Jurassic Park III (2001)

jurassic-park-iii-542c354d610c3

JurassicPark3

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
A decent addition.

According to certain critiquing websites that shall not be named (all of them), the rate of how film franchises seem to go is, more or less, worse for every sequel – and Jurassic Park III is no exception. You’ll notice that the overall rating for each film drops every time a new film comes out in the franchise – and the third is rated the lowest. HOWEVER, most people that I know actually find the third one decent, but don’t care too much for the second. Well these are different opinions that I must understand. So here I go once more – let’s talk about JPIII.

Jurassic Park III once again introduces Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant, as he’s thrown into the world of Jurassic Park once again…but not because he chose to. This time, it’s a rescue mission, as two parents search for their young son, who went missing at Site B eight weeks earlier – and Dr. Grant knows those animals best – so they let him believe he is getting paid to guide them from the air – but that doesn’t last long. Before long, they’re running from something bigger and badder than a T-Rex, as well as coming face-to-face with smarter raptors. It’s Dr. Grant’s first time on Site B, and first time fighting an enemy like this.

I remember this movie taking place on the original island from the first film, but nope. Both sequels take place on Site B, which isn’t an issue. What I noticed helped this film tremendously was Sam Neill, who I absolutely believe is the face of Jurassic Park. He’s basically the Jack Sparrow of the series, so once he returned, I was instantly a fan. It was also the shortest film in the franchise, which means it didn’t feel too long. It’s just a lot of fun. The film also focused pretty heavily on the danger aspect, keeping the dinosaurs the threat – instead of the humans. Not only that, but when it came down to the visual graphics, this actually had the realest looking CGI and it didn’t abandon the legendary animatronics that the series is known for. Finally, the music was still present – even more so than The Lost Worldand for the most part, my conclusive decision is definitely that Jurassic Park III is better than the second.

Here’s where I had a little bit of a problem with – the introduction of the new dinosaur. It was interesting when this was released, but this was the part of the plot that looks similar to the trailers of Jurassic World. In fact, even the raptor voice simulator in this film has a similar concept to something we see from the raptors in the upcoming film as well – I fear that the originality in the next film won’t be very high. As for how it was used in this film? It wasn’t too bad, but I did want to see more of the T-Rex, because in general, the T-Rex is a main character in the franchise.

I’m actually having issues even finding many flaws from this movie. If anything, it would be because the production company just wanted money, so they made another movie. Maybe it’s too flashy and not made of too much substance…I don’t know. All I know is that it is actually quite a bit of fun, contains a lot of action and danger, and feels like it fits especially thanks to Sam Neill.

The Good:

Sam Neill’s entire participation in the third film made this movie special, as well as keeping to the basics of man vs. predator. The story was also founded on something believable and relatable – so all in all, this movie fit pretty well with the franchise.

The Bad:

If I could say one major flaw, it would probably just be – in general, it doesn’t feel like it has the same spirit as the first. Meaning, it starts out and there is danger, and there is danger until the end. Instead of having slower scenes where they contemplate what’s right and wrong. This was mostly just action action action.

John Q (2001)

John-Q

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
America’s Favorite Captor.

So, I discovered MGO the other day – a site that partnered with Viggle and I was able to use the points I accumulated to rent a HD movie for free. John Q was a movie that I’ve been meaning to re-watch for a good long while – as it’s one of my favorite films by Denzel Washington. However, Rotten Tomatoes has this film grossly underrated and I can’t figure out why. Sure, I rated it above and beyond, which most may not agree with – but it’s still way better than what RT gave it, my god!

John Q is about a desperate man that needs to figure something out for his son, whom needs a heart transplant, like, yesterday. The only problem is that his insurance doesn’t cover the medication costs and the hospital is basically begging him to pay cash instead – but he can’t. He can’t even cover a down-payment after selling everything he has and getting charitable donations from friends and family – so he resorts to holding the hospital hostage until they do what he asks…and everyone starts to fall in love with his story.

Now here is a heartwarming story, and different than your typical hostage crisis film. It’s clearly about the love of a father for his son as well as commentary about health insurance policies and how much they suck for the people that need help the most. I think that was the critics main issue – that the message sometimes feels like its shoved down your throat – or repeated nonstop. “Well here’s another issue about what’s wrong with the health system!”. I get that, but I never once had an issue with it. I thought it was a story wonderfully told with performances that just put you in awe.

You love these characters – right from the start they do what’s necessary to make you fall in love with them. Then, as soon as the kid collapses during that baseball game…something inside you cries out “Oh no…” You abandon your knowledge that it’s all just actors in a studio and you love these people and you want to know what happens next. It’s not only that, but you also love the fact that his own captors and the rest of the world thinks he’s a genuinely good man and don’t really care that he’s armed.

This is, in my honest opinion, a very good and successful drama. You think that it might be an action suspense film going in, but it’s a very character-oriented drama in reality – and a good one at that. There are a number of possible ways the film could end, which makes it an unpredictable experience and fun all around. I’ve seen the movie a few times, and it always has the same effect on me – and I can’t say the same thing for many movies.

The Good:

This is one of my favorite films by Denzel Washington – before he went and type-casted himself. I fear that because of his current type-casting status people won’t take this film very seriously anymore – but it is a great movie with a lot of powerful moments between a father’s love for his child and his stance against a flawed health system.

The Bad:

Can you say grossly underrated? Rotten Tomatoes makes this movie look so ridiculously bad – but it’s really good. If I had to complain about anything, it would have to be on the fact that one specific part in the movie is easily interpretable for how the film will end – which is a little disappointing – but that’s it.

Head Over Heels (2001)

Head-Over-Heels

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Romantic Rear Window.

Alfred Hitchcock was an interesting and brilliant man. He was so beloved that everyone wanted to be him…heck, that’s true even by today’s standards. One of his films that I’ve seen redone in different lights was one of my personal favorites of his collection, Rear Window. It’s basically about a creepy voyeur dude that witnesses his neighbor kill someone through their windows, which face each other – and throughout the film, the hero of the story has to convince everyone else that it actually happened. Head Over Heels is one of the films that feature the same basic concepts, but is given the lighter tones of a romantic comedy…which is pretty interesting.

Monica Potter plays Amanda, a woman who moves in with a congress of superficial, stereotypical supermodels – and out her window spies on an attractive man named Jim Winston (Freddie Prinze Jr.). But Jim Winston has a terrible secret, when Amanda believes she watches him murder an innocent woman in his apartment, she tries her best to prove he did it, but it keeps getting increasingly difficult to seem serious with a bunch of ditsy super models right next to her. Regardless of her fears of the possible killer next door, she still begins to uncontrollably fall for his charms.

This is one of the few romantic comedies I actually enjoyed – simply because it wasn’t a natural romcom. It wasn’t original either, but in the terms of romance it somehow was. This was mixing horror/comedy with romance, and the strange genre mixture somehow really worked. It doesn’t make a ton of sense, because no woman in her right mind would date a guy if she thought he killed someone else…sure, love makes you do crazy things and create innocence where there is only guilt, but murder should be on some other realm, don’t you think? Oh, who cares, it’s a romantic comedy!

In all honesty, this is what I’d consider half predictable. On one side, they got the Hitchcock mystery which could go either way – and on the other half, you have the romance side which can only really end one way. So again, the mixture of horror and romance affected the predictability of the film – making a unique ingredient for the film which ultimately makes it memorable…which is really hard to do with romantic comedies – really hard. So, bravo, moviemakers, bravo.

As with any romance, you have to ask if the chemistry in the film is up to par. Well, this is Monica Potter and Freddie Prinze Jr we’re talking about. At this era, Prinze was considered a heartthrob, and Monica Potter grew up to be the mother on Parenthood. They did work very well together…imagine a previous generation of Katherine Heigl…she was pretty much that. Take that as you will!

The Good:

Head Over Heels is a very good RomCom that takes an Alfred Hitchock twist to the next level…and I loved that about it.

The Bad:

Unfortunately, it’s still a romantic comedy…and those can never be absolutely amazing. They are good for girls because they present love in a commendable light, but they never attempt to reach an Oscar-worthy presentation.

American Pie 2 (2001)

AmericanPie2

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Still awkward; unrealistic.

This film was selected from ‘The 250’

Teen comedies, you got to love them. Or not. Whichever. Like I said in my review of American Pie, I don’t really have anything against them, but at the same time they’re not really my thing. Thing was, when I actually got around to watching the first film, I was surprised to find that the movie actually had some genuinely good parts to it, especially the characters and realistic-enough plot to be believable and nonsensical at the same time. There was definitely something special about the first film, regardless of the fact that dozens of copycat films have washed its effectiveness a little thin since. Anyways, the first film had such a simple and solid plot that it’s hard to even guess what a sequel would be about, so what exactly is American Pie 2?

American Pie 2 takes place the summer after everyone’s first year of college. They’re all back home and ready to have the best summer ever, which means collectively heading to a beach house and partying the whole time. Meanwhile, an old fling of Jim’s is coming back, and he wants to seem “experienced” this time, as to avoid repeating what happened last time. To help him, he enlists the help of flute geek, Michelle Flaherty, who has a slightly bigger role this time around.

Okay, so we have our plot, and the first thing we realize is that it has a pretty disposable plot. It wants to re-use the same themes of the first by having everyone still act immature and sex-craved, but it doesn’t exactly carry the same feel as the first because there’s no real plot to hold it together. Instead we have what almost feels like mini-stories that don’t really come together or have a flow to them. In a way, that’s nice to see everyone’s individual stories and accomplishments, but at the same time, it just doesn’t feel like a movie anymore.

I’ll tell you what it does have going for it. First of all, and I’m sure this is true for every addition in the real series, the cast. It’s good to see everyone come together once more, because they all have tremendous chemistry and they truly make this series what it is. I see that now. Our dork of dorks, Jimbo is still incredibly awkward, but unfortunately not as much in a believable light. They upped the ante on how nonsensical the film was, and while it had some really funny moments, it’s a little upsetting that they sort of threw away the great balance between realism and silliness.

Of course Alyson Hannigan played a bigger role this time around, her role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer had really taken off at this point, showing her potential. I was surprised to see how little she was actually in the first movie, but it’s starting to come together in the second one – and I can say that she is a really nice addition to the series, and plays off Jason Biggs incredibly well. Their strange “relationship” is what sets this movie, or series rather, apart from others like it. That’s how you know that this isn’t just another dumb teen comedy – it has the characters you actually want to see.

The Good:

It’s awesome to see these characters come together for a sequel. I’m not sure if anyone asked for a sequel, but the characters alone compels people to watch the film. There is some crazy good awkward humor in this film as well.

The Bad:

The plot was clearly a disposable one, and the individual “mini” stories don’t really come together all that well. It’s just – here are the characters – enjoy them as they carry on with their antics among a directionless plot. If that’s what you like – enjoy.

Memorable Quote:

Stifler: (in shock) …I got peed on

Planet of the Apes (2001)

PlanetApes6

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
I’m sorry, what?

This film was selected from ‘The 250’

If you know me, you probably know me well enough that I actually enjoy when remakes take liberties with their craft. In fact, most of the time I want them to, and as much as humanly possible. That being said, I just watched the entire Planet of the Apes classic series, and was ready and gearing to see what they did in the remake. Now, I don’t like to compare, but I think it’s kind of inescapable for this one. However, I promise that I will attempt to rate this film fairly as if it’s the only one of its kind.

We got Mark Wahlberg, Marky Mark, in our Charlton Heston-type role this time around. He’s on some kind of space-exploration program with some chimpanzees when the team runs into an electric storm of some kind. To check it out, our man, Leo Davidson (Wahlberg) flies a mini spacecraft into the storm, sending him into the future and onto a strange new land where apes rule the world, can speak, and enslave humans. So far so good. Well, in this version, humans can actually speak, and soon Leo and a group of both humans and ape alike escape the city in search for his space craft in the forbidden zone. Meanwhile, there are evil forces at work attempting to stop him before he finds out too much about the apes and their true heritage.

There are definitely elements in this film that correlate to the original film, but those are mostly in the first ten to fifteen minutes. The rest is completely original…and I’m not entirely sure if that’s a good thing or bad. Obviously the biggest change was in the beginning when we learn that all humans can think and speak for themselves. In the original series, they were the apes and the apes were the human in a complete role-reversal scenario. Not only were they able to convey messages of animal cruelty and the evolutionary chain in a whole new way, it was also just a grasping concept all around. I’m trying my hardest not to complain about how they did it here, because it’s confusing. I’m trying to find out what sets apart Mark Wahlberg’s character other than the fact that he’s an astronaut and I’m getting nothing. He’s just another human.

I can’t go without praising some of the costumes. Like the original series, all of the apes were actually actors in make-up and costumes, but this time the apes actually looked a lot more like apes than rubber costumes. Not only that, but their mouths actually moved at the appropriate times making it automatically look a lot cooler and a lot more authentic. I had a big issue with that in the original series, and I like the apes in this more…naturally. However, some of the make-up and costumes for other characters, while done well, didn’t look like apes. For the most part they looked like human/ape hybrids. As far as what they looked like as a whole, it was pretty darn good.

Now, onto Mark Wahlberg. We all know his acting style, so I don’t think anyone will be super surprised when I say his acting isn’t horrible but isn’t great either. Then again, if I were comparing, it would be loads better than Charlton Heston’s melodramatic monologues. I think he does a substantial-enough job, and holds the film together enough. But what I need to talk about is the big picture.

As a film-watcher, you are probably thinking in general, the original Planet of the Apes is simply more memorable than the newer one. I don’t think the first had a very good production, it had poor quality acting, cheap choreography, bad costumes…but the concept was absolutely brilliant on all sides of the spectrum, and how they dealt with it on a storytelling perspective is unforgettable. When we talk about the newer film…you will remember the apes and Mark Wahlberg, yeah, but the story is really forgettable. It’s got a solid plot, but there’s nothing remotely interesting about it. Had I watched this first, I would have regretted it. It would have spoiled the twist of the original film in a tasteless manner. As a movie on its own, I’ve seen worse. It has some basic sci-fi stuff that’s pretty decent, but you might just end up saying “meh” regardless. Heck. It might even make you want to stay away from the classic series, and not in a good way, in a ruining your taste in the series way.

The Good:

It’s got some spirit throughout the film, I must admit. It tried to be its own thing, which I find very commendable, and it clearly had the best production thus far in the series (not including the 2011 film). The make-up for the apes was kind of insane in a really good way, and the hidden allusions to the classic series were pretty nice.

The Bad:

People are going to have an impossible time not comparing this to the original source. There is just too much they changed, and not in a good way either. Also, if watched before the classic series, some things are ruined in a distasteful manner. In short, it’s got better actors, better acting, better production value, better technical everything, but god it has a lackluster story.