The Action-Packed Finale of the Jurassic World Trilogy, “Jurassic World Dominion,” Is Mostly a Tedious Gimmick
(From left) Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), and Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) in JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION, co-written and directed by Colin Trevorrow.
A strong-willed teen enters her mountain home in a huff, avoiding eye-contact with her over-protective mother. When the tough and rugged family patriarch returns home from a full day of horseback riding and animal herding, he greets his wife with a smooch as she tells him that he needs to talk with his daughter about her recklessness. Later, the family gathers around a campfire for dinner, comfy and cozy in their boots and flannel shirts. It’s not the beginning of a made-for-TV movie about a horse ranch – it’s the beginning of the latest installment in the Jurassic Park franchise: Jurassic World Dominion. Luckily, the movie gets a little better along the way, and it hits its stride during the action sequences. The wholesome, home-on-the-range dialogue gives way to suspenseful fights and chases, and the lead characters step aside to make room for the original Jurassic Park trio: Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), and Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). Oh, and of course, Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) is involved, as per usual. But even with the return of these familiar faces, it’s clear that Dominion is a different beast than its predecessors. In a frantic attempt to please fans and bring closure to the Jurassic World trilogy, the creative team behind Dominion threw a bunch of self-referential jokes and half-hearted Spielberg nostalgia into the screenplay and hoped for the best.
(L-R): Tina Belcher (voiced by Dan Mintz), Linda Belcher (voiced by John Roberts), Louise Belcher (voiced by Kristen Schaal), Bob Belcher (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin), Gene Belcher (voiced by Eugene Mirman), and Calvin Fischoeder (voiced by Kevin Kline) in 20th Century Studios' THE BOB'S BURGERS MOVIE. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.
It’s been 11 years since America was introduced to the Belcher family – Linda, Tina, Gene, Louise, and Bob – the stars of the animated adult comedy series, “Bob’s Burgers.” The awkward but sincere family has given us plenty to laugh about, and they’ve certainly pushed through their fair share of questionable circumstances. “Bob’s Burgers” stands out because of its oddball characters and its particular flavor of absurd humor – and these are precisely the characteristics that define The Bob’s Burgers Movie. Yes, after 200+ episodes full of potty jokes, musical numbers, pubescent sexual angst (on Tina’s part), and “wholesome” family fun, the boisterous Belchers have finally made it to the big screen – and just in time for summer.
“Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers” Has Its Chipmunk Cheeks Stuffed With Nostalgic References to Classic Cartoons
In 1943, Disney introduced the world to a pair of chipmunks, Chip and Dale, in the cartoon short, “Private Pluto.” The delightful duo made appearances in a number of other shorts over the years, and in 1988 they finally landed their own show. But what happened to Chip and Dale after that show ended in 1990? After three decades out of the spotlight, the classic cartoon characters have returned in an all-new movie, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers. Even though the new film seeks to introduce the beloved characters to a new generation, it’s just as much for the parents in the audience as it is for the kids. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a hilarious feature-length running joke about the evolution of animation, and it’s got its chipmunk cheeks packed full of references to nostalgic cartoon characters.
We Need to Talk About Dialogue and Character Development: Todd Wolfe’s Gamer Comedy “We Need to Talk” Misses the Target
If you really want to mess with someone’s head, all you have to do is send them a text that says, “we need to talk,” and then wait a few hours before telling them what you want to talk about. It’s a maddening social cliffhanger that will drive anyone crazy with anxiety, and it’s also a great setup for a movie. Writer / director Todd Wolfe begins his gamer comedy flick, We Need to Talk, on a seemingly ordinary morning in the life of a gaming influencer named Scott (James Maslow), who goes by Great Scott online. The typical morning turns into a rather unusual day when Scott’s girlfriend, Aly (Christel Khalil), says that when she gets home from work, the two of them “need to talk.” Scott immediately starts obsessing over what Aly might want to talk about, and he even posts about it on social media for his thousands of subscribers to see. Of course, everyone has a different opinion about the situation, and Scott can only wait until the end of the day to find out what’s really going on. Meanwhile, he needs to finish a video review for a new game that’s about to drop, and his producer / editor Joe (Johnathan Fernandez) won’t get off his case about it. Much like Scott, the audience is left to wonder what Aly wants to talk about, and that curiosity keeps us watching through corny dialogue and insincere character development. We Need to Talk may not have a whole lot to offer, but at least it’s got a story question that will keep you watching until the end (or perhaps make you want to fast-forward just to see the end).
Human Factors is a French / German drama written and directed by Ronny Trocker. After its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021, it was described by critics as an “utterly intelligent thriller” and a “deviously constructed puzzle film [that] plays cat and mouse…with the viewer.” But these descriptions are deceptive. Human Factors doesn’t belong in the same category as psychological thrillers like Psycho (1960), The Sixth Sense (1999), A Beautiful Mind (2001), and Get Out (2017), all of which are fairly easy to follow even as they set the stage for groundbreaking plot twists. Unlike those films, Human Factors is not easy to follow. It’s less playfully deceptive than it is confusing, and it doesn’t play “cat and mouse” with us so much as it doubles back on itself to ensure that we’re paying attention. This is not to say that Human Factors is a bad movie. On the contrary, it’s well-written, wonderfully acted, and masterfully put together. But since it has been described as a psychological thriller, it’s important to let viewers know what they’re really in for. If you watch Human Factors expecting something like Shutter Island (2010) or Fight Club (1999), you’re going to be disappointed.
Making a movie about movie making is a fun way to experiment with self-referentiality and multiple layers of meaning. Plus, any movie about Hollywood and the film industry has magic built right in. There’s no shortage of movies about people who fall in love with the cinema and eventually rise to stardom (which is why La La Land wasn’t as entertaining or significant as it wanted to be), but such stories are still charming and nostalgic. There’s nothing more magical than a movie scene in which one of the characters goes to the cinema and gets lost in the magic of the screen, a familiar scene that’s been used to evoke a sense of wonder and nostalgia in films like Up, Australia, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, Cinema Paradiso, and others. The process of falling in love with cinema isn’t one that you can explain with words or even with a still photograph. It’s a process that’s best explained through the medium of film itself — which is why Shogo Sugitani’s manga series Pompo: The Cinephile just had to be made into a film. Director Takayuki Hirao rose to meet this challenge, creating an entertaining anime flick that’s wrapped in layers of self-referentiality.
April 22, 2022 marks the 52nd Earth Day, an event that began in America in 1970 and is now celebrated in over 190 countries. Disneynature is celebrating by releasing a new documentary that gives voice to a lovable and vulnerable animal: the polar bear. Directed by Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson, who collaborated on Disneynature’s Penguins (2019), Polar Bear takes us on a grand and enlightening journey with a young female polar bear as she learns how to hunt, play, survive, and eventually, take care of a cub of her own (of course, the filmmakers did not actually follow one particular bear from her cub years to adulthood, but the narration is written to make it seem that way). While the overall structure of Polar Bear isn’t that different from the average nature documentary, it has a heartwarming and personal tone that you might not expect from this kind of movie.
As Writer, Director, Editor, and Lead Actress in “Maybe Someday,” Michelle Ehlen Tells an Honest Story About Breaking Up and Moving On
Maybe someday I’ll take a vacation. Maybe someday I’ll reconnect with my best friend from high school. Everyone has their “maybe someday” — and for Jay (Michelle Ehlen), the subject of the feature film Maybe Someday, her wish for the future is to restore her relationship with her wife, Lily (Jeneen Robinson). But Jay knows that before she can make things work with her wife, she has to take some time to herself. So, she packs up a duffle bag and makes plans to move, at least temporarily, to Los Angeles, where she’ll focus on her photography career. On the way, she decides to visit her best friend from her teen years, Jess (Shaela Cook), and ends up staying with Jess for a while as she finds her emotional bearings. The majority of Maybe Someday takes place during this extended visit. As Jay confronts formative moments from her past and grapples with heartbreak, she also befriends a very unlikely sidekick, Tommy (Charlie Steers), a wannabe standup comedian who complicates the gay best friend stereotype. All the while, Jay holds out hope that her “maybe someday” wish will happen sooner rather than later.
Stories of Livestock Mutilation Bring Seth Breedlove and Shannon LeGro to Colorado for their latest documentary, “On the Trail of UFOs: Night Visitors”
Documentarians and paranormal researchers Seth Breedlove and Shannon LeGro continue their investigation of strange encounters and unidentified aerial phenomena in their latest film, On the Trail of UFOs: Night Visitors. In their previous documentary, On the Trail of UFOs: Dark Sky (2021), Breedlove and LeGro took their investigative efforts to West Virginia, where they explored the potential connection between UFO sightings and coal mines. In Night Visitors, they investigate similar UFO sightings and unusual experiences in Colorado — specifically, in the San Luis Valley. This time, Breedlove and LeGro are on the hunt for information about livestock mutilation, a frightening and unexplained phenomenon that some have linked to theories about alien life. Much like Dark Sky, Night Visitors is more of an appetizer than a full meal. The personal interviews that make up the documentary are interesting, but the movie lacks the strong hook and compelling narrative needed to hold our attention. Unlike Dark Sky, however, Night Visitors has a clear framework and a solid structure, making Breedlove and LeGro’s investigations and theories much easier to follow.
A House Divided: As Various Viewpoints Fight for Dominance in “House of Gucci,” Lady Gaga’s Immersive Performance Is Lost in the Shuffle
Originally published on Elements of Madness.
Money. Family. Power. Betrayal. Scandal. Murder. When the trailer for House of Gucci dropped in the summer of 2021, it promised all this and more. The ambitious film was set to bring one of the most infamous scandals in the history of fashion to life, complete with all the glitz, glam, and drama that only Hollywood can achieve. And if the subject matter alone wasn’t enough, the all-star cast garnered immediate attention from the masses. The ensemble would be led by none other than Lady Gaga, with supporting roles filled by Adam Driver, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto, Salma Hayek, and crime-drama veteran, Al Pacino. To top it all off, Ridley Scott would direct. The theatrical release came and went in November, and you can now watch the Gucci drama unfold from the comfort of your home on Blu-ray, DVD, or digital. But does House of Gucci live up to expectations? What’s behind all the decadent style that’s so evident in the trailer? Does every second of the two-hour, thirty-eight-minute movie captivate and dazzle audiences as much as the trailer did? It’s a tall order to fill. House of Gucci needed more than a luxurious production design to tell the story of Patrizia Reggiani, an ambitious woman who married into the Gucci family and later coordinated the murder of her ex-husband, Maurizio.
"Our embodied spectator, possibly perverse in her fantasies and diverse in her experience, possesses agency...finally, she must now be held accountable for it."