Film · Jurassic Park · Jurassic World · Movie Review · Movies · Uncategorized

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Review

fallen-kingdom-poster-t-rexThree years ago the Jurassic Park franchise made it’s mark on the box office once again as it surprised everyone by becoming one of the top grossing films of all time. The series is back, under the direction of J. A. Bayona and looks to pick up where the last one left off, collecting a massive sum of over $450 million worldwide, even before opening in the USA. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are back, reprising their roles of Owen and Claire as they try to keep the rest of the world safe from threat of weaponized dinosaurs.

Responsibility 

In many ways, all of the Jurassic films have been about responsibility, but the theme is particularly strong in Fallen Kingdom. It’s three years since the events of Jurassic World and the park has since been abandoned. Isla Nublar’s once dormant volcano is now active, threatening the dinosaurs with another extinction level event. The world must decide what responsibility it has towards these creatures it’s created. Do previously extinct animals, brought back through science have the same rights as other species? Is this volcano an act of God, meant to correct our mistake in bringing them back? As the world wrestles with these question, time is running out for the dinosaurs.

The film brings the question of responsibility a little closer to home through the characters of Claire and Owen. As the plan to weaponize these animals is unfurled, Claire is reminded that she also once exploited these animals for profit. She was instrumental in creating the Indominous Rex, keeping it in a cage, keeping all of the animals in cages for the benefit of the bottom line.

Owen is reminded that it was he who helped prove that a creature like a raptor could be trained, yet had failed to see the applications his research could be used for. What’s fascinating is that Owen, as he’s training these raptors, especially Blue, there’s almost a Garden of Eden feel to it. He’s connecting with one of the most dangerous predators to have ever roamed the earth and him doing so is innocent. In fact, he’s really living out the first great commission from Scripture, to have dominion over all the animals. Owen’s dominion here is the relationship God had in mind pre fall, a care and stewardship of these creatures for mutual benefit. Owen is the antithesis to who Claire use to be and the villain of this movie, Eli Mills.

jw4Accountability key here. What is our responsibility with the things we create as humans? How should we use the technology we create? What about the cities, political structures or even our own children? The movie shows two ways of doing things. We can treat everything as if we’re nothing but consumers, seeing everything through the lens of what we can get out of something monetarily or how it can benefit us. Or, we can be stewards, people that think through the implications of our actions of creation and how we accountable for those creations. Isn’t that what Malcolm was trying to get at in Jurassic Park?

Don’t you see the danger, John, inherent in what you’re doing here? Genetic power is the most awesome force the planet’s ever seen, but you wield it like a kid that’s found his dad’s gun…

If I may… Um, I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here, it didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you’re selling it…

Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.

And Malcolm is right. Too many times our responsibility in creation is neglected because the creation of something is driven by something much more temporal and mundane, money, and the carnage in it’s wake is what happens while we’re busy scheming for something more. Honestly, the message that resonates through each Jurassic movie the most is, humans make crummy gods.

The Movie

In some ways this movie is a spiritual successor to The Lost World, yet it works better. The reason for taking the dinosaurs off the island makes a lot more sense, especially in light of Jurassic World. They’re not being saved, they’re being exploited, once again. Sadly this time, the entire world is being put at risk just to line the pockets of a few.

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard have real star power. Rafe Spall as Eli Mills is sufficiently skeevy as the villain. James Cromwell as Sir Benjamin Lockwood adds a whole new wrinkle into the story and to what is possible with genetic power and his granddaughter played by Isabella Sermon is a wonderful addition to the cast.

The effects are fantastic, even better than Jurassic World. The times when someone touches one of the dinosaurs, it looks so real. Giacchino’s music is on cue, using themes from the Williams’ scores and his work on Jurassic World perfectly. The movie does have it’s flaws, it’s a little too derivative, but honestly, it’s better that Jurassic Park III and The Lost World (all this particular reviewer needed it to be), a worthy addition to the series. It’s rated 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Disney · Family · Film · Movie Review · Movies

Tomorrowland – Review

TL_InThShltr_IMAX_v3_lrgImagine a world where all the artists, dreamers, scientists and forward thinkers joined leagues and created with reckless abandon. They made the most incredible things, away from the status quo, away from politics and bureaucracy, nothing to hold them back. This is Tomorrowland. Now that you’re imagining this most incredible place, imagine they invent the ability to see the future, our future, and that it ends much sooner than we think. This is Tomorrowland, this is Brad Bird’s new film that challenges where we are and where we could be if we are willing to make a change.

Waitin’ on the World to Change

There is something wrong with society. We see it all around us. We might have the coolest tech around our wrists,but we’re also saddled with major issues like obesity and starvation. NASA installations are dismantled as the present is our only concern. It’s as if we are waiting on the world to change, yet are unwilling to lift a finger to make it happen. Tomorrowland brilliantly shows us the problems that arise when good people just wait on the sideline and illustrates what could happen if we were willing to sacrifice now, for something better in the future.

The film is not subtle with this point and nor should it be. All around us the greatest tech we’ve ever created is in the pockets of everyone, but what does it really benefit the future? How does having a smart phone truly change or inspire the world to improve? Instead, we’ve only become consumed with consumption. We want now, the immediate pleasure of owning the latest gadget, without any thought to if this is the best use of our resources or to whether these devices actually make the world a better place for their existence. Why we create and what we create looms as a massive question and a major responsibility — not necessarily one being asked or respected.

Tomorrowland challenges us, as Interstellar did last year, to think about the future. Is the lack of exploration of our solar system really the best idea? Are smart phones and watches really the smartest uses of our energies? Or might we think of better ways to build cities, roads, grow crops and plan for a future that extends more hope for more people? It is possible with time, patience, creativity and sacrifice. Unfortunately sacrifice is not really a term our modern society embraces.

There does seem to be a loss of perspective; thoughts of tomorrow have been replaced with an obsession over what can be accumulated or acquired for immediate pleasure. A mandate was given at the beginning of time to take care of the earth and steward it. We were meant to create and foster life all around us. Inspiration used tocome from places like NASA, where the impossible seemed possible. Where the undiscovered country of the future was just a shuttle ride away. Technology was about making the world a better place, not just a more convenient one. Tomorrowland reminds us that we are all in this together, and not just now, but for the generations to come.

Wishin’ and Hopin’

NEJOtPwnVjTOOJ_2_bOne of the biggest themes of the film is that of hope and its importance to creativity and planning for the future. Without hope it is easy to become myopic, fixated on the present and trying to survive. Ideas need to be challenged. New blood needs to be introduced so intelligent people are roused out of the malaise of their genius to see something in a whole new way. Casey is able to do that for Frank in the movie. She is able to help him have hope again and evaluate problems from different angles and in doing so, change the future. It brings to mind the wonderful quote from Galadreil in The Fellowship of the Ring, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” Casey is that person in Tomorrowland. She’s full of life and the idealism that leads her to strive for understanding which then enables her to make an impact on the world.

Fostering hope is a big task. Getting to a place where the here and now are not the only things that people care about calls for a massive reordering of priorities. We can have a positive impact but only if selfishness and greed cease to be the motivations that drive what we do. Ultimately, such a shift requires a change in the core of our being.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:9-21

Conclusion

Brad Bird really delivers with Tomorrowland. He’s created something magical with the power to remind us of our calling to live not just for now but for the future. George Clooney may be the big name here but it will be Raffey Cassidy that will steal your heart. It’s nice to see an original movie, not in a franchise, be good. Movies like this need the support if we are to get more original films. Go see it and revel in the joy of imagination and hope for the future. Tomorrowland is rate 4 out 5 jetpacks.

Film · Iron Man · Marvel · Podcasts · Trek.fm

The 602 Club 24: The Dr. No of the Marvel Franchise

tsc-024-th-squareIron Man.

Some movies spend years languishing in development hell and Iron Man was one of the longest. From 1990 to 2005 it bounced around from studio to studio; it wasn’t until 2006 that Marvel acquired back the rights and decided to use it as the launching pad for it’s own studio as well as a cinematic universe that the film would finally materialize.

In this episode of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined by Jose Munoz, Andi VanderKolk and Daniel Proulx to talk about Iron Man. We discuss the long production history of the film, our first thoughts, realism in comic book movies, The cast, the villain, story, music, direction and ask if it still holds up. 

Faith · Film · Jr. · Movie Review · Movies · Selma · Uncategorized

Selma – Review

selma-movie-posterIn 1964 the Civl Rights Act was passed, yet in the Democratic controlled south, African Americans were systematically deigned the vote though archaic voter registration laws and despicable voter intimidation. It is in the small town of Selma, Alabama that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is called in to make a stand. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his nonviolent movement would be met with some of the most severe opposition and hate the world had seen, as millions around the world would watch it play out on their television screens. This is the story of Selma.

Triumph of Faith

One of the best parts of the story is the way it highlights the movement being lead and supported by those of faith. It was pastors, priests, nuns and those of faith that showed up to support King in his call for reinforcements. Some of these men and women would even pay for this with their lives. Everyone who showed up lived out Christ’s words, “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends”. All of these men and women, fighting for the equality and dignity of every human being to vote and determine their own fate though their constitutional rights as Americans.

There is a beautiful scene where King is in prison and is struggling to see the endgame, worried about so many things and Ralph Abernathy speaks the truth of Jesus, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” It is another representation of the importance faith played in these people’s lives. It drove them, motivated them and informed everything they did in their fight for their rights.

Equality

The Declaration of Independence established so beautifully, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” King and his followers take this seriously. Driven by their belief in God and the rights of all men and women, created in God’s image to be treated with equality and dignity. If there is no belief in men and women as special, made by God to be unique, it becomes easy to dehumanize, treating people as deserving less than is their right. The leaders of the Civil Rights movement fight against the bigotry and hate of those that cowardly misused faith to oppress others, using Lincoln’s words, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” as motivation that one day the government would truly be for all.

Conclusion

Selma is an important film, it may be one of the most important films in years, it needs to be seen. What is lamentable is the reminder of just how far we have to go in this area. There are so many places in this country and around the world where bigotry and prejudice reign. The film does such a good job at showing how abhorrent humans can be to one another and yet how virtuous we can be when driven by faith in something bigger than ourselves. What Schindler’s List did for the Holocaust, Selma does for the Civil Rights movement. We cannot forget where we have been, if we do, we will forget just how far we have to go.

 

Film · Movie Review · Movies

Best Films of 2014

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In all honesty I found it a struggle to come up with this list. This year was lackluster for me in terms of really good movies. Now, the movies on this list I did feel like were the real highlights. Here’s to hoping that 2015 is better in terms of blockbusters and indie films. Some of the films titles will link you to further content, be sure to check it out.


Interstellar_ALT_Artowrk

1. Interstellar

This movie had me thinking and marveling more than any other film of the year. In my original review I said, “Experimental and challenging, Interstellar is beyond, light years beyond anything seen in years. Nolan has made a movie for movie lovers. Inventive, beautiful and something that pushes the boundaries in thought and the craft” and this is still true.

The-Railway-Man-Poster2. The Railway Man

No movie had a better portrayal of grace in the face of unspeakable tragedy and torture than this. Colin Firth and Hiroyuki Sanada play to perfection the horrors of war, the scars it leaves and the forgiveness that is needed to let go and live life to the fullest. It’s an amazing grace at work and the most powerful film of the year.

captain-america-2-imax-poster-610x8913. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Not only was this my favorite superhero movie of the year, but it was the best Marvel movie for me so far. Marvel finally gets serious and gives us a movie with weight and substance. The issues of domestic spying and what we sacrifice in the name of security hit close to home. Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson crackle onscreen together. Comic book movies have rarely been better.

xmen-days4. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Bryan Singer’s return to the X-Men franchise was a welcome one. After the disaster of X3 and the triumph of First Class there seemed to be two different franchises. Singer finds a way to connect all the treads and forge a new path for the series by honoring the past, while creating a new timeline. The Quicksilver scene alone is worth the price of admission.

hr_The_LEGO_Movie_105. The Lego Movie

Not only was it the best animated movie of the year, it was just plain fun. The messages of friendship and what make us truly special, our uniqueness, will make this a delight for children and adults for years to come. This film sets the foundation and the bar for the Lego movies that are coming in the future.

gonegirl26. Gone Girl

Adaptations are difficult, especially to beloved books. Luckily for the film they had author Gillian Flynn as the screen writer and David Fincher as director. The actors are splendidly wicked. Ben Affleck and Rosamond Pike play the despicable characters to perfection and the uneasiness of the ending may leave you breathless. This may be the only time I say reading the book could make the movie less enjoyable for knowing the plot twists beforehand.

mockingjay-katniss-poster7. Mockingjay Part 1

This was the best adaptation of half a book this year. Not only was it a good film it was a timely one. The themes of revolution, civil unrest, propaganda and class warfare make this an important movie, beyond it’s connection to the Hunger Games series. I was surprised to find it was a stand out, especially being only half of the finale to The Hunger Games, but they truly made it work.

The-Hobbit-Battle-of-the-Five-Armies-poster-9-691x10248. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

We visit Middle Earth one last time and Peter Jackson does not disappoint. Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman are sublime as Bilbo and Thorin. In the midst of all the spectacle it’s the small character moments that stand out and make this a good movie. Touching on themes of greed, loyalty and true friendship the saga comes to a worthy conclusion.

Disney_BigHero6_Poster_Baymax9. Big Hero 6

One word, Baymax. Honestly this movie is not revolutionary in it’s themes or it’s execution, but is fun. Baymax will have you rolling on the floor laughing with his fist bumps and cat comments and sometimes fun is enough.

 

edge_of_tomorrow_np10. Edge of Tomorrow

I missed this movie in it’s theatrical run and was slightly turned off by the “Cruise factor”, but the good reviews finally won me over and I gave it a shot on blu-ray. Tom Cruise is actually a great casting choice and Emily Blunt was a fantastic in this sci-fi Groundhog Day. The ending may be a little weak but for the surprise this was, it is worthy of the list.  

Honorable Mention:

Ffury_ver6_xxlgury

This movie was good. Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf and Logan Lerman are all well cast in David Aryer’s World War II tank film. This is surprisingly one of the most spiritual movies of the year, while at the same time not shying away from the harsh realities of warfare. Worth renting and grappling with.

 

11178319_800What If

This is one of the most honest movies about relationships I’ve seen in a long time. It can be very hard to be just friends, but the reward is also not to be missed. Daniel Radcliffe is astounding and Zoe Kazan will be your new favorite. If you missed this in 2014, see it on 2015

 

Still to see: Wild, Selma, Unbroken, Big Eyes, American Sniper and Boyhood.

Film · James Bond · Movies · Podcasts · The 602 Club · Trek.fm

The 602 Club 8: Here’s Your Next Dossier

tsc-008-th-squareJames Bond

The British secret service agent has been thrilling audiences with his adventures and conquests for over 50 years. Ranked number three in total franchise dollars, Bond continues to be one of Hollywoods longest running series.

In this episode of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined by John Champion and Norman Lao discuss their love these films. From favorite Bonds, to movies and girls, we dive in to what makes Bond special to us, as well as speculate about the latest film, Bond 24. Listen Here

Catching Fire · Disney · Film · Man of Steel · Movie Review · Movies · The Hunger Games · The Spectacular Now

Best Films of 2013

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This was a fantastic movie about the life of baseball legend Jackie Robinson. There are very few films these days that tell an important story that you could also let your kids watch; not only is this a great movie for the family, but it is a good way to introduce the theme of courage in the face of persecution. Harrison Ford shines as Branch Rickey making this my 11th pick for 2013.

ANSIN-MANOFSTEEL-R-PRESSMan of Steel:

You seemed to either love this movie or hate it, there was not a lot of middle ground with fans or the general public. I loved it. This was the first movie that I felt got Superman, especially for the 21st century. Giving us not only his origin story but his growth into the character we all know. This is Superman’s first day on the job, using is powers to their fullest and having to make choices no one ever dreams they’ll have to make. Beautifully shot and wonderfully acted, this has done one thing no one can take away from it; it has gotten people talking about the grand daddy of superheroes again.

FROZN_014M_G_ENG-GB_70x100.inddFrozen:

When I first saw the preview for this film I was wary, with a talking snowman and no really explanation of the story in the trailer I did not have a lot of hope. I have never been so glad to be mistaken. Frozen is a beautifully animated movie with true heart. Not only is it fun but the themes of true love and sacrifice have rarely been portrayed better in a children’s movie. Classic Disney that is sure to endure alongside it’s best animated films.

american_hustle_ver6_xlgAmerican Hustle:

The movie can be a little inconsistent but the acting carries you through. Each of the actors is in fine form and no one should be surprised to see their names come up during Oscar season. Not as good as Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook was last year, it is still one of the best movies of 2013. This movie is all about our desire to be known and loved as well as the ways we lie to ourselves and to others to make it through life. These themes alone make it worth watching. (It may also make you glad that for the most part 70’s fashion has stayed there).

hunger_games_catching_fire_poster_embedCatching Fire:

There is nothing harder than tying to bring a book to life on film and satisfy the fans; Catching Fire was able to do just that. With a lackluster first film, new director Francis Lawrence captured the gritty reality of Suzanne Collin’s creation with disturbing perfection. Jennifer Lawrence was once again brilliant as Katniss, yet is was Josh Hutcherson’s much improved performance as Peeta that really made this a much better film than the first. This is a strong movie that deserves to be on any top 2013 list.

MV5BMTA1ODUzMDA3NzFeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDgxMTYxNTk@._V1_About Time:

Not just another romantic comedy, but an exploration of the love between a father and son. Using time travel as a way of exploring choices and their impact on our lives, Richard Curtis has created a movie that is just as good as his classics Notting Hill and Love Actually. Unabashedly sentimental and heartfelt, this is not to be missed.

SONY-BDOS-01_Onesheet4.16.13_Layout 1Before Midnight

Continuing the story that began in Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, Before Midnight is the conclusion to Jesse and Celine’s story. Set nine years after they ran into each other in Paris, they now have two girls and are on vacation in Greece. It is a very real film, pulling no punches in it’s portrayal of the trials of married life. Deply and Hawke are incredible and will sure to be nominated come award season.

short-term-twelveShort Term 12:

This is the story of Grace, a social worker in an at-risk home for teens. It is a heartbreakingly moving film about the need we all have for community and acceptance. Brie Larson gives an Oscar worthy performance and is a break-out star of 2013 as she appears in The Spectacular Now as well. You may have missed this in it’s theater run so seek it out in it’s home release, you won’t be disappointed.

the-way-way-back-poster1The Way Way Back:

I have been trying to give new thoughts on this list so far, but I think I said it best in my review of the movie earlier in the year. “This coming of age story about a boy trying to traverse the canyon between boyhood and manhood will leave you moved and thankful for quitter summer films. This movie is not to be missed.” You can find the movie now, so go rent it and enjoy.

gravity-movie-posterGravity:

An amazing theater experience that will leave you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Sandra Bullock is perfect and George Clooney is in his usual fine form. Alfonzo Cuarón is sure to win best director. The special effects are beyond brilliant and the 3D leaves you feeling as if you are floating in the heavens with the characters. As close as many of us will ever get to being on a space walk.

spectacular-now-final-posterThe Spectacular Now:

No film of 2013 had a greater personal impact than this. I cannot say it better than I did in my review; “This is a powerful film. The performances by Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley will leave you in tears as you feel every single emotion of the characters. This is the kind of movie that makes you thankful for the art of cinema. I cannot recommend this film more.”

Honorable Mentions:

The Hobbit: the Desolation of SmaugWarm BodiesStar Trek Into DarknessDrinking Buddies

Movies I Still Want to See:

Blue Jasmine, Lone Survivor, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Saving Mr. Banks, Her, August: Osage County, The Wolf of Wall Street, Inside Llewyn Davis, Philomena and Dallas Buyers Club

Worst Movie of the Year:

Pacific Rim

“Just when you thought summer movies couldn’t get any dumber, they go and do something like this…… and prove us wrong.”

Comment and tell me what I missed or what you think!