Film Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Director J.A. Bayona’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom offers something a little different in terms of setting. It is a shame that the rest of the film feels all too familiar. 

Three years after the disaster at the park, a volcano becomes active on Isla Nublar. As politicians debate about the fate of dinosaurs, a philanthropist enlists the help of Claire and Owen to save the creatures…

If the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World films are to be considered a horror franchise, then Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the scariest of the lot, on paper at least. A dystopian plot and a penitentiary-style setting should mean fear reigns in this latest instalment. But despite the darkness, the film lacks the moments of terror executed so finely by Steven Spielberg in the first film, and the even the frisson of excitement offered by its predecessor. 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom features big set pieces on the island. The addition of the active volcano gives a new dimension of urgency to proceedings. The sequences here generate a good sense of excitement, even if they occur early enough to negate real danger for the main characters. 

Writers Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly shift the setting to a more inclosed space, far less removed than the island. This is a good move in terms of moving the narrative along from a simple ‘escape the island’ dynamic. Instead of the isolation of the island, Bayona imbues the film with a sense of claustrophobia in this second setting. Yet the writing lets the film down. The climax is too reminiscent of earlier ones in the franchise, and this means the tension is not present. The dialogue is poor at times, and there is not enough in the way of ingenuity to forgive this. 

New characters are given little in the way of development with the writers relying on staid archetypes. This means it is hard for viewers to care when they are in danger. Bayona shows some visual flair, which is most welcome. Cinematography by Óscar Faura is a highlight, even if the shadow compositions are overused by the end of the film. Like the very first film, there are moments of horror, yet because so much in these scenes has been utilised previously, it does not seem so scary this time around. 

Performances in the film are perfectly adequate. Jeff Goldblum is always a welcome presence, even if his role is very minor. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard reprise roles well, others such as Toby Jones are not allowed to move beyond their caricatures. 

The way that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ends could very well indicate the end of the franchise. At this point, there seems little place where the series can go. 

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Previews: Game Night Trailer, The Post, More!

Lots of cinematic wonder in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Game Night trailer, The Post, Sherlock Gnomes, and more…

Game Night Trailer

Here is the new Game Night trailer. The film is about a group of friends who get together for a game night which becomes a murder mystery party. The film stars Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, and Kyle Chandler. Game Night is scheduled for release in cinemas on 4th May 2018.

The Post Trailer

The trailer for The Post exudes quality. The film features a stellar cast and crew, and focuses on team behind the The Washington Post taking a stand for free speech during the Nixon administration. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film is written by Josh Singer and stars Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, and Sarah Paulson. The Post is released in UK cinemas on 19th January 2018.

The Greatest Showman Poster

Here is one of the new posters for the upcoming The Greatest Showman. The musical is all about the spectacle, focusing on the ambition of P.T. Barnum. Hugh Jackman heads the cast, and is joined by Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, and Zendaya. Featuring music from the Oscar-winning Pasek and Paul (La La Land), The Greatest Showman hits UK screens on 1st January 2018.

Sherlock Gnomes Trailer

Sherlock Gnomes is a follow-up to 2011’s Gnomeo and Juliet. The film sees the couple arrive in London and enlist the help of the famous detective to find out who is kidnapping garden gnomes. The adventure comedy features the voices of Emily Blunt, James McAvoy, Johnny Depp, Maggie Smith, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Sherlock Gnomes is set for release next year.

The Commuter Image

Here is a new look at the upcoming action thriller The Commuter. The film stars Liam Neeson as an insurance salesman who is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger before the train reaches its final stop. Neeson is joined by Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Sam Neill. The Commuter arrives in UK cinemas on 19th January 2018.

Film Review: The BFG

THE B.F.G.

Steven Spielberg’s The BFG is a delightful family adventure. Spielberg maintains the tone of Roald Dahl’s original, which is sure to please fans of the book.

Sophie lives in an orphanage. She stays awake through the witching hour, little expecting any trouble. When a giant pays her a visit, Sophie expects the worst. However, this is no ordinary giant…

The BFG is one of Roald Dahl’s best-known stories. The translation to screen would have been rather a big feat in the past, considering the fantastic set-up. However, with advances in motion capture and CGI, The BFG immerses viewers in its magical world. The film is a visual feast, offering spectacle in spades.

The BFG mixes whimsy with a more emotional context. Sophie is a character viewers will quickly warm to. The title character amuses in his absurdity. Yet there is a sadness to this lone giant. Spielberg eschews his brand of sentimentality for the most part with The BFG. Nevertheless, the sense of loneliness is effectively conveyed as the film progresses. This is something that the protagonists bond over, and a driving force in the movie.

Spielberg tempers this solemn tone with a whimsical edge straight from the original book. The presence of Road Dahl is clear here; filmmakers have not pulled away from their source material. The nods to Dahl’s books, and Quentin Blake’s illustrations are a delight. The only place The BFG falters is in its momentum levels. Although the film never bores, there are not the expected peaks of an adventure film. The one thing that is missing is genuine excitement. There is plenty of wonder, but not enough acceleration.

Mark Rylance delivers a wonderful performance as the title character. Ruby Barnhill is very watchable as Sophie. Penelope Wilton offers an amusing turn, whilst comedy fans may be able to spot a few famous voices amongst the giants.

The BFG should be viewed in 3D for the full spectacle experience. Although more excitement would have been welcome, the film entertains throughout.

Previews: Rogue One Trailer, David Brent and more!

Plenty in this round-up of trailers and posters from this week, including the Rogue One trailer, David Brent: Life on the Road, Ben-Hur and more…

Rogue One Trailer

Here is the Rogue One trailer. The film is the first in a series of stand-alone Star Wars movies. Taking place before the events of Episode IV, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story certainly has the look of the original franchise. Starring Felicity Jones, Forest Whitaker and Riz Ahmed, Rogue One hits UK screens on 16th December 2016.

David Brent: Life on the Road Trailer

The trailer for David Brent: Life on the Road is just as cringe-inducing as you would imagine. Ricky Gervais resurrects his famed character from The Office for this film about Brent’s time on the road as a salesman and amateur rockstar. David Brent: Life on the Road is out in UK cinemas on 19th August 2016.

Ben-Hur Poster

Ben-Hur

Here is the latest poster for Ben-Hur. The film is a remake of the 1959 epic. Starring Jack Huston and Morgan Freeman, the film is about a falsely accused Jewish nobleman who survives years of slavery. Ben-Hur gallops on to the big screen on 26th August 2016.

The B.F.G. Trailer

Here is the trailer for Steven Spielberg’s The B.F.G. The film is based on the Roald Dahl’s classic and features Mark Rylance as the title character and Ruby Barnhill as Sophie. The B.F.G. hits UK screens on 22nd July 2016.

Captain America: Civil War Featurette

Here is a featurette on the upcoming Captain America: Civil War. The video focuses on the film’s main female characters, with Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen and Emily Van Camp discussing their roles in the film. Captain America: Civil War launches onto UK screens on 29th April 2016.

Previews: The Legend of Tarzan trailer, TMNT2 and more!

An abundance of film trailers this week, including The Legend of Tarzan trailer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and more…

The Legend of Tarzan Trailer

The Legend of Tarzan trailer is here. Boasting a cast that includes Alexander Skarsgård, Margot Robie, Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz, the film focuses on Tarzan later in life when he asked to be a trade emissary and travel to the Congo. The Legend of Tarzan bombards its way to cinema screens on 18th July 2016.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Trailer

For where is Krang? That’s what everyone wants to know. The trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is here, and features more of the characters from the much-loved cartoon series of the 1980s-1990s. The follow-up to 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is released on 3rd June 2016.

Jane Got A Gun Trailer

Here is the trailer for Western Jane Got a Gun. The film stars Natalie Portman as a mother living on a ranch in New Mexico when her family is threatened by a gang of outlaws. Also starring Joel Edgerton and Ewan McGregor, Jane Got A Gun is set for release in Spring 2016.

The BFG Trailer

The BFG was never my favourite Roald Dahl book (after all, it didn’t revolve round a chocolate factory), but this new film adaptation looks to be a spectacle. Steven Spielberg directs the live-action film, with a cast that includes Mark Rylance, Rebecca Hall and Bill Hader. The BFG stomps its way onto screens on 22nd July 2016.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Trailer

The full-length trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice reveals quite a bit about the upcoming superhero movie. We get to see Clark Kent meeting Bruce Wayne, even if it may take some time getting used to seeing Ben Affleck in this role. There is also more of Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor and an appearance from another of the Justice League. Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is released in cinemas in March 2016.

The Nice Guys Trailer

The Nice Guys sees the unlikely pairing of muscle for hire Russell Crowe and private eye Ryan Gosling team up to track down a missing girl. The film’s 1970s setting is instantly recognisable, from the costumes to the soundtrack. Also starring Kim Basinger and Matt Bomer, The Nice Guys will hit the big screen on 3rd June 2016.

Film Review: Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies

Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies is a well made and entertaining political drama. The film bears certain hallmarks of director Spielberg, most apparent in the tone of the picture.

During the Cold War, James Donovan, an American insurance lawyer, is recruited to defend an alleged Soviet spy. Reluctant to take the case at first, Donovan must pursue justice, despite the odds being stacked against his client…

As Bridge of Spies begins, it appears that the focus will be on the lawyer James Donovan fighting the case for a prisoner accused of espionage. Yet this initial premise is wrapped up fairly early on in the film, leaving a more interesting, and more tense, story to be told. The initial set up works well to build the protagonist and introduce the audience to the environment of the late 1950s setting. It is the narrative that builds on this, however, which will engage viewers.

Director Spielberg and writers Mark Charman and Ethan and Joel Coen humanise Cold War espionage with Bridge of Spies. Dealing with the actions and fates of a handful of characters, rather than concentrating on the wider picture, allows Spielberg to illustrate the characters behind the politics. The film features a level of schmaltz that those familiar with the director’s multiple films with quickly recognise. Nevertheless, Bridge of Spies is well scripted and well crafted, creating an engaging picture.

James Donovan is an interesting protagonist inasmuch as his flair for his job is depicted. Adept at arguing his case, the emphasis is on the character successfully doing his job; the family simply make the protagonist more well-rounded. Drama is infused with flecks of comedy, particularly a sequence that takes place in East Germany. The conclusion of Bridge of Spies has the necessary tension. This sequence has been building for some time, and does not disappoint. Tom Hanks’ charisma seems most fitting for the role of Donovan. Mark Rylance offers a strong performance as Rudolf Abel.

Bridge of Spies is Cold War drama on a small and personal scale. As such, the film offers a different angle on the political period.

Previews: Finding Dory Trailer, Triple 9 and More!

Much to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the first Finding Dory trailer, Triple 9, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 and more…

Finding Dory Trailer

Here is the first Finding Dory Trailer. Finding Nemo is a modern Disney classic, so its sequel has to impress. From the looks of the Finding Dory trailer, the film has the same feel as its predecessor. Finding Dory is set to hit the big screen in Summer 2016.

Triple 9 UK Trailer

Triple 9 has a most enviable cast. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet and Anthony Mackie are among those who star in the crime thriller. When a group of corrupt cops are blackmailed by the Russian mafia, they must go to desperate measures to pull off a heist. Triple 9 will be released in the UK on 19th February 2016.

Zoolander 2 Poster

Zoolander 2 poster

Derek Zoolander and Hansel are doing what they do best in this poster for sequel Zoolander 2. Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell are joined by Kirsten Wiig this time round, with a screenplay written by Justin Theroux. Zoolander 2 is out on 12th February 2016.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Trailer

This seems to have sprung from nowhere. Here is the unexpected trailer for belated sequel My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. The sequel reunites the cast of the original, as the Portokalos family come together for another wedding. Also written by and starring Nia Vardalos, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 hits UK cinemas on 25th March 2016.

Bridge of Spies Clip

In this Bridge of Spies clip, Tom Hanks’s character James Donavan discusses his controversial forthcoming case with his family. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film also stars Mark Rylance and Alan Alda. Bridge of Spies is out in UK cinemas on 26th November 2015.

Victor Frankenstein Clip

In this clip from Victor Frankenstein, the famed scientist exhibits much enthusiasm for his work. James McAvoy stars as the title character, with Daniel Radcliffe as protégé Igor. The film, written by Max Landis, is a twist on the Mary Shelley classic. Victor Frankenstein hits UK screens on 3rd December 2015.