Sunday, November 22

Jurassic World – Now on DVD and On Demand

The Film Fatales, while generally high-maintenance, rough it and go quasi-prehistoric. 

Jurassic World. 2015. PG-13. 124 minutes. Starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. Directed by Colin Trevorrow. 

A new theme park is built on the original site of Jurassic Park. Everything is going well until the park's newest attraction--a genetically modified giant stealth killing machine--escapes containment and goes on a killing spree. [IMDb]

Nicole: Cassidy and I saw this during its theatrical release, but it took us this long to gather our thoughts about the complexities of this film.  

elizabeth: Huh? 

Nicole: That was sarcasm; I do believe you’re familiar with the concept… It’s been twenty years since the theater-going public traveled to the Jurassic world, and in that time one might reason that by now that people would know better – but I am often proven wrong. In fact, I’m pretty sure if there was an actual Jurassic World, people would plunk down wads of cash to go. So, another movie in the long-standing series isn’t that far-fetched as it may seem. 

elizabeth:  I wonder why one movie with an interesting theme is never enough. I think the people behind what gets made (again and again) are all about how they made buckets of money and greed sets in again. And again. I bet screenwriters secretly hate them unless they have sold their souls and just add a number after the title and then go to the bank.

Nicole: As a writer, I’d be totally cool with writing sequels, depending on the genre. It’s sometimes difficult to say goodbye to characters and places – just have to be careful not to jump the shark. No one wants to see and 80-year-old Rocky get beat up in the ring. So, the deal with Jurassic World is that people have apparently lost interest in the whole model of the prehistoric theme park (‘cause you know, you’ve seen one – you’ve seen them all). To re-engage people’s enthusiasm, the geniuses at work behind the scenes have been messing around with genetics and basically playing God. Their aim: to create a carnivorous hybrid dinosaur that will “wow” the public and garner them some greedy corporate sponsorship dollars. Oh, and BTW, mission accomplished. 

elizabeth: What ever happened to going on a picnic at a park and having a couple of frisky ants annoy you? At least ants won’t eat your children.

Nicole: I dunno; have you seen the size of some ants? Of course, everything that can go wrong quickly goes wrong. And, the only one who seems to realize the potential danger of situation is the film’s Indiana Jones-esque hero, Owen (played terrifically by Chris Pratt). Owen is what you would call a dinosaur whisperer, if there were such a thing (and really, thank God there isn’t. It’s enough to worry about the wild animals we do have, much less conjuring up a mess of pre-historic reptiles.) His antagonist is the rather vapid Claire (played by Bryce Dallas Howard – or Jessica Chastain… They’re really the same person. Come on, you know it – have you ever seen them together in the same room? No? See!) 

elizabeth:  You really do go on, don’t you? Chris Pratt was fine, but he was not as sexy as Jeff Goldblum was in the first movie. I like men who wear glasses. 

Nicole: Um, isn’t that what we’re here to do? And, you can’t compare Pratt and Goldblum. As much as I adore Goldblum, that’s like apples and the polar opposite of apples – I won’t even say oranges, because oranges are not opposite enough, but I digress. There’s some history between Owen and Claire – yes, romantic tension. Predictable. And, they are forced to battle that as well as the giant effing FrankenDinosaur the science division cooked up in the lab. Along the way, there’s the requisite chases, disasters, back-stabbings, and outlandish situations. And, yet, I totally enjoyed this movie. I did. It’s also really fun watching Cassidy scream out loud and squirm in her seat. Schadenfreude. 

elizabeth: Oh please. I was screaming because that lady sitting next to me would not get off her phone and I don’t look good in phone light. 

Nicole: Right, it just so happened your screams coincided with every tension-filled action sequence. As formulaic and predictable as it may have been, it was a fun two hours. A large part of that is owed to Chris Pratt’s performance. (I will be honest enough to say some of that had to do with the fact that his hot quotient is off the charts). His character instilled the right dose of sense of humor and commitment to the plot that this movie needed to draw in viewers. His co-star, however, meh. (Hollywood, there’s only so many more times you can get away with having the heroine run through rugged terrain in high heels and get away with it. Oh, and the fresh makeup, too. Yea, that’s realistic.) 

elizabeth: I would like to know the designer of her shoes because not once did she slip out of her 6 inch heels. I can’t do that and I used to walk around Manhattan in heels that high. BTW – dinosaurs would never survive in this city. There would be vendors selling mock versions of them on every corner.

Nicole: Yea, good point, I do need a pair of those heels. I think this movie will pale on the smaller screens. Part of its appeal is the sweeping digital effects, but if you have a large HDTV, you’ll probably enjoy it in that format. It’s definitely worth one trip to Jurassic World – repeated viewings… perhaps not. But, it’s a fine sendup nonetheless. 

elizabeth: Want to see a movie with Jeff Goldblum in it? 

Nicole: Always.

The Film Fatales give Jurassic World

The Hobbit Trilogy -- A Look Back...

Just as autumn is waning, so ushers in the end of an era: our journeys to Middle-earth will conclude. With the release of the director’s cut of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, third and final installation in The Hobbit series, we shall no more trip lightly upon the rolling hills of the Shire, rest our weary heads in Rivendell, or battle fire-breathing dragons in the Lonely Mountain. But, thanks to DVD, we can always revisit those lands – as a fond memory of Tolkien’s masterful works set respectfully to film by Sir Peter Jackson. The extended editions of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies are highly recommended because they provide additional context to the source material. Gaps in the storyline are addressed to tie up any loose ends the theatrical releases left to the viewers to string together. Now, let’s reminisce about The Hobbit, parts one through three – for not all those who wander are lost….

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. 2012.

A younger and more reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out on an "unexpected journey" to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of Dwarves to reclaim their stolen mountain home from a dragon named Smaug. [IMDb] 

Nicole: OK, Cassidy, so I know you don’t go in for this sorta thing. You’re not a big geek like me. 

elizabeth: Would you please go outside and stare at the big round ball in the sky for ten minutes? I don’t see the appeal of men looking like they haven’t bathe since the days of the Black Plague.  And I think Smaug was my boss at my last two jobs. 

Nicole: That's quite possible, but I digress... Let’s first talk casting. I cannot think of another actor that could have played hobbit Bilbo Baggins better. Martin Freeman is inspired – he fits seamlessly into the cast. It’s perfectly believable that he’s the younger Baggins (whom we see played by Ian Holm in this film, as well as the Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy). He handled the role with finesse, humor, and acuity. Ian McKellen is back as Gandalf the Grey, a role he’s played so many years now it fits him like a glove. And, Richard Armitage as heir-apparent dwarf Thorin Oakenshield is the right amount of moody, betrayed, and fierce warrior. And, let’s not forget Andy Serkis as Gollum – perfecting creepy on a whole new level. The cast is HUGE and I could go on for days, but I’ll leave it there.

elizabeth: Did you say something? 

Nicole: Ignoring you. Now, on to the script. If I had to argue about anything, it would be that I felt they concentrated on some scenes too long, whilst others got little attention. That could be because I’m a whore for elves and really was looking forward to more time spent in Rivendell. I did want to see more of Bilbo’s impression and interaction…but I’ll take what I can get.  

elizabeth: “A whore for elves” – is that on your resume? 

Nicole: In fact, yes, it is. Still ignoring you. Special effects – scenes like the warring Mountain Giants -- I was fully clenched the entire time. TMI? If you’re a Tolkien fan, a Jackson fan or just a geeky nerd – invest in seeing this movie and making the commitment to see it through to conclusion. ‘Cause the journey is well-worth the effort. 

elizabeth: You mean I have to wait to call you a whore for elves again? Seems so unfair.

 Nicole: I think you'll manage. 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. 2013.

The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring. [IMDb]  

Nicole: Look, I’m biased. I’m incapable of being critical in any way shape or form. I know some Tolkein purists have pick with Jackson’s interpretation of the source material. I’m going out on a limb here and saying Tolkein’s works are different. It would be impossible to faithfully reproduce every detail in his works. That being said, Jackson’s vision is absolutely mesmerizing. I trust every decision he makes, because he has the best possible motives. OK, I’ve blown enough sunshine up Jackson’s ass. (Peter, make the check out to CASH.) 

elizabeth: Now seeing sunshine blowing up Peter Jackson’s ass might be a movie I would want to see. I take that back. I don’t like movies that are dependent on out of this world special effects or Jackson’s butt.  Call me a movie snob. Go ahead. 

Nicole: Snob. So, where does this installment find our quest-harried dwarves, hobbit and wizard? Knee-deep in Middle-Earth, that’s where. Fighting off evil bands of Orcs and giant Mirkwood spiders, being imprisoned by Sylvan Elf King Thranduil (played to absolute perfection by Lee Pace), slipping into Lake-town on their way to the Lonely Mountain to do battle with Smaug, the dragon who guards the dwarves’ treasure and the Arkenstone. Got that so far, Cassidy.

elizabeth: Orcs, Mirkwood , Smaug, Bilbo and Thranduil – are these the top  baby names for  boys this year?  What happened to names like Bob, Dr. Dre and Ralph? 

Nicole: Those names aren’t en vogue. Let’s talk about performances. Martin Freeman’s Bilbo is absolutely genius this time around—from the simplicity of his gestures to his building bravery, this was a role he was born to play. Richard Armitage’s Thorin Oakenshield is compelling. His is a complicated character we’re never quite sure to love or hate, but either way—you stand behind him, because he’s that convincing. 

elizabeth: Time to make the donuts. 

Nicole: I see you’re positively riveted, but I continue nonetheless. Enough can’t be said about Jackson’s WETA team. From special effects, to costuming, to set dressing – this movie is a feast for the eyes. Just wait till you get a load of Smaug (brilliantly voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). 

elizabeth: Please get out of Middle-Earth and join the rest of us. And you can bring your new friends Thorin Oakenshield and Tauriel. I am sure they are in need of hot shower or two. I’ll bring the soap. 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. 2014.

Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the terrifying Smaug from acquiring a kingdom of treasure and obliterating all of Middle-Earth. [IMDb] 

Nicole: Well, it is true that all journeys must come to an end...and so must it be with the final installment of The Hobbit trilogy. 

elizabeth:  I felt my heart just break ever so …who am I kidding? So the tale of the little men with big ears is over? Why don’t you all go out and visit a mall? 

Nicole: Ignoring you. The film picks up right where The Desolation of Smaug left off, with Smaug wreaking havoc on Lake-town and the Erebor dwarves searching for the Arkenstone. Their leader, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), has succumbed to the dragon sickness, which spurns his blood lust for wealth, greed and hatred. Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and Saruman (Christopher Lee) defend Gandalf (Ian McKellan) against the Necromancer (aka Sauron) at Dol Guldur. The Mirkwood elves, led by Thrandruil (Lee Pace), learn of the dwarves' success in taking back the Lonely Mountain and arrive in Erebor to reclaim the treasure that was taken from them generations prior. And, let's not forget, that an army of vicious Orcs, led by Azog (Manu Bennett) are preparing to end the line of Durin and take over Middle-Earth. Still with me? Elizabeth! Wake up! 

elizabeth: I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow. I have all the symptoms of that dragon sickness. Dammit, I just lost another scale. 

Nicole: I knew you had something; I just couldn't put my finger on it. While the name of the movie is The Hobbit, this installment very much belongs to one character: Thorin Oakenshield.  Martin Freeman's Bilbo, however, still does steal many a scene with his display of loyalty and bravery -- not to mention his endearing mannerisms. Luke Evans' Bard is also strong, rising from mere bargeman to dragon slayer to leader. 

elizabeth:  After watching him on Saturday Night Live, I have been under the false impression that those were Martin Freeman’s real ears.  

Nicole: *rolling eyes* Alluding to its title, you can guess this movie is mostly about war. Lest that scare anyone away, Jackson cleverly handles the staging of the battles by focusing on the main characters, switching between locations and introducing eye-popping visuals. Believe me, you won't be bored and it won't seem like, pardon the pun, overkill. And, while the conclusion is highly emotional, it's both fitting and satisfying. 

elizabeth: Did you see bright colors and have the sensation of floating during your flashbacks?

Nicole: No, but I saw BOFTA in IMAX 3D, which I normally shy away from -- as I have a tendency to vomit from 3D-induced motion sickness. It's utterly immersive and all-encompassing; rich with so much detail you won't want to blink.  

elizabeth:  Might I make a  suggestion? If you suffer from motion sickness then maybe request that Jackson’s next movie have a cast of hand puppets. 

Nicole: He's been there and done that. Ultimately, though, it's about the story and bringing it to a justifiable end. Purists will argue about the focus given to non-Hobbit characters like Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lily), but Jackson and his writers Philipa Boyens and Fran Walsh handle their inclusion creatively and with respect to the source material. 

elizabeth: What the hell are you talking about? Seriously, I do think some of the 3D and digital special effects take away from us using our imagination. Don’t show me everything and please don’t put it in my face. I can imagine. I do have that power. Take that, Bilbo. 

Nicole: *sigh* I almost don't want to end this post, because it will mean having to say goodbye to Middle-Earth...and frankly, I'll never be ready to do that. But, rationally, I know that due to the rights issues over Tolkien's works, this is very likely the last time Jackson will visit, allow me a moment to thank him and his wonderful team for giving us a glimpse into a world that we'd never have known but for our own imaginations. 

elizabeth: Have we met? What have you done to Nicole? Oh, that’s right. You are now renting a 2 bedroom apartment.  42 Geek Ave., Apt. 3D, Middle-Earth. Can you get pizza delivered there?

Wednesday, November 18


The Film Fatales Wonder: Is Bond Going Bye Bye? 

Spectre. Rated PG-13. 2015. 148 mins. Starring Daniel Craig and Christolph Waltz. Directed by Sam Mendes. 

A cryptic message from Bond's past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE. [IMDb]

Nicole: It's been a four-movie arc for Daniel Craig as Bond, James Bond. And, unlike most Bond films, we've learned a lot about 007 during that arc. This modern Bond is more human than his predecessors. Not just a suave ladies man with a license to kill, but a troubled, complicated man with a past that haunts him. A man who is willing to throw away his career for the love of a woman--a commitment that would have been thought ridiculous by previous Bonds. It's for those reasons that it's going to be hard to say goodbye to Mr. Bond. 

elizabeth: As you know, I normally boycott this type of  movie because I don’t relish seeing women being used and tossed aside. I don’t like their message. I did go to see Specte to see if they allowed this middle aged man to grow up and have some feelings that aren’t always shaken and not stirred. Craig’s Bond showed some real honest feelings and was more of a humble man than a hired gun.

PARENT ALERT:  This movie may be rated PG-13 but I think the pack of 8-9 year old girls who were in the theatre might have been a tad too young. I was very disturbed by that, but I won’t have to deal with their nightmares.

Nicole: I agree on the rating, but parents do need to be more discerning. Even though this Bond differs from Connery and Moore, I'm not saying all the typical Bond-ish stylings aren't present. He woos at the drop of a hat, he jumps into dangerous situations without a moment's hesitation, he wears a Saville Row suit like nobody's business, and he crashes countless cars without one ounce of remorse. (The opening action sequence alone will have you biting your nails. Word of advice: Never get in a helicopter with 007.) Hell, aren't those all the reasons we love Bond to begin with? But what this series has done successfully is make us invest in Bond instead of just riding shotgun. 

elizabeth: Too much freaking violence and I loved how Craig did not suffer a scratch even when he was beaten to a pulp – several times during the course of the film. Which brings me back to why I dislike their genre – they glorify violence and almost turn it into an amusement park ride. We don’t need more violence. Or is it just me?

Nicole: It might this case only. It is an action movie about an assassin...not Driving Miss Daisy. Bond wouldn't be Bond without the requisite car chase and shoot out. What I have a problem with is gratuitous violence for the sake of violence and no plot, such as the Saw movies. I liked that Spectre picked up right where Skyfall left off. Bond is bent on trying to avenge the death of M (Judi Dench), who was more of a mother figure to him than a boss. But, complications at MI6 hinder that mission. With MI5 moving in on their turf and shaking the organization up, Bond is on his own... Well, except for his loyal comrades: Miss Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), Q (Ben Wishaw), and even the new M (Ralph Fiennes). But, Bond's mission is more complicated -- and personal -- than he ever could have imagined. 

elizabeth: I did not know that Ralph Fiennes was bowlegged. Yes, all three gave believable performances and were very likable but I wanted to go home and see Fiennes in The English Patient. Now that is a movie.

Nicole: Yes, it's a movie indeed... A movie to nap by. Yawnnnnn. I love every actor in that movie, but you couldn't make me watch it again. (I know I'm in the minority on that one... Just me and Seinfeld's Elaine Benes.) Back to Bond: Christolph Waltz's Blofeld is the architect of all of Bond's pain. Blofeld has made it his life's goal to torture Bond for a "past infraction" that he can't overcome. Of course, like any of Ian Fleming's "coo coo" villains, Blofeld's all bent out of shape for a highly irrational reason -- but, then again, what else can you expect from a complete sociopath? 

elizabeth: I hope you and Elaine Benes will be happy together. As much as I admire Christolph Waltz’s acting skills, I have to say that as I left the theater I realized that he looks like what Justin Beiber will look like at 40. I don’t like having those thoughts.

Nicole: True. He needs to stop going to Super Cuts. But, I digress. Along the way, Bond falls in love... No, really. Not since Vesper (Casino Royale) has Bond risked his heart to love. But, Dr. Swann is able to understand,  although not condone, his way of life because she was the daughter of an assassin. And, with her, it seems our wayward hero has found a new lease on life...leading us to ask: Is this the end for 007? As the credits roll, the audience is certainly left to believe Daniel Craig's stint has reached a tidy conclusion. Screenwriters are going to have to be extremely creative if they're going to rev up this series with its current leading man. Ultimately, it looks like they're going to reboot Bond with a new actor. And, as much as I love Daniel Craig, the possibilities of casting a new James Bond are all too enticing to resist. Mr. Mendes, give me a ring...I have some very compelling suggestions. 

elizabeth: Oh, please. Dr, Swann looks like she just got her high school diploma. What is wrong with an older woman? Like 38. So I lived thru this movie and I am content knowing that I don’t have to see another Bond movie. Ever.

The Film Fatales give Spectre