Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Con is On

San Diego Comic Con 2018 is underway.

Some rumblings from the get go:

1. Robin blurts out "F--- Batman!" in the trailer for new "Titans" series. What, did Frank ("Are you RETARDED? I'm the GODDAMN Batman!") Miller stop by the set that day?

2. Screencrush looks at the new, female DR. WHO, played by the talented Jodie Whitaker.

3. has a guide to the Trek side of life at SDCC. I am really digging that mood rock & phaser set from ThinkGeek (you fire the phaser at the rock to "heat it up" [it changes color]). Genius!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Jurassic World: Farsical Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

The latest "run the dinosaurs are attacking!" movie is an abysmal failure, adding nothing new to this long in the saurian tooth franchise.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom takes place three years after the events of Jurassic World, with the abandoned park now overrun not only with island growth but dinosaurs - keep out, no humans allowed. However, the island's volcano (the other movies never mentioned a volcano) is erupting, posing the question, "Should someone save Earth's only remaining dinosaurs, who were extinct until greedy billionaires and unscrupulous geneticists recreated them for fun and profit?"

Enter Claire and Owen (Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt, respectively, back from the last film), who are tasked by Generic Evil Corporate Guy (Rafe Spall), on behalf of Unwitting Sick Industrialist Guy (James Cromwell as the shady partner to park founder John Hammond, whom we have never seen nor heard mentioned before in the previous FOUR JP movies).

Claire and Owen take along Fourteen Year Old Nervous Techie and Animal Girl, face off against Mercenary Hunter Guy and his goons, and...oh, what's the point? We've seen this all before, and done much, much better.  The point is a dollar sign, something the Jurassic Park/World backers and Universal Studios are both chasing. Now a bad movie isn't going to kill anybody, but it can kill - or at least seriously dampen - the movie-going experience. The first Jurassic World movie was released ten years after JP III, showing the world that dinosaurs are still fascinating, enthralling creatures in the public's imaginations. But that will hold water, or plesiosaurs, only so long if you don't have an engaging story and interesting characters, things which are plainly absent in JW:FK.

Fallen Kingdom's story is cherry-picked from previous films in this series: an abandoned park (from JP 2 & 3), the evil industrialists/capitalists (JP2), the protagonists made to return to the park under false pretenses (JP3), the misguided geneticists creating designer dinos (JW), and so on. We might be able to forgive them is they cherry picked from other movies and not so incestuously from within their own franchise.

The most engaging dinosaur in the public's imagination has long been the Tyrannosaurus Rex. After being put through some of the greatest action/suspense/thriller sequences by the master Steven Spielberg in the first two films in the Jurassic Park series, the T-Rex was given the back seat in JPIII to the Spinosaurus, a much bigger dino with a crocodile-like snout. When the series was revived with Jurassic World, the filmmakers got the idea to just invent a new dinosaur called the Indominus Rex, a creature made from the DNA of T-Rex, Velociraptor, and a half dozen other big, angry dinos. This weirdo made no real impression on me and was replaced as the dinosaur du-jour in Fallen Kingdom with another dino-Frankenstein in the form of the Indoraptor, which was the Indominus mixed more closely with the Velociraptor. The Jurassic World films clearly are trying to turn the public's fascination and love toward the Velociraptor (the hero dinos during the JW movies' final sequences) but we ain't having none of it. No matter how smart scientists think raptors were, Tyrannosaurus is still King of the Dinosaurs.

The first three Jurassic Park movies relied heavily on the on-set dinosaurs created by the late Stan Winston and his team. The filmmakers had to constantly cut from Winston's dinos to visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic's computer-generated dinosaurs. As a testament to the fluidity and believability of Winston's creations, especially the T-Rex and Spinosaurus, they matched seamlessly with ILM's digital wonders.  The Jurassic World franchise is all CGI and it shows. The actors are staring at nothing, except maybe a tennis ball or "x" taped to a green screen wall. I no longer believe I am watching real animals on the screen. The wonder is gone.

There will be the inevitable, and already scheduled, Jurassic World III, but I do not look forward to it. Why should I, when it will simply be another loud, frenetic CGI-filled summer blockbuster. So much sound and fury, signifying dino-nothing.