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Jurassic World: Dominion Review | An Extinction Event?

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Let me preface by saying that I did not grow up on the Jurassic Park franchise as a kid nor was I dying to see the legacy sequel/reboot, Jurassic World back in 2014. Yeah, dinosaurs are cool and all, but the most exposure I had to them was at the Museum of Natural History growing up. But even still, the Jurassic World trilogy has a good hook between MCU leading man Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, who is one of the best directors to helm a Mandalorian episode, and upgraded visual effects that should make the dinosaurs truly come to life. Unfortunately, Dominion fails to end the trilogy on a high note, or even end the trilogy at all and is a lifeless sequel that should put this franchise on the verge of extinction.

Dominion picks up four years after Fallen Kingdom; dinosaurs are co-existing with humans, and while the fate of humanity is in question, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) are here to save the day. The pair spend their days rescuing the dinosaurs they can, all while attempting to raise Maisie (Isabella Sermon) but also protect her from outside threats. Meanwhile, a new organization, Biosyn, is up to no good in a plot that crosses the paths of the new trilogy crew of Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Isabella Sermon, with the original trilogy trio of Sam Neil, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum.

A Mosasaurus in Jurassic World Dominion, co-written and directed by Colin Trevorrow.

Before I vent my frustrations, I want to say that the opening of Dominion is exactly what I loved about Fallen Kingdom; it opens with a gigantic dinosaur completely annihilating a boat at sea. The opening of Fallen Kingdom did something similar, and better, which is one of the only things I remember about that film. And Dominion brings the franchise back to its roots a bit with the integration of some practical effects with the dinosaurs. Obviously, you’re not able to recreate a T-Rex for budgetary and logical reasons, but some of the smaller dinosaurs have that animatronic charm that can be traced back to the original films. Perhaps Fallen Kingdom did this as well, but let’s not act like that film was memorable.

(from left) Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) in Jurassic World Dominion, co-written and directed by Colin Trevorrow.

I may have called Chris Pratt an MCU leading man, and while he has always been good in his appearances as Star-Lord, where is that charisma in Dominion? When Owen Grady first appears on screen, it’s almost as if Pratt is doing his audition to take the fedora in the Indiana Jones franchise in a scene that is reminiscent of the opening of The Last Crusade. From his first real line of dialogue, Pratt is void of all of the energy and aura that he brings to his other franchise roles. In that particular scene, Pratt plays the role of the father who doesn’t know how to handle his daughter, but the delivery of his lines such as, “That kid” — or something to that effect mixed — or his moments of trying to be a stern parent, are cringe-inducing. And believe me, it brings me no joy to say this as I like Pratt. Luckily, Thor: Love and Thunder releases in less than a month, and perhaps some of that charisma will be rediscovered. If not, I guess we’ll just have to wait for him to voice Mario.

Perhaps even worse was Campbell Scott who plays the main antagonist of the film, Dr. Lewis Dodgson, CEO of Biosyn Genetics. His character spends about 90% of his screentime eating and Scott spends the other 10% delivering his lines as dry as the desert whilst likely wondering what he’ll do with the blank check he’ll get when he’s brought back for the (inevitable) third Andrew Garfield-Spider-Man film.

(from left) Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) in Jurassic World Dominion, co-written and directed by Colin Trevorrow.

As for the returning legacy characters, returning are Sam Neil as Dr. Alan Grant, Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler, and Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcom, who I believe was relegated to a monologue at the end that was so out of place, it felt like it belonged in a Rolland Emmerich film. Goldblum is the only of the three that showed up and didn’t drag his feet. Meanwhile, Neil and Dern both seem like they’re being mouthed to smile in the grocery store by their parents even despite how good the two are capable of being.

But to be fair to the actors, some of those struggles can be traced back to the script. Dominion gives its actors very little to work with which is made evidently clear with exchanges such as: “Can you do it?”; “Not for free”; “…Then do it.”

(from left) A Giganotosaurus, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise), Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) in Jurassic World Dominion, co-written and directed by Colin Trevorrow.

Dominion is at its best when it lets its dinosaurs go at it (go figure). So why is the film more focused on its locust subplot? Beats me! The same could be said about the character of Maisie Lockwood. Remember all of the mystique surrounding this character (who ends up being a clone)? Apparently, there was nothing more to add to that story aside from transitioning her into her teenage rebellious phase with her way of acting out being biking across the bridge from A Quiet Place despite being told not to by her very “stern” guardian figures. Yes, Maisie is still important to both of the plots at hand, but her being kidnapped is a mere means to an end, which is getting all of the original trio and the sequel trio to Biosyn in this case.

Ironically, at some point in Dominion, the question of whether or not a replica can top the original. As The Force Awakens and now the Jurassic World trilogy have shown, it’s damn-near impossible to accomplish that feat. The fact of the matter is, Dominion is not a great sequel, much less a great legacy sequel. Its sloppy pacing and lack of closure make this feel like yet another sequel in a larger sequel when it’s supposed to serve as a bookend to the story of this sequel trilogy, at least to my knowledge. And the thing that everyone comes to these films for, dinosaurs, are etched into the plot far too little. Perhaps this IP needs an age of extinction for a bit before trying to revitalize it.

Universal Pictures will release Jurassic World: Dominion on June 10.

FILM RATING

Andrew is an entertainment journalist and film "critic" who has written for the likes of Above the Line, Below the Line, Collider, Film Focus Online, /Film and The Hollywood Handle among others. Leader of the Kaitlyn Dever Fanclub.

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Comic Book Movies

X-Men ’97 Review | Nostalgic, Epic & Marvelous!

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X-Men '97 (Disney)

Get ready for action-packed adventure, many surprise cameos and a storyline that takes

Plot

A band of mutants use their uncanny gifts to protect a world that hates and fears them; they’re challenged like never before, forced to face a dangerous and unexpected new future.

X-Men ’97 (Disney)

Review

X-Men ’97 is a revival of the classic 1990s animated television series. The storyline picks up directly after the events of the original series, maintaining continuity and preserving the beloved elements that made the original a hit show back in the day. Many of the original voice cast members have returned, including Cal Dodd as Wolverine, Lenore Zann as Rogue, George Buza as Beast, Alison Sealy-Smith as Storm and Adrian Hough as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler, which adds a layer of originality and contributes to the overall nostalgia of the television show​. Here I’m feeling like a little kid again, watching the show on a Saturday morning. I was 7 years old when it was on television in the early mornings, and it still brings back fond memories.

There were a number of new stars who joined the show such as Ray Chase who replaced Norm Spencer as Cyclops, Jennifer Hale who replaced Catherine Disher as Jean Grey, Holly Chou who replaced Alyson Court as Jubilee, A.J. LoCascio as Gambit, Matthew Waterson as Magneto, J.P. Karliak as Morph, Isaac Robinson-Smith as Bishop, Ross Marquand as Professor Charles Xavier and Gui Agustini as Roberto da Costa/Sunspot.

X-Men ’97 (Disney)

The series starts off in a world where the X-Men grapple with the loss of Professor Charles Xavier. Amidst all the chaos and uncertainty, Magneto rises to the occasion and becomes the new leader of the X-Men. This provides additional drama and the team dynamics is frequently tested with the new leadership. While dealing with the new leadership dynamics the X-Men finds themselves still dealing with people who would stop at nothing to end all mutants. The storyline doesn’t hold back on the action sequences and themes such as grief, loss and acceptance are touched on throughout the series.

The trailer of the show doesn’t spoil anything for the viewer, and I highly encourage you to watch every intro and try to spot any new changes. The show provides many cameos and easter eggs, keeping my hopes alive of a potential crossover.

The story ends with a twist, leaving you hungry for the next season, and as any Marvel movie or television show would have it, a mid-credits scene to whet your appetite for what’s to come. If you are new to X-Men you can still jump in and watch the television series, but I highly recommend watching the original series to get you up to date with most of the lore and history of the X-Men.

X-Men ’97 keeps the legacy of our favorite mutants alive with a well-written story that is filled with emotion, surprises and promises of more adventures.

Thank you Beau DeMayo for an eXcellent story! I rate this show a 5 out of 5!

Will we skip the intro song? No! I don’t think we will. Make sure to catch the show on Disney Plus!

https://youtu.be/mp1Pax-QHlA?si=-fFlVYBRIPnLQyVO
X-Men ’97 Final Trailer (Marvel Entertainment)

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‘The Present’ Review | A Heartfelt Family Adventure with a Magical Twist

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The Present
A still from 'The Present' (The Movie Partnership)

In the heartwarming film ‘The Present,’ a young boy stumbles upon a mysterious grandfather clock with the extraordinary ability to transport him through time. Driven by the hope of reuniting his parents, he embarks on a magical journey with his siblings to prevent their family from falling apart. As they face challenges together, they discover the enduring power of love and the true meaning of family.

Over the years, we have seen a lot of time-travel movies, but ‘The Present’ is a bit different from those movies. It’s not about saving the world and defending the universe from aliens. It’s all about keeping a family together and feeling loved again. In Christian Ditter’s cute romantic-comedy film, we see Jen (Isla Fisher) and Eric (Greg Kinnear) having a dinner with their three children: Emma (Shay Rudolph), Max (Mason Shea Joyce), and Taylor (Easton Rocket Sweda). However, things go downhill when the parents announce that they are separating. The next day, an old clock that used to be in Eric’s father’s house arrives at their house and they decide to keep it in their basement. Something is written on the clock, and it reads, “This clock can help you now and then, but only you can change events.” Soon, Taylor finds out that the clock can be used to time travel and alter events. As a result, he stitches a plan, along with his siblings, to bring their parents together.

Shay Rudolph and Easton Rocket Sweda in ‘The Present’ (The Movie Partnership’

The enchanted grandfather clock is a delightful narrative device that immediately draws the audience into a world where the impossible becomes possible. Who wouldn’t want to turn the clock back and alter certain events? The clock, intricately designed and exuding an air of mystical antiquity, serves as both, a literal and metaphorical centerpiece for the story. However, the movie is not just about the clock or what it does, it is about the extreme lengths children can go to restore their family. The themes of love, forgiveness, and the passage of time are woven throughout the film, offering moments of reflection and emotional resonance. The makers have subtly shown how challenging it can be to mend things, emphasizing the importance of understanding and empathy within familial relationships. Certain moments in the film would surely encourage you to let your family know how much they are valued.

Writers have done a great job in stitching a story that’s not complex. Everything that takes place in front of our eyes is neither flashy nor over the top, which makes the movie even more relatable. However, certain elements could have been infused to make the script even better. We could have seen a bit more emotional turmoil between the central pair to have a better idea about their state. On the other hand, the relationship between Jen and the kids should have been explored a little more. Apart from that, there are pacing issues in certain scenes, which could have been mended with tighter editing. Despite these shortcomings, ‘The Present’ is a charming film that offers a warm and engaging experience.

Isla Fisher and Greg Kinnear in ‘The Present’ (The Movie Partnership)

Acting-wise, Isla Fisher and Greg Kinner are splendid in their respective roles. Both actors are fully committed to their roles and don’t miss a beat. Fisher has evolved as an actor and it would be a travesty if we don’t see her healing a big blockbuster soon. The young cast delivers commendable performances, particularly Mason Shea Joyce, whose wide-eyed innocence and determination drive the film forward. Meanwhile, Shay Rudolph is as wonderful as Emma. The chemistry between the siblings feels genuine, their camaraderie reflecting a realistic portrayal of sibling dynamics.

Overall, ‘The Present’ succeeds in delivering a touching, family-friendly adventure. Its enchanting premise, mixed with heartfelt performances, makes it a worthwhile watch, especially for families seeking a film with positive messages.

‘The Present’ hit UK cinemas on May 24.

 

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Netflix

Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 Review: Have They Lost Their Spark?

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Sam Phillips as Lord Debling, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton

Dearest gentle reader, Lady Whistledown is back for another Bridgerton season, and this time for her own love story (the ton doesn’t need to know). Classy as ever, Bridgerton Season 3 focuses primarily on Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton’s characters Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton as they take their friendship to another level.

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton

What is Bridgerton Season 3 About?

After focusing on Daphne and Anthony Bridgerton in the first and second seasons, the story is now following Colin Bridgerton’s story with the girl next door. Penelope was many things for Colin but never a love interest. She was his sister’s best friend, a girl next door, a friend, and someone who had a crush on him. It’s no secret for the viewers that Penelope had a huge crush on Colin for years, but our girl finally feels ready to move on and get her life together. She is now in search of a husband after getting her heart broken in the last season.

What Stole the Show?

Apart from Nicola Coughlan getting the most deserving highlight, Netflix did their fan service and gave more screen time to now-extremely popular Benedict Bridgerton. Benedict Bridgerton has always been one of the fan favorite characters but after this season he has certainly got a huge following. Luke Thompson’s charms deserve to be studied in a university. He seems to be people’s new crush and I don’t blame them! The beautifully written dialogues are as usual top notch.

Bridgerton is famous for many reasons, including its orchestral remix of popular songs. This season Pitbull’s ‘Give Me Everything’ is in the limelight as one doesn’t expect such an iconic party song to sound so classy. Huge kudos to the makeup and costume department for carrying the show with its theme gracefully. They certainly grasped the attention and enhanced the characters of the show.

Benedict Bridgerton and Lady Tilley Arnold

Benedict Bridgerton and Lady Tilley Arnold

What’s Bothering Us in The Show?

The scripting of the show seems rushed. It lacks the spice, passion, and the slow burn romance that defines a Bridgerton story. Colin’s character has been poorly developed this time. After being sidelined for the last two seasons this one was supposed to make him the knight in shining armor, but he rather lacks the character. He tries to help Penelope only because he feels guilty for insulting and hurting her. Later on, he ruins her chance with a great suitor only because he feels jealous for not having her. He acts like a child who wants his toy back as soon as some other child starts playing with it. He misses Penelope’s attention after seeing her happy with someone else who wants to marry her. Some may call it ‘true love’ but I believe it’s too immature and childish thing to do for a Bridgerton character. Nothing against Luke Newton but his character development is not helping the show.

Apart from lacking the slow-build and passionate love story, the show seems to have forgotten about Daphne and Simon Basset (played by Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page) completely. Anthony and Kate Bridgerton (played by Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley) appear in one episode and are not even mentioned in the rest.

Nicola Coughlan – The Show’s Star

Nicola Coughlan is shining brighter than any star in the sky. Both Nicola and Penelope are role models for body positivity. Young girls and women across the globe highly relate to Penelope and seeing her accepting herself, being comfortable in her own skin, and getting a complete makeover to feel more like herself is bound to create a positive wave among the fans. Unlike the last two Seasons, the Third Season is also focusing on other characters of the show as well, as it creates branches and stories for potential upcoming seasons. Yet, no one and nothing shines in front of Nicola Coughlan as she wears her crown with grace.

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington

Is It Better Than Last Two Seasons?

Each Bridgerton story has its unique charm that keeps our eyes glued to the screens. Some love Season 1, others like Season 2, and the rest prefer Season 3 but is it better than the last two? Probably not. Nothing can beat Season 1! As much as the show focuses on the ‘Friends to Lovers’ storyline, it lacks the true essence of romance and no, I’m not talking about the spiciness even though they severely lack to give us butterflies. Polin’s storyline sometimes gives us butterflies but not as much as previous seasons did. The groundwork for the couple was laid since the first season yet they are not coming as strong and passionate as expected.

Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 is currently available to stream on Netflix. Part 2 will be released on June 13.

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