Jurassic World

Jurassic World. There are at least three establishing shots early in the movie that make sure you’re ready, later on in the movie, for a terrible jab about high heels. It’s that sort of dedication to the stupidest things where this movie really shines.

I’m curious about how this amped up B-movie plays for a young audience that doesn’t have ties to the earliest film. There’s a lot of fan service here with “remember how ___?” nudges throughout. The cellphone ringtone that pulls from the main theme was a nice touch. Along with those references, I thought I saw some borrowing from other movies, too: *Predator*-vision with people getting killed in the jungle; *King Kong*, where a monster looms over a woman in a tattered dress; flying creatures pouring over the horizon, like *The Wizard of Oz*; the scene people with tossing air tanks off the back of a vehicle has a hint of *Jaws* to it.

There’s also a complete orgy of product placement! Converse, Beats, Samsung, Verizon, Coca-Cola, Blackberry, Mercedes, Starbucks, Margaritaville. I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting another 5-10, minimum. Totally shameless.

It’s too bad that Chris Pratt is no fun here, mostly posing stiffly and asserting. They killed his charm, but he’s somehow still the best thing going here. D’Onofrio manages to make his Hoskins character more interesting than it should be, with all the swagger and bluster. Most of the others are pretty bland. Least (spoiler) favorite (spoiler) part (spoiler): the viciously indulgent death of the British nanny. Other downsides relate to its general overstuffed-ness. Earnest family bonding moments and a vast insider corporate conspiracy?

That I have so much to say about this says… something. So anyway, go watch Jurassic Park instead.

Strange Days

Strange Days. The last movie I watched in 2014. The setting is a dark and messy L.A. where the go-to underground drug is VR “playback” of other people’s recorded first-person thrills. All the stuff with rampant police abuse, violence for entertainment, and mediated experience seemed relevant today. It’s one of those where I love the world they built in the early parts of the movie, but didn’t have much interest in the story they developed from there. Love the closing song. My Kathryn Bigelow rankings:

  1. Zero Dark Thirty
  2. Point Break
  3. The Hurt Locker
  4. Strange Days

She’s really damn good.

Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket. Good stuff. I love how the first and second half have storytelling parallels, but with very different cinematographic styles. Tighter, controlled, fortifying training scenes vs. the looser, edgier feel in Vietnam. Apocalypse Now is definitely the better Vietnam film, though. It’s been quite a while since I last saw Platoon or The Deer Hunter. Vincent D’Onofrio was also awesome in Mystic Pizza.

My updated Kubrick leaderboard:

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  2. The Killing
  3. Full Metal Jacket
  4. Eyes Wide Shut
  5. The Shining
  6. A Clockwork Orange

Mystic Pizza

Mystic Pizza. The ‘80s were a golden era for coming-of-age movies like this one. Really great job at undercutting the drama with humor and twisting some of the scenes and characters in really smart, unexpected ways. Also features a wee young Matt Damon in a small role!