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The Arrival of a mind-blowing sci-fi masterpiece
Last night I saw Arrival at TIFF and my mind was blown. This is by far Villeneuve's biggest film he has tackled yet with so many strong universal themes but yet also feels very emotional and intimate from the perspective of Amy Adams's character.
Unlike Villeneuve's previous works like Prisoners and Sicario, Arrival isn't a dark or twisted look at humanity. Instead, Villeneuve chooses to go for a lighter yet still serious tone with the mystery surrounding the arrival of the aliens. That is what makes Arrival so incredible. Villeneuve injects elements from Stanley Kubrick's 2001 to make the story not only visual stunning but also makes it very captivating. Arrival does not rely on conflict between the humans and aliens to keep you invested and entertained because Arrival is against that trope. Each time our characters interact with the aliens, who remain covered in mist for most of the screen time, we as the audience gain something new in the form of knowledge and discovery rather then an action set piece. And when we return back to the outside world, we see through the media how each discovery affects it in different ways.
The characters are one of the reasons why this film works. They are not treated as cliché plot devices but are just real people who just want answers to this situation. Amy Adams truly is the star of this film as she carries this film with a sense of gravitas but also vulnerability. She shows a woman who is at first terrified from meeting the newly arrived aliens but gains strength when she learns more. Flashbacks to a tragic event also reveal the struggle she goes through especially as the fate of the world is on her shoulders. Jeremy Renner does a good job as a physicist with a dry sense of humor. Forest Whittaker is also great a the general who isn't a trigger-happy idiot but someone whose job is just to get answers in order to find the safest and most humane solution possible.
Arrival is a film that is more then just about language. It shows how divided we are as a species as each nation and culture interprets the alien's language in different meanings. And from this lack of clear understanding it creates fear and paranoia that could lead to global war. But Arrival shows that despite the mystery that surrounds the unknown, the future can be just as hopeful and bright as it might be scary and we should approach it with confidence.
This has proved Denise Villeneuve has range in genre as a director. I look forward to seeing him continue his work in the sci fi genre with Blade Runner 2.
Free Fire (2016)
One hell of a bang at TIFF
Boston, 1973. Members of the IRA and an arms dealer come to an abandoned warehouse to make a deal to buy some machine guns. Everything is supposed to go smoothly until one member from the one group draws out a gun and shoots the other because of a previous incident. And all hell breaks.
Ben Wheatley's previous film, High Rise, I was not a fan of. High Rise felt too disturbing with heavy-handed messaging while lacking a coherent plot. Free Fire is by far a major improvement with hilarious dialogue, fun and well-written characters and non-stop action. I saw the movie at TIFF today and was pleasantly surprised. Wheatley turns this empty warehouse into a war zone with each of these character taking cover behind various objects and firing blindly. Unlike a lot of generic action movies where characters seem to magically dodge bullets, no one is safe and everyone eventually gets scraped or hit by bullets. This leads to some fun sequences of characters crawling on the ground to get from one cover to the next.
Surprisingly the two standouts are Cillian Murphy and Armie Hammer. Both were surprisingly funny in subtle ways. Sharlto Copley once again plays another weird but yet still hilarious and fun character. I also give strong shout-outs to Sam Riley and Jack Reynor. And Brie Larson is bad-ass as she holds her own weight against her male co- stars.
If I can say one negative it's that this isn't a movie with a lot of depth. It's not flat but don't expect this to be too much of a complex film. It is just simply about the these 2 trigger-happy groups trying either to kill or survive. It is more of a black comedy/thriller.
Free Fire is definitely one of the most fun and exciting action movies you will see so it is definitely worth a shot to watch once it releases in theatres.
Not the disappointment critics have claimed
I was really skeptical into seeing Warcraft because of the weak reviews critics have given this movie. After a co- worker recommended it, I saw it in Imax and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the story and the world-building. And this is coming from someone who has never played any Warcraft. I was able to understand most of the rules and worlds that the film showed. And the visual effects are stunning. They felt very fantastical but rarely ever to the point I felt like it was just cgi. This is especially true with film's orcs. Unlike the Hobbit, the mo-capped orcs are brought to full realization. Despite their ridiculous proportions, the orcs feel real from seeing the bulging in their massive muscles, the hair and sweat on their skin to the expression of their faces.
The characters I thought for the most part were pretty likable. Toby Kebbel once again proves that he is becoming a star with mo-cap as he is the best part of the movie as the orc chief Durotan. Every scene he is in you see that he has so many strong human qualities despite being a 7-foot bulky orc from being a wise leader and warrior to a man that shows a strong love for his people and family. Paula Patton actually did a better job then I was expecting by acting as the medium between the Horde and the Alliance. Travis Fimmel does a fine job as Lothar by coming off as a bad-ass though there were times I felt he was a bit too unlikeable. Dominic Cooper and Ruth Negga (both you can see on Preacher) did good despite being limited by the screenplay. Ben Foster and Ben Shnetzer still felt like a weird choices to play the two main wizards.
The battle sequence between the orcs and humans feel very but at the same time pretty violent despite the movie being so colourful and having a pg-13 rating.
The introduction to the orcs is probably one of the best openings ever. The same can't be said for when we are introduced to the human characters. This is when problems of film become visible. The intro to Lothar and all the other human characters feels nothing but forced exposition that lasts for the first quarter of the movie. As critics have pointed out, it does feel like large portions of this movie are missing similar to Batman V Superman. Footage of seeing Lothar being with his son and Durotan having more conversations with his friend Orgrim would help immensely with a lot of the character motivations.
The director Duncan Jones has created a big and beautiful film that I feel is greatly hurt by the studio cutting out important character scenes just to have a shorter run time. In terms of Duncan Jone's past movies he has made, Warcraft is not the best (the best still is Moon) but I applaud him for creating this movie with such thought and care about a game he so greatly cares about. I certainly look forward to a sequel if it gets the chance.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
A Marvel Cinematic Masterpiece
When I saw Winter Soldier, it showed that Marvel had changed their cinematic universe and now after seeing Civil War, has now completely changed the way I see its two main heroes, Captain America and Iron Man. Civil War is a true master piece that is on par with Dark Knight and Empire Strikes Back in terms of continuing the story. While their isn't that much of a global threat, the film increases the stakes on a personal level with each character having clear motivations for choosing their sides. Politics are this time used as backdrop to push theses characters into confrontation with each other.
Many say this feels like an Avengers sequel but feels like a true expansion on the political landscape that was setup in Winter Soldier. While in Winter Soldier the Russo brothers dealt with political espionage and security vs. freedom themes with a Captain America take on it, the directing duo take it a step further with adding super- powered individuals to the politics. The film constantly explores the idea of consequences in the MCU from the politics. From when collateral damage happens on international soil to the characters's own choices as well as certain things that are a product of past events in the MCU are firmly address.
But this movie would be nothing if it didn't have fleshed-out characters that each were thoughtfully executed. Cap is the heart and sole of this movie. Evans continues to show his character's struggle within the modern political landscape while being weighted by personal ties to the past. After the shocking discovery in Winter Soldier, this is a Cap we now see against the system that he swore to protect in The First Avenger. He is now willing to risk everything because he can no longer trust the government. And there maybe at times he has a bit of doubt in the consequences his actions create but he is still highly motivated to continue fighting and that mostly comes from the believable friendship you see that he has with Bucky. While I am not the biggest Robert Downey Jr. fan, this was probably his best performance as Iron Man even though this is technically not an Iron Man film. This is a Tony different from past Iron Man films. Not only do we see that the events in Age of Ultron play into him signing the Sokovia Accords but also ones personal to him. Downey does still use his occasional quips but also plays it very emotional and serious. And while I am still on Team Cap, I can't help but feel very sorry for Tony once the movie ended. Black Panther is probably one of my new favourite characters in the MCU. Chadwick Boseman's performance truly shows T'Challa as probably one of the most psychologically compelling characters in the MCU films. He is a guy you do not want to mess with but has this great arc that he goes through in the story. It would be silly of me not to mention that the best part is Marvel finally having their own Spider-man. While I liked Andrew Garfield from the Amazing Spider-man, Tom Holland takes it a step further with his portrayal of the iconic character. He nails the awkwardness of Peter Parker and the fast-talking of Spider-man while still adding his own flavor by just geeking out when he meets the other Avengers. Elizabeth Olsen was the one I was the most surprised by performance-wise. Her Scarlett Witch is further expanded as we see her sense of emotional vulnerability and insecurity fleshed out while still being extremely powerful. Vision, played by Paul Bettany, also gets to expand from his Age of Ultron role when he states that the Sokovian Accords are the most logical step with a growing number of global threats. Zemo was a villain whose plan didn't really make much sense in the beginning with but by the third act you see how manipulative he can be while there still being this emotional back-story that makes him more developed then the usual Marvel villains.
Civil War probably has some of the best action I have seen in any superhero movie. The choreography has taken an upgrade from Winter Soldier with truly showing how grounded but still epic and brutal these characters are when they fight. This movie probably has at least major 4 or 5 big scenes. The key highlight is the airport fight. It is a moment that is impossible to forget once you have see it. It is pretty much an open tag-team fight barely loses any steam. And the beauty of that fight is that I am rooting for the both teams to win. My favourite part of the fight is two words: GIANT MAN. The third act fight with Cap, Bucky and Tony defiantly offers the most emotional punches. It is the moment when politics are tossed aside and it just becomes so personal. It becomes the point of no return because when that fight was going on. I wasn't sure if I actually wanted to see a winner knowing that the relationship between the characters would never be the same again.
When I came out of seeing Batman V Superman this year, I felt a great sense of disappoint that Warner Bros. failed to tell a compelling story of two superheroes going into conflict with one another. That movie suffered from being mostly setup and little payoff. Captain America: Civil War is the exact opposite. Captain America: Civil War succeeds in every category that BVS failed at. The movie is not just another great addition to the MCU but a true masterpiece with huge political themes, great characters and some of the best action that even tops that stuff that Zack Snyder does. And unlike Batman V Superman, has made me excited some for the future of Marvel films like Infinity Wars, Black Panther, Spider-man: Homecoming and Ant-man and The Wasp.
Half good movie, half poorly structured movie
Batman V Superman is a movie that had some great story elements but it suffers from the same problem as Age of Ultron and The Hobbit films which is being over-bloated. The movie throws in so many easter eggs to Justice League but made it feel less and less like a Batman vs Superman movie which is want I wanted to go for. Most of the Justice League teases were unnecessary and I thought prevented more character-driven moments from being shown.
I am one of the many who actually enjoyed Man of Steel because it offered a fresh take on the Superman mythology and character. While Man of Steel was a very straightforward, BVS suffers from trying to be over-complex without taking any actually time to explore the characters. There were also a few major scenes from the trailer that were cut out. It felt as if the first half of the movie Zack Snyder shortened certain pivotal scenes just to get to the action quicker. And it seems that is where Zack Snyder's strengths do apply. Snyder really knows how to make fight sequences feel brutal and epic. The Batman-Superman fight and Doomsday fight do not disappoint and neither does a scene with Batman taking out dozens of men single-handily. The story does become more focused by the last half when it explores more about the conflict with how each hero proceeds with their own actions. The finale is epic and I felt did have a satisfying conclusion though does end with a big cliffhanger.
Many of the characters are well-written and well-performed. Ben Affleck did great as a more brutal but more worn-torn and damaged Batman. Unfortunately, I felt he didn't get enough screen time to fully explore his character so I still don't know if I prefer Ben Affleck over Christian Bale as Batman. Henry Cavill definitely portrayed much better as Superman by showing him have an internal struggle with humanity perceiving him as a either a saviour or as a global threat. While I could find a logical reason with Superman killing Zod at the end of MOS, there are many scenes where Superman and Batman do certain actions that make me say WTF??!!! Gal Gadot was quite impressive as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman but she probably had the least screen time. The one character I thought was the biggest problem in the movie was Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Eisenberg comes off almost cartoonish when he tries to make Luthor feel intelligent or intimidating. Every time he was on screen I really just wanted to move to the next scene. His character is uniquely- written but Eisenberg can't really show him as being a believable person. HIs performance is on par with Jim Carrey's Riddler and Jamie Fox's Electro. If I could change one thing I say less Luthor, more Batman and Superman.
Overall, the movie does have great moments but there are overcrowded with too much build-up to the Justice League and poor editing. BVS has definitely made me concerned for the Justice League movie, especially with Zack Snyder directing. However, I am still excited for Suicide Squid and still very interested in Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman movie.
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
One of the most tense and thrilling movies ever!
Prepare for one hell of an experience when you go to see this movie.
As you probably have heard or read by now, this is not a sequel to 2008's Cloverfield. 10 Cloverfield Lane is its own original story but does have some certain familiar elements. Like Cloverfield, this film really holds back on spectacle. In fact, the spectacle does not really happen until the final act. But what makes 10 Cloverfield Lane its own thing is the psychological thrill and tensions it creates in a small confined space.
Where Cloverfield was shown through a camera lens with the action being based on how the characters react to the destruction and chaos, 10 Cloverfield Lane's action is based how the film's lead Michelle decides on what to strategically do next. And it is though her, we explore the film's compact but yet also big story. From the beginning of the film, it strongly uses tiny visuals to tell this complex, psychological mystery with little clues that requires your eyes's utmost attention. And the more you learn, the more you begin to question whether the interior of the bunker with this seemingly crazy man or the outside world that may have been destroyed by an unknown threat is more dangerous.
Much like how Matt Reeves broke out with the original Cloverfield, the same can be said for Dan Trachtenberg. He carefully builds up tension within scenes that can have no music but makes your heart as background sounds the tiny echoes, ticking clock and to loud rumbles. Trachtenberg has created this very rich but yet claustrophobic world within this bunker that the majority of the film takes place in. Would not be surprised be if Trachtenberg gets offered to work on any future Marvel, DC or Star Wars projects.
But the key to this film's success are its perfect performance by the only three leads. Mary Elizabeth Winstead proves that she should be more recognized by now as she shows that her character Michelle is no damsel in distress. Winstead shows wide combination of intelligence, fear and emotional damage. Much like Matt Damon in The Martian, she proves to be very resourceful throughout the plot. She shows this great arc of her character going from being emotionally vulnerable to a MacGyver survivalist and ultimately ending up as the next Sarah Conner or Ellen Ripley. And the ultimate contrast to that is John Goodman's paranoid and terrifying Howard. This is by fay the most creepy and scary performance I have seen of John Goodman. From his intimidating physicality and creeping, suspicious stare, Goodman perfectly plays this character as someone who forcefully tries to stay in command and has strong trust issues. But Goodman does show there is a hint of a soft side to Howard which makes you wonder if he is telling the truth or not at times. John Gallagher Jr. also serves well as the ally to Michelle and comedic relief. His performance helps you to become greatly attached to his character.
Many may complain that final act will feel tonally inconsistent with the rest of the movie but I felt it was a great payoff to everything that Michelle goes through and helps to complete her arc.
10 Cloverfield Lane is not Cloverfield 2 and nor should it be. In terms of storytelling, it is a far more superior then the original Cloverfield. And the tension and scary sounds is only enhanced when you see it in Imax. I would recommend seeing this movie sooner rather then later to avoid someone spoiling it.
The Force Awakens made me care about Star Wars again.
My first experience of seeing the original Star Wars was on VHS during the 90's. And when I saw the Phantom Menace, I will admit I thought it was great but as I got older I started noticing the big problems and they got more noticeable through more prequels. After I watched the Revenge of Sith in theatres, which I consider to be one of the most depressing movies ever, I shunned Star Wars because I thought it ended on a bad term and no future movies would made. But then I heard JJ Abrams was chosen by Disney to be the new director and I started thinking about giving Star Wars another shot. And with each trailer I became more and more optimistic. And now that I have seen the Force Awakens, I can now honestly say I care about Star Wars again.
JJ Abrams was clearly the right choice from the very beginning. What separates him from the George Lucas who made the prequels is his ability to collaborating with a whole team of people like the Lawrence Kasden, writer of the original films Empire Strikes and Return of the Jedi, and producer Kathleen Kennedy. What JJ Abrams does so well is not only recapturing the same fantastical but yet gritty feel from the original trilogy but also making the old feel new. You can say after seeing the movie it almost feels like a modern remake of New Hope but Abrams shows those specific moments in a new way that keeps them from seeming like it's a straight copy.
The effects and directions are amazing but it is the characters that are what makes this movie so great. Daisy Ridley was the perfect the choice to be he franchise's first female lead Rey despite she never had worked on a movie before. From the first scenes you see her in you instantly want to root for her as she shows great sense of optimism, quick-wit and being to improvise in tight situations while still being anchored emotionally to her desert planet Jakku. John Boyega's Finn is probably the freshest type of character we have seen in a Star Wars movie. I became a fan of Boyega since I saw Attack the Block but he just takes it to a whole new level. He is a Stormtrooper who defects against the New Order and is constantly in crazy and confusing situations where his responses are totally unexpected but yet hilarious. And the film's new "R2-D2", BB-8, instantly steals the show with his puppy dog-like mannerisms and ability to express wide variety of emotions with just the turn of his head. Another character that surprised me was Kylo Ren played brilliantly by Adam Driver. Kylo Ren probably has the most interesting character arc. Ren is a villain who is very intimidating and ruthless like Darth Vader but he comes off as his own character. He tries so desperately to be like Darth Vader but is in constant struggle with a battle from his own conscience. When Ren does fail in a task his reactions are surprisingly hilarious. And Adam Driver gives all of this while wearing a mask that hides his entire face. But the big shout out should go to Harrison Ford. Unlike Indiana Jones 4, Harrison Ford actually gives a performance that doesn't feel hammed up but very sincere, believable and fun. His return into the role of Han feels so natural as you are reminded why we all loved him as one of the best parts of Star Wars. Yet, at the same time, you feel like this is a Han that has grown as a character since the Return of the Jedi. Also give huge credit to Oscar Isaac, Domhall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong'o, Andy Serkis and Gwendoline Christie.
I will say the light saber fight in the finale doesn't disappoint. In fact, it might be my favourite light saber duel in the entire franchise. While the Darth Maul fight is the best choreographed, this one came off as the most believable and brutal one ever. The battle is almost terrifying to watch as you are reminded what kind physical damage a light saber can do to a person.
I hate to get into this but there were a few negatives about the movie. It is a very quick-pace that moves from one scene to another quickly (but not too much). I would of appreciated if the movie had another 15 minutes just so get to explore some of the supporting characters especially Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma. I am a huge fan of her as Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones and it felt like she was wasted. Here is hoping she has more screen-time in Episode 8.
Overall, Star Wars The Force Awakens lives up to the hype but with a few bumps. Unlike the prequels it doesn't come off as feeling artificial, dull and boring. It is a movie that will have you laughing, cheering, and feeling tensed and surprised on certain occasions. The Force Awakens is movie worth seeing on multiple times.
My new favourite Christmas movie
As a person who is generally not a big fan of the stress the Christmas holidays bring nor the usual movies based on it, Krampus is so refreshing to watch. Krampus is a German folklore character who has been gaining popularity recently with shows like American Dad. So it would be natural that he gets his own movie.
The movie starts out like Home Alone/Christmas Vacation with the bickering family having to spend Christmas together which includes the in- laws (Adam Scott and David Koechner) and sisters (Toni Collete and Allison Tolman) who don't get along, the mean cousins and the alcoholic, cursing aunt (Conchata Ferrell). It is when the film's main kid Max (Emjay Anthony) decides to give up on Christmas that it summons the movie's monster Krampus. It then goes from Christmas Vacation to a dark fantasy.
What I admire about the film is how it explores that Christmas today has been commercialized to look like this perfect holiday where everyone just gets along but when really it has become a very stressful time of the year. The slow motion opening sequence clearly explains. It delves on a good balance of both comedy, horror and Christmas spirit. There are plenty of moments where you will chuckle and laugh. Many of the horror scenes are not too scary but they can really give you chills and sometimes become very disturbing despite it is PG-13. But the humour and comedy never loses the Christmas message of looking past people's fault and learning to care and sacrifice.
I give a huge credit to the screenplay and actors. All of the actors (including Emjay Anthony) give great performances that are complimented by the great writing that fleshes out these characters. In the beginning you can understand why Krampus has come punish most of these despicable people. But when they are forced bond and work through there issues, you really do begin to care if these people make it or not.
But the biggest positive I can give this movie is Krampus and his minions. Krampus has less screen time then I would of preferred but his presence and arrival is executed so well. He at first appears as a mysterious shadowy figure stalking people from the rooftops but when he finally comes down the chimney (more like brakes through it) you see he is a nightmare version of Santa that will look down at you with huge dark eyes and a ghoulish face. Every part about the character's design is unique. Some of the other creature designs are well-done too. You have Krampus's version of elves and toys that look like they came out of The Nightmare Before Christmas like a giant carnivorous Jack-in-the-box, a killer teddy bear and some psychopathic gingerbread men. Aside from Krampus, the Jack-in-the-box was my favourite creature. And pretty much 90% of the creatures is this movie are practical effects which is good to have in a horror movie.
And the finale is probably the most twisted happy ending you can give to a Christmas movie. There was one final scene that scared me the most then I ever have had.
If are tired of watching the same run of the mill Christmas movie and want to see one that explores the darker side of Christmas that today's culture is too afraid to tell, then Krampus is the right kind of movie to see. It is also a good treat to have before Star Wars Force Awakens comes out.
A dark, fantastic movie that should not be missed!
I instantly became a fan of Denis Villeneuve after watching a Prisoner. When I heard Villeneuve's next movie would be exploring the war on drugs, I instantly got curious. And after coming out of the theatre, I can say that not only was I not disappointed, I was a bit shaken to my core. Felt like a mix between Zero Dark Thirty and No Country for Old Men. Sicario is one of top five favourite movies of this year.
Just like Prisoners, Villeneuve takes the audience on a dark descent into a world of violence with the main character's morals being challenged. But whereas Prisoners was more self-contained, Sicario goes bigger by the exploring the harsh almost lawless landscape behind the Mexican border. Villeneuve does not shy away from the harsh reality of the violence that occurs throughout the story but doesn't try to shove it down your face. Before the violence is about to come, Villeneuve does a superb job of building up the tension so when it happens your jaw drops. And I even give Villeneuve, as well as the writer Taylor Sheridan, extra credit for focusing on a character that may have seemed unimportant throughout most of the movie but by the third act become very relevant in the end.
The cast in this perfectly plays each of their roles. While Edge of Tomorrow shown that Emily Blunt can play a serious bad ass heroine, her performance in Sicario has officially proved that she can lead a role in a serious thriller. Blunt shows a character that is tough, loyal and obedient on the outside but within there is a vulnerability and question of morality within her. She shows a person who all she wants to do is bring justice but becomes conflicted as she goes deeper into the dark reality that she is in. And by the end of the film you can't help but to feel sorry for her. Josh Brolin becomes the ultimate contrast as a man who does not follow typical procedure from his cowboy-ish attitude, his choice of clothing to methods that border on the line between order and vigilantism. But the real star is the Sicario himself, Benicio Del Torro. Del Torro's display a great sense of quietness and sophistication but yet comes off very intimidating. His character carries a huge amount mystery that makes you want him to have more screen time. He is someone you can't tell if you want to root for and be totally scared of.
Veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins really shows the bleakness and darkness of this world. His shots range from excellent wide shots of barren desert landscapes, slowly creeping zooms to tell we are about to see something horrific to avoiding lights during night-time sequence to take full advantage of the dark atmosphere. I will be shocked if Deakins does not get a nomination for best cinematographer at the Oscars.
And finally, a big part of chilling atmosphere in this is in thanks to Johann Johansson's score. Johansson create a one of the darkest and creepiest soundtrack I have ever heard as it perfectly reflects the sense of dread the story creates but yet also creates an emotional response at the hopeless of the situations that go on.
Overall, Sicario is a masterpiece that Dennis Villeneuve has created. It would be foolish to ignore this movie. I am looking more forward to more of what Villeneuve can bring like his next two movies, The Story of Your Life and the Blade Runner sequel.
Jurassic World (2015)
The best this franchise has gotten since the original
Jurassic World is probably the most entertaining movie this year so far behind Mad Max: Fury Road and Kinsmen: The Secret Service.
Jurassic World feels something fresh and new brought to the iconic franchise. The story really explores the concept of what if John Hammond's vision for a dinosaur theme park actually existed right now. Watching this movie really brought out the kid in me. Now while the concept is perfectly executed, the story has some hiccups. I will point out the pro's and con's.
Pros: The theme. The problem I felt the previous sequels lacked was the science gone wrong and man attempting to control nature. Colin Trevorrow returns to that modern Frankenstein territory but with a new twist in the hybrid Indominus Rex and the domesticated raptors. While there isn't as much of a playing-god theme the film paints a good portrayal of how we humans try to assert our dominance over animals by using them for profit, entertainment, science or in some cases, war. With the Indominus there are elements from the documentary Blackfish. The alpha dominance theme is greatly used in the relationship between Pratt's character Owen and his Velociraptor pack.
The dinosaurs. Another improvement is the film treating the dinosaurs as characters rather then just being monsters. This is particularly with the Velociraptors. The raptors in this feel more like thinking characters rather then just creatures, particularly with the one called Blue. As for Indominus Rex, it perfectly serves the purposes of being a villain, almost in vein of Predator. Despite the Indominus is an animal that was raised in unhealthy conditions, you can't help but root against this dinosaur as it constantly shows a sadistic unnatural murderous side towards the other dinos. And off course the T. Rex. Though she gets the least screen time out of the other two dinosaurs mentioned above, she has one epic boss battle with the Indominus that redeems the loss from JP3 and as well as having an epic finale before the end credits.
The characters. While many have been saying the characters came off flat, I honestly found most of them to be fun if at least interesting to watch. Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire came off as being cold in the beginning but over time as she reconnects with her humanity she evolves into a strong female character (even though she wears heels throughout all of the chaos that goes on). Chris Pratt in this proves that he can the serious action hero channelling an almost-Indiana-Jones-like persona. Just like Dr. Grant and Malcolm, his character serves well as the voice of caution and shows that he has a certain amount respect for his raptors. But unlike Aaron Taylor Johnson from Godzilla, he carries with him a smart sense of humour. Even one of the kids, Gray, came was a little bit more developed then the previous child characters in past sequels. There was even a certain scene where I did feel some pity for him. But the funniest character in this was Lowery played by Jake Johnson whose humour comes off as being self-ware about the issues with product placement and franchises today. He is basically Dennis Nedry except if he wasn't an a-hole.
The action. What Trevorrow does very well is making each action sequence different from one another. They have the right amount of chaos, suspense and thrills but you never get tired of any them. My favourite action sequences were the Pterosaur attack, the Indominus killing the ACU troops and the final battle.
Cons: Simple plot. The movie is not as complex as the original. The plot came be summed up like this. Dinosaur theme park, monster escapes and causes chaos, epic boss battle, the end.
The effects. While Jurassic Park has become an icon of special effects, the effects in this don't blow mind as they used to. This is primarily because the movie relies more on vfx to create the dinosaurs rather then the animatronics. There are moments where the vfx feels cartoonish rather then real and when the dinosaurs are seen from a distance don't have the right amount or depth. I will say when you do get close-ups of the dinosaurs they do feel real and there is an emotional scene involving amazing realistic animatronics.
Human villain. While the Indominus is excellently used as the dinosaur villain the same cannot be said for the human villain played by Vincent D'Onofrio. This role didn't have the same amount of power as D'Onofrio other role as Wilson Fisk from Daredevil did. The character acted more like an a-hole rather then a real threat like the Indominus.
Sequel setup. What is unfortunate is the movie suffers from the curse of sequel easter eggs. The third act reveal of Ingen planning to create weaponized hybrid dinosaurs didn't move the plot along though it did help to make more sense behind the reason for the Indominus's abilities. This I feel is a bummer because there is no way another sequel will be as good and could go back to being the level of the past sequels.
Overall, Jurassic World is not perfect and it will never top the original because that is what created the magic in the first place. It does however return the franchise back into that sense of adventure and wonder. Just like Pacific Rim, you can nitpick it all you want but just watch the movie and enjoy for what it is.