eBay and gets most of the films laughs.

Jurassic World was about as satisfying as I could have hoped for. It’s visually stunning, action packed, and plenty of fun. Michael Crichton and John Hammond would be proud.

Replay Value: I already want to see it again and I think it’s a minor travesty that I didn’t watch it in Imax 3D.
Sequel Potential: This franchise probably won’t die before I do.
Oscar Potential: Set design, visual effects, and sound all have strong chances through the first half of 2015.

Grade: 7/10 (Must See)