Cinema City Film Quiz #219

[12 August 2018]

Winning Team:
Dude, Where’s My Avenger
Genre – A comedy of infinite proportions

Runners Up:
Gone Grill
Genre – Dyslexic bar-b-q owner, Ben Affleck, wakes to find his barbecue missing and that he is the number one suspect. Spoilers; the grill had grill-napped itself
The Vanishing
Genre – *the title was written and partially rubbed out*
Now You See Me, Now You Don’t: A Documentary
Genre – Uri Geller assembles a real-life magician dream team to wipe the collective memory of film-goers everywhere who saw the Now You See Me films

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. How many miners befriend/enslave Snow White in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs
2. What are the titles of the Dark Knight trilogy (one point per correct answer)
3. Who played the title role in Pretty Woman?
4. The colony in A Bug’s Life is made up of what type of insect?
5. What colour is James Kirk’s uniform in Star Trek Into Darkness? (one point per correct answer)
YELLOW / GREY (ship uniform / officer’s uniform)
6. What is the name of Vin Diesel’s character in The Fast And The Furious?
7. Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves first starred together in which film?
8. The following quote is from which film, “This is Natalya. She is my sister. She is number four prostitute in all of Kazakhstan”?
9. Who composed the respective scores for Spider-Man, Batman, Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Justice League?
10. Titanic is set in which decade?

ROUND II: Filming [Missing People/Disappearance Special]
1. Who directed Prisoners? Duncan Jones? Denis Villeneuve? Sam Menses?
2.The Silence Of The Lambs was released in which year? 1989? 1991? 1993?
3. Gone Baby Gone is set in which US city? New York? Baltimore? Boston?
4. Which of the following did not appear in Shutter Island? Mark Ruffalo? Max Von Sydow? Michael Caine?
5. How many years passed between the Swedish and American releases of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo? 2? 4? 7?
6. 2006’s Silent Hill is an adaptation of the video game of the same name that was released exclusively on which console? PlayStation? XBox? Dreamcast?
7. Who played the British academic scientist in 1998’s Phantoms, alongside Rose McGowan and Ben Affleck? Patrick Stewart? Peter O’Toole? Richard Harris?
8. What is the title of the 1938 Alfred Hitchcock film about a young lady looking for her missing travelling companion on a train? The Lady Vanishes? The Empty Seat? Ticket For One?
9. What is the name given to the quarantined zone in Alex Garland’s Annihilation? The Shimmer? Alpha Site? The Barrier?
10. Ron Howard was fired from 2003’s The Missing but as most of the film was shot and the new director was more difficult to work with, Howard was re-hired. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. What did Stanley Kubrick direct in between The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut?
2. What is the prince’s name in Beauty And The Beast?
3. Who directed the 1995 remake of Village Of The Damned?
4. How many films have Russell Crowe and Leonardo Di Caprio appeared in together?
TWO (The Quick And The Dead / Body Of Lies)
5. What two words are written on the pupil’s eyelids in Raiders Of The Lost Ark?
6. Aladdin was released in 1992 in America. What year was it released in the UK?
7. Al Pacino played the role of Carlito Brigante in which film?
8. The following quote is from which film, “You could learn from this guy, Gaff. He’s a goddamn one man slaughterhouse”?
9. What is Jean Val-Jean’s serial number in Les Miserables?
10. What are the titles of the two Disney films that featured Angela Lansbury? (one point per correct answer)

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. How many presents does Dudley receive in Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone? 22? 36? 48?
2. In which film did Robin Williams play English teacher John Keating? Seize The Day? Dead Again? Dead Poet’s Society?
3. What is the title of the 2013 Boston marathon bombing film starring Mark Wahlberg? Lone Survivor? Patriot’s Day? Mile 22?
4. Who voices the role of the Wolf Man in Hotel Transylvania? Steve Buscemi? David Spade? Kevin James?
5. Who directed Stand By Me? Rob Reiner? Tobe Hooper? Frank Darabont?
6. Which of the following is not a Godzilla film? Monster Invasion From Below? Godzilla Raids Again? Destroy All Monsters?
7. Robocop was released in which year? 1984? 1987? 1989?
8. Which of the following did not appear in Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods And Kings? John Turturro? Jeff Goldblum? Sigourney Weaver?
9. Which infinity stone was housed in Loki’s sceptre in The Avengers? Mind? Space? Time?
10. Steven Spielberg never records director’s commentaries for DVD or Blu-Ray. True or False?

Screenshots: Pearl Harbour / Underworld: Evolution / The Aviator / Total Recall
Poster: Much Ado About Nothing
Actor: Kate Beckinsale


Heroes Don’t Get Any Bigger

Peyton Reed

Paul Rudd
Evangeline Lilly
Hannah John-Kamen
Michael Douglas

Following the events in Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang [Rudd] is nearing the end of his two year house arrest. In that time he has had no contact with Dr Hank Pym [Douglas] or his daughter Hope Van Dyne [Lilly] but when relaxing in the bath, a mere two days away from freedom, Scott has a vision of Hope’s supposedly deceased mother, Janet Van Dyne [Michelle Pfeiffer]. Freaked out, Scott contacts Dr Pym and we learn that this dream was no coincidence as Hope and Hank had been working on a quantum tunnel in an attempt to locate and retrieve Janet. But as wanted criminals, the scientists have been working with the nefarious Sonny Burch [Walton Goggins] and have got the attention of a mysterious quantum-shifting figure, known only as the ghost [John-Kamen].

When Ant-Man was released I was thoroughly disappointed. Avengers: Age Of Ultron had been a bit of a bust and the turbulent behind-the-scenes shift of directors left a strange chimera film with trails and remnants of Edgar Wright’s tropes and Reed’s direction. The final product was serviceable but I didn’t share the lauding that most critics and audiences were spouting. Subsequently, I was rather looking forward to an Ant-Man sequel, a chance to create something from the ground-up with a clear voice and, hopefully, a strong central female performance. Alas I only got one of those. One of the biggest problems this film encounters is the generally piss-poor, infantile, simplistic and flat comedy. From throw-away lines or setups to running magic jokes, nothing landed hard enough for me to laugh at and wholly enjoy. That isn’t to say it wasn’t entirely without humour, it simply failed to produce anything that I hadn’t seen before. On top of that there was a distinct lack of emotional resonance. Over the last decade, Marvel have wheeled out some pretty hefty emotional moments and connections between characters and while Ant-Man And The Wasp has the opportunity to, it rarely delivers. I will admit that the connection between Rudd and his daughter and the purveying theme of daughters and their screw-up dads is interesting but it’s nowhere near as gut-wrenching as something like the connection between Stark and Parker.

Sticking with performances for a second, I will absolutely defend everyone involved. Rudd tries his hardest and Lilly is wonderful but the script is so painfully cliché with abysmal dialogue, leading to stunted deliveries. From the completely mediocre jokes to the text-book “I thought I’d lost you” sentiments, nothing in this film feels fresh, realistic or relatable and while that may sound a bit harsh or stupid, you need some sort of grounding when the entire basis of the story is the fantastical. This film also drags Marvel back into the pit of questionable villains – which is a shame after the marvellous complexity of the last two. Ava Starr/Ghost is a decent enough sympathetic villain, even if she is never really fleshed out but Sonny is terrible and continues the weird trend of Goggins being fantastic on TV but getting terrible roles on film. And then there’s Woo (played by the genuinely funny Police Academy film.

Getting back to Ava for a second, the character highlights some of the film’s technical issues. While the ghost effect looked pleasing and felt like a simple layering technique harking back to silent movie techniques, the action was largely uninspired. Say what you will about the first Ant-Man film, at least it was creative. Here we have fights that suffer from rushed, fast-paced editing (which somehow seemed to be cut better in the trailer), far too many ropey floating-head CGI moments and shrinking/enlarging tech that fails to create anything of note. I mean, when a 2018 blockbuster is giving you flashbacks to 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded but never rising above it, something has to be going wrong. Having said all that, Christophe Beck’s score is magnificent, making great and sometimes playful use of the motif (something Marvel struggles with) while delivering something constantly fitting and appropriate. Additionally, the de-aging effects are remarkable, Marvel have been doing a stellar job with this innovative technology.. although I wasn’t as convinced by the de-aged Hope. That was a joke. Sorry. It was either that or a DC facial hair removal gag.

As with 2015’s Ant-Man, it came off the back of the high-stakes, ultra-scale Age Of Ultron and with its standalone, unique story, endeared a lot of people to it. Then Lang reappeared in Civil War and the character was cemented as a great asset to have others interact with, offering some fantastic levity and visuals. This sequel should have built on that momentum, giving audiences an opportunity for a light emotional lift after the dour close of Avengers: Infinity War. But it wasn’t. Missing is the outlandish comedic treatment of Thor: Ragnarok and the character/world building of Black Panther, in favour of some weirdly delivered dad jokes, call-backs and importance placed upon the quantum realm that still feels like a complete mystery. In truth, this whole corner of the MCU feels like an arc on Spider-Man: Homecoming – and that was amusing but this is ridiculous. All we see is an enlarged ant playing the drums in Scott’s absence – the scene takes place in the trailer! At this stage we have to ask, what’s the point? I know Marvel are expected to generate two sequences but that was an absolutely pointless piss-take and to have already shown it in not only the theatrical trailer but earlier in the film from a different angle emphasises its absurdity.

Notable Characters:
**huge spoilers**
So I haven’t mentioned Michelle Pfeiffer, despite the fact she appears on the poster. On one hand, I really enjoyed Pfeiffer’s performance and on the other, it generated so many logistical questions that go completely unanswered. After Dr Pym enters the quantum realm, he discovers his not-dead wife and brings her back. She has been living down there for thirty years. Somehow. A single line of dialogue about the curative powers of the realm itself leading to a sort of evolution is all we get to explain how she has survived in this mostly barren plane of existence.. with perfect make-up. But to dissolve the tension between our heroes and the adversarial Ghost character, is to stretch out her hands and say, “I can feel your pain” before curing her. That. Right there. Is Sybok from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Nobody understands her frankly magic powers (almost as if the constant magic talk is merely foreshadowing) and I’m sure they’ll be explored later but for a film that spends so much time doing so little, you’d think they would have been able to etch out some time to even loosely cover it.

Highlighted Quote:
“Do you guys just put the word quantum in front of everything?”

In A Few Words:
“I went into this film with reasonable expectations and hope for something semi-decent, what I got was disappointingly sub-par but it’s still worth mentioning that at their worst, Marvel films are still better than the standard superhero cinematic fare”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #218

[29 July 2018]

Winning Team:
Chips, Dips, Chains, Whips, Hicks
Genre – Corporal Hicks throws a kinky party for Ripley and the marines. The alien queen eats the food and a golden ball hovers near her as they all shout, “Get away from her you snitch”

Runners Up:
First Team Name (The Allegations Are Untrue) / Second, Better Team Name
Genre – Meta
Carry On Casting
Genre – A film producer continually loses his stars and so must recast.. even as filming is almost over
Jaws 2
Genre – It’s a different shark
The Mask Of Crispin Glover
Genre – The story of a man whose face gets stolen
Fairly Bobbins
Genre – Nanny in below average caper

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What is the name of the cursed board game in Jumanji?
2. Who plays the lead role in the Die Hard franchise?
3. What is the name of the school for witchcraft and wizardry that Harry Potter attends in the franchise of the same name?
4. The following quote is from which film, “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too”?
5. What is the name of M’s secretary in the James Bond franchise?
6. Which Disney animated film was released in 1992?
7. What animal is Kaa in The Jungle Book?
8. Comic duo Stan & Ollie were more commonly known by which alias?
9. Which playwright does Johnny Depp portray in Finding Neverland?
10. Which film franchise features Sylvester Stallone in each of its eight instalments?

ROUND II: Filming [Actors recast at the last minute Special]
1. Who was originally cast in the title role in Django Unchained? Cuba Gooding Jr? Idris Elba? Will Smith?
2. How many Shrek films have been released to date (excluding spin-offs and shorts)? 3? 4? 5?
3. Raiders Of The Lost Ark was released in which year? 1981? 1983? 1985?
4. The following quote is from which film, “Have you ever been in a situation where you knew you had to act in a certain way but when you got there you didn’t know if you could go through with it”? Minority Report? Back To The Future? Wall Street?
5. Which character did not appear in X-Men? Pyro? Jubilee? Leech?
6. Which of the following appears on the ATM in American Psycho? Insufficient funds? Feed me a stray cat? This isn’t real, you know?
7. Excluding the 9 ring-wraiths, how many characters feature on The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring theatrical release poster? 11? 14? 18?
ELEVEN (Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, Arwen, Galadriel, Legolas, Boromir, Gimli, Samwise, Pippin, Merry)
8. Who was set to play the lead role in 50/50 before Joseph Gordon-Levitt was cast? James McAvoy? Cillian Murphy? Tom Hardy?
9. What was the last word in the poster tagline for The Godfather Part III, “All the power on earth can’t change..”? Destiny? Family? History?
10. The highest grossing film of every year since 2002 has been a sequel or prequel. True or False?
FALSE (2009 and 2013 weren’t)

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. What was the title of the 1999 British independent film about the drug and club scene starring John Simm?
2. Which film did Christian Bale win an Oscar for?
3. What does Steve McQueen have tattooed on his chest in Papillon?
BUTTERFLY (which is Papillon in French)
4. The following quote is from which film, “He punched the highlights out of her hair”?
5. Which hand does Luke Skywalker lose in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back?
6. The Golden Bear prize is awarded at which film festival?
7. Which actor appeared in JFK, True Romance, The Dark Knight Rises and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes?
8. What did Joss Whedon direct in between The Avengers and Avengers: Age Of Ultron?
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (also the Captain America: Winter Soldier post credits scene)
9. Who plays the role of King Charles II in The Libertine?
10. Casablanca was released in which year?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. What is the name of Master Shifu’s elite group in Kung Fu Panda? Martial Warriors? Action Team Go? Furious Five?
2. Which musketeer was portrayed by Oliver Reed in 1973’s The Three Musketeers? Aramis? Athos? Porthos?
3. The following quote is from which film, “Every man has a price which he is willing to accept. Even for that which he hopes never to sell”? Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest? POTC: At World’s End? POTC: On Stranger Tides?
4. Which of the following did not appear in Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids? Terry Crews? Anna Kendrick? Matt Lucas?
5. Which film was the first to be dubbed a “summer blockbuster”? The Sting? Jaws? Star Wars?
6. Who directed The Exorcist? George Roy Hill? William Friedkin? Franklin J Schaffner?
7. What is the name of the company that Miles Dyson works for in Terminator 2: Judgment Day? Virtucon? Sirius? Cyberdyne?
8. Who played the female lead in Top Gun? Elisabeth Shue? Valeria Golino? Kelly McGillis?
9. Grease is set in which year? 1953? 1955? 1958?
10. Cars was both Paul Newman’s final film and his highest grossing film. True or False?

Screenshots: Life Of Pi / Slumdog Millionaire / The Amazing Spider-Man / Jurassic World
Poster: Inferno
Actor: Irrfan Khan


Some Missions Are Not A Choice

Christopher McQuarrie

Tom Cruise
Henry Cavill
Ving Rhames
Simon Pegg
Rebecca Ferguson
Sean Harris

Continuing from the events in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, IMF agent Ethan Hunt [Cruise] receives his next mission: to secure three plutonium cores before they hit the black market. Pairing with his colleagues Benji [Pegg] and Luther [Rhames], Hunt’s mission goes badly and while his director trusts him, the CIA does not. Subsequently, Hunt’s team is assigned the kill-happy Agent Walker [Cavill] to ensure the plutonium is recovered at any cost. When the price of the black market deal turns out to be freeing a prisoner Hunt helped capture, the arrival of former MI6 agent Ilsa Faust [Ferguson] and evidence that one of the anarchists is a rogue agent, things become significantly less straightforward.

As this incredibly unusual collection of semi-discordant films progress, I can see the genuine benefits and pros to this franchise; especially in an age where CGI dominates the screen. Seeing real life stunt work, there is an element of peril and suspense which is sort of lost and neglected by most big budget releases. With each passing instalment, the franchise evolves and presents a different style of action espionage to suit different audiences, this can produce a hit-and-miss body of work but it also ensures the films themselves avoid too many tick-box tropes and reinvention through recasting – James Bond, I’m looking at you. A major shift that was introduced in Ghost Protocol was the continuation of story. There had been certain components that had been brought over (specifically Ving Rhames as Luther) but the fourth film brought back a handful of characters and started a storyline which would effectively unfold with each passing release. Now we have a welcome sense of legacy and investment with the characters, rather than just a new team of expendables every single time; a good example of this is the new character of the elusive White Widow, who is the daughter of Vanessa Redgrave’s character from the first film.

Staying with the cast for a second, we need to talk about Tom Cruise. This series is Cruise’s playground and while it is a completely indulgent excuse to show-off, it plays to his strengths and it is genuinely hard to fault him in this role. He gets to emote, appear clever and charming, perform his own ridiculous stunts, look confused, scream, be funny and run. It’s everything he wants and in a strange way, it’s everything we seem to want too. It’s a role that has shifted with his priorities and subsequently, could never really be portrayed by anyone else. The returning cast all perform admirably within the confines of their type and Henry Cavill really stands out with a great performance largely because the script utilises his best skills as an imposing, menacing villain.
The dialogue edges closer and closer to eye-rollingly dumb, littered with trailer lines that we frequently see forced into films but I feel this is a bit of a blockbuster occupational hazard and pleasingly does not happen too often.

With Rogue Nation, I didn’t take issue with McQuarrie’s ability so much as I didn’t care for the lacklustre script. Thankfully this feature feels closer to Ghost Protocol – I would argue the best Mission: Impossible film – and gives us the twists and set-pieces that we both enjoy and have come to expect. Furthermore it displays thrilling direction, editing and sound design, which feel like call-backs of the 90s, as we have become more reliant on post-production fixes and fewer in-cam techniques. The bombastic routines are also helped along by an urgent score that cleverly works with the iconic series motif but for all its positives, Lorne Balfe can’t escape his Zimmer trappings and it never truly feels completely unique or innovative.

While the film thinks it contains clever plot twists, all it eventually does is produce a series of bluffs and fake-outs, highlighting a scenario before jumping out of the shadows shouting, “Only kidding!” I appreciate this is a literal staple of the franchise and a trope that few other series can get away with but after a while the magic-trick wears thin and a great deal of investment and suspension of disbelief is lost. There’s an old adage that no one is questioning if someone like James Bond will get out of a trap, it’s how he gets himself out of it. This conceit is the same here and I am more than willing to participate in the charade but when you are expected to question everything, you believe nothing and either confusion sets in or immersion is lost. Admittedly, the Mission: Impossible series (outside of the first instalment) does a decent job of avoiding the former but the latter is something that happens time and time again.

In truth, this is an instalment that will thrill and greatly please fans of the franchise and once again makes Tom Cruise look especially good. The more he works on these films he will either end up killing himself or continue to sup from the fountain of youth long enough for people to say, “How is he 80!? He just punched a lion in the face before outrunning it!” But interestingly, there is such a wealth of production work and cinematic thrills that those who aren’t fans may enjoy it too; and that is an extremely impressive feat.

Release Date:
27th July 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
**spoilers throughout**
When you start analysing the formula of scripts and film, you quickly understand the patterns; you would think that would extend to audiences but it rarely conscionably does. Subsequently, if a shot hangs for a couple of seconds longer than necessary it’s either a foreshadowing element or product placement. When these shots go nowhere, they are incredibly frustrated loose ends but even if they are addressed, they can give away too much. Case in point, during a bathroom fight in a club, we have a very clear shot of the target’s phone being smashed. A few scenes later, long before anyone’s identities and loyalties are openly called into question, Walker hands over a mint phone claiming it belonged to the target and has evidence incriminating Hunt. Right away I saw how the rest of the film would unfold, the magic was lost and the mystery ruined. I mean, there are carefully placed clues and there are obvious signposts; this, painfully, was the latter.

Notable Characters:
I’ve always felt there is something wonderfully menacing about Sean Harris and as an unhinged, nothing-to-lose psychopath who feels he is a higher force than the terrorist title he has been labelled with is genuinely fun and disturbing to watch.

Highlighted Quote:
“That’s not anarchy, that’s revenge”

In A Few Words:
“Genuinely entertaining high-octane action thriller ”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #217

[15 July 2018]

Winning Team:
The Nightmare After New Year
Genre – Jack Skellington breaks out the hydra teeth after Halloweentown’s New Year’s party

Runners Up:
Seven Osteopaths
genre – A down on his luck screenwriter becomes embroiled in LA’s medical underworld after kidnapping the skeleton of Colin Farrell’s dog
Bonejangles N Harmony
Genre – A ‘humerus’ tale about Bonejangles joining an RNB (rhythm and bones) group

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. 2017’s It is based on which Stephen King novel?
2. The Great Escape is set during which military conflict?
3. Jim Carrey played the role of The Riddler in which film?
4. Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore and Giovanni Ribisi starred in which Steven Spielberg film?
5. What is the title of the Danny Boyle zombie film starring Cillian Murphy?
6. Which Monty Python film tells the story of King Arthur and the knights of the round table?
7. The Matrix was released in which year?
8. What is the name of Dick Van Dyke’s character in Mary Poppins?
9. Who directed Snatch?
10. Commodus, Lucilla, Antonius Proximo and Maximus Decimus Meridius are characters in which film?

ROUND II: Filming [Skeletons Special]
1. Pixar’s Coco is set in which country? Brazil? Mexico? Argentina?
2. Who composed the score for The Nightmare Before Christmas? John Williams? Danny Elfman? Hans Zimmer?
3. Which of the following actors has not played Hamlet on film? Mel Gibson? Tim Roth? Ethan Hawke?
4. What is the subtitle of the sequel to Ghost Rider? Road To Damnation? Spirit Of Vengeance? Vicious Cycle?
5. Jason And The Argonauts was released in which year? 1958? 1963? 1971?
6. Which Dinosaur in Jurassic Park did Steven Spielberg claim was “the star of the movie,” rewriting scenes to feature it more? Brachiosaurus? Velociraptor? Tyrannosaurus Rex?
7. The following quote is from which film, “One possible future, from your point of view. I don’t know tech stuff”? The Terminator? Terminator 3? Terminator Genisys?
8. What was the poster tagline for Army Of Darkness? Good. Bad. He’s the guy with the gun? Trapped in time, surrounded by evil, low on gas? One man, one mission, one boomstick?
9. The cosmic key is a mcguffin device in which film? Mortal Kombat? The Book Of Life? Masters Of The Universe?
10. Among Johnny Depp’s many suggestions for Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, he wanted Jack Sparrow to have no nose and be afraid of pepper. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Who starred in The African Queen, Angels With Dirty Faces and The Maltese Falcon?
2. The following is the poster tagline for which film, “Fear can hold you prisoner, hope can set you free”?
3. Who played the role of Desi Collings in Gone Girl?
4. The following quote is from which film, “Ryan, some things in here don’t react well to bullets. Yeah, like me. I don’t react well to bullets”?
5. Which two Pixar films came out in between Wall-E and Cars 2? (one point per correct answer)
6. Rollo Tomasi is an alias given to an unidentified killer in which film?
7. Leon is set in which city?
8. Travis, Iris, Betsy, Sport and Wizard are characters in which 70s film?
9. Who composed the score for Blade Runner?
10. The theatrical release poster for Pulp Fiction is styled like an old pulp novel, complete with worn edges and a price tag. How much is listed on the tag?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which of the following actors has not appeared in a Christopher Nolan film? Anton Yelchin? Aidan Gillen? Pete Postlethwaite?
2. After Adonis’ first match in 2015’s Creed, what are Adonis, Rocky and Bianca watching on TV? Raging Bull? Boyz N The Hood? Skyfall?
3. The Princess Bride was released in which year? 1981? 1985? 1987?
4. Who played the role of Max Taber in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest? Christopher Lloyd? Danny DeVito? Brad Dourif?
5. The following quote is from which film, “If the headline is big enough, it makes the news big enough”? All The President’s Men? Citizen Kane? Spotlight?
6. How many years has Joy been imprisoned at the start of Room? 5? 7? 10?
7. Which Chan-wook Park film tells the story of an investigation into a shooting between North and South Korean border guards? Thirst? The Moon Is The Sun’s Dream? JSA?
8. In Amadeus, while attending a fancy dress party with his wife and father, Mozart dresses as which animal? Bull? Dragon? Unicorn?
9. Who is the first crewman to die in Alien? Dallas? Brett? Kane?
10. To see which studios were actually reading the script for Good Will Hunting, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon added a sex scene between their characters halfway through. True or False?
TRUE (and the only one who mentioned it was Miramax)

Screenshots: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid / The Big Lebowski / The Golden Compass / Tombstone
Poster: Gettysburg
Actor: Sam Elliott


Back To Work

Brad Bird

Craig T Nelson
Holly Hunter
Sarah Vowell
Huck Milner

Set immediately after the events of 2004’s The Incredibles, we follow the Parr family (Bob [Nelson] Helen [Hunter] Violet [Vowell] Dash [Milner] and Jack-Jack) as they combat nefarious villain, the Underminer. Despite their best efforts, the bank robber gets away with the money and the family are arrested. With superhero acts still illegal, they are chastised and sent to stay in a motel. Witnessing the battle, tycoon Winston Deavor [Bob Odenkirk] asks fellow hero Frozone [Samuel L Jackson] to reach out and liaise with the Parrs on his behalf. Helen and Bob, realising they have a limited window to find a job in the private sector, agree to meet Winston. All three learn that Winston is an avid fan of heroes, as was his father and wants to change public perception in order to make them legal once more. In order to do this, Winston introduces his sister, Evelyn [Catherine Keener] who can rig tiny cameras into the suits to show the public the good work that is done. Bob immediately assumes he will be the frontrunner for this campaign but the Deavors believe that Helen’s Elastigirl persona would be the ideal re-introductory opportunity; leaving Bob to look after the children – something he has little solo experience with.

If we are being perfectly honest with ourselves, I think it would be fair to say that Pixar’s track record with sequels (outside of Toy Story) is not exactly great. On the one hand they have created some of the most heart-wrenching and beautiful original stories, only to have their follow-ups feel lacklustre or straight-up awful (looking at you Cars 2). Incredibles 2 picks up exactly where the last film left off and that, for me, is the first problem. The definition of a good sequel should be a justified continuation of a story or character’s journey that warrants telling but also forges new ground. I would have assumed a time-skip to age the characters with the audience, showing us Helen and Bob dealing with being grandparents, would be great fodder but I can appreciate that doing so would mean a lot of world-building and altering the visual style to fit the new decade; which could have hurt the film. Having said all that, the biggest issue with this continuation is the effective character arc reset. By the close of the first film, Violet is more confident, Dash has learned some restraint and Bob and Helen have a stronger, more communicative relationship. But in order to create conflict for this film, Bob goes back to hiding things from his wife, Helen takes on Bob’s role from the first film and the kids effectively revert back to how they were, albeit with a higher focus on Jack-Jack. And that’s not to say these aren’t pleasing performances because they’re really great, it’s just a shame.

One thing that is abundantly clear is the progression of the technology over the last 14 years. While the character designs remain unaltered, the level of detail is gorgeous. On top of that the cinematography and lighting are stunning, creating static images that silhouette and glow beautifully. Up until printing this review, I wanted to list my favourite scene as Bob and Helen sitting next to the motel pool, just for the glow of the under-lit water and the luminescent neon signs. It’s also really satisfying to see the return of the masterful pairing of high-octane action scenes with a captivating, nostalgic score. In this way, Michael Giacchino reminds us why he is such a formidable force in the world of cinematic music, destined to go down as one of the absolute greats.

But when you move away from the technical marvel and sit down to analyse the story and themes throughout, a few noticeable cracks begin to form. When this film was first advertised, I rolled my eyes at the prospect of telling a story about a father having to look after his children. I worried that it would feel poorly timed and would pull central focus. Thankfully that wasn’t the case and we ended up with a charming tale of a father trying to get to know his kids (rather than control them), analysing the shift from the archetypal and antiquated “male household role” to a more progressive and modern mindset. But the truly wonderful thing is that this is a subplot, the main driving story is Helen’s mission. Having said that, I would argue that Bob doesn’t learn very much because he still gets what he wants in the end but we’ll step over that for now. In addition to the subtle but welcome gender politics questions there are also some very bold issues about following the law even if the law is wrong, the idea of accountability and oversight of the judicial process and the existence of superheroes keeping mankind weak and sedate (the Lex Luthor argument). It’s very apparent that these conversations seem geared towards adults more than kids but their presence in this film is far from negative, as it means younger audiences aren’t being talked down to and being surreptitiously presented with powerful core values regarding authority and power.

**major spoilers at the end of the paragrpah**
In order to address the flaws, we must first address the production. Incredibles 2 was initially slated for a 2019 release but after work on Toy Story 4 fell behind, the dates were switched and this film was brought forward, meaning an entire year’s worth of development was lost. While what we’ve ended up is fantastic, I can’t help but feel a degree of refining and gestation could have ironed out any present issues. Issues such as the fact that this film is disappointingly predictable; from the story to the character progression, I was not at all surprised by any of the developments. On top of that, a lot of the story was too much of a retread of the first one with a role reversal for Bob and Helen. But before we get dragged into the “how original can a superhero story be” argument, I’ll just quickly touch on the villain. What exactly is Evelyn’s plan? At the start of the film, superheroes are already illegal and while the return of these supers has caused a modicum of public interest, the general message from politicians and the media is that any likelihood or rescinding this is slim to non-existent. Why work with her brother to make legitimise legal superhero activity only to make them illegal again? Again, the argument for replacing a locked door for an improved locked door is fine but this film never really gets around to it, so what we end up with is a solid motivation but flawed logical planning; which is unfortunate.

As stated at the start of this review, I genuinely feel this is one of Pixar’s better follow-ups but that’s really not saying much. Incredibles 2 is a fun, exhilarating and entertaining ride but cannot exceed or truly compete with its predecessor. With the amount of open-ended threads and a few underdeveloped elements, I wouldn’t be surprised if an Incredibles 3 was on the table, whether it will take another fourteen years to produce, remains to be seen.

Release Date:
13th July 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
In a film that deals with so many lofty subjects about justice and responsibility, it’s a genuine welcome treat to see that simple comedy has not been neglected. Nowhere is that more prevalent than Jack-Jack’s backyard fight with the racoon, while discovering many of his newly formed superpowers. It’s silly, pretty, inventive, extremely well designed from a sound point of view and very funny.

Notable Characters:
My highlighted character is Frozone but not for the reasons one might assume. Frozone was a criminally underused cameo role in the first film and even more so in this feature. The only thing I can tell you about the character is that he looks, sounds and acts like Samuel L Jackson, has ice powers and has an off-screen wife who gets a line or two of dialogue per film for comedic effect. The only thing Incredibles 2 adds to that is that he has a theme song. In a film that could have branched out with the supports more, this was very disappointing.

Highlighted Quote:
“Politicians don’t understand people who do good simply because it’s right. Makes them nervous”

In A Few Words:
“An absolutely fantastic follow-up to one of Pixar’s finest works mired only by a handful of frustrating failings”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #216

[01 July 2018]

Winning Team:
Asses Of Fire 2: Ass Flame Zarathustra
Genre – Philosophical fart flames of pretension

Runners Up:
You’re Fired
Genre – Political drama
Elmo’s Fire
Genre – After Oscar the Grouch is murdered and his bin set on fire, alcoholic detective Elmo returns to the bario to crack the case. Noteworthy for the infamous Big Bird water-boarding scene
Backdraft 2: Firefarter
Genre – The crew learn the real meaning of a draft from the back.. side, as they face off against a flatulent arsonist

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. Darren Aronofsky’s Noah tells the story of which biblical character?
2. Who directed Jaws?
3. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet first appeared together in which film?
4. What is the name of Orlando Bloom’s character in the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise?
5. Who played the lead role in Chinatown?
6. Which Kevin Costner film is set in a dystopian future where the polar ice caps melted and covered the earth in water?
7. What is the title of the cold war submarine action thriller starring Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery?
8. Troy is an adaptation of which classic poem?
9. The Perfect Storm, starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, was released in which year?
10. What is the full title of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove?

ROUND II: Filming [Fire Special]
1. What is the title of the sequel to Pixar’s Planes? Planes: Supersonic? Planes: Air Police? Planes: Fire And Rescue?
2. Which X-Men film opened with a scene featuring Nightcrawler? Logan? X-Men: Apocalypse? X2?
3. The Towering Inferno was released in which year? 1974? 1979? 1983?
4. Man On Fire is set in which country? USA? Mexico? Brazil?
5. Who directed 2017’s Free Fire? Martin McDonagh? Edgar Wright? Ben Wheatley?
6. Who plays the role of Kurt Russell’s character’s father in flashback in Backdraft? Robert De Niro? Donald Sutherland? Kurt Russell?
7. The following quote is from which film, “I have come to love that little tap of the fingernail against the syringe. Tap, tap, tap.”? Trainspotting? Hannibal? The English Patient?
8. The majority of Reign Of Fire is set in which year? 2018? 2020? 2023?
9. Which of the following did not appear in 1987’s Roxanne? Shelley Duvall? Damon Wayans? Lance Henriksen?
10. Christopher Lee appeared in The Wicker Man for free. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Journey To The Centre Of The Earth was released in which year?
1959 (ignoring the 1988 and 2008 versions)
2. Bruce Willis played the role of Harry S Stamper in which film?
3. What did Steven Spielberg direct in 1977?
4. Which Roger Donaldson directed disaster film came out in 1997 in direct competition with Volcano?
5. Who played the lead role in The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill And Came Down A Mountain?
6. The following quote is from which film, “Oh here he comes. Well, here I come. Hello John. Say hello.”?
7. What is Lawrence Of Arabia’s runtime?
222 MINUTES (3hrs 42mins)
8. Which film depicts a series of earthquakes hitting California, interrupting a LA fire rescue pilot’s holiday with his daughter to San Francisco?
9. Tremors was released in which year?
10. In which film does Ryan Reynolds play Paul Conroy, a kidnapped American truck driver working in Iraq?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which character does Dorothy meet first in The Wizard Of Oz? The Tin Man? The Scarecrow? The Cowardly Lion?
2. Flight Of The Phoenix is set in which North African country? Libya? Morocco? Algeria?
3. What is the name of Woody’s horse in Toy Story 2? Silver? Bullseye? Sandy?
4. At the start of The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Damien O’Donovan is set to leave Ireland to work as what? Doctor? Sailor? Barrister?
5. The following quote is from which film, “In a severe lightning storm, you want to grab your ankles and stick your butt in the air”? Twister? Flubber? Geostorm?
6. Studio Ghibli’s The Wind Rises was released in Japan in 2013. What year was it released in the west? 2014? 2016? 2017?
7. 1981’s Gallipoli follows young soldiers fighting for which nation during World War I? Australia? Canada? Great Britain?
8. Which of the following appeared in Rear Window? Ingrid Bergman? Tippi Hedren? Grace Kelly?
9. Who directed Blow, Life and Beautiful Girls? Mathieu Kassovitz? Ted Demme? David Dobkin?
10. The first teaser trailer for Star Wars was voiced by William Shatner. True or False?
FALSE (although it does sound a lot like him)

Screenshots: The Social Network / Batman v Superman / Now You See Me 2 / The Double
Poster: Rio
Actor: Jesse Eisenberg


Every Con Has Its Pros

Gary Ross

Sandra Bullock
Cate Blanchett
Anne Hathaway
Helena Bonham Carter
Mindy Kaling
Sarah Paulson

The film opens by introducing us to Debbie Ocean [Bullock], the younger sister of notorious conman Danny Ocean (lead character in the 2001 remake Ocean’s Eleven). Having spent five years in prison, she has finally been released and is ready to pull off an extremely ambitious jewellery heist but she figures it will only require a seven person team and a starting capital of $20,000. Debbie recruits long-time partner Lou [Blanchett] to help run the mechanics of the scam, including conscripting individuals with a very particular set of skills. It is then revealed that Ocean’s plan went from a bank heist to multiple bank heists before settling on something extremely challenging: convincing Cartier to release a one hundred and fifty million dollar diamond necklace to be worn by actress Daphne Kluger [Hathaway] at the star-studded New York Met gala.. then steal it.

One of the first things that stands out about this release is the visual separation from the first trilogy. Soderbergh’s films were very slick but very of their time, with deep saturation and high contrast throughout – as much of the early 2000s tended to be with the rise of digital filmmaking. Ocean’s 8 moves away from this and pays simple homage to heist films of the 60s and 70s with tracking pans and zooms that have long fallen out of fashion. This helps not only forge a new identity for this release but also offers a pleasingly simple associative aesthetic. This is accentuated by Daniel Pemberton’s score which bleeds contemporary elements with the bouncing jazzy rhythms of features like The Thomas Crown Affair and The Pink Panther.

While the cast from the first gelled really well and were a formidable ensemble of the time, I would posit that the group gathered here are superior, owing to the fact they are fewer in number, meaning less small-bit tertiary characters to juggle and there isn’t a single weak component among the group. Now, that will be contested but I genuinely feel that everyone’s strengths are largely capitalised on and the streamlining of the assembled team means more of a connection for the audience and less time is taken establishing the characters abilities and skills. The group can be easily broken down into two separate tiers: the veteran actors and the younger wave. On the one hand we have Sandra Bullock being smooth, confident and in control and while that works, I feel her exceptional comic timing is often neglected (but that’s hardly something that needs to be present in every release), there’s also Cate Blanchett who seems to be having more fun than should be allowed, getting away with it devilishly well, Sarah Paulson as the somewhat cautious “I’m out of this life” character that appears in all these releases but proves she is more than capable and Helena Bonham Carter who should be irritating but comes off as a genuinely endearing part of the group. On the other end of the scale we have Awkwafina bringing a youthful energy and cynicism, complimented by a similar dismissive attitude from Rihanna’s character, Mindy Kaling gives a confident performance highlighting her character’s knowledge and expertise and while Anne Hathaway’s performance is initially hyper to the point of cliché, it pivots nicely and rounds out rather well by the film’s close. There are a few subtle legacy cameos that genuinely play out nicely but the less than subtle celebrity cameos ranged from interesting to painfully obvious and, for lack of a better word, cloying.

For a lot of audience members and critics, a sticking point will be the story – entirely centring on its simplicity. For some this will be a neat, slick jaunt that focuses as much on the characters as it does the sleight of hand, while others will find it too simplistic and devoid of complexity. Personally, I am of the former and while I will happily acknowledge the film somewhat suffers from being a touch straightforward and not exactly doing anything new, it is a simple proof of concept, greatly executed with solid twists and decent bread-crumbing while being conscious of new grounded technology. The only problem is that Ocean’s 8 is lacking an element of crescendo and suspense; Bullock’s character feels so in charge and we trust her so implicitly, that at no point is there much in the way of peril or concern that the plan will not be a roaring success. This may sound like a minor point but for me, it’s the film’s biggest flaw. Having said that, any supposed criticisms present here could quite easily be placed at the feet of 2001’s Ocean’s 11, so it could be said that this is merely par for the course and a hazard of sticking to the original formula so succinctly.

Overall, Ocean’s 8 is a smart, funny, entertaining release and, if one can suspend expectations of intricacy and innovation, it embodies everything this kind of blockbuster should be.

Release Date:
22nd June 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
**paragraph full of spoilers**
A heavy amount of the third act rides on an insurance investigator, played by James Corden, dismissing the truth for results; and I take issue with that. After the necklace is revealed to be missing, John Frazier, an independent investigator is assigned to the case and seems aware of the Ocean family’s criminal history, having direct dealings with them in the past. As the film is winding down, we are left wondering if and how they will get away with the fencing of the diamonds. Regrettably, Corden’s part of the story wraps things up a little too quickly and conveniently, with the character himself stating that he doesn’t care about who is responsible, as long as he can get the necklace back. In a film that is genuinely pleasing, this is a particular convenient bugbear that resolves itself far too neatly and jeopardises the suspension of disbelief.

Notable Characters:
As stated earlier, I was truly impressed by the entire ensemble and believe the chemistry between them worked favourably. Having said that, Cate Blanchett really stood out as this film’s forerunner; slick, cool, in charge, playful, stunning wardrobe, she is the embodiment of everything these films aspire to and more. But in truth, is anyone surprised by that?

Highlighted Quote:
“A him gets noticed, a her gets ignored and for once I want to be ignored”

In A Few Words:
“A simple competent heist film that entertains effortlessly and easily proves itself the best Oceans sequel”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #215

[17 June 2018]

Winning Team:
Benedictus Cunninglingus
Genre – An actor’s tongue knows no limits

Runners Up:
Jeremy Irons… His Pants
Genre – Jeremy Irons plays an ancient Japanese vocal coach who teaches Keira Knightley to speak proper via a series of menial household chores
Je N’Ais Pas Un Quiz Nom
Genre – Lingual art-house

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. The Lone Wolf And Cub films are based on which manga series?
2. In Liar Liar, what is Jim Carrey’s character incapable of doing, thanks to his son’s birthday wish?
3. What is the title of the sequel to Finding Nemo?
4. How many Godfather films have been released to date?
5. Who directed Invictus, Mystic River and The Outlaw Josey Wales?
6. Who played the lead role in Father Of The Bride?
7. Jack Nicholson played the role of Jack Torrence in which horror adaptation?
8. Unbreakable was released in which year?
9. What is the name of Sean Connery’s character in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade?
10. In which film does Jon Voight play a male prostitute, living with a con man played by Dustin Hoffman?

ROUND II: Filming [British Actors Doing Non-British Accents Special]
1. [Alan Rickman] What is the name of Alan Rickman’s character in Die Hard? Colonel Stuart? Simon Gruber? Hans Gruber?
2. [Benedict Cumberbatch] Which Avenger cameos in the mid-credits sequence at the end of Doctor Strange? Steve Rogers? Thor Odinson? Bruce Banner?
3. [Idris Elba] What is the subtitle to the 2013 biopic, Mandela? Long Walk To Freedom? No Easy Walk To Freedom? Dare Not Linger?
4. [Daniel Day Lewis] Which of the following did not appear in Lincoln? Adam Driver? Andrew Garfield? Joseph Gordon-Levitt?
5. [David Oyelowo] Who directed The Last King Of Scotland? Kevin Macdonald? Neil Marshall? Tony Gilroy?
6. [Daniel Kaluuya] What is Chris’ profession in Get Out? Architect? Waiter? Photographer?
7. [Anthony Hopkins] The Silence Of The Lambs was released in which year? 1990? 1991? 1992?
8. [John Boyega] What is the name of the salt-covered planet with an abandoned rebel base in Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Crait? Dathomir? Jakku?
9. [Kate Winslet] Which director did not act as producer on Stephen Daldry’s The Reader? Anthony Minghella? Sydney Pollack? Neil Jordan?
10. [Daniel Craig] The lead character in the 1998 comic Road To Perdition was drawn with the likeness of Tom Hanks, who was coincidentally cast in the lead role in the 2002 film of the same name. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Which film featured Toni Collette, Bryan Cranston, Greg Kinnear and Steve Carell?
2. The 1948 classic Bicycle Thieves is set in which country?
3. The following quote is from which film, “You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, you are more than what you have become”?
4. What did Wes Anderson direct in between Rushmore and The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou?
5. The Pursuit Of Happyness is set in which decade?
6. Viggo Mortensen appeared in which John Hillcoat adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy novel?
7. Which universal classic horror film did James Whale direct in 1931?
8. Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal played the co-leads in which 2013 film?
9. Who directed The Tree Of Life?
10. Which child actress/singer appeared in Tim Burton’s 2003 film Big Fish credited under her birth name of Destiny?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. What is the title of the Sofia Coppola film about an actor suffering an existential crisis starring Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning? Nowhere? Everywhere? Somewhere?
2. Which Pixar film doesn’t feature the Pizza Planet delivery truck? Monsters Inc? Finding Nemo? The Incredibles?
3. Which of the following did not star Audrey Hepburn? Send Me No Flowers? Sabrina? Paris When It Sizzles?
4. Who played the lead role in To Kill A Mockingbird? Gregory Peck? Rock Hudson? Cary Grant?
5. The following quote is from which film, “Let me understand. They’d put up all the money, I’d do all the work. But what, if you don’t mind my asking, would you do”? The Wolf Of Wall Street? The Big Lebowski? Schindler’s List?
6. Starred Up predominantly takes place in what kind of building? Factory? Shopping mall? Prison?
7. What was the title of Yasujiro’s Ozu’s final film, released in 1962? An Autumn Afternoon? Good Morning? Tokyo Twilight?
8. 1994’s Legends Of The Fall, starring Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt was originally going to be a starring vehicle for which two actors? Tom Skerritt and Johnny Depp? Sam Elliott and Ben Affleck? Sean Connery and Tom Cruise?
9. Which of the following songs was not covered in the 2015 film Pan? Smells Like Teen Spirit? London Calling? Blitzkrieg Bop?
10. To maintain an authentic performance in Life Is Beautiful, Roberto Benigni insisted that the young Giorgio Cantarini would not be told by the cast or crew that the events taking place weren’t real. True or False?

Screenshots: From Dusk Til Dawn / Frida / Puss In Boots / Across The Universe
Poster: Desperado
Actor: Salma Hayek


The Park Is Gone

JA Bayona

Bryce Dallas Howard
Chris Pratt
Rafe Spall
Isabella Sermon

The story opens three years after the events in Jurassic World, the park is wild and largely reclaimed by nature but opportunists and poachers continue to scavenge from the site in the hopes of getting a jump-start on the bio-technology. Claire Dearing [Howard] is now running a protection group, hoping to save the dinosaurs on the island from a second extinction event as the dormant volcano on Isla Nublar has become active. John Lockwood (portrayed by James Cromwell), the former partner of John Hammond, has put his subordinate Eli Mills [Spall] in charge of a rescue operation to preserve as many species as they can. As the dinosaurs are all chipped, they require Claire’s handprint login to track them, more than that, they have their eye on the only surviving velociraptor and Claire enlists Owen Grady [Pratt] to help but their relationship is strained and Mills’ motives aren’t all that they appear.

Before I go any further, I would like to highlight a quote from The Lost World: Jurassic Park: “Don’t worry, I’m not making the same mistakes again” “No, you’re making all new ones.” This, to me, embodies the core problem with everything that followed Jurassic Park; I genuinely don’t believe any of the four sequels have come close to the original and no matter how often they try and rework the formula, the positive elements crumble under the weight of colossally disappointing or flat-out terrible ones. A lot of the issues here can be attributed to most contemporary blockbusters which prioritise moments over logic and narrative reasoning; usually for marketing purposes. But this leaves us with pleasing developments that work rather well amongst the connective dross that loosely strings them together. Things like the image used in the above poster, the actual moment in the film is remarkably stupid and everything surrounding it defies logic; from Owen meeting up with Claire and Franklin (played as a walking cliché by Justice Smith) despite the size of the island, to discovering the gyrosphere, to the fact that said gyrosphere is avoided by a stampede despite the surrounding environment being demolished, then we have a dinosaur circling the orb trying to eat Owen but then the T-Rex appears to kill the other carnivore only to then run away! It’s all nauseating nonsense reminiscent of that painful dinosaur stampede in Peter Jackson’s King Kong. What does any of this do other than provide a heightened tickbox set-piece? It certainly doesn’t generate suspense as the threat feels phony – and while I always fall back on the James Bond argument (the conceit that it’s not if Bond will get out of peril, it’s how), the lack of coherent progression disconnects the audience from a sense of earned urgency.

On top of that, we have to put up with so many stupid decisions from both the human and dinosaur contingent. People being arrogant and dumb I can understand. A trained hunter who steps into a cage after an animal passes out, assuming it’s completely tranq’d is entering more into a territory of such disbelief that the usual suspension isn’t sufficient. But it still gets a pass because I can maintain that humans can be clouded by their own motivational drives. What I can’t understand is a film that breaks the logic or rules that it establishes. If a science fiction or fantasy film introduces a status quo fact, it cannot then simply ignore it for plot convenience; in this case I am talking about animal inconsistency and the extreme overuse of dino ex machina. Throughout these films we have been told about the patterns of these animals, that they move in herds, that alpha specimens can have influences over others, that they are communicating and breeding, that they are capable of extraordinary acts, etc. And yet whenever we witness these creatures loosed, they conform to stupid human logic. The indoraptor, a refined hybrid that should constitute as a spoiler but it’s in every trailer, is whatever the scene needs it to be at that time: a silent apex predator that can smell prey from a mile away before relentlessly tracking and pursuing it or a moronic beast that is extraordinarily clumsy and can be outrun by a child. It’s lazy writing and has given rise to the “a dinosaur will run in and save the day” cliché which is posing as homage to the closing scene from the first film. This trope has been exploited so much that any time the situation looks dire, I fully expect a T-Rex to silently enter from screen left and bite the problem. Stuck in a lift? No way out and a fire has started in the control panel? *Chomp* T-Rex eats the problem. The two people a character has been crushing on are meeting for the first time and the semi-cute-meet “how do we all know each other” puts him/her in an awkward positon? *Roar* T-Rex creates a distraction and the lead gets to avoid confronting this problem until later in the third act.

What is interesting is that if you scratch away the blockbustery studio mandated components, you are left with a very simple, minimalised story presenting a basic question about the consequences of the advancement of technology – which is very indicative of Michael Crichton’s work. But as stated, this factor is so buried under the mountainous action quota that it becomes a fleeting, scantly revisited set of interesting thought experiments: the ecological philosophy behind saving animals that we manufactured, the concept of government involvement on a private island, the moral culpability and responsibility of those involved, the grey-area difference between exploiting animals for experiments and war over captivity and entertainment, the lengths of meddling with death and resurrection but I’ll expand on all of that later. The truth is, these kinds of issues are usually better left as open-ended conversation starters, like The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror because following something like this to its conclusion will change the face of the established world so much that it will alter the relatability of the grounded world around it. In other words, if you introduce a fantastical element and state that it has been normalised for decades, you cannot say the world will completely mirror our own and while that’s a great launchpad for stories it can quickly deviate to the absurd; for an example, see Independence Day: Resurgence.

Another element that strongly links this feature with the original – and one that Jurassic World didn’t use as well – is the welcome return of extensive animatronic puppetry. It feels like we are finally getting back to a point where computer generated imagery and practical effects can work in harmony, complimenting each other, rather than in direct competition and the film succeeds greatly because of it. There are also fascinating behind the scenes practical technics, such as an outdoor rollercoaster track which was built for the gyrosphere descent over a cliff-edge, generating a genuine reaction of both fear and gravity on the body. But as much as I love the ingenuity and creativity of this kind of filmmaking, it’s brutalised and all but lost in fast-paced editing and a frankly absurd sequence devoid of consequence. And that’s why I’ve rated this film the way I have; so many technical aspects are working exceptionally well, the cinematography is great, Michael Giacchino’s score gives us enough new material to evolve the familiar themes, the practical and digital effects are genuinely impressive, make-up, costumes, set design, all of them are performing at peak levels but the story fails them every single time. If I was rating on story alone, this film would be a travesty but the amount of work that has gone into its execution is truly praiseworthy.

The prospect of a zoo-like environment failing is a terrifying and relatable prospect and one which illustrates man’s arrogance when it comes to controlling environments. Zoos, circuses, theme parks, things we create for our amusement at the expense of something wild is a playground for What If fiction and while this film follows the same lines it is somehow less rewarding and stretches into fantasy territory. As stated earlier, I believe this is a problem with the nature of Michael Crichton’s work and why the only sequels and follow-ups he produced were at the pressure and behest of others rather than from a creative desire to further a story. And yet it’s not impossible, the “where do you go from here” is not out of our reach and to prove that, one need only look to the Planet Of The Apes prequels. The major difference there is that the story gave us a very emotionally relatable core along with ground-breaking motion capture techniques, to the degree that we were vested in the non-human story more than the one we would traditionally empathise with. But Jurassic Park isn’t those films, it’s always billed as a monster movie and as much as they push this “Blue is the chosen one” storyline, it’s not sticking because through both the performance and circumstance, I simply don’t buy the connection.

At the end of the day, Fallen Kingdom is another instalment in a long line of mediocre continuations that brings very little to the series but the way this one ends gives me the impression that we will get something very new next time – whether that will be positive or not, remains to be seen.

Release Date:
8th June 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
**extreme spoilers throughout this whole section**
The film closes pretty much back where it started, with the moral quandary of do these creatures deserve a chance to live again or have the repeated incidents highlighted that this is simply a bad idea which needs to be stopped at all costs. Having spent the majority of the film weighing the options, Claire makes the decision to not save the dinosaurs and in a rather traumatic gas chamber sequence, we have a Toy Story 3 fake-out, leading audiences to believe that they may witness something surprisingly adult in this relatively light action fare. And in that moment, the doors open and the dinosaurs are unleashed on California. With a town in running distance, several species of herbivore and carnivore are let loose on a completely unprepared environment and populace. As the camera pans, we reveal Lockwood’s granddaughter Maisie [Sermon] has activated the door, explaining that these animals deserve the chance to live. And my face immediately contorted into some twisted mesh of disgust and outrage and my internal monologue screamed, “What the fuck!? You made the wrong choice kid! Who.. who the fuck put the child in charge!?” If you’re reading this, I’ll assume you know the movie’s big twist, that Lockwood’s granddaughter is in fact a clone of Lockwood’s deceased daughter, which understandably caused a rift between Hammond and Lockwood. This is a development that I have such contention with. On the one hand, it’s a fascinating and natural evolution of where this technology could and would progress to but on the other it steps away from the simplicity of “park goes offline, animals get out” but doesn’t give it enough time to really develop into anything rewarding enough. Maisie’s justification for her action is to compare the dinosaur’s right to exist with that of her own; again, another HUGE moral quandary that this film has done so little to explore. But it’s all irrelevant, Maisie pressing the button is symbolic of a franchise that has never really worked outside of the first and should be left to die but the kids have voted and regardless of consequence, they have demanded more.

Notable Characters:
There isn’t one human character I have liked in these last two Jurassic Park films. Say what you will about The Lost World and Jurassic Park III at least they had Goldblum or Neill entertaining us with their expertise and cantankerous observations. What do we get? Owen fucking Grady. Pratt’s character continues to be the worst in the entire Jurassic Park franchise – yeah, I’m including Paul Bowman and Amanda Kirby in that. A lot of larger than life personalities have made their mark on this series and sometimes their absurdity can elevate the film. But Grady is a mess, he is consistently selfish yet superheroic in his actions, not to mention the fact he’s practically immortal. Without meaning to sound ridiculous, he is a representation of how America sees itself, a lone hero fighting against the odds for a little peace and quiet; you know, a real conservative wet-dream. But at no point does the character or the film really acknowledge that this charming yet outdated cowboy archetype is the villain. Owen trains the raptors but refuses to accept responsibility that his work could/would be imitated by others, his interactions with other humans devolves to that of a thuggish child and his plot-armour driven “I don’t know what I’m doing but this will work out” attitude puts everyone at risk but never fails so nothing is learned. And this isn’t the case of another Peter Quill because that individual experienced genuine arrested development and culture shock through displacement, this is an ex-military individual who works with animals but displays the tendencies of someone who simply doesn’t live in the real world. And when you have a film that is filled with genetically resurrected dinosaurs, you need lots of real world to make the Jurassic bit work.

Highlighted Quote:
“Change is like death, you don’t know what it looks like until you’re standing at the gates”

In A Few Words:
“As with every other Jurassic Park sequel, there are lots of interesting questions asked but all of them take a back-seat to some fairly uninspired action sequences”

Total Score: