Tagged: Jurassic World

John Ostrander’s Summer Movie Wrap-Up


Labor Day 2015 is upon us. Technically, the season’s change on September 23rd but for all intents and purposes, summer closes shop right after Labor Day. The summer movie season is over and the fall seasons are gearing up. Among things to look forward to is the new Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, coming out around Christmas. However, we’re going to look back at the offerings from last summer, specifically the ones I saw and most enjoyed.

I freely admit I haven’t seen all the cinematic offerings that were out. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation got missed, for example. I saw a fair amount, though, and I’m prepared to talk about those. You should be prepared for spoilers since I may reveal plot elements. That’s okay; you should have seen these films by now anyway.

There are six films on the list – Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Tomorrowland, Inside Out, Jurassic World, and Mad Max: Fury Road. All entertained me, some surprised me, and I’ll want all of them on disc for repeated home viewing, some more than others.

Remember: these are my opinions. Your mileage may vary.

Avengers; Age of Ultron moved the whole Marvel franchise forward and, together with Ant-Man, rounded out Phase 2 of the Marvel Conquers the Cineplex movement. The Avengers film had everybody and then some (played by their usual thespian counterparts), and included the Falcon in the mix and debuted Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and the Vision, always a personal favorite of mine. The Big Bad was the nasty computer program in the crisp robotic shell, Ultron, voiced by the always silkily threatening James Spader.

Did I like it? Yes. Did I like it as much as the first Avengers film? No. It seemed more disjointed to me. There were also odd additions – a possible budding romance between the Black Widow and Bruce (The Hulk) Banner (?). The suggestion that Black Widow had relationships with most of the other male members of the Avengers (because – why?). The fact that Hawkeye has a wife and kiddies out in the hinterlands. None of it seemed very central or even germane to the plot and seemed only to pad it out.

On the other hand, it also had the return of Nick Fury and, at a key moment, the original SHIELD Helicarrier, which I loved. The big fight at the end went on a bit long and didn’t always make a lot of sense. Nonetheless, I enjoyed all of it.

Ant-Man was the surprise to me. Like last year’s Guardian’s of the Galaxy, I would not have bet you money going into it that I would enjoy it so much. But I did. Paul Rudd was a hoot and I bought his heroic side when it surfaced. Michael Douglas took the Famous Older Actor In a Surprise Supporting Role that Robert Redford did in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Marvel/Disney really can afford just about anyone it wants to get.

Ant-Man may be better suited to the movies than the comics. The shrinking man and large objects around him works better on the screen than the page. I may be looking forward to this Blu-Ray even more than the Avengers one.

Tomorrowland is based, conceptually, on a portion of Disneyland but, like the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, is so much more entertaining than it needs to be. Part of that can be traced back to Brad Bird, who directed it and co-wrote the screenplay. You may know Bird better as the director on Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and others.

The film stars George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, and Britt Robertson as the spunky young gal who is the center of the story. The city of the title exists in a fold between time and space and it’s where the dreams of the future become real. It’s in danger of being corrupted and made prosaic by those who think they are saving it. What it needs is dreamers.

I love this film because, ultimately, it is so hopeful. It’s about the necessity of hope and that’s a message I think we need more of these days. It’s far from a perfect film but it’s message really appeals to me.

I’ve written before about Inside Out, the latest offering from Pixar. Quick summary: very inventive and imaginative, heartfelt, psychologically true (IMO) and wonderfully realized. I loved it.

Mad Max: Fury Road. Wow. Intense. As reboots go, stunningly successful. Tom Hardy makes a great successor to Mel Gibson and looks very much like him in the early Mad Max films. Charlize Theron kicks major league ass. George Miller is astounding. He’s seventy years old, it’s been thirty years since he last directed a Mad Max movie, and this film had so much raw energy, imaginative action sequences and filmmaking derring-do that you would have thought he was a much younger man taking over a sagging franchise. There’s lots of things that call back to the earlier Mad Max films while, at the same, time, laying claim to it all for a new generation of filmgoers.

Jurassic World. It’s been more than twenty years since the first Jurassic Park movie and about fourteen since Jurassic Park III (which, for the record, I preferred to Jurassic Park II although, from reports, Steven Spielberg did not.) This is essentially another reboot of a franchise although, strictly speaking, it does follow in continuity from the first one. It was a thundering successful relaunch; it made just buckets and buckets of money. It also marked Chris Pratt’s emergence as a bonafide and believable action film star. Oh, he was the star in Guardians of the Galaxy but his Peter Quill was a bit of a goofball as well; he had a strong streak of coyote in him. In Jurassic World, there is a young Harrison Ford feel to Pratt. Charismatic, strong, and a star.

One of the problems for Jurassic World is that, when we see the dinosaurs, there isn’t that same sense of wonder we had in the first Jurassic Park. The plot in Jurassic World mirrors that – the park itself is having problems because having dinosaurs is no longer “new” – not so much of an attraction — so the Powers-That-Be manufacture, by blending DNA strains, a whole new – and very deadly – form of beast. And, of course, it escapes. Jurassic World pleases us, it entertains us, but it doesn’t –- it can’t — give us that same sense of wonder, of discovery, that the first Jurassic Park did.

So – which of these was my own personal favorite? I enjoyed them all but there’s no question that Inside Out is my pick. It’s not a reboot, it’s not a sequel, it’s not another link in a cinematic chain; it’s fresh, it’s engaging, it’s funny, and it has its own truths to tell. Tomorrowland comes in second for the reasons I’ve already given. Like Inside Out, it is something new and fresh and that scores a lot of points with me.

So – how was your summer?


Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #361: JERK ASSHAT WORLD

Spoiler Warnings are for sissies!

That’s why I’m not going to give you any, even though I’m going to write all about Jurassic World. First, the movie broke both the United States and the global records for opening weekend box office, so there’s a good chance that you’ve already seen it and don’t need no stinkin’ spoilers. Second, everything I’m about to tell you has already appeared in the trailers, which have been appearing before every movie being shown for the past several months. So even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ve seen what I’m about to tell you. Third, even if you haven’t seen the trailers, it’s fourth installment in the Jurassic Park series; telling you there’s this amusement park with dinosaurs and some of the dinosaurs break out of their cages and run around eating people isn’t telling you something you don’t already know. That’s pretty much a given in a Jurassic Park movie, because it’s pretty much all the Jurassic Park movies have given.

Twenty years after the events of the first movie, John Hammond’s dream of a dinosaur theme park has been realized. According to Simon Masrani, the current CEO of Jurassic World’s parent corporation InGen, when John Hammond, the original head of InGen and the originator of Jurassic Park, was on his death bed, Hammond made Masrani promise to fulfil the dream of Jurassic Park.

Bunk! The last line of dialog from the original Jurassic Park, after the T-Rex and the raptors chased Hammond’s grandchildren all around Isla Nublar, was John Hammond saying even he no longer endorsed his own park. I doubt he had a change of heart on his death bed.

The movie may want us to believe it was Hammond’s last wish, but I think there was some other reason that Masrani wanted to make his corporation the little InGen that could. Greed. Greed and the fact that Masrani, InGen’s scientists, and Jurassic World’s management were a bunch of jerk asshats. “Hey, let’s recreate the amusement park that failed and almost bankrupted our company once and then failed again when we tried to set it in San Diego and almost bankrupted our company again. I mean, third time’s the charm, right?” Listen up, it’s comedy that works in threes.

Anyway, now appearing on Isla Nublar is the full-blown theme park Jurassic World. (InGen called it Jurassic World, because it decided after what happened on Isla Nublar the first time, calling the place Jurassic Park would be tacky. So InGen did learn something from the first movie, just not the right something.) Jurassic World had been up and running for ten years. Which means attendance was down, because jaded park goers always want some new attraction. Every time Jurassic World introduced a new attraction, attendance spiked. Masrani ordered the genetic engineers of Jurassic World to create a new attraction. Something with a “Wow!” factor. Something bigger, faster, stronger. The Six-Million Dollar Dinosaur.


The geneticists complied and created Indominus rex, a hybrid dinosaur that was part … Well, that would be telling. Exactly what species comprised Indominus is one of the few things the trailers didn’t tell you about Jurassic World and I don’t want to ruin the surprise. I can say – because the pre-movie publicity already said – that Indominus is part T-Rex, part cuttlefish, and part tree frog. Oh, and part hubris. No, make that all hubris. It’s a veritable hubris hybrid.

Indominus is big, strong, fast. And very intelligent. So intelligent that, despite the fact that it would have no way of knowing exactly what technology is or how it works, it devised a plan to escape its compound by using the park’s own technology against it.

Now Indominus was running around loose on Isla Nublar injuring people. The people it didn’t outright kill, that is. And it managed to free a bunch of pterosaurs from their locked aviary. So soon, there was an Idominus running around injuring and killing people and pterosaurs flying around injuring and killing people. (Honest, none of this is spoilers, everything that I’ve described was shown in the movie’s trailers. Hell, you didn’t even have to watch the trailers, they showed the pterosaur attacks in a Dairy Queen ad for its new Jurassic Smash Blizzard . )


But this is where I stop relating the plot. We’ve finally moved into the part of the movie that the trailers didn’t show us beforehand and the part of the column where I start analyzing some law.

There’s a scene in the movie that occurs after “all the dinosaurs are running wild” where Vincent D’Onofrio’s character said to B. D. Wong’s character something like, “By Monday morning this park will be in Chapter 11.” Meaning that the park is going to have to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to try to survive all of the lawsuits that will be coming from either all the people who survived the attacks or the families of all the people killed in the attacks.

That’s when I thought to myself – a silly phrase, we’re not comic books, when we think little bumpy balloons containing our thoughts don’t appear above our heads so that other people can read them, so who else could we be thinking to but ourselves – I thought, “More than just the park’s going to be in Chapter 11.”

Jurassic World’s scientists didn’t just build the Indominus on a whim. They built it on a budget. A budget approved because of the specific instructions of InGen’s CEO to make an new attraction that was bigger, stronger, scarier and wowier. In other words, they used InGen’s money to follow the specific orders of InGen’s CEO to build a new dinosaur that proved to be beyond their control. A new dinosaur that was highly dangerous, that escaped, that released other highly dangerous prehistoric creatures, and that caused massive amounts of big-budget, special effect-laden death and destruction.

The lawyers representing the injured parties should sue more than just Jurassic World. They should also sue InGen, which is more than a little bit responsible for Indominus and all the death and destruction she caused either. “More than a little bit” being lawyerly weasel words for “directly.”

In law school we were always taught to sue the deepest pockets. Why? Because when you sue for damages you’re looking for monetary compensation from the people you’re suing. If you’re looking for money, you go after the deepest pockets, because that’s where the most money is. If we use a real-world analogy, who has deeper pockets, Disneyland or the Walt Disney Company? Considering The Walt Disney Company is the world’s second largest broadcasting and cable company after Comcast and owns ABC, ESPN, Marvel Comics, Walt Disney Studios. Disneyland just owns Disneyland, which also happens to be owned by the Walt Disney Company. So, I’m going with the company not the park, itself.

Which means any lawyer worth his assault suits would sue not only Jurassic World but the parent corporation InGen, which funded Jurassic World, funded its research, and ordered the park to create the big bad dinosaur in the first place. Given the evidence the lawyers would have against InGen, the lawyers could be worth less than actual salt and still be good enough to sue the jerk asshats Jurassic assets off.

Molly Jackson: Where’s MY Science?

Wheres my science

Many, many months ago at Toy Fair they announced that a major trend for 2015 was dinosaurs. This was due in part to the upcoming Jurassic movie. Now, fast forward to last week. I bit the proverbial bullet and went to see Jurassic World.

I admit I didn’t have high hopes for the movie. Let’s be honest: you don’t really go for the plot. Almost everything people are complaining about is true. Poor character development mixed with the misogynistic undertones of the 1970s and the anti-war/government sentiments make for a poor plot. Not to mention, Chris Pratt is wearing eyeliner the whole movie which looks so weird.

Even through all of that, when the dinos came on screen, I loved it. I loved every poorly plotted minute of it.

After the fact, in chatting with some friends, I began to realize part of the reason I loved it was because I saw the original film at the right age. The original Jurassic Park made the happy feelings I had from watching the new one, only because they reminded me of what I felt as a kid. Jurassic Park is the movie my generation just loved. A film that had a leading female scientist as well as a young teenage female computer whiz. That film encouraged young girls like me in the sciences.

The new Jurassic World has no female scientist and the only featured scientist is portrayed as an evil, greedy loon. After my extensive years of enjoying science fiction, I know that good science fiction can encourage kids into exploring science. This film did not follow in the steps of its predecessor. It seemed to discourage scientific discovery and promote destruction.

I don’t mind destruction in my movies. I love it, in fact. Still, science fiction used to have the rare talent of showing the wonders of learning without kids realizing it. Educating them in a fun and unassuming way. Now, we just threw it out the window for a bigger killer with more teeth.

Now, going back to that tidbit about Toy Fair. There were some science toys but mostly destructive action figures. Let’s keep hoping those kids pick up the science toy first.