Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (PG-13)
You do not come to Jurassic movies for plot and character development, so don’t expect any. You come for the spectacular dinosaur chases; if that is your reason for buying a ticket for this film, you’ve come to the right place.
The casting is almost too predictable: rich old grandfather on life support already (James Cromwell), adorable granddaughter (Isabella Sermon), villain (Rafe Spall), and traitorous gamekeeper (Ted Levine). Then we get to the Intrepids: Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), Owen (Chris Pratt) and two newcomers to the series, the delectable Daniella Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez and goofy Justice Smith as Franklin Webb (a somewhat cowardly tech guy).
The important members of the cast, the dinosaurs of every period and some of no identifiable one gather together to be harvested, as it turns out, for weapons. (Remember the traitorous gamekeeper?) The highest price goes to the Beta version of the “Indo-Raptor,” a gold-plated model that can be targeted on an enemy with a laser and is nearly indestructible. (Think many hundreds of millions of dollars.) The auction is interrupted by the eruption of the island’s volcano, which gives us the most spectacular scene in the film, a long chase scene in which Owen and Claire, Doc and Franklin flee in various ways from dinosaurs in a stampede, lava in rocket form chewing up the landscape, and eventually, a crash into a river that gives Owen his chance to record his most unbelievable but splendid underwater save scene. This is merely the most spectacular of several chase scenes.
Keep your eye out for Blue, that raptor that Owen tamed in one of the earlier sequels. He is vital to the plot. Keep your eye also on Howard whose perfect complexion is even commented on by Owen in one of their few tender scenes. Jeff Goldblum is on hand to reprise his role in cameo, just long enough to assure us that the dinosaurs will live on and may take over your world before the next edition of the franchise can be produced.
Listen for a chomping sound in your neighborhood and if someone knocks after you hear it, don’t open the door.
Sicario: Day of the Soldado (R)
This is a sequel to the 2015 film starring Emily Blunt. This one, minus Blunt, stars Benicio Del Toro as Alejandro and Josh Brolin as freelance hit man (sicario) Matt Graver. There is a loose connection between the sicario, Matt, and the DEA and its agent Cynthia Foards (Catherine Keener) but that relationship is secret because no American wants to know how the border war with Mexico and with the cartels that rule it is being conducted. It also stars the relatively new Isabela Moner as Isabel Reyes, a cartel boss’ daughter.
There are many kidnappings in the film and a lot of exchanged gunfire, but most of the fatalities are Mexican. They bring it on themselves by ambushing an American convoy attempting to rescue Isabel, a chase that results in the rather improbable shooting, execution-style, of Alejandro. Improbable because, after being shot in the head, he survives! Alejandro is a holdover from the first “Sicario” in which his deaf daughter is killed by Reyes’ thug army. He is therefore looking for revenge.
This is a good action film if you can follow all the traitors and good guys as they filter in and out of the plot. We get glimpses of the way that cartels work. “They’re sheep; treat ‘em like it” is the advice given a young American kid (Elijah Rodriquez) who leads a bunch of Mexicans over the border across a river. Meanwhile, Matt is told: “To start a war, kidnap a prince.” A princess is just as valid, apparently. Del Toro is so set upon revenge that the ordered killing of Isabel is not possible for him. Plus, she’s a charming character, though a bit rough.
Your reaction to this film may depend on what you think of the characters. Many of them are simply amoral operators. A couple of them are good people. I don’t think you’ll actually learn much about the cartels other than the fact that they are vicious and basically stupid. And you may have known that before you bought your ticket.
An urban-oriented “comedy,” this film could not have been made without retired NBA and WNBA stars. The most recently retired, Kyrie Irving (an Australian, by the way), stars as Uncle Drew, a legendary player at the legendary Rucker League in New York. The rest of the basketball cast includes Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson and Lisa Leslie.
Nick Kroll, not an NBA player, is featured as a disgusting coach to assorted other ball players. These include his star, Casper (NBA player Aaron Gordon), whom he has stolen for Rucker play from Dax (Lil Rel Howery), the old guys’ coach. One of the old guys, Boots, is in a wheelchair and hasn’t walked for several years while another, Lights (Reggie Miller), hits a three as soon as his coach gets him a pair of glasses.
The makeup jobs on the NBA players are excellent and hardly any of them, with the possible exception of O’Neal, are recognizable. It is difficult to imagine exactly how huge O’Neal is until he has a scene in a hospital where he roams the corridors, looking for a TV.
The movie is highly, intensely urban and the plot entirely predictable, but this film was not made for character or plot. For those of you who like Tiffany Haddish’s brand of humor, she appears as a girlfriend to both Dax and Mookie (Nick Kroll). If your kids understand basketball slang, they may enjoy it. Other members of the family may wish they had stayed at home and played a game on Xbox.