film, must see

Movie Review: Jurassic World

If you were to tell fans that there was going to be a fourth Jurassic Park movie after the lets say not fantastic sequels I do not know if they would have agreed. However in 2015 the long awaited Jurassic World premiered, and in my opinion it was better than anyone thought it was going to be. Ok so the science wasn’t exact as anyone in that background has explained; I get it but this is called science fiction for a reason. As always spoilers will be ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

After a so long Jurassic World has been open for many years and still going strong. Despite dinosaurs still being “wow” many who invest in the park, including owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) want to see more;  encouraging Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong and the only original cast member to appear in the movie) to create more genetically modified dinosaurs, much to the annoyance of park control room employee Lowery (Jake Johnson). Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), the park operations manager and doesn’t seem to get that these are living creature, observes the newest addition to the park, the Indominus Rex; a creature created with T-Rex DNA and other parts deemed classified. At the same time her nephews Zack and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) visit the park, after their parents Karen and Scott (Judy Greer and Andy Buckley) send them away possibly in order to avoid talking about their upcoming divorce, but are stuck with Claire’s assistant Zara (Katie McGrath). Another park employee, and one Claire had a bad first date with, is Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) a Navy veteran who is researching raptor intelligence. He works closely with four raptors, having build a bond of trust with them; however he refuses to train them for military use which is what head of InGen security Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) wants. Masrani wants Owen to look at the Indominus enclosure to ensure everyone’s safety, Owen believes that because she was raised in a cage alone she is going to be dangerous. Claw marks on the cage look like the Indominus escaped and Owen (along with two others) go in to check it out; and that’s when the “fun” begins. Because of the mixed DNA, the Indominus can mask heat, camouflage and is incredibly intelligent. Owen just barley escapes as the dinosaur becomes loose in the park, endangering many lives including Zack and Gray. Owen and Claire team up to find her nephews and must find a way to stop the Indominus. About as far as I should go without spoiling the rest of the movie.

To call Jurassic World a huge success would be a big understatement. Grossing 500 million the opening weekend, and one of the fastest films to reach a billion dollars, it was obvious how much people missed seeing good dinosaur movies. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are fantastic as the leads; Pratt is great at action and comedy while Howard’s character evolves from little miss perfect to running in high heels towards danger (p.s. that really impressed me I can barely even walk in heels.) The rest of the cast is spectacular; I personally enjoyed Johnson, Khan, Robinson, Simpkins, Wong and D’Onofrio performances. I thought the script was definitely better than the first two and lived up to but was not as great as the first one (obviously.) The special effects were much more improved, although you can still tell they are computer generated they still make the dinosaurs life like. The Indominus Rex was a very good monster, although the Mosasaurus was also impressive to look at. Of course it was good to see Rexy again at the end of the film. Overall I think Jurassic World did live up to the hype it had prior to the film premiere (and I may even call it a must see), and we can only wait and see if the sequel, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in theaters now, can grow the story more. I will try and see that as soon as possible. In the meantime if you haven’t seen Jurassic World I would rent or DVR it ASAP.

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based on a book, classic, film, must see

Movie Review: Jurassic Park

With the fifth film opening this Friday I thought it would be a great idea to finally review one of the most successful film franchises of all time. Based on the 1990 novel of the same time, this 1993 Steven Spielberg movie opened the door to a brand new world 65 million years in the making. For some reason if you haven’t seen the franchise here is a massive spoiler alert. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), his paleobotanist girlfriend Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and mathematician/chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are invited by industrialist John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), and a lawyer Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) to verify that Hammond’s new park is safe. When they get to the island called Isla Nublar Grant, Ellie and Malcolm are stunned (to say the least) that Hammond and his team, including Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong), Ray Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson) and Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck) have recreated dinosaurs using DNA from mosquito and frogs as well as keeping the dinosaurs all girls in order to prevent breading; Dr. Malcolm quickly disbelieves this famously stating “Life finds a way” as well as dismissing the thought of controlling the dinosaurs. Grant, Ellie, Malcolm, Gennaro and Hammond’s grandchildren Lex and Tim Murphy (Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello) go on a tour of the park, called Jurassic Park, and that is when things go wrong. A tropical storm hits the island at the same time Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight), who has been bribed by a competitor to steal embryos, cuts off the security system in order to get to where they are stashed. However because of his stupidity the power goes off as well and trucks with Grant, Malcolm, Gennaro and the kids get stuck right by the Tyrannosaurs Rex area (for those who haven’t seen the film this ends about as well as you think.) Everyone soon has to find a way to survive in Jurassic Park with not only the T-Rex but velociraptors after them until help can arrive. About as far as I should go without giving away the rest of the movie.

I actually avoided this film when I was younger because dinosaurs freaked me out (also seeing people getting eaten on screen makes me nauseous.) However when Jurassic World was coming out my curiosity was getting the better of me and I finally sat down to watch all three films. My reviews for those will come later, as for this this is clearly the best of the Jurassic films so far (not just my opinion but a fact.) This is widely regarded as one of the best films of all time; not just in dinosaur but in terms of Spielberg films as well. Everyone in the movie did a fantastic job acting wise, the script was fantastic and the special effects, given how computers were back in the 90’s, were amazing. The dinosaurs in here are either robotics and/or CGI are so well done you would think they were actual dinosaurs. Of course I cannot forget about the incredible music on the background, one of the most recognizable themes in film and why Jurassic Park won Oscars for its sound mixing, editing and visual effects. While I think the three sequels, as well as the upcoming fourth this Friday, are/may not as good as this one it was still a great way to start off one of the best film franchises of all time. If you haven’t watched the original Jurassic Park I highly recommend it, I’d even call it a must see. In the words of John Hammond: “Welcome to Jurassic Park.”

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Disney, film, must see, Pixar

Movie Review: Disney Pixar’s The Incredibles

In honor of the long, and I mean LONG, awaited sequel now out in theaters, let’s take a look back at one of Pixar’s best feature films of all time (that might just be my opinion, but if you agree awesome.) Released in 2004 this Academy Award winning animated feature took audiences on a ride with a family dealing with their problems, oh yeah and they are superheros. If you haven’t seen The Incredibles here is a massive spoiler alert. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

After years of damage caused by superheros, or supers, finally cause the public to turn against them, the government issues a relocation program for supers to fully accept their secret identities. Two married supers, Bob Parr aka the super strong Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Helen Parr aka the flexible Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), seem to have adjusted well to a normal life with their three children: the shy and invisible Violet (Sarah Vowell), the super fast Dash (Spencer Fox) and the normal baby Jack-Jack. Bob does love his family, but after 15 years he longs for his glory days being a super; often going out as a vigilante with his best friend Lucius Best aka the ice powered Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson). One day Bob receives a message from a beautiful woman named Mirage (Elizabeth Peña) offering the chance to become Mr. Incredible again and provide for his family. He jumps at the chance, but eventually realizes he is a part of a bigger and more sinister plot. The person behind it, a man at one time called Buddy Pine now the smart and vengeful Syndrome (Jason Lee) who wants to rid the world of supers, either by killing or by rendering the term useless. Helen, after a visit with family friend, super costume designer and sassy Edna Mode (director Brad Bird) realizes what has happened to her husband and joins him, along with Violet and Dash in stopping Syndrome.

This is one of my family’s favorite Pixar films, which if you’ve been following this blog probably doesn’t surprise you. The action, comedy, family dynamic, writing and voice acting for The Incredibles is exactly like the film title says. Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Spencer Fox and Sarah Vowell are amazing as the Parr family as their characters develop, grow and kick butt. Jason Lee is fantastic as the villain Syndrome; my opinion one of the best Pixar and Disney bad guys. My favorite characters to listen to are Samuel L. Jackson as Frozone (who doesn’t love the whole sequence with Frozone and his off-screen wife) and Brad Bird as Edna Mode (NO CAPES)! However if I have to say what my favorite thing about The Incredibles is, it might be how the film makers took traits in an every day family and turned them into the powers. A dad, usually the patriarch, has to be the strongest member, mom has to be flexible running the house and kids, teen girls usually feel invisible and pre-teen boys are full of energy and run around. They made everyone in The Incredibles relatable in some way to the audience which help the success of this wonderful animated film. Of course after a nearly 14 year wait Incredibles 2 has finally come to theaters, and I know my family will be in line to watch it as soon as we possible can. If once again you have not seen The Incredibles I would put it on the must see list immediately. It is truly an incredible film (sorry, not sorry.)

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based on true story, classic, film, must see

TV Movie Review: Brian’s Song

If you were to ask any critic what is the greatest television movie of all time is, there is a good chance they will say Brian’s Song. Premiering on ABC in their Movie of the Week specials in 1971, this true story film received widespread acclaim by critics and viewers alike, calling it not only a fantastic TV film, but one of the best sports movies of all time. I finally watched it about a year ago, and despite knowing what was going to happen I still shed tears. Spoilers ahead as always (and only because it is unavoidable.) I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

The new Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) arrives to team practice and quickly gets into a friendly rivalry with a fellow player and running back Brian Piccolo (James Caan). The two become roommates, which back then was unheard of, and eventually become friends. Sayers helps Piccolo with his game when he struggles and when Sayers goes down with an injury Piccolo helps him out with a weight machine. The two soon become more like brothers than friends as they play football and have families. However when Piccolo becomes a fullback and his performance on the field begins to falter, it is obvious that something is wrong. It is soon revealed by Coach George Halas (Jack Warden) that Brian has terminal cancer, specifically embryonal cell carcinoma. Sayers does what he can to make Brian feel better, but sadly Brian passes away at the age of 26. Sayers encourages their teammates and families to remember Brian not for how he died, but for how he lived.

Ok I know I gave away the ending, but don’t say I did not warn you in the beginning. Watching the friendship between Gale and Brian is still beautiful to watch. The two started off as rivals, it wasn’t forced that the two would become brothers by outside parties and even in the end Gale kept Brian alive in his heart. Billy Dee Williams and James Caan were perfect together, as was the rest of the cast, writing, cinematography and direction of the film. I can honestly say watching the scene were Gale first hears about Brian’s diagnosis as well as the speech is absolutely heartbreaking, I had seen that scene before I watched the movie and the look on Gale’s face gets me every time. The final moments of the film where we watch what may have been Gale’s final moments with Brian, as well as the narrator telling the audience what happened after Brian’s death, are some of the finest moments in an already amazing film. Brian’s Song won four out of the eight Emmys it was nominated for, including best supporting actor for Warden, single program, cinematography and the writing while Caan and Williams were nominated for their parts, as well as a nomination for best miniseries or television film at the Golden Globes. It was remade in 2001 with Sean Maher and Mekhi Phiffer as Brian and Sayers, but that is for another day (a very long wait on Netflix DVD so I’m hoping I can catch this stream wise soon). If you can find the original Brian;s song, whether it is DVD, streaming or on TV, I HIGHLY recommend watching it. Be prepared to have your heart broken, tears flowing and a ox or two of tissues gone by the end of the film.

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classic, film, must see

Movie Review: Casablanca

You ask any film critic what is the greatest film of all time and I guarantee most if not all of them will say this 1942 film. From its wonderful script, once in a lifetime performances, beautiful cinematography to its beautiful story Casablanca is everything the critics say and more. As always spoilers will be ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

During World War 2 many traveled to Casablanca in order to find transportation to the then neutral United States, however those who did not have papers saying so could be arrested or worse. A petty crook brags about killing two German officers in order to get letters of transport but gets it to bitter nightclub owner Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) before he is arrested and dies in protective custody under the command of Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains). Rick attempts to remain neutral despite his past in previous wars, but becomes involved after the reason for his bitterness is revealed. Years ago Rick fell in love with a woman believed to be a widow named Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Berman) and the two have a passionate relationship. However she left without explanation one day and he’s been a bitter person since. Until now that Ilsa has returned along with her not so dead husband Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) trying to escape to America from German Major Heinrich Strasser (Conrad Veidt). Despite being extremely bitter Rick agrees to help as he still loves Ilsa, and she still loves him. About as far as I should go without spoiling the rest of the film, but the ending is very famous.

What can I say about Casablanca that has not already been said by basically everyone that has watched the movie? It is one of the best movies of all time (if not the absolute best), Bogart and Berman are amazing as the leads. Rains and Henreid are fantastic supporting actors along with the rest of the cast. The writing, cinematography, location; all the little tiny details are spot on perfect, which should not surprise you when I say this won the Oscar for Best Picture, Director and Screenplay while nominated for Actor, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Film Editing and Music. In fact the film is listed on multiple American Film Institute top 100 lists: 100 movies at #2 and in the 10th Anniversary at #3, Thrills at #37, Passions at #1, Cheers at #32, Heroes for Rick at #4, Songs for “As Time Goes By” at #2 and finally SIX quotes more than any other film on the lists in Best Movie Quotes: #67 “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine”, #43 We’ll always have Paris”, #32 “Round up the usual suspects”, #28 “Play it Sam, Play “As Time Goes By””, #20 “Louie I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” and #5 “Here’s looking at you kid” (which Bogart improvised a lot). What are you still reading this for? Go watch Casablanca now!

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film, must see

Movie Review: Shrek 2

I’m sure we can all agree that nine time out of 10 sequels to popular and great movies are not usually great. Sometimes the original writers don’t come back, actors leave or something happens to make it bad. In the case of the 2004 sequel to the DreamWorks franchise that takes fairy-tales and changes it this was the exact opposite. I think those who watched the Shrek movies can all agree that this is the better sequel. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

After coming back from their honeymoon Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) get an invitation by Fiona’s parents to come and meet them at the kingdom of Far Far Away (designed to look like Hollywood) to celebrate their marriage; Donkey (Eddie Murphy) joins them on their journey. However Fiona’s parents, King Harold (John Cleese) and Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews) were not aware that Fiona and Shrek are ogres and do not take it well; Harold in particular is angry and he and Shrek get into a huge fight at dinner leaving Fiona in tears and Shrek believing his marriage is in trouble. There are two people who is angrier than Harold and they are The Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) and her son Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) as they made a deal with Harold for Charming to marry Fiona in exchange for his own happy ending. Harold sends Shrek and Donkey on a hunting trip where they come across the assassin he hired, the legendary Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas). Puss cannot kill Shrek and Shrek, believing a potion in Fairy Godmother’s workshop can help him regain Fiona’s love and the king’s blessing, lets Puss tag along with him and Donkey on his quest (much to Donkey’s dismay). However it may do more harm than good when the Fairy Godmother catches on to their plan. Other characters that return are Gingy, Pinocchio, the Big Bad Wolf, the pigs and mice, as well as the debut of characters viewers have come to love including Captain Hook and the ugly stepsister Doris (Larry King).

I believe that this is not only the best of the Shrek sequels, but in my opinion this is one of the best animated sequels of all time. from the writing to the animation to the voice casting; it was spot on amazing. All the characters we loved from the first film came back better than ever. Those who made their debut in this film quickly fit in with the quirky crew, perhaps none more so than Puss in Boots. Antonio Banderas was absolutely perfect as the lovable feline; I do not even want to think about who could have been Puss. John Cleese and Julie Andrews were fabulous as Harold and Lillian with Harold redeeming himself in the end in my eyes. While I firmly believe Lord Farquaad is the best villain in the Shrek franchise the Fairy Godmother came very close to topping him; Jennifer Saunders is fantastic as well. Charming really plays off the spoiled mama’s boy well (hats off to Rupert Everett), but as far as being a villain goes he is not exactly top notch but that is for the next film. Sadly the Shrek films kinda went down after this one, with the departure of Andrew Adamson as the director, but those are for another day. In the meantime if you liked Shrek and haven’t seen Shrek 2 then I would highly recommend it.

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must see, tv shows

TV Show Review: Once Upon a Time

Everyone probably grew up reading fairy tales such as Snow White, Peter Pan, Cinderella and so many others, but did you ever wonder what would happen if they came to the modern world. From 2011 until 2018 with a short lived spin off on ABC, Once Upon a Time took the stories we all know and love and twisted it, possibly showing that the hero and villain may not be who you think they are and the difficult journey. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

In season 1 we are introduced to the world of Storybrooke, a small forgotten town in Maine. Henry Mills (Jared S. Gilmore) finds Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) a bail bonds collector and Henry’s biological mother who gave him up after serving time in jail. Henry has a book titled Once Upon a Time where he believes the residents of Storybrooke are actually characters from the book. However, according to Henry they do not remember because they have been cursed by the town mayor, and Henry’s adoptive mother, Regina Mills (Lana Parrilla) whom he believes is The Evil Queen. Henry is convinced Emma is the only one who can break the curse because she is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, in the town he believes they are Mary Margret Blanchard (Ginnifer Goodwin) a meek school teacher and David Nolan (Josh Dallas) a married man who has been in a coma for a very long time until he finally wakes up when Mary Margret reads to him. Emma doesn’t really believe Henry, but after growing attached to him as well as a few other residents sticks around, much to Regina’s dismay as well as Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) who Henry believes is the evil Rumpelstiltskin. Of course Henry is right as we divulge into the past lives of the characters, finding out why Regina cast the curse to hurt the Charmings, how Snow and Charming met and even how Rumple found love with a woman named Belle (Emile de Ravin). Other characters we meet alternate versions of are as Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio, Red Riding Hood, Granny, the seven dwarfs, Mad Hatter and so many more.

In season 2, the curse is broken and magic has come back thanks to Rumple, but problems continue. Residents remember who they were in the past, and struggle to become whom they truly are, having be frozen in time for nearly 28 years. Meanwhile other characters are introduced including Killian Jones aka Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) a villain who has a score to settle with Rumple and develops a flirtatious relationship with Emma, Cora aka the Queen of Hearts (Barbara Hershey) Regina’s mother who is just as if not more evil and Neal Cassidy (Michael Raymond-James) Rumple’s long lost son, Emma’s former lover and Henry’s father (yeah try and work that family tree). Other people also come to Storybrooke trying to destroy magic, while at the end many of the main characters have to travel away in order to save Henry.

In season 3 the main characters travel to many magical places after villains emerge such as Peter Pan (Robbie Key) who has a history with Rumple among others as well as Zelena aka The Wicked Witch of the West (Rebecca Mader) trying to make Storybrooke their own, and in Zelena’s case as well as gain revenge against Regina, her long lost sister. At some point Emma and Henry leave Storybrooke after another curse is cast forcing residents to return to the Enchanted Forest with no memories of Storybrooke only to return after Killian, who has fallen for Emma and she as well, to reach out and get help for Zelena’s evil plans. Other characters make their debut including Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) and his merry men who falls in love with Regina and she does as well, Ariel, Tinker Bell and so many others.

In season 4 things get colder as Elsa, Anna and Kristoff are introduced as a women identified as The Snow Queen makes her plans known for Storybrooke and Emma. Later on Rumple, having been forced out of Storybrooke by his wife Belle, returns along with other villains: Maleficent, Cruella DeVil and Ursula trying to get their own happy endings searching for the Author, the only one who can make it possible. However the darkness in Rumple is too much to contain and one of the heroes may be forced to make a sacrifice.

In season 5 with one of the heroes forced to become dark the gang travels to Camelot in order to get the darkness out. It does work, but at a huge cost, forcing the gang to then travel to the Underworld (essentially hell) in order to save a friend. We reunite with some people we have met over the seasons as well as meet Hades (Greg Germann) who wants to keep our heroes in hell while he takes over Storybrooke. Many characters do get a happy ending, but some do not even make it that far as another realm opens up bringing in long forgotten charterers.

In season 6 characters who stories have long since been forgotten try and make names for themselves. We also get a glimpse at a world where Emma is not the savior. Meanwhile a prophecy about Emma made long before she was born may come to fruition when the most evil villain of all The Black Fairy arrives for The Final Battle which may result in the end of the light magic. There is also a musical episode I enjoyed very much.

In season 7 things have changed as a now adult Henry (Andrew J. West) along with Regina, Hook and Rumple are cursed in a town called Hyperion Heights with no memories and no powers. The only person who seems to be awake is Lucy, Henry’s daughter with another version of Cinderella. We also meet other version of characters we love such as Alice, Robin Hood, Tiana, Lady Tremaine, Dr. Facilier and more.

I know I may have given some stuff away, but this is actually a hard show to explain because there is not only so much information but there are so many with history, other versions of characters; basically take what you know about fairy tales and throw it out the window. It can be confusing, but oh man was the a good watch. Admittedly some episodes were better than others, but every single person I thought did an amazing job. It would be hard to single out just one character I liked, or loved to hate, more than others. If you have not watch this show catch up on Netflix. I promise it will not disappoint you.

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