Movie Review – Skyscraper

Not even duct tape could hold together this mess of a movie.

I’m willing to overlook a lot of unrealistic stuff in order to enjoy a good Dwayne Johnson movie, but this one just doesn’t offer enough of a payoff to warrant the price of a movie ticket. Or even just two hours of your life.

What I do like: The Rock climbs out on a ledge in this movie as a man missing a leg. He’s still big and strong, but at a big disadvantage, yet he perseveres. But honestly, I feel like a movie that showcases the struggle of a handicapped character deserves a better story.

That’s it. There’s nothing else to like. Oh, except the duct tape jokes.

The story fails in so many ways. There was no chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Neve Campbell. There were plenty of scenes where we’re supposed to get how much they love each other, but they fall flat. Watching these two together was the first thing that tore me out of the movie experience. Dwayne Johnson has a few nice acting scenes, but that was the extent of it. Not to dig on DJ, because he’s *The Rock* for a reason, but when his acting performance stands out as the best in any movie, you might have problems. He needs a decent cast to support him — just as every actor does — but he didn’t get it in this movie.

Beyond that the story creators made many questionable decisions, like: how did Will (Dwayne Johnson) get back across the harbor to the Pearl? We saw him go across the harbor to the control center, then he has to get back — we never see it. It’s a minor thing until you notice it. But once you notice it, the movie magic is gone. And that just kept happening.

And an unforgivable sin the creators made: so blatantly giving away the setting for the end of the movie. It’s great when a story is able to introduce something early as unimportant, that later becomes vital. The director might as well have painted “climax happens here” on the door to the sphere.

Okay, I have to stop. This movie really isn’t even worth my time to nit-pick. I’ll leave it at that. Dwayne Johnson stars in a new featured movie about every other month. They can’t all be great.

Grade: C-

About the Peetimes:
All three Peetimes are pretty good and evenly spaced out through the movie. Use whichever works best for your bladder.

Is there anything extra during the end credits of Ant-Man and the Wasp?

Ant-Man and the Wasp Yes, there are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Anything Extra Details

There are 2 scenes after the credits.

The 1st comes about 2 minutes after the credits start, and lasts for 2 minutes. (It is essential to the story. You must stay for this one.)

After the credits end, there’s a super short extra that you may not need to wait for, however it DOES continue the theme at the end of the Infinity War. So SPOILER ALERT JUST IN CASE:

We see a giant ant playing drums as we pan around Scott’s otherwise, silent, empty house for a few seconds. The TV is on the emergency alert channel (and I think we hear alert danger sirens in the background). Fade. Then the title card reads, “Ant Man and the Wasp will return” — and after a beat, it adds a question mark.

The credits run for approximately 10 minutes.

Read the RunPee movie review for Ant-Man and the Wasp by Dan Gardner. Movie review grade: C+

Rated (PG-13) for some sci-fi action violence
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Superhero, MCU
USA release date: 2018-07-06
Movie length: 1 hour 58 minutes

We have 3 Peetimes for Ant-Man and the Wasp. Learn more.

About The Peetimes
Finding good Peetimes was pretty easy for this movie. There were long establishing shots that were very easy to summarize.

The 1st and 3rd Peetimes are the best. I only made the 2nd Peetime an emergency Peetime because the story jumps between 4 distinct scenes, making the synopsis longer than I’d like.

Movie Review – Ant-Man and the Wasp

When leaving the theater my overall feeling was that I liked the movie — I gave it an 8.8/10 in the RunPee User Poll — but the more I think about it, the less I like it.

What I liked
The movie had plenty of funny moments and the action was decent. Actually, the action had most of the humor. And the father-daughter relationship scenes are heartwarming. The relationship dynamics between Scott, Hope, and Dr. Pym works really well. There’s conflict and regret, along with trust and support. The creators did a great job in that department and should have expanded on it.

The quantum realm stuff was pretty cool. I love that they included a scene with tardigrades. (Tiny animals in the cellular world.)

It was also a nice touch how the quantum probe they built got smaller in quantum jumps. Meaning, it didn’t get gradually smaller, it got smaller in discrete steps:  quantum.

(There’s a common misconception that quantum equals small. That’s not necessarily true. If you could travel in quantum jumps it would mean you would go from one place to another without traversing the space in between. That quantum jump could be a micrometer or kilometer.)

What I don’t like
I think the problem is, overall the MCU movies have done a great job building a believable unbelievable universe. What I mean is, we accept the existence of Infinity Stones, and that all of them united in a gauntlet can give the wearer unfathomable power at the snap of their fingers. Most of the technology is fantastical, but we buy it because it works in the story. However, in Ant-Man and the Wasp there are a lot of inconsistencies I find annoying the more I think about them.

For instance: when Scott is gigantic we find out he has trouble breathing. He says at one point, “The air feels chunky,” and then passes out. That’s a great limitation on the technology. I can totally accept that when he’s big he has difficulty absorbing normal sized oxygen atoms when he breathes. It’s a nice nod to the realism of the physics/biology involved. But then they totally ignore that principle when the ants are enlarged. It’s like the creators want us to think that Scott has a limit, but it doesn’t apply to the ants. I’m totally okay with breaking the laws of physics/biology to create a story. But once a limit is introduced, the story should stay consistent to it. That’s just a pet peeve of mine.

By the way, if you’re interested in the physics/biology of animal sizes I highly recommend these videos by Kurzgesagt. (If you’re unfamiliar with Kurzgesagt, then you may thank me later for introducing you to them.)

What Happens If We Throw an Elephant From a Skyscraper? Life & Size 1

How to Make an Elephant Explode with Science – The Size of Life 2

And that’s not even the worst part. My biggest gripe of the movie is the Ghost sub-plot that just fell way short of Marvel’s standards. I hate to say it, but the acting by Hannah John-Kamen in some of the scenes was the worst acting in any Marvel movie to date. I can’t solely blame the actress. I think the directing had a lot to do with it.

Besides the bad acting, the Ghost sub-plot felt like a forced drama to make the plot more difficult than it needed to be. And if that wasn’t enough, we get the technology arms dealer Sonny that convoluted the drama even more. At least the Sonny character adds a dash of humor.

If I were asked to place this movie somewhere in the MCU oeuvre, I’d say it belongs somewhere in the bottom 3rd.

Grade: C+

And now, the long wait until March 8, 2019 when Captain Marvel comes out.

Peetimes:

Finding good Peetimes was pretty easy for this movie. There were long establishing shots that were very easy to summarize.

The first and third Peetimes are the best. I only made the second Peetime an *emergency* Peetime because the story jumps between 4 distinct scenes, making the synopsis longer than I’d like.

Related on RunPee.com: 

How the Quantum Realm Might Save the Marvel Universe in Avengers 4

Ant Man Rewatch Review

Ant Man and Sexism: Real Ant Science

WTF: Pixar’s Bao Short Before Incredibles 2

So, let’s talk about that odd and disturbing Pixar movie short before the opening of The Incredibles 2. It’s called Bao, and is intended to be a cute, happy tale. [pullquote]Well, Pixar, you created a new nadir for your work in this one sequence. Your good intentions brought up unsettling innate urges best saved for adult audiences[/pullquote]. Or maybe it would have been better to scrap it and try some less awkward projects. With all the creative scripts Pixar has to choose from, THIS is what they picked. It looks good, but doesn’t feel good. Kind of like eating a bad dumpling? Let’s begin.

We’ve agreed here that little children probably won’t understand Bao; I can’t quite make it make sense either, although for different reasons than a kid might.

We at RunPee suggest you stay out of the theater with your little ones until it’s well over. (That won’t effect the RunPee Timer, since we always start it during the first logo AFTER any shorts.) Our great-niece didn’t get Bao and looked disturbed, but hey little gal, I was a little disturbed myself! And this is a tiny kid who usually*likes* horror! I think the fail in this film is that there was no sensible set-up for what the lonely lady did. It comes as a shock, a queasy revolting payoff.

SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE PIXAR SHORT BAO

This is a bad choice in so many ways. [pullquote position=”right”]The dumpling was pretty cute before he grew legs and became a a slightly creepy homunculus.[/pullquote]

At least the dumpling was still a cuddly toddler at this point. I can see the empty-nest  lonely elderly lady treating it as her son. Besides, what are the options — eat a squirming and squealing living being? Only Klingons still do that. And Gollum. And carnivorous dinosaurs. (Welcome to my geeky world. Have a cookie….now, back to this short.)

So, I understand empty nesters kind of seeing themselves in this situation. We’ve seen grieving mothers carrying around fake doll babies as therapy. So here’s this lady’s new reason to live, and someone who responds to her affection — who hugs her, loves her, and needs her. Doesn’t matter that is is basically a Golem, made by her own hands. I’m somewhat onboard with this so far. It’s not funny, and most of it will go over kids’ heads, but it might be somewhat cute…although too far plunged into the uncanny valley for others already.

Here’s where it gets weird. (Weirder.) The dumpling becomes a rotten teenager, starts dating, grows a goatee (WT-ever-loving-F!),  leaves his “mother” suddenly, and then returns just as suddenly, with a new fiance in tow, sporting a huge engagement ring.

The mother is frantic and wants her “son” home, now, and for good. She hustles the “hussy”out the door. The dumpling tries to go with her, but the mother captures him and EATS HIM.

Yes she did.

Think about this. I totally get it that adults have an innate urge to eat cute things (think of nibbling a baby’s toes, saying “You are so cute I could eat you up!) This strange, off-putting behavior is encoded in the hardwired  area of the human brain. It’s triggered by seeing a certain look — large eyes, big head — and we get a little hit of instinctive recognition.   Selecting for this trait in adult creatures is called Neoteny, and we are are all subjected to a certain constellation of responses to something cute. This article explains the Phenomenon of Cute Aggression, and the unreasoning urge to harm/gobble up cuteness. I found a good video describing it too:

This is rather sophisticated science, melded with deep psychological taboo issues. This would STILL go over most adult heads in the awareness sense. I presume we are supposed to resonate with the urge on some deep animalistic level.

After all, carnivorous animals  — let’s say lions — don’t normally eat their young, and treat them with the fond tolerance that no adult lion receives, because cuteness has special status. Round fluffy heads and huge eyes are code for “Protect me; I am yours.” So, in other words, we are innately draw to protect cuties, married with the disturbing desire to eat or hurt them.

So yes, the lady eats her “son” and should probably seek therapy. But we are intended to get it — to get that by eating him, she could not only keep him home, but metaphorically put him back in the womb/belly, where she can watch over him and keep him safe. I know he would come out as poop in reality, but stay with me for the symbolism. 🙂

Up ’til now we had a few cute baby-toddler dumpling moments, some weird disturbing images of a humunculus dating a human girl, and then the bat-$!tt-crazy image of a momma eating her own son. (Zeus’ father did that once with all his children and look where that left him <—– tangent.)

Bizarre as all this is for a Pixar choice, I still don’t get the ending. Who is the young human man who shows up at momma’s door to introduce his wife? Are these the same people? Was there never a dumpling at all?  Was it all a bad dream, or was she daydreaming about her real son one day, while making the endless morning dumpling breakfasts? What are they trying to say?

Is he a REAL BOY NOW?…nope nope nope, that was Pinocchio.

Was Pixar’s intent to disturb their fan base? I can’t imagine them being so subversive. How did this get a green light? You betcha this short made my Do Not ReWatch List.  (I’ll write about that list some other time.)

Essentially, if you like disturbing elements in your cartoons, you will probably enjoy this more than I did. And in fact, the whole RunPee family is scratching their heads over who made the call to put something so unsettling in front of a huge blockbuster intended for adults and children. Pixar, stick to the stuff you’ve shown unswerving ability to find success in before. (“This is a bad call, Ripley, a bad call.”) If you want to be creative, try it on the smaller Disney releases.

Pixar Short Review: C- (For some good visuals and nice pacing. It looks like the creator was super enthusiastic about whatever their movie short was meant to convey. That keeps it from getting a failing grade.)

I still don’t recommend watching it. But if your curiosity is triggered now, give it a wack before you watch The Incredibles 2. Tell us what you thought of it. 

Here is the creator of the dumpling short (Bao): 

Read About The Incredibles on RunPee.com:

The Incredibles ReWatch Review

The Incredibles 2 Review

Incredibles 2 and the Success of Animated Sequels

Incredibles 2 Poster looks like a Marvel Film

 

Movie Rewatch Review – Jurassic Park III

I finally  made the effort to rewatch Jurassic Park III – something always came up to distract me, and I’m easily distracted if I don’t want to see the movie in question. But I’m glad I did it: the movie isn’t so bad once you’re aware of the retched parts.

It’s like rewatching Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. I know Jar Jar and midiclorians are going to bother me. So I just ignore those things and enjoy what’s nice, like the Pod Race, or anything with Qui-Gon Jinn, and the Duel of the Fates lightsaber battle. Anyway. Back to Jurassic Park 3. (See — distracted even now.)

[pullquote]Jurassic Park 3 is an acceptable offering in the series, as long as one acknowledges the really annoying things[/pullquote], like Alan Grant’s little raptor daydream (“Alan”), and the constant yelling the humans do on Isla Sorna. Way to hide from mega predators, guys. Sheesh. They all yell, except Grant (who knows better but no one listens to him). Tea Leoni is the worst, and I feel bad that she had this terribly scripted character to work with. She’s a decent actress, normally. But her presence in this movie marks the series’ nadir…at least she didn’t come to the island in high heels (Hi there, Bryce Dallas Howard).

One thing I totally forgot in JP3 is that this all takes place on Isla Sorna. I thought it was another excursion on Isla Nublar. So this isn’t the T-Rex from the first film: it’s one of the three from The Lost World. I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s the juvenile T-Rex, all grown up, who got a taste for human flesh from that dumb villain (who’s name I can’t be bothered with), the one who ran InGen — remember, he was hobbled by the San Diego T-Rex to teach her baby how to hunt.

In any case, this T-Rex, as usual for EVERY Jurassic film, saves the humans by fighting another threat. Seriously. Watch every film in the 5 we have so far, and notice how Rexie saves the day. In this case, she/he fights the Spinosaurus, and dies, which is sad. I like the T-Rexes. They act more like animals than monsters, which is another “bone” (haha) I have to pick with this series. What makes an animal aggressive?

Several things. Hunger. The desire to protect resources/territory or fend off invaders. Protection of their young. To fight potential rivals to their mates. And that’s really it.[pullquote position=”right”] If you aren’t a threat, and you leave sated large predators alone, they won’t hunt you. This isn’t Godzilla, after all.[/pullquote]

In the African Savannah, prey animals can freely walk by a sated lion. Said lion only needs to hunt a few times a week. I don’t know how much dinosaurs need to feed, but I’m going to say that a nice meal should be plenty for awhile for these types of barely warm-blooded species.

And speaking of the Spinosaurus, I don’t know who would win in a fight. They seem evenly matched to me. This video addresses the issue. (I’m Team T-Rex, BTW. He’s much smarter, despite the ridiculous arms.)

Something I did like from the film was the Carnosaurus cameo. While the humans were sticking their arms in gigantic steaming piles of poo, the Carnosaur, who looked ready to attack the humans, sniffs the Spinosaur scat and just…walks away. He knew better than to hang around the Spinosaur’s habitat. That was a nice touch.

What wasn’t good, besides all the yelling, was the satellite  phone. Holy hell. [pullquote]This phone can take being eaten, sitting in digestive fluids, and is workable on the other side of the gastric tube. Not to mention that the kid could hear it ringing while inside the Spinosaur. What kind of magical phone is this? I want one.[/pullquote] Also –they hear the phone jingle, but not the footstomps of this 9 ton predator? The movies established that we hear and FEEL the movements of the largest sauropods and theropods. This is yet another nit to not pick, to enjoy the film at all.

So, since this is Isla Sorna, and not the Isla Nublar from three of the five other films, we can assume that there are still dinosaurs on this island, even if (SPOILER) Isla Nublar exploded in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. I think the Jurassic World films conveniently forgot about the second island. Things would have been simpler to remember Site B when Fallen Kingdom came around. Continuity can be fun!

What else is notable? It features yet another divorced couple who see each each other in a new light after running for their lives. It has the “dashing” Billy, who I suppose was intended to be a popular character. He’s like a really roughly sketched version of Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady from the Jurassic World films, and not a touch as good.

The ending had pterodactyls flying over the ocean, presumably to the mainland. So…we’ve seen this referenced in several of the films now. And it’s not until Jurassic World 2 that something comes of it. Continuity, people!

Alrighty. Good things from JP3, and there are surprisingly quite a few:

  • Some of the Velociraptors had feathers, which was a nice touch if you know that some of these Oviraptors went on to become birds.
  • Although the Spinosaurus followed the humans across the entire island like a rabid dog, it still acted like an animal and not Godzilla. (We can save that strange behavior for the engineered creatures in the Jurassic World films.)
  • The scene with the embryonic dino incubators was an homage to Aliens, especially with the raptor looking through the tube, giving everyone (and the audience) a well deserved scare.
  • The Hadrosaur running scene was a fun callback. (“They’re flocking this way!”)
  • The obligatory kid was smarter than any of the adults: he survived alone on the island for 8 weeks. He was almost better off not being saved. And how he acquired T-Rex urine? “Better off not knowing.” Heh. One can only imagine.
  • Alan Grant still doesn’t like Ian Malcolm. (“Did you read his book?” “It was kind of preachy.” And Grant sits back, satisfied. That moment kind of completes his arc. )
  • The raptors were smart enough to set a trap for the humans. The implications of this are disturbing, in a good way. (“Clever girl.”)
  • [pullquote position=”right”]The best scene, by far, was the set-piece in the misty and unstable Aviary. I still get chills from it. It has all the great atmosphere of the best scenes in this series, with a genuine sense of growing suspense, dread, and horror. [/pullquote]What an amazing scene. I appreciated that this was a leftover passage from the first Jurassic Park book, as was the ‘jungle cruise’ segment. It’s not a surprise that the better scenes were the ones originally penned by Michael Crichton.
  • They included a scene with some downtime: namely, the conversation in the water truck with Grant and Eric (the kid). All the better movies have these little scenes where the characters catch their breath, since it gives us, the audience, the chance to do so as well. Plucking at our adrenaline strings for two hours makes for an exhausting film experience.
  • The Astronomers vs Astronauts conversation reminded me of Angel’s (the vampire TV series) running conversation about Cavemen vs Spacemen. Probably not a real homage, but: cool.
  • There is one stirring, magical scene, when the little boat goes by a peaceful pasture of herbivorous sauropods co-existing. The familiar musical theme from John Williams swells, and we feel transported. I’m happy the film had that moment.
  • The odd juxtaposition of Barney the Purple Dinosaur on television, while Ellie’s toddler clutches the phone  — with people dying from actual dinosaurs.
  • Cool early use of a 3-D printer, making a raptor vocal organ. And nice callback  use of said organ later.
[pullquote position=”right”]Well, that’s a decent list of good things from a really poor movie. But I might be grading on a curve, since I love dinosaurs and the original Jurassic Park.[/pullquote] After seeing five of these films, I can safely say this one is the worst, but has definite watchable elements. It’s worth viewing for those, if you can ignore the stupidity of humans blundering and yelling about in the brush, ostensibly trying to hide from very large predators. The shouting goes on the entire movie, and only Grant never once gives in to the impulse. He’s not an idiot.

At least, not as completely an idiot. He should have kept to his instincts and not gone to Isla Sorna in the first place.

Movie Rewatch Grade: C

Here’s a fun look at JP3 by Honest Trailers – It’s kind of better than the actual film: 

RunPee’s Jurassic Movie Reviews: 

Jurassic Park – Movie Rewatch Review

Jurassic Park at Universal Studios: Ride Review

Jurassic Park: The Lost World – Movie Rewatch Review

Jurassic Park 3 – Movie Rewatch Attempt Number One

The Jurassic Park Movies Poll

Jurassic World Movie Review

Jurassic World Movie References

Movie Review: Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom, Missed Opportunities

Everything Wrong With the Jurassic Movies (All the You Tube videos in one place)

Movie Review – The First Purge

The First Purge was not what I was expecting. I’ll be honest and say that the last two really didn’t appeal to me. Luckily, they took a different approach on this one and it worked much better.

I don’t want to give anything away by explaining how they tied the movies together, but I will say they did a good job.

Now that I’ve given you the positives, let’s get into the negatives. First, some of the actors didn’t have enough screen presence to pull off the believability factor. They weren’t able to make me believe their story. I also never really got into the zone of caring about them.

My next big complaint is how rushed the story felt; this might be an editing issue. It felt like we were missing some scenes pertinent to the backstory.

This was neither a good movie or a bad movie. It was just ho-hum. I’d wait for the DVD.

Grade: C-

Peetimes
This is a short movie so I think you’ll be safe with just these two Peetimes.

I can also say that this movie would be fairly easy to catch up on if you run over the the allotted time. This is more of an action movie versus serious movie, with plot twists and turns.

While both Peetimes are good, I would recommend the first.

Movie Review – Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation – As Fun as a Real Vacation Kids and Adults Alike

Hotel Transylvania 3 is just as entertaining as both HT2 and HT1 were.

The plot is cute: bringing the great-great granddaughter of Van Helsin and Dracula, together in a possible relationship.

I saw this movie with my own 5 year-old great granddaughter and she loved it, as did the rest of the young audience. The level of humor stayed the same obviously, since the kiddies’ laughter could most likely be heard in the next theater. That’s really all I need to know to give Hotel Transylvania 3 a well earned A.

It’s hard to keep hitting a home run with each movie, but Genndy Tartakovsky and the writers have not let the fans down yet. I’m hoping the Hotel Transylvania franchise continues long enough so I can take my great-great granddaughter to see it opening night.

Grade: A

Peetimes:
This movie had plenty of good Peetimes since many of the scenes involved the monsters having a great time on the cruise ship.

There was, of course, some mild humor in these scenes, but not the funniest parts. And much of that humor was in the previews anyway.

 

Movie Review – Uncle Drew

Uncle Drew was surprisingly charming. I was ready for a slapstick basketball movie but was surprised with a movie that has substance. There are a lot of touching moments that make you smile with warmth, and also moments that made the crowd slap their sides  — they were laughing that hard. It’s got a little bit of everything.

The theater was pretty full, especially considering it was a Thursday. I always pay attention to the audience, to see if the movie hits a certain demographic. This theater was packed with children, senior citizens, singles, and married people. And they all laughed. It’s got something for everyone.
This would make a great date night movie. It’s neutral enough for all walks of life.
Grade: B+
Peetimes Info:
We have two Peetimes in the RunPee app for you. I decided to not put in any after the hour mark because the movie really picks up steam from there on out.

Movie Review – Sicario 2: Soldado

I watched the first Sicario (for the first time) the night before the sequel came out, so I have a fresh perspective on comparing them.

Simply put, the sequel isn’t quite as good as the original.

While the first Sicario is a really good movie, it isn’t without its flaws. Nevertheless, I would give it at least a B+, maybe an A-.

The cinematography of the first Sicario is spectacular. Numerous times I replayed a scene just to see how beautifully it was shot. But I didn’t notice any shots like that in Sicario 2.

No one is going to complain about the acting. Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro are both wonderful. I’d give a nod to Toro as giving the better performance, but his character has a lot more to work with. So it’s hardly a fair comparison.

I have to mention that Isabela Moner (who played the young kidnapped girl) is outstanding. She expresses a range of emotions, and her character evolves dramatically over a short period of time. She expressed rage and remorse equally well. So well in fact, that I don’t ever recollect questioning her performance during the movie. It just felt real.

It’s worth mentioning that the movie starts with a very uncomfortable terrorist scene, then later a character who plays a US official defines terrorism: any individual, or group, who acts to bring about political change through violence. The quote is delivered and then forgotten, but it feels like the storytellers were making a subtle hint that the American forces were the terrorists in this tale. After reading a half dozen reviews, none of them commented on the topic. I’d be curious if that’s just me, or did anyone else notice it?

Grade: B-

Peetimes Info:
There are two good Peetimes. I would recommend the 2nd one because it’s very long and easy to summarize.

Heads up:
You can watch this movie without having seen the first Sicario. The plots have no relationship to each other. But the characters do build on what we learned about them.

Jurassic World: Missed Opportunities

These are my final thoughts after seeing Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in the theater. There are spoilers aplenty, so please read after you view the movie.

Don’t think for a second that I don’t realize that it’s difficult to write a script for a movie like this. Getting handed the responsibility of writing a script for a blockbuster sequel is like sending a batter up to the plate and expecting them to hit a home run to win the game. Be prepared for disappointment.

In this instance, to further the baseball analogy, we’d be satisfied if they just got on base, and kept the rally going; we’d be delighted with a double; and overjoyed with a triple. But I feel like what we got was the batter looking at a called strike three.

The movie started out with promise. Actually, I take that back. The movie started out pretty lame. To find out that Claire and Owen’s relationship didn’t pan out during the interval of time between the two stories is a cheap shot. It’s hard to pull that one off with any success. Don’t end one movie with two characters just getting together and then start the next movie with them split up. Sure, it can be done, but that’s a hard pill to get the audience to swallow. It must be handled with care. JW:FK just kicked it to the curb and didn’t do much more than telling the audience, “Hey, deal with it.”

That was just the start of the problems with this story. We also have to deal with two new characters — Franklin and Zia — being introduced for absolutely no reason, other than they were needed to prop up a few scenes in the story. Notice how they just disappear from the tale when not needed. If you’re going to add characters, then make them real characters that we care about. Give them some purpose, at least something better than, “I wanna see a dinosaur.”

Things perk up a little once we get to the island. The dinosaur danger was better than I expected it to be, but still a little cheesy sometimes. (Just how many times is the original T-Rex going to save the main characters before someone gets eaten? Seriously, I really hope the T-Rex chomps on a named character that we like in the next movie and not just a villain.)

I’m not volcanologist, but the exploding volcano certainly exploded as conveniently as anyone could possibly hope for. I think it’s okay for the writers to play a little loose with the reality of a volcanic eruption if they make up for it with a few worthy thrills.  They barely managed it, but I couldn’t help but think that once our main characters washed up on shore it was nice and convenient for the falling debris to stop while they regrouped, then hiked who knows how far to the docks, and observed what’s going on before the falling debris picked up again — just as they’re running for the ship. It’s also a little convenient that the dock got pounded by debris, but the ship doesn’t take a hit. Like the volcano decided that it didn’t want to send flaming rock bombs into the ocean.

Despite everything I’ve pointed out that’s wrong with this movie so far, at this point I would have given the movie a solid B. It wasn’t great, but it was good enough. And I can’t help but grade a little on a curve because the former JP movies haven’t exactly raised the bar too high.

A word about villains: they are hands down the trickiest characters to write, especially in a blockbuster where there’s limited time to build up the character. What we get all too often are stock villains who are portrayed as nothing more than bad, greedy, and/or psychopathic people.

A good villain is someone who’s doing bad things, but we can sympathize with them. It’s the sloppiest sort of storytelling when one of the antagonists uses pliers to pull a tooth from a sedated dinosaur with absolutely no empathy for the animal. Just save the audience some time — put a Nazi tattoo on his forehead.

It’s only fair that I mention that the blood drawing scene with the T-Rex is the highlight of the movie. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter one tiny bit that they give Blue a blood transfusion from a carnivore. This is where storytelling can take a few liberties. It sounds real enough, so go with it, and the payoff is well worth it.

This clip perfectly illustrates what I think of the rest of the movie.

I need to know one thing: why on earth did the writers pick Hydrogen Cyanide as the gas would threaten to kill the dinosaurs? I guess when people hear the name they instinctively equate it as a poison, but it’s a pretty ineffective one. The French used is as a chemical weapon in WWI but gave up on it because there were better options. (Not that I knew that before reading about HCN at Wikipedia.)

This is the second worst kind of sloppy storytelling — only behind the stock villain mess I mentioned earlier. The writers need to present a clear danger to the dinosaurs, and a real reason for setting them free. How they came up with something like HCN is a complete mystery. It’s not used in any sort of DNA research I could find. It was mostly used in mining for gold and silver. Okay, so let’s say Dr. Wu had some bizarre reason for having it. You think they would take greater care in storing it?

But the problem remains: what sort of danger could be introduced that would create a believable threat to the dinosaurs so our heroes would be motivated to let them loose? We need something that kills, that the audience will understand as a threat without too much explanation, and something that spreads quickly. If there were just some sort of chemical, or even a chemical reaction, that would be suitable. Something like… Maybe FIRE!

Picture it: there are multiple dinosaurs loose, causing all sorts of mayhem. I can buy it that the fire protection system gets damaged. There’s an explosion. Things burn. The fire is spreading rapidly. (Sure, the building is mostly stone and metal, but we can roll with it.)

Maybe the fire is spreading toward something else that will explode and kill the dinosaurs. Not only does this fit the requirements needed to motivate someone to release the dinosaurs, it’s also the perfect ironic symmetry to the beginning of the movie: the dinosaurs were saved from an island about to be consumed by fire/lava only to be taken far away to a building where they are again threatened by fire. Perfect.

How did this get past everyone involved? Did no one in the writing process, or while directing and editing, not stop and say, “Hydrogen Cyanide? Really? Can’t we come up with something better?”

And not to beat a dead horse, but do you really think the roof of that old castle is going to support an Indo Raptor that’s the size of at least three horses? What were the roof supports made out of? Vibranium?