Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pop stuff: Jurassic World, The Illusionist

What I'm watching, hearing, reading, etc.


Jurassic World. Set your expectations accordingly for this one. If you want lots of dinosaurs chases, thrills and chills: bingo. This is your movie. If you want anything else, well ... what the hell were you thinking?

The story and set have been updated. There's now a new "Jurassic" theme park. The head marketeer of the place, Claire Deering (Bryce Dallas Howard), is trying to make people forget about the old one, where people got eaten by the attractions, but -- naturally -- the owners are flirting with disaster.  Just like Disneyland and Captain Eo, bigger and ostensibly better attractions are needed to ensure the tourists keep coming through the gates.

In this case, the big new thing is a huge, new, scary dinosaur. A genetic cocktail of t-rex and God knows what else. Resident raptor trainer, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), knows the thing is too dangerous to live, let alone display. But doesn't anyone believe him?

It's only a matter of moments before Indominus Rex is on the loose and munching on humans and every other variety of dino. But we knew that would happen, just like we knew Claire wasn't as prissy and uptight as she seemed, and that she'd end up kissing Owen, and that Claire's two nephews, who are visiting the park while their parents are in the process of getting divorced, are a pair of scrappy little survivors.

There's not a single surprising thing about the movie, other than that something so utterly predictable can still be entertaining.

It would be nice if the filmmakers had flattered us a little by springing a surprise or weird curveball or two. Or by making better use of Pratt, whose great charm and comic chops remain largely unexploited here. You wonder why they spend the bucks casting him. 

But the filmmakers know they don't have to try hard. But it's summer. Dinosaurs are cool. The tickets sell themselves



The Illusionist is lovely, charming exploration of age and innocence based on a script by French director Jacque Tati, but never produced as the live-action film he'd intended. Instead, his story has been captured in beautiful animation by Sylvain Chomet, who created the popular "Triplets of Belleville" several years back.

As with that film, there's little dialogue here. Subtitles are unnecessary as we see the aging title character, a struggling magician, travel to Scotland, where his tricks -- mistaken for real magic -- enchant a young girl. Not wanting to let her down, he tries to keep up the act, but ultimately fails as she grows up and becomes just as enchanted with the outside world. It's a sweet, funny story laced with melancholy that will resonate with parents watching their children grow up.

No comments:

Post a Comment