Movie Rewatch: Jurassic Park – The Lost World

While enjoying a lovely pint of hand crafted mead at the San Diego Bronto Brew Meadery, I got to view a free social rewatch of the entire Jurassic oeuvre. With Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom opening in the US this week, that’s five fun movies. Or, well, some fun movies and one that sucked (Hi, JP III).

While it’s got it’s detractors, [pullquote]The Lost World is a decent film, the second best in the series. It has a real plot that’s explored organically, with good characterizations, and some intensely riveting dino action. [/pullquote]  Its main problem is that it can never be as tightly gripping or simply magical as the original. And it still has the goofy kid sequences that plague the franchise. But let’s talk about what we liked.

How about that RV scene? You know the one. Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum, playing Jeff Goldblum), not quite as dead as supposed, talks about the running and the screaming to follow. He’s in that turbo-charged Tech RV ( I WANT ONE) that a T-Rex couple industriously push off the side of a cliff. The humans did, as humans do, something incredibly stupid with the baby T-Rex, and now the parents need to rid their territory of the pesky people, in the most dramatic way possible.

[pullquote position=”right”]The scene where Sarah lands on the RV window above the crashing coast is the singular iconic moment  in The Lost World.[/pullquote] Never mind that someone with her education makes every  mistake from the Megafauna 101 class…at that moment, we’re with her,  holding our collective breaths, as the glass cracks spider outward. Brrr. Good scene. Silly stuff aside (these guys can’t hold that wet, muddy rope in their bare hands, much less

climb it, but whatever), it’s a stirring sequence. When poor Toby from the West Wing dies horribly we wince, and then cheer when the previously antagonist hunters lends their literal hands to save our guys. It’s all the people against the dinosaurs from this point on. 

There are chases, there are deaths. The chicken-sized Compys strike back against an arrogant human, and our unfortunate paleontologist dies a nasty death, somewhere between a snake bite, a waterfall, and one big set of jaws.

Things go pretty good, story-wise, introducing the Raptor area (cool shots of humans being hunted in the tall grass)…and then things start getting wacky. The gymnastics scene is obviously nuts, but the worst offense of The Lost World are the scenes on the ship and in San Diego.

One:[pullquote] If the T-Rex is still contained in the cargo bay, how come the bridge crew was eaten? No matter how many times I watch this, I still don’t understand how we’re supposed to believe this happened.[/pullquote] There’s a hand gripping the steering wheel and no body…all while the large animal in question is contained. Below decks. Is there an invisible Raptor onboard?

There’s a scene showing how the T-Rex breaks out of containment after the ship crashes, and goes looking for drinking water (a pool) and food (poor doggy). I live in San Diego, and I don’t think they bothered to actually film down here. There’s some more unrealistic sequences of a hungry T-Rex “downtown” chasing trolleys, flinging cars, snacking on unfortunate people, and running after Tokyo businessmen (okay, the Godzilla nod was cute).

The climax scene, where the industrialist is used as a hunting lesson for the T-Rex Baby is…icky in its implications. I may not have liked the man, but no one deserves to be hobbled and eaten alive. It’s one of the things I don’t like about the Jurassic films: the deaths that people cheer at are just gristly. The assistant in Jurassic World 1 does NOTHING to deserve that horrific Ptherodont/Mosasaurus duo nightmare.  Did she have a villain scene left on the cutting room floor?

And Toby is split into two pieces in Lost World, while being a selfless hero. I guess I’m supposed to find it funny in Jurassic Park Classic when the “bloodsucking lawyer” gets chomped on the loo, but seriously, that’s some awful sh!t happening (no pun intended). I don’t know why that’s played for laughs.

I get it, people die when man meets beast. But I don’t feel good laughing about it. These films walk a thin line at times. But there I am again, talking about things I didn’t like. These movies are intended as a way to eat your popcorn and disengage the brain. These are movies where scientists are the heroes, and I very much appreciate that.

[pullquote]The things that are great: when the movies remember these creatures are animals, not monsters. [/pullquote]When we feel the magic of our youth stirred by seeing “real” dinosaurs, and interacting peaceably with them. When John William’s stirring score carries us along, and we are reminded there are wondrous things ahead of us. I hope we might be wise enough to see them come to pass. I hope we will be ready, because, as we know…life finds a way. 

———-

Note: I’m definitely impressed with how John Williams manages to recall the beauty of the first film in his soundtrack, while also setting The Lost World apart with the fanfare of an almost military theme. It doesn’t have the softly nostalgic notes of the first film, but it stirs the soul nevertheless. The man is a national treasure. Get the movie and soundtrack here: 

Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World 1 are playing for FREE at San Diego’s Dino-themed craft beverage Bronto Brew Meadery. Come for two more free nights of giant screen movies, under T-Rex skeletons and beside a giant nest of Brontosaurus eggs. FREE events! Friday and Saturday nights, June 22 and 23, on 9235 Trade Place, D, San Diego, CA 92126 (619) 796 – 3096

Movie Review – Black Panther – One Incredible Party

Opening night at Black Panther was an all-out celebration. All six showings at my cinema were sold out, and showings continued to sell out through the weekend. But the audience was ecstatic at my premier, completely into the event, dressed in traditional African attire, laughing, cheering, applauding, hooting, and having a killer time. It makes me want to give Black Panther the very highest grade. There’s nothing like a good party.

My A- is still a very good score. I honestly preferred the recent Thor – Ragnarok and Spiderman – Homecoming…those were better plotted stories, more tightly woven into the later Marvel Cinematic Universe, with sprightlier humor, and people I cared about.

[UPDATE: [pullquote]Black Panther did get  better with every viewing. It really is one of the best films of the MCU.[/pullquote] But after I saw Avengers – Infinity War, I now have to place IW a bit higher. Let’s just say Marvel really knows how to craft a film by now, period, and gets better every year.]

Black Panther (an origin story that suffers by introducing an entire NATION of new characters) moved along so quickly I was often lost, and didn’t get to know much about anyone. The title character himself, with so much else this movie had to accomplish, had surprisingly little to say or do. The actual titular superhero had more action in Captain America – Civil War.

However, [pullquote]Black Panther is a spectacularly gorgeous film. The cinematography, location shots, the CGI, the total aesthetic appeal — all was topnotch. [/pullquote]There was an epic feel to the proceedings, decent humor (mostly from the scene-stealing Princess Shuri), and standout female performances by the aforementioned Princess, the Queen, the Girlfriend, and the General. The women were clearly the best part of the narrative.

Wait, of course, through the entire credits: this is a Marvel movie, after all. The final movie stinger provides a long-awaited payoff.

Updated Note: With Avengers: Infinity War coming out this week, and Black Panther STILL in theaters, this is the first time we’ve had two MCU movies playing at once! I might make my movie day a double feature…

Movie Grade: A-

A Black Perspective on Marvel’s Black Panther

Black Panther’s Wakanda Fashion in the Real World

Read More Marvel Movie Features on RunPee.com

Full List (and comments) for the 2019 76th Annual Golden Globes Nominees & Winners

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Movie Review – Justice League (RunPee Jilly’s POV)

Now DC has its own cinematic universe. That’s fine: I won’t turn down good entertainment. I’m a geek through and through, and NEED my sci fi fix to sleep well at night. But DC has a history of being either 1. Disappointing, or 2. Really and Truly Grim. Contrast this to Marvel and the Avengers, which engages me, making me happy. Life is tough enough; my entertainment choices should make me laugh and smile and feel better about being alive. Mostly, Marvel does just this.

So, DC. Specifically, The Justice League. I’m old enough to remember the original Saturday morning cartoons about the Justice League, AKA Super Friends. I liked it then, Wonder Twins and all. Now, I’m cautious. Ambivalent. Waiting to see where things go.

Here’s what I’m thinking: we had the earnestly serious but ultimately depressing Nolan-version Batman films. Health Ledger made those watchable. Then we had some rebooted Superman flicks that were also dark, which for Supes is simply unforgivable. Superman is about lightness, apple pie, and good vibes, and making the world a better place. See Superman in the 1980s, when it was done right. Ya with me?

The new Superman made him unbearably moody. I understand a broody Batman, who is admittedly an alcoholic, a loner, and just a breath away from being a supervillain himself.

Then DC brought them together in Batman vs Superman – more grimdark stuff – and Suicide Squad, which was…okay? Guardians of the Galaxy it wasn’t,  though it tried. It shot high, landed low.

Finally, DC hit a home run in Wonder Woman. YES! It was exactly what we, the long-suffering fans, hoped for. Fun, a tiny bit joyous, ambitiously pretty, and sprinkled with humor. It felt like Fantastic Beasts in the Harry Potter franchise and the first Captain America movie: all three take place roughly in the same timeframe.

This loooong lead in brings us to Justice League. Did it do the job, bring it, give us what the DCEU needed? Hmmmm, somewhat. It was definitely an ensemble piece with fun beats, good 70s tunes, and an amiable premise. However, the producers seemed in too big a hurry to catch up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s not earned. The MCU has a lot of groundwork and years on DC. When The Avengers came together, it was simpatico.

To explain: We “get” Diana Prince/the Wonder Woman. She carried Justice League on her lithe Amazonian back. We know her; we like her. She brings the action and the humor. She leads the team. I have no WW complaints.

The Batman? Hmmmm. Gloomy and underserved. I don’t have much to say on his role in JL, besides, “What the frak he was thinking to bring Supes back?” Oh, is that a spoiler? (Not if you watched the trailers.)

It’s been said here before: the problem with Superman is that he’s too powerful. You can only hurt him with Kryptonite. There’s not much else to say or do with this guy.

He also makes The Flash unfortunately redundant. Why have someone who can run fast when Superman can best him in speed?

But, speaking of The Flash himself: awesome. Admittedly, he owned most of this film’s humor, and the actor was up to the task. He’s clearly the DCEU version of Spiderman, and I want more. Gimme, gimme. I’ll be very happy to watch the standalone Flash film when it comes.

But then, there’s Cyborg. He’s a cipher, an Iron Man without the personality. I think he could have been better written. Next…

That leaves Aquaman. Superbly cast and executed — he needs his own origin movie. That’s all, mike drop, end of story. I loved the energy, the raw power he brought to the screen. What was frustrating: his character’s lack of mythological depth. What is the deal with Atlantis? What’s his relationship with Norway? Do fish obey him or what? Stuff was missing. In the meantime, I LOVED what we got, which was funny and engaging, both. DC needs to move up his movie in their queue, and drop the terrible pathos of Batman and Superman, who are frankly played out.

It’s not like you HAVE to pander to the fans, but in this case, give the Bat a break. Move on. Give us something fun and pretty and new. We want good storytelling, not another angsty reboot.

So, the JL movie was fine. A solid B, IMO. The villain was a bust, but hey; I’m used to that and have learned to ignore it. Steppenwolf was a low-rent Sauron from Lord of the Rings, but I frankly don’t care. Marvel has had its share of Macguffin villains (see Guardians of the Galaxy, my favorite MCU movie). So, I can forgive the Justice League baddie as a sucky ripoff, as long as the ensemble story works. Which it mostly does. (Oh, and the “Mother Boxes” — give me a break. Infinity Stones much? Come up with your own plot. Even Voldemort was original.)

Altogether, was Justice League good? Well. It was fine. Middle of the road; basically non-offensive superhero fare. See it in the theater, but don’t pay extra for IMAX or 3D. Joss Whedon’s involvement helped the banter significantly (you can really tell his lines in this – they stand out – mostly with The Flash, and Aquaman).

To sum: the best DCEU movie yet, coming in just a hair ahead of Wonder Woman (mainly because I loves me a good ensemble film). But, really, if I had to choose, I’d see Thor: Ragnarok again. That movie just slayed me, and I’ve seen it four times now.

Movie Grade: B