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Daniel Ortiz Rants on: Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom

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“When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event.”

My God, what did I just witness? Let me start off by saying I haven’t been close to thrilled by any Jurassic Park movie since the first one. I even admitted right before the film started that I wouldn’t care much for this movie, but because of the basic nostalgia and sheer hope that they can redeem themselves in making an actual suspenseful film; I held onto faith in Spielberg. Oh my God, was it in vain.

1529636179206I barely saw the trailers so I didn’t see much past the volcano erupting and the dino’s running. The first thing I did was get on my knees and pray that there were no more children in this franchise. THEY BRING IT DOWN! My prayers went unheard. The second thing I prayed for was that there be less ‘close calls’ and dumb smart dinosaurs. I believe the Lord doesn’t love me. Just kidding, but it’s that serious of a disappointment.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was EXACTLY what I expected. A ton of running, ALMOST getting snatched up by dinosaurs, and a butt-load of plot-conveniences for the characters. There were so many decisions that made absolutely no sense and characters showing up at the right place at the right time. The jokes fell short, the action was mediocre, and all the characters were boring. Not even Chris Pratt’s charm could overcome the lack of empathy I had for this movie.

Oh, and guess what? Another new dinosaur was created to increase drama, with better senses and a smarter brain, but still managed to succumb to a primitive way to die. Also, the plot twist… clones are happening in more ways than one.

Look, I’m clearly upset. What made the first Jurassic Park great were three things 1) The ability to develop likable characters that the audience cared for 2) The constant discussion of playing God, messing with nature and the consequences of these actions and 3) The level of suspense built through environment and the unknown.

The jokes fell short, the action was mediocre, and all the characters were boring.

This film had one hard choice to make at the end, which consequentially would put an end to this franchise and send the dinosaurs back to extinction (which I was ready for because this story needs to be closed), but no; the decision was unanimously overturned by a damn kid!

The only redeeming quality was cool visuals… sometimes.

Overall Grade: D+

I don’t want to think about this film anymore. I know its going to make a zillion dollars this weekend and people are going to pretend to like it, but its a huge waste of time and definitely a cash grab. This franchise has turned into your run of the mill Fast and Furious and Transformers style of lazy story telling. And why should they feel compelled to put in more effort when they’re making money?

The only way I see these films getting any better is if they go to an R rating and stop keeping its biggest characters safe. There will be another film guaranteed, but I think this will be the last JP movie I put an effort into seeing.

 

Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
June 2018
Director: J.A. Bayona
Universal Pictures
2 hours 8 minutes

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Daniel Ortiz Rants on: The Nun

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A priest with a haunted past and a novice on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate the death of a young nun in Romania and confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun.

Before I get into this review, lets talk briefly about The Conjuring cinematic universe. Now, the first Conjuring, I didn’t find it scary, but I did find it very entertaining. The second Conjuring I found to be pretty creepy. Both of these movies were directed by James Wan who also directed Insidious 1 & 2. When it comes to horror, some of his stories have continuity problems, and plot conveniences, but the man really knows how to utilize creepiness and maintain real and unexpected jump scares. It gets you invested in the movie based on fear alone. He’s so good at it, he was able to spawn spinoff films, first with the Annabelle series and now with The Nun.

The problem is that he doesn’t lend his directorial skills to these extended films, and well…they end up falling flat. I will give credit to Annabelle 2: Uprising (as I like to call it). It was better than the first one, but it was definitely no masterpiece.

Now with that brief history of the CCU (as I like to call it) out of the way, lets keep the critique of The Nun short and sweet. It was doo doo.

At the very least I assumed that the film would touch on some things that would play against my faith, but this felt like a story that even Catholics would say, “Dude, you guys have some great imaginations!” It felt entirely too tame, extremely predictable and the story was way too outlandish.

The characters were boring, bland and unforgettable. The demon nun was even boring and lacked a coherent or credible background story. It made me realize that you can take the same character, and one Director make magic it while the other makes smoke and mirrors.

Lets keep the critique of The Nun short and sweet. It was doo doo.

The jump-scares were literally stand-scares. I predicted every single moment that was supposed to be a, “catch you off guard” scare scene, and found myself highly annoyed by the trope of following an ambiguous figure pacing vigorously away from the main protagonists while the protagonist chased them down some dark corridor or smoky forest.

As usual, they try to tie this back to the original Conjuring movie, but it was weak, and you barely remember the original scene in the first place.

Overall Grade: D

It wasn’t good. That’s the end all of it. I would suggest staying home and re-watching The Conjuring 1 & 2. You will get much more out of watching these films. I would also suggest leaving these cinematic universes to Marvel and D.C……just Marvel.


The Nun
Horror, Mystery, Thriller
September 2018
Director: Corin Hardy
New Line Cinema
1 hour 36 minutes
IMDB reference click here

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Review: Blackkklansman

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“Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan with the help of a white surrogate, who eventually becomes head of the local branch.”

1534992123915Spike Lee’s work has always taken a unique look at the black perspective in America. His earlier works were filled with social commentary that tended to put a magnifying glass on the racial turmoil and bleakness of the black experience. He found a way to make humor out of every day circumstances, then blend it seamlessly with an overall message of human nature within race relations whether good or very bad.

Unfortunately, his later works have suffered a lack of that perfect blend.  They often shift tones so rapidly, his audience can’t comprehend what type of emotion to investment in. I feel that this film suffers from that extreme tone shift.

Not only does the story lack a certain cohesion, there wasn’t any true sense of danger the audience could feel the protagonists were in. The interpretation of the Klansmen was so inept, they failed to do simple things like search a new recruit for a wire or do a thorough background check. Now, I never want to give any credit to the KKK, but one would think a criminal organization such as this one would take the necessary measures to make sure their prospects were legit.

The acting was somewhat decent, but often the levels of racism seemed cartoonish and more ignorant than threatening. Even the character of Ron Stallworth came off as a 90’s black comedian impersonating a white man (even when he wasn’t on the phone). I don’t blame this on the actors but more on the direction.

The racism seemed cartoonish and more ignorant than threatening.

Spike Lee also added commentary in the middle and after the movie that was loosely related to the overall story and once again switch emotional tones between funny moments and brutal stories of racial tensions in America. The soundtrack also seemed to be off. Serious moments weren’t reflected in what we heard and this is integral to creating urgency within the viewer.

Overall Grade: C

Even with my harsh rant, I don’t think its a bad watch. I actually encourage folks to go see this movie for the historical relevance. I just think that the constant shift in tone, sound and emotions muddy down what would otherwise be considered a pretty bad-ass story.

Blackkklansman
Biography, Comedy, Crime
August 2018
Director: Spike Lee
Legendary Entertainment/Blumhouse
2 hour 15 minutes
IMDB reference click here

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‘Sorry to Bother You’ Just Might

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It’s impossible to review Boots Riley’s directorial debut Sorry to Bother You without giving too much away. Before I spoil the surprises, let me say there is much to like about this surrealist dark comedy even as the film tries to toss you from the roller-coaster at regular intervals.

Cassius Green, the young African-American telemarketer played by Lakeith Stanfield, learns that faking a white voice on the phone is the only way to make money when cold calling. David Cross supplies the overdubbed white voice.

The thought of unionizing with his underpaid co-workers is thrown out the window when Cassius is promoted to Power Caller. Power Callers sell a whole different product – a work/life opportunity called WorryFree that is ostensibly slave labor. This doesn’t sit well with his unionizing friends, nor his artist/activist girlfriend Detroit, played by the impure-thought-inducing Tessa Thompson. Cassius has a choice to make that becomes clearer as the plot dives into absolute absurdity.

Nothing may prepare you for the half-horse half-human workhorses that show up in the third act.

Nothing may prepare you for the half-horse half-human workhorses that show up in the third act. Their B-movie bodies (replete with certain horse-like appendages) steal any bit of nuance from the story.

Armie Hammer plays Steve Lift, CEO of WorryFree, with a keen interest in leveraging Cassius as a “Martin Luther King type” workhorse he can control from the inside. Yes, there’s something to offend anyone that doesn’t know how to digest satire – from Detroit’s Murder Murder Murder earrings, to one dimensional white villains, an orgy scene, a two worded rap, and more horse peen than you can shake a stick at.

Yet it somehow works, at least for me. Reminds me of a time in the late eighties to mid-nineties when movies could be looser, made on the cheap, and weren’t expected to gross a hundred million dollars to be successful. Sorry to Bother You cost a little over three million and has made about fifteen as of this writing.

I’m not saying Boots Riley’s debut is comparable to, say, Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It, but it does set the stage for his Do The Right Thing.

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