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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: BD Wong

Jurassic World (2015)

Next summer, just go to Six Flags.

A little over 20 years since the disastrous incident that occurred at Jurassic Park, Jurassic World is now up, running and pretty damn successful. It’s considered one of the more popular theme parks on the planet, where it features all sorts of dinosaurs, games, rides, and scientists working on genetically-modified dinosaurs. Wait, what? Yep, just like they were doing those many years ago, scientists at Jurassic World are now trying to figure out how they can make bigger, better and more efficient dinosaurs so that they can keep attendance booming over a large period of time. While the operation’s manager, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), sees no problem in this, one of the Velociraptor’s trainers, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), does and sees that it’s only a matter of time until the dinosaurs decide to bite back. Eventually, on one fateful day when two brothers (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) are visiting the park, the T-Rex that they have hidden away at the park gets loose and decides to run all sorts of havoc around the park. Now, it’s only a matter of time until too much damage is done and nobody can stop it; something that Grady, as well as some shady businessmen, want to make happen.

Let’s get one thing clear: Jurassic World is definitely the better of the Jurassic Park sequels. Sure, that may not be saying much, but considering that so many sequels/reboots/remakes/cash-ins seem to pop by every other week or so, without seeming like any life was put into them at all, it’s saying a whole lot. It’s saying that Steven Spielberg made a smart decision on taking a back-seat to his prized possession and allow young up-and-comer Colin Trevorrow take over the reigns; a job he does fine enough with to where there’s some brief instances of a sense of fun and wonder in the tips of his hands.

Okay, Chris, we get it! You really want to be Indiana Jones!!

Okay, Chris, we get it! You really want to be Indiana Jones!!

So yeah, it’s a good movie. Is it great? Nope, but sometimes, that doesn’t always matter.

Where Trevorrow seems to drop the ball a bit is in making sense of this story to its fullest extent. For one, it’s interesting that even though there’s so much talk about the theme park of Jurassic World itself, and in how it’s trying to be the biggest, best, and greatest thing to ever hit the Earth, makes me wonder what the message was trying to be conveyed here. In a day and age we live in where SeaWorld seems to constantly be getting hit with controversy after controversy, it’s almost idiotic to avoid discussing this in any way, especially when your own movie seems to be dealing with the same problems, in a theme park where animals are held, no less.

But what’s odd is that the movie doesn’t ever seem to know what sort of stance it wants to take. We don’t know if we’re supposed to feel pity for the genetically-modified dinosaurs and how they’re just acting out the way they would be, had they not been so held in captivity for so long, or if we’re supposed to feel bad for the human beings who are just trying to run away and save their own lives. In the original film, it was clear that we’re supposed to care for the humans, but also realize that the dinosaurs were acting out in menacing ways that made them deserve to be put down. Trevorrow and company, for some odd reason, constantly juggle between the two and it creates a weird jumble that never seems to be fully pinned-down.

And then, of course, there’s the issue of how the characters, despite the lovely cast playing them, are a bit on the bland side. One of the hottest, brightest, talented and most charming stars we have working in movies today, Chris Pratt, is given the hero role as Owen Grady and it doesn’t seem like it fully goes as deep as it should have. Sure, Pratt gets a chance to use some lines, look tough and constantly seem like he’s always in control, but he plays it in such a way that’s almost too straight; as if he was just playing Burt Macklin, through and through, and forgetting to drop out of character. Of course, this may have more to do with the writing that was made for him, which is a shame, but it puts into question as to why the writers didn’t decide to give Pratt, one of the funnier men in movies today, at least a joke or two to work with?

Just seems weird, is all.

Who is it that's supposed to be afraid by Richie Cunningham's daughter?

Who is it that’s supposed to be afraid by Richie Cunningham’s daughter?

Bryce Dallas Howard is sort of in the same boat as Pratt, where her character seems like she’s just window-dressing to a lot of action and a random romantic subplot that seems to come a tad bit out of nowhere. Then, Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson play her nephews who seem to be there to yell, run and scream a whole lot; Vincent D’Onofrio plays the villain, who will occasionally sound like he has a Southern accent, and then, suddenly, drop out of it; and well, there’s plenty more along the likes of Omar Sy, Judy Greer, Jake Johnson, Lauren Lapkus, Irrfan Khan, and B.D. Wong, all of whom do what they can, but aren’t always given much to work with because of the visual-display on hand.

With that said, too, the movie itself is actually all fine. There’s just been so many complaints about the characters that it felt like it needed to be addressed, because while they’re definitely lame, they don’t destroy the movie. It’s still a fun time, which seems to be because Trevorrow still knows what it’s like to watch a movie as a kid – just as Spielberg seems to have always intended with his movies.

Though some moan and complain about the fact that the movie takes about an hour to get to any sort of dinosaur action, or any action of any sort, for that matter, it still seemed to work for me, the same way it did for me in Godzilla. Whereas that movie kept us in the dark about what it prized-attraction looked like and was capable of doing, Jurassic World seems to understand that we know what its star looks like and can do, however, when it’ll come into play is what really makes the anticipation all the more worth it. Once the T-Rex is unleashed and all hell breaks loose, the movie still keeps its fun tone alive and well, but at the same time, still terrifying to where it doesn’t seem watered-down like most PG-13 movies can be, especially when they’re made for a larger audience.

So basically, come to this one for all of the action and fun, don’t bother even taking a glance at the characters; you’ll only leave pissed-off.

Consensus: Though definitely lacking in the story and character department, Jurassic World benefits from a fun and exciting feel that makes it a summer blockbuster worth checking out, even if the “other” sequels still leave rancid tastes in your mouth.

7 / 10

Meh. Whatever.

Meh. Whatever.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

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Focus (2015)

All it takes is a few really good-looking people to make you forget about your Rolex.

Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith) is a seasoned vet at the art of conning people. He’s been in it for so long, however, that he feels like maybe it’s about time that he starts to settle down and focus on the bigger picture: Actual life. But such is the problem with the life of a con man – you can’t be trusted, which, as a result, means you can’t trust anyone else. It’s pretty sad, but at least you have a lot of money. This all begins to change for Nicky when he meets young, bright, bubbly and downright beautiful grifter, Jess Barrett (Margot Robbie), who wants Nicky to teach her the tricks and the trade of pulling off the perfect con. Nicky has no problem with this, because he believes Jess is smart enough and more than capable, but has one major problem: He may be in love with her. Which isn’t just bad for business, but bad for him, as a person. And Jess may feel the same way, but the two never fully know until it’s all too late.

Movies about con men, women, people, etc., all suffer the same problems: They’re fun, flashy and twisty, but sometimes, they get a bit too over-the-heads and can end up becoming a convoluted mess that doesn’t fully add up. One of the rare exceptions to this rule is the classic-caper, the Sting, which definitely helped get through some of its slower-patches with its attention to detail and character, but still had enough twists and turns to fuel us up when we needed it the most, but never overdid it either. It wasn’t the large bed, nor was it the small one – it was the one, slap-dab in the middle that was just right.

How could say "no" to that face? Hot damn!

How could say “no” to that face? Hot damn!

Focus is not one of these movies, and yet, I have a hard time complaining about it much.

For one, it’s a very exciting movie. It’s quick, light-on-its-feet and hardly ever slows down, even when the characters do get to talking about their emotions and so on and so forth. Even then, though, these moments are still neat to watch and pay attention to, because you never quite know whether one is actually being themselves because they want to actually be genuine for once, or if they’re just putting up an act so that they can get what it is that they want. This actually happens during a couple of instances in this film, and it helps speed things along smoothly enough to where we’re not nit-picking every single mistake, or contrivance this movie makes up. Because, trust me, there are plenty to be had here.

There’s one sequence that takes place during the Super Bowl that’s not only the most memorable of the whole movie, but features some of the more tense sequences I’ve seen in something that doesn’t include much gun-play, car-chases, or violence, for that matter. What happens is that we see Smith’s character, Nicky, constantly throw down bets just to have a ball at the game, because he’s with Robbie’s character and, like most women (apparently), she doesn’t give a lick about the sport of football. The bets start off nice, sweet, and playful, like any good two pals would do, but then, once another party walks in on the betting-pool and realizes that they can have some fun while spending plenty of dimes, then the bets get more extreme, the money gets larger, and eventually, we’re left having no clue where the hell this is going to go, why, and who is going to be on the receiving-end of this bet.

I won’t say much more about it, except that it’s the most excitement I’ve had during a movie in quite some time and that’s because it’s unpredictable. Most movies of this nature definitely strive for that, but instead, seem so tailor-made to make sure that everybody has a big, happy smile leaving, so therefore, they’re going to get the pleasing solution to whatever problem may come into the protagonist’s way. Here, it’s never fully clear whether we’re going to get the happy ending, or the sad, dark, and depressing one.

And because of that, Focus hardly loses an ounce of steam. Even if, you know, there’s plenty that goes on here in it that seems to be wildly unbelievable and over-the-top, that it ever happening, or being as intricately planned-out as it is made out to be, hardly ever rings true. But that just shows you what can happen when you make your movie as fun and as exciting as this: You can have some of the biggest, widest, most gaping plot-holes ever seen on the face of the planet, and if you allow us, the audience, to laugh, enjoy ourselves, and come close to even crying, then don’t worry, all is well.

For the most part, that is.

Stop looking so fresh, Will Smith.

Stop looking so fresh, Will Smith…….

But where the movie really racks up the points in winning us over is with the pitch perfect casting of both Will Smith and soon-to-be-star Margot Robbie, in the leading roles. Though the age-gap between the two is nearly 22 years, that didn’t bother me as much here, as it does with some of Woody Allen’s movies, because the two have surefire chemistry that barely hits a false note. Sure, you could make the argument that even when the age-difference between the two spouses in Woody Allen’s movie hit almost 30, they can still seem believable and understandable because of good chemistry between the two, but here, it didn’t seem as creepy. Or, at least, the movie didn’t have it written-out to be that way.

For instance, once we see these two together, automatically, you can tell that there’s some sort of spark between the two. It could be all made-up for the con; it could be genuine attraction; or, it could be love. Whatever it is, Robbie and Smith seemed like they really enjoyed working with one another both in front of, as well as behind the camera, because every opportunity they have to make some bit of this feel heartfelt, they go for it. Even if you know Smith’s character is just messing around with Robbie’s to get her to do what he wants for a con, or whatever, there’s still a small feeling that he actually wants to be with her. As unlikely as that may be.

Which is to say, yes, Will Smith does wonders with a role that, quite frankly, could have been so corny and forgettable, had it been played by most other movie stars. But Smith, giving it all he’s got, fits into this role so perfectly that you believe him both as the calm, cool and confident smooth-talker that’s able to get through any con with the use of his fast-working brain, as well as a guy who sincerely wants to settle down in life and possibly even get out of the conning business, just for that reason alone. There’s a heart to this character that makes him worth watching, and it’s where Smith’s performance really takes hold.

But the one who really walks away with this one, is the fiery, the hot, and the engaging woman who is Margot Robbie. Most may know Robbie from the Wolf of Wall Street and while that’s a solid highlight of what she can do, here, as Jess Barrett, she is constantly taking this movie over. Not only does she use her unbelievably lovely good-looks to her advantage to get what she wants, but she too, just like Smith’s character, feels like an actual person that wants everything there is to offer in life. Sure, she wants to con people and make some money in the process of living that life of hers, but at the end of the day, she still wants to have a husband, a family, and even possibly, a life that she can feel safe and comfortable with living.

See, con men – they’re like you or I. Just with a lot more cash lying around.

Consensus: The twists and turns can sometimes border on ridiculous, but Focus always keeps its cool by depending on the engagingly fun and frothy chemistry between Smith and Robbie, while also giving them a fun movie to work all their sly moves in.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Another successful night at the bars for Will Smith. Of which I bet he has plenty.

Another successful night at the bars for Will Smith. Of which I bet he has plenty.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Jurassic Park (1993)

Dinosaurs never have been, and never will be the same.

Two dinosaur experts, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler Laura Dern), are invited to test out a soon-to-be theme park from a millionaire named John Hammond (Richard Attenborough). Hammond has it all: he’s got the glitz, the glamour, the look, the style, and most surprisingly; he has dinosaurs. That’s right those things that you thought were exterminated almost 70 million years ago are in Hammond’s park, and are causing a ruckus like you’d expect. However, when that ruckus turns from playful to deadly in a matter of 24 hours, all hell breaks loose and it’s time for everybody to get their asses the hell of that damn island.

It’s been a long, long time since I made a return to this wonderful, but scary island but it was still a trip worth taking, even if it was in 3D this time around. Here’s the thing about the 3D since most peeps will want to know right off the bat: it’s nothing worth even talking about (even though that is exactly what I’m doing). The 3D is cool at times and definitely makes you feel as if you are a lot closer to the action than ever before, especially when it’s just jumping right out at you, but other than that; it’s nothing special that would really make me want to go out and see it, again and again. Even though I did see it in theaters, it was all because it was free, early in the a.m., and best of all, with my daddy waddy. Father-son bonding. Ain’t nothing else like it.

Aside from the 3D elements that are relatively lackluster at best, let me just get back with the movie and say that it’s still as fun and entertaining as much as it was all those years ago I watched it as a kid. I remember being scared of the big-ass dinos, I remember gripping my seat when those kids were running all-over-the-place in that kitchen, and I especially remember those freaky fuckers that used to spray poison/venom out of themselves, just as soon as they gave you the warning sign to “run the fuck away, now!”. Fond memories going into this movie and I was so happy to see none of them really tarnished, even if some glaring problems come in the way now that I’m a more sophisticated, and uppity-uppity film critic.

Lights off, idiot!

Lights off, idiot!

Some of the problems I seemed to have had with the script was not that it was lame or anything, it’s fine for what it is and what it tries to do, it’s just that when the initial plot where there is running, chasing, and panic all throughout the area, I felt like it could have been handled better, and written better without all of the plot inconveniences  For instance, the character of John Hammond just seemed like an idiot for even bothering opening up this park, for one reason and one reason only: there’s not enough security. The fact that the dippy was even thinking of opening up this park, where dinosaurs can easily get out of their safe-spots, just by knocking down a couple of wires, seemed really idiotic to me and not something that a rich millionaire would even forget about. Then, it goes on about how he’s cloning these dinosaurs from other gene-pools and turning them all into female, even if that proves a problem for evolution within this park, along with the rising tensions. I get that the guy had a passion and inspiration to create this park and allow everybody to see it, but you got to think things through man before you go all nutso on us.

There’s other problems with the script in certain areas, but the fact of the matter is that this movie is still fun, still entertaining, and still freaky, despite being released almost 20 years ago. Shit, I was actually three months away from entering the world when this movie came out. I’m getting old, man. The movie holds up in many ways because it shows what Steven Spielberg can do when he has a vision and that includes having a ball with his material. Some of it is a tad serious, but rightfully so. It allows us to feel worried for these characters as they constantly try to run and hide from these dinos, without losing a leg, arm, shoulder, knee, or life. It’s pretty scary even after all of these years, but I like how Spielberg was able to transition it back-and-forth, between serious and fun. It’s not light entertainment by any stretch, but if you bring your kid to it, I highly doubt they’ll be scared for life. Granted, they may wet the bed every night and never, ever want to see a dinosaur again, but that’s just life my friend. Quite frankly, it’s your call if you want to take them to see it, not mine. So please, don’t sue me if the kid ends up in a nut-ward or a serial killer. Just saying.

Another factor of this movie that works and also shows how much fun Spielberg seemed to be having while filming was the ensemble-cast he was able to assemble and make ready for this “dinosaur on a rampage” flick. Might have been a hard-sell at the time, but somehow, the man was able to get a lot of heavy-hitters that are still doing great work, even to this day. Laura Dern and Sam Neill are good as the couple that loves dinosaur bones as much as they love each other, and are good at what they do, whether they be together or separate  Dern is good at playing-up that tough, female-role where she can do almost as much dirty work, if not more than the boys in town; whereas Neill is good at playing-up his role as the type of dude who doesn’t like kids and doesn’t even want him, but yet, finds himself almost acting like a daddy when the shit hits the fan. Bedtime stories and all.

"What a pretty puppet."

“What a pretty puppet.”

Samuel L. Jackson shows up and is good in his couple of scenes where he infamously utters the line, “Hold on to your butts.” A bit corny, but it’s classic because of Mr. Jackson. Or Samuel L. Whichever one that mofo desires. Despite the problems I had with his dumb-ass character, screen-vet Richard Attenborough was actually very good at giving us a glimpse into a man that has too much money, too much ambition, but not enough smarts to fully think things through. I felt bad for him, until I realized that he allowed his grand kids to show up for this wonderful weekend. I guess he won’t be invited to Christmas din-din any time soon. And lastly, need I not forget about the one, the only, Mr. Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, aka, the rock-star scientist who always lays low, always lays cool, and always has something hilarious or witty to say. It’s classic-Goldblum, whadda ya expect?!?

Consensus: Though the extra-dimension isn’t needed, Jurassic Park still holds up as one of the best, and most entertaining Spielberg flicks because he never seems to lose that fun-aspect that makes it such a ride (they actually have a pretty sucky one in Universal), and also the serious side to it all where you feel like anybody could die at any second, you just don’t know how to expect it coming. Trust me, not as gruesome as it sounds so show your kiddies and see what they have to say. Unless they get traumatized for the rest of their lives. Once again, don’t blame me for not listening to your inner-soul.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

If all parks ended their tours like this, family-trips wouldn't be so painful.

If all parks ended their tours like this, family-trips wouldn’t be so painful.