Review – Jurassic World

The very fact Colin Trevorrow’s mammoth monster movie has replaced the noun ‘park’ with ‘world’ in the title should give a pretty clear indication of the gargantuan aspirations of this latest entry in the dino franchise.

The film's box office stampede means a further installment is inevitable; one can only hope that engaging characters and a solid script aren't as extinct as in Jurassic World

The film’s box office stampede means a further installment is inevitable; one can only hope that engaging characters and a solid script aren’t as extinct as in Jurassic World

It hasn’t quite been 65 million years, but the wait for the fourth film built on the foundations of Michael Crichton’s novel has been long indeed, having been stuck in development hell like an insect trapped in amber for over a decade.

Now that it is finally here courtesy of Safety Not Guaranteed director Trevorrow, Jurassic World emerges as an occasionally thrilling, but ultimately flimsy exercise in 21st century blockbuster filmmaking.

The Mosasaurus jumps the shark in Jurassic World

The Mosasaurus jumps the shark in Jurassic World

With the odd exception, modern day tent pole releases trade-off on what went before whilst repackaging themselves in the hope that a big enough audience will simply shrug their shoulders and swallow what’s being served to them. Although Jurassic World isn’t as egregiously cynical as the likes of Transformers, it’s hard to ignore the suspicion the film is constantly apologising for bowing down at the altar of Steven Spielberg and stealing so shamelessly from the bearded one’s 1993 original.

Trevorrow and co may have felt that having frigid company mouthpiece Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) informing rugged-but-nice Velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) that the genetically modified Indominus Rex has been cooked up in the lab because audiences expect the latest iteration to be bigger and better is self-referentially winking at the viewer, but it doesn’t excuse the fact Jurassic World is having its cake and eating it.

Isla Nublar's resident hunk Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) in Jurassic World

Isla Nublar’s resident hunk Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) in Jurassic World

There are other examples. The film makes a corporate sponsorship joke about naming its prize exhibit “Verizon Wireless Presents the Indominus Rex”, whilst having outrageous levels of product placement throughout. Furthermore, an incredulous Owen points out to Claire the foolishness running around a swampy rainforest in heels, but she somehow manages to anyway, even managing to outrun a T-Rex while holding a flare in a near carbon-copy rehash of Jurassic Park‘s most memorable scene (Trevorrow also employs Spielberg’s trademark camera zoom to someone’s face on numerous occasions).

Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) has a flare for the dramatic in Jurassic World

Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) has a flare for the dramatic in Jurassic World

Other aspects simply don’t make any sense. Why on earth, for instance, would the Indominus enclosure be guarded by a comically inept guard who’s more interested in throwing snacks down his gullet than checking on the whereabouts of probably the most dangerous animal on the planet? Also, if the Indominus somehow managed to jump over a 50ft fence, how the hell did no-one see it?

As for InGen security chief Vic Hoskins’ (Vincent D’Onofrio) hair-brained plan to turn Owen’s raptor pack into supersoldiers, the least said about that one the better.

Brothers Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins) look suitably scared in Jurassic World

Brothers Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins) look suitably scared in Jurassic World

Compounded, these moments become increasingly frustrating and overshadow the parts of Jurassic World that do work. The dive-bombing pterosaur attack on the thousands of visitors herded into the resort is the highlight of the film and features its nastiest scene involving a character being dunked in and out of the water by a hungry pterosaur, only to become lunch for the Mosasaurus, a giant aquatic lizard that normally provides SeaWorld-style shows for guests.

A furious stampede of guests aping a herd of dinos is also a nice touch, as is a moment early in the film when a dramatic footprint is revealed to be that of a small bird – one that links us to the introduction of hapless brothers Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins).

Clever girl: Indominus Rex gets to work in Jurassic World

Clever girl: Indominus Rex gets to work in Jurassic World

Meanwhile, the final dino-tastic standoff is admittedly well handled and features a particularly satisfying denouement, but too much of what has come before involving the Indominus is either nicked from Aliens (1986) or Spielberg’s original.

The film’s box office stampede means a further installment is inevitable; one can only hope that engaging characters and a solid script aren’t as extinct as in Jurassic World.

Decades Blogathon – Back To The Future (1985)

Decades Blogathon Banner


So here we are; the final day of what has been being a fantastic Decades Blogathon. Thank you to everyone who took the time to help make this such a great event, but thanks most of all to the one and only Tom from Digital Shortbread. Tom has been the perfect blogathon compatriot and I hope to be able to run another one with him again soon. The Decades Blogathon focuses on movies that were released in the fifth year of the decade and this one is written by yours truly. Thanks again and see you next time!

For a film in which time plays such a central theme, there’s something magically timeless to Robert Zemeckis’ almost perfect summer blockbuster.

Great movies have the power to transcend the movie theatres in which they were projected and instead become a cultural anchor that can help to define not only a time and place but, in the most influential cases, also do their bit to shape our lives.

Back To The Future Poster

Back To The Future was one such cinematic touchstone for me. I vividly recall exactly when and where I was when I first watched it on the big screen as an impressionable 10-year-old and remember exiting the cinema thinking it was the best film I had ever seen.

That it remains an all-time classic and still on my shortlist of favourite movies is a testament to the immortality of a film whose sequel is partly set only a few months from now (a scary thought I know).

Back To The Future offers something new with each viewing; whether it be the fact Twin Pines Mall where Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) meets Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) at the start of the film changes to Lone Pine Mall as a result of Marty having run over one of Old Man Peabody’s pines back when he first finds himself back in 1955; or on this latest occasion noticing the figure of Harold Lloyd hanging off the minute hand of one of the many clocks in Doc’s lab (a reference to Lloyd’s 1923 movie Safety Last!) in the opening credits – a stunt mirrored by Lloyd (Christopher) during the final nail-biting Clock Tower set-piece.

Back To The Future

Zemeckis and co-writer Bob Gale envisioned the idea of ‘what would it be like to meet your parents at the same age youare?’, from which they penned a screenplay that would’ve given Freud plenty to chew on.

Skateboarding teen Marty is summoned by his good friend Doc to bear witness to the birth of time travel, but finds himself whisked back to 1955 courtesy of the mad professor’s DeLorean (Zemeckis originally thought his time machine would be a fridge). After inadvertently interfering in the course of events that brought his mother Lorraine (Lea Thompson) and father George (Crispin Glover) together, Marty must rewrite history, avoid school bully Biff (Thomas F. Wilson) and find a way to get back to 1985 with the help of a younger Doc.

Back To The Future

Whilst hardly original (Mark Twain’s novel A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court had covered similar ground almost 100 years earlier), having an ’80s high school kid travel back to the 1950s was nevertheless a stroke of genius on the part of Zemeckis and Gale, as the fish-out-of-water premise allowed both Marty – and us – to observe a time when teenagers were finally finding their voice; a voice that 30 years later was starting to dominate the box office with the likes of Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982) and Sixteen Candles (1984).

The film’s production design remains astonishing. Hill Valley feels like a living, breathing town and the small changes between 1955 and 1985 are fun to spot, in particular the fact the porno theatre showing Orgy American Style in 1985 was a movie house screening a Ronald Reagan movie 30 years earlier.

Back To The Future

There are plenty of other lovely touches, including when Marty inadvertently invents rock’n’roll while playing Chuck Berry’s Johnny B Goode at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance in front of a dumbstruck Marvin Berry, who immediately phones his cousin to update him on “the new sound [he’s] been looking for”.

Fox inhabits the role so completely, you simply cannot imagine another actor in the role, although that’s what very nearly happened when Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty. It’s fascinating to imagine a parallel universe in which Stoltz rather than Fox got to wear the “life-preserver” – maybe such a thing could have existed in the alternate 2015 as seen in Back To The Future II (1990).

Back To The Future

Whilst Back To The Future is sublime, it’s not perfect as there are a few moments that leave you scratching your head, most notably how come Marty’s parents don’t freak out when they come to realise their son looks and sounds exactly like the guy who helped get them together back in 1955? That one’s always bugged me.

One of the all-time great summer blockbusters, Back To The Future will remain just as joyously entertaining 30 years from now. Great Scott!

Decades Blogathon – Jaws (1975)

Decades Blogathon Banner


It’s the penultimate day of the Decades Blogathon, hosted by myself and the immense Tom from Digital Shortbread. The blogathon focuses on movies that were released in the fifth year of the decade. Tom and I are running different entries each day; and this one comes from the man, the legend that is Eric from The IPC. For those who don’t know, Eric’s site is a true one-off, full of his ribald opinions on the world of film.

Jaws Poster

My dad took me to see this in the theater back when I was a kid and it scared so much shit out of me that I was afraid to take a bath for a month. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve taken a bath ever since. But, thinking about this… for this blogathon that ends in “5”…. my mom didn’t marry my dad until I was seven so that would have put me seeing this in 1978.


The sperm donor that helped make me was an Easy Riding hippie that split on me and My Creator when I was three so the math doesn’t add up, but when I agreed to join this blogathon I understood there would be no math. Now that I think about it (I’ve had some cocktails) I think the theater we saw this in was one of those “two theater” jobs inside of a small shopping mall that showed new releases after market. Yes – I think that’s it and that makes sense! BOOM! I rule.


Anyway, so I saw this back then and haven’t ever really watched this since. Not that I was still scared that I would shit myself but just never felt the need. Seen it – big shark, gotcha. Then, the lads announced this run and I wanted in and looked at some things from ’75 and thought – what a good time to look at this movie again. I’ve never seen any of the sequels and I’ve always liked Roy Scheider so – let’s do this thing! And I don’t mean Tom! SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO I watched this earlier today and…


I LOVED IT! What a good movie! I mean – I lived in Southern California so I’ve been to that ride at Universal Studios and seen the shark robot a dozen times, but this movie was fantastic. I guess, now that I’m older I can appreciate thing like: Direction, Acting, Effects and what I like to call The Incidentals. I’m sure ALL of the people reading this piece know about this movie – a big shark is eating people and people are trying to kill the shark before it eats more people. And that’s what it is but…

I thought this movie was going pretty OK until they went full in with Robert Shaw. What a character! What an actor! Screw that little part at the community meeting at the local Ju-Co. This guy’s a stud! What a deal! Here’s an example of what I call The Incidentals:


Brody and Hooper are working with Shaw, agreeing to his ridiculous demands. “Yes. Yes. Yes. You can have your caviar.” Brody agrees.

“‘ave some of thees whisky,” Shaw says, centered in the middle of the “rule of three” shot setting. “I made it myself and I quite leek it.”

To the left, Brody;  to the right, Hooper.

*Center shot: Shaw slugs his shot.

*Pan Right: Brody sips his, to the disappointment of Shaw who goes about his way, gathering rope.

While Shaw is upstairs in the loft, gathering his shit, Brody spits out his alcohol and talks to him about something or other. Out of curiosity, Hooper reaches for the shot glass. Absently, Brody allows him to take it and barely says “Don’t drink that” and starts talking to Shaw again. Hooper takes the shot, drinks it and does a shudder. Right then, while he’s talking to Shaw he glances at the grimacing Hopper, does a little point with his finger, smiles and does a little eyebrow raise before going back to Shaw.


Was that in the script or was that something that just happened while they were filming? That was epic!

Anyway – this movie was fantastic! I loved it! I could probably have done without the scar comparing and what’s basically a musical number but other than that, excellente!

4 Cold, Dead Eyes out of 5

P.S. How in the world is this rated PG (in the U.S.)??? There was a fully naked woman, lots of blood and gore and people were smoking inside buildings!

Blogathon Announcement – ‘Decades’

Decades Blogathon Banner

Tom from the second-to-none Digital Shortbread and I are jointly hosting a brand spanking new blogathon… but it can only be great if you join us!

We’re already halfway through the 2010s and we thought it would be a good time to run a blogathon focusing on movies that were released in the fifth year of the decade.

We’re calling it – originally enough – the ‘Decades’ blogathon.

Is there a film you’ve always wanted to review that was released in 1995, 1945, 1975 or the fifth year of any other decade? If so, then we’d love you to get involved. Hell, go back to 1905 if you like (I’ve already got dibs on 1985’s Back To The Future, though, sorry)!



These blogathons are only as good as the entries they receive, so we’re looking forward to receiving some fantastic contributions.

Night Of The Hunter

Night Of The Hunter

So what’ll it be? Michael Mann’s Heat from 1995? Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic Jaws? The unforgettable Night Of The Hunter from 1955? The choices are huge!

We’re hoping to run the blogathon from Monday, 18 May. We’re keeping the number of entries limited to about 15 or so to stop it getting too unwieldy, so please make sure to get in touch ASAP to avoid disappointment by either dropping me an email at or emailing Tom at letting us know which film you’d like to cover (just so we don’t get duplicate posts) or for more info.

We’re both really excited to receiving your posts for what we’re hoping will be a diverse and absorbing blogathon. Thanks for reading and we hope to hear from you soon! Most importantly, though, GET INVOLVED!

Blogathon Relay: The 10 Most Influential Directors Of All Time

The 10 Most Influential Directors Of All Time

One of the more pleasant surprises I’ve had recently was to have received the baton from the lovely Ruth at FlixChatter for the 10 Most Influential Directors of All Time Blogathon relay.

The Blogathon was the brainchild of John at Hichcock’s World. It’s a brilliant idea and John sums it up nicely: “I have compiled a list of 10 directors I consider to be extremely influential. I will name another blogger to take over. That blogger, in their own article, will go through my list and choose one they feel doesn’t belong, make a case for why that director doesn’t fit, and then bring out a replacement. After making a case for why that director is a better choice, they will pass the baton onto another blogger. That third blogger will repeat the process before choosing another one to take over, and so on.”

The baton has so far been passed to the following:

Girl Meets Cinema
And So It Begins…
Dell On Movies
Two Dollar Cinema
A Fistful Of Films
The Cinematic Spectacle
FlixChatter (Thanks for the banner logo Ruth!)

The original list had plenty of incredible directors on it, but as the baton has been handed down the list has become pretty damned impressive:

The 10 Most Influential Directors Of All Time

Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, Quentin Tarantino, Georges Méliès, Martin Scorsese, Orson Welles, Steven Spielberg, Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick

Ruth’s addition to the list was Billy Wilder and her justification was thus: “I’ve recently seen one of Wilder’s best, The Apartment, and I could see why his films are so beloved. He imbued such wit in his films, a dose of cynical humor. He also has a way with actors, having directed no less than 14 actors to Oscar-nominated performances. He’s also a versatile writer/director, as he excelled in numerous genres: drama, noir, comedy as well as war films. He’s one of those directors whose work I still need to see more of, but even from the few that I’ve seen, it’s easy to see how Mr Wilder belongs in this list.”

So, Who’s Out?

Jean Luc Goddard

Jean-Luc Godard

Man, this was an almost impossible decision. Godard’s still making movies aged 83 and there’s no denying the influence of his work. Breathless remains a defining work of the French New Wave and his 1964 film Bande à part was stolen by Tarantino for the name of his production company. The more I think about it, the less I’m sure, but compared to the others on this list I feel Godard’s influence has slipped and, as such, he doesn’t quite make it. Sorry Jean-Luc, but I suspect you’d feel that lists like this are way too bourgeois anyway.

Now, Who’s In?

John Ford

John Ford

Reflecting on his masterpiece Citizen Kane, Orson Welles was asked who influenced what is still regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. Welles’ reply was simple: “The old masters, by which I mean John Ford, John Ford and John Ford.” He had reputedly watched Ford’s 1939 classic Stagecoach more than 40 times in preparation for his debut feature and he wasn’t the only one to have been drawn to the work of one of the most influential directors of all time.

An encounter with Ford proved to have a massive impact on a 15-year-old Steven Spielberg, who subsequently said of the great man: “Ford’s in my mind when I make a lot of my pictures.” Watch Saving Private Ryan‘s devastating D-Day landings sequence and War Horse and you’ll see Ford’s stamp front and centre.

Likewise, Martin Scorsese has cited The Searchers as one of his favourite films. Speaking about the film in the Hollywood Reporter, Scorsese said: “In truly great films – the ones that people need to make, the ones that start speaking through them, the ones that keep moving into territory that is more and more unfathomable and uncomfortable – nothing’s ever simple or neatly resolved. You’re left with a mystery. In this case, the mystery of a man who spends 10 years of his life searching for someone, realises his goal, brings her back and then walks away. Only an artist as great as John Ford would dare to end a film on such a note.”

The list goes on. Ingmar Bergman cited Ford as “the best director in the world”, while Alfred Hitchcock declared that a “John Ford film was a visual gratification”.

From the earliest days of film, through to the invention of sound and the introduction of colour, Ford remained a cinematic pioneer. Although best regarded for his westerns, he also made another masterpiece that defined a nation – The Grapes Of Wrath; while his incredible World War Two documentaries The Battle Of Midway and December 7th remain quintessential examples of the craft. For all this alone, John Ford should be regarded as The Great American Director.


Well, that’s me done, so now the torch passes to… Fernando at Committed to Celluloid. Good luck Fernando; you’re gonna need it!