For student Adam Buckley going off to college was one of the best moment of his life and pledging to become a member of Sigma Zeta Chi (one of the colleges best fraternities) just made it all that much better. During his final night as a pledge Adam finds himself in the back of a van being told he must hold up a convenience store, before Adam gets his chance his fellow potential fraternity brother Kevin is shot.
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While the first Jurassic Park was mediocre and the second film god-awful, Jurassic Park III finally gets the formula right. These movies were never meant to be science heavy or overly sentimental; they should've been what #3 is -- an amusement park thrill ride packed wall-to-wall with dinosaurs and more dinosaurs, clocking in at less than 90 minutes with as little dialogue and subplot as possible. Plus, big bonus -- no Jeff Goldblum!
Instead of Goldblum, JP3 brings back Sam Neill as the slightly grizzled Dr. Alan Grant who seems happy to put his terrifying up-close dino experiences behind him. Grant and his new protégé Billy (Alessandro Nivola) are once again looking for funding for their research, and are coaxed into accompanying a new wealthy benefactor -- Paul Kirby (William H. Macy) and his wife Amanda (Téa Leoni) -- on a fly-over of the second Jurassic island, Isla Sorna. But things turn ugly when the Kirbys announce they plan to land on the island to search for their 14-year-old son Eric (Trevor Morgan) who was conveniently lost there while paragliding. When the group ends up crash landing in the jungle, the movie becomes a race to see who will get off the island and who will become lunch. (Sounds like a cool idea for the next Survivor.)
While dialogue has never been these films' strongest suit, JP3 remedies this by having less of it. Regardless, the writers behind this screenplay-of-fewer-words are pretty impressive: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor are the minds behind Citizen Ruth and Election. It comes off as a bit like how a dumb movie turns out when it's penned by smart people (like a Wayne's World) -- lots of action peppered with throw-away goofball lines like, "They weren't making dinosaurs; they were playing God."
As evidenced by dialogue like that, JP3 doesn't take itself too seriously, which is perhaps its saving grace; and it pulls no punches when taking potshots at the other two movies. For example, when Grant finds Eric (or, rather, after Eric rescues Grant), Eric tells the scientist, "I've read both your books. I liked the first one better than the second." Also, the so-called millionaire Kirby turns out to be a plumber. So much for a repeat of John Hammond.
Above all, JP3 packs in more dinosaurs per square inch than any other JP film before it. This time, big, angry reptiles are coming out of the sky and water as well as land, and the filmmakers even introduce a dino to rival the T. Rex, a massive monster called Spinosaur (that's right, dino-fighting). And, of course, the raptors are back, and now they can communicate with each other (don't ask, evolution's a bitch). Most importantly, none of the humans try to fight the dinosaurs themselves, so we won't be seeing any unbelievable scenes of kids knocking out velociraptors with a few gymnastics kicks.
Efficiently crammed with lots of thrills, Jurassic Park III may come off as a little bit like a big-budget B-movie, but you're not likely to have a better time at a blockbuster this summer. It's just loud, smash-and-crash monster movie fun at its finest.
The DVD extras focus on the film's special effects -- surprisingly, very little CGI, very many animatronic legs and jaws.
Continue reading: Jurassic Park III Review
In the first frames of the movie we're looking through the lens of a digital hand camera. We appear to be on a school playground as a hefty teenager frames the camera on a basketball court to record his lack of athletic coordination. Suddenly, another boy appears in view, the scene goes dark and we cut to the production camera.
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The Glass House stars everyone's favorite Helen Hunt clone, Leelee Sobieski, as half of a sister-brother duo who move in with family friends after the untimely deaths of their parents. Little does she know that her new guardian's motives are less than altruistic and it's up to her to protect herself and her brother.
Continue reading: The Glass House Review
Surprisingly, the redemption-by-baseball picture "Hardball" is not some warm-fuzzy "Bad News Bears" clone transplanted to the projects. It's considerably better than that.
Yes, it is about a drunk, gambling-addicted ticket scalper who spitefully agrees to coach a ghetto little league team for $500 a week to pay off a two angry bookies. Yes, the scalper is played by the historically vacuous Keanu Reeves, and yes, he's going to learn What's Really Important In Life from endearingly foul-mouthed street kids who live cautionary-tale type lives of inner city strife.
But as fast as "Hardball" sets up such eye-rolling clichés, director Brian Robbins knocks them down. There are no inspirational montages of the squad pulling together and honing their skills. The well-financed rival team? Present and accounted for, but not a major subplot. Ditto for the schoolteacher romantic interest (Diane Lane) and the headstrong tenement mom whose respect Reeves must earn.
Continue reading: Hardball Review
Remember that string of "...from hell" psycho flicks in the early 1990s? There was "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle" (nanny from hell) and "Single White Female" (roommate from hell). Well, here's one that was missed at the time: legal guardians from hell.
"The Glass House" is a failed spine-tingler about a teenage girl (Leelee Sobieski) whose parents die in a car crash leaving her and her little brother a $4 million trust -- money their surrogate parents are just itching to get their hands on.
Following the funeral, Ruby and Rhett Baker (Sobieski and Trevor Morgan, "Jurassic Park III") move in with Terry and Erin Glass (Stellan Skarsgard and Diane Lane), seemingly wealthy old friends of their parents who live in a expensive, ultra-modern, ultra-stylish, windows-and-concrete house in the Malibu hills.
Continue reading: The Glass House Review
In 1993, the first "Jurassic Park" took Hollywood's first giant step into the world of computer generated special effects, rendering from scratch huge life-like dinosaurs that genuinely interacted with the humans they chased and chowed on. There were a few tell-tale signs of CGI style that savvy audiences now recognize (soft-focusy skin on some critters, for example). But there wasn't a movie-goer on Earth who wasn't agog at how real those dinos looked.
CGI effects have evolved exponentially in the last eight years and in "Jurassic Park III" the movie's biggest stars are so seamless blended and thoroughly convincing that the very concept of these ancient beasts being a special effect barely even crosses your mind. It only occurred to me once, for about 10 seconds, during a fight between a Tyrannosaurus Rex and this movie's even bigger, meaner baddie called Spinosaurus. Half way through the furious dust-up, it hit me: "Holy cow, these things aren't real!"
I might not even have thought about the effects at all except for being drawn to the extreme deliberateness of the movie's big-budget post-production by the over-amped, over-bearing, Dolby'd-to-death sound effects, apparently designed to shatter eardrums.
Continue reading: Jurassic Park III Review
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