Jurassic Park re-open for big business!
More than 20 years after Steven Spielberg first opened its doors, to thunderous box-office effect, the Jurassic Park franchise comes roaring back to life with Jurassic World, the third and the best of the sequels to date.
There’s the old adage that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. This is precisely the adage the audience is waiting for to take effect, and when it does Jurassic World delivers more dinosaurs, bigger dinosaurs and faster dinosaurs. What specific species or cross-species would they be? It hardly matters. They’relarge and they’re mean and they’re hungry.
Once again, we’re whisked away to the island of Isla Noblar, where tourists can experience prehistoric life and see living, breathing dinosaurs. The previous “mishaps” (ahem) at Jurassic Park have long been forgotten, and everything is totally, completely safe.
Sure it is … It’s only a matter of time before things go haywire and the dinosaurs go on the rampage, terrorizing the tourists and wreaking havoc with every thunderous step.
The dinosaur scenes are spectacular, as well they’d better be. The original Jurassic Park set the bar for CGI effects, and anything less than perfection would be devastating. To succeed, Jurassic World must play to audience expectations – and it does. In some instances, it even exceeds them. Yet it never disappoints them.
The human characters are basically cardboard, although peopled by an appealing cast. Chris Pratt is the he-man hero, Bryce Dallas Howard the starched executive, and B.D. Wong (encoring from the original film) the scientist who has succeeded in breeding the dinosaurs – and sometimes adding a few new components along the way. Youngsters Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson plays Howard’s visiting nephews, concerned with their parents’ impending divorce. (Rest assured, they’ll soon have more pressing concerns.)
Irrfan Khan plays the new owner of the park, determined to prevent panic from spreading, and Vincent D’Onofrio (very funny) a blowhard who wants to use Velociraptors in military situations – his logic being that drones can be hacked but dinosaurs can’t. Needless to say, neither character’s attitude bodes well for survival.
Colin Trevorrow is credited as director and a screenwriter (one of four), but the stamp of executive producer Steven Spielberg is everywhere to be found. One is perhaps reminded of the original Poltergeist (1982), on which Tobe Hooper was credited as director but rumors abound to this day that Spielberg might well have been the real engineer.
There are a few odd moments in the film. Would the new park have been built over the ruins of the original Jurassic Park, where equipment is still intact after all these years? (A few crossed wires, and an old jeep starts right up.)
In this case, one is unmistakably reminded of the old horror sequels made by Universal (which made the Jurassic films), in which the action would commence when someone wandered into the ruins of an old castle and discovered Frankenstein’s monster on ice, or a swamp was drained to reveal Kharis the mummy. After all, those who forget the past …
Madame Bovary by another name
Anne Fontaine’s Gemma Bovery is the screen adaptation of Posy Simmonds’ graphic novel, inspired (as one might guess) by Flaubert’s classic Madame Bovary. Although set in a contemporary period, the references come fast and furious – so much so that those unfamiliar with the original tale might not be privy to the joke.
Fabrice Luchini plays Martin Joubert, a Normandy baker whose fascination with the Flaubert tale escalates exponentially when he meets his new neighbors, Charlie and Gemma Bovery. Charlie is played by Jason Flemyng and Gemma by another Gemma, the alluring Gemma Arterton.
Martin is as much besotted with Gemma as with comparisons to the story Madame Bovary, the parallels to which become un mistakable when the bored, restless Gemma trysts with Herve (Neils Schneider), a young law student.
Gemma Bovery certainly looks good, thanks to Christophe Beaucarne’s lush, sun-dappled cinematography and Arterton’s beauty, but the film veers sometimes clumsily between comedy and drama. It’s interesting to see how the original story has been given a modern-day spin, and the performances are fine. Yet in its revelry riffing Madame Bovary, Gemma Bovery seems a bit selfsatisfied and smug.
If further evidence is required regarding Madame Bovary’s enduring legacy, a straight version of the story – with Mia Wasikowska in the title role — recently opened in major cities. (In English and French with English subtitles)
The wistful romance of Results
Results is a comedy about a romantic triangle, and as such the components might initially appear familiar, or even overly familiar. But in the hands of writer/ director Andrew Bujalski and with the invaluable assist of a sparkling cast, the end result makes for a pleasing, often perceptive, surprise.
Set in Austin, Tex., the film stars Guy Pearce as Trevor, proprietor and proponent of the trendy exercise center “Power 4 Life,” and Cobie Smulders as his top instructor and sometimes lover Kat, who practice and preach proper health and exercise regimens … which allows them to compartmentalize their emotional needs.
Kevin Corrigan plays Danny, a new client who is emotionally bereft after a recent divorce but financially flush after an even more recent inheritance. Almost inadvertently but soon directly, he becomes involved in the lives of Trevor and Kat and the future of Fit 4 Life. Danny may be more visibly insecure – and more obviously out of shape — than Trevor and Kat, but they comprise a romantic triangle fraught with neurotic tensions.
What’s particularly appealing about Bujalski’s approach is that he makes these characters, all self-absorbed in their own way, appealing and sympathetic. Smulders, best known as SHIELD agent Maria Hill in the Marvel movies, tears into her role and never lets go. Likewise, Pearce has an opportunity to display his comedic abilities, and Corrigan, who has played quirky characters before (sometimes in more villainous terms), makes Danny a lost but lovable soul.
Giovanni Ribisi, Anthony Michael Hall, Brooklyn Decker, Elizabeth Berridge and Lindsay Kent (scoring in the tiny role of a waitress) round out a cast that operates in seamless fashion. The end result in Results is a winning little number, well worth a look.
– Results opens Friday at a/perture cinema, Winston-Salem !
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