Tag Archives: Chris Pratt

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Blu-Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Avengers Infinity War

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus (screenplay by), Stephen McFeely (screenplay by) 
Stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin, Pom Klementieff, Benedict Wong

The dust has settled, the hype has died down, the fanboys have scrutinised every frame and Avengers: Infinity War has already raked in $2 billion worldwide. Now it’s time to take a deep breath, look beyond the spectacle and obligatory fan-service to assess what is still essentially half a movie (though it’s still a lot better than Age of Ultron). 

I’ve always been pretty dubious over the practice of dividing a single story into two or more separate films. I understood Quentin Tarantino’s motives behind Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2 because they were stylistically different. But two Breaking Dawns, two Mockingjays and three freaking Hobbits were just greedy, cynical cash-grabs calculated to prey on fans whose commitment to their beloved franchises gave them no choice but to open their wallets one more time than necessary.

But after seeing Infinity War twice now (once in theatres with everyone else, the second time for this Blu-ray review), I have to grudgingly concede that the decision to make it two movies might be justified (I’ll reserve a final verdict until next year). As it stands, this film has an unenviable task: Include nearly every major MCU character, work them into the film without regulating anyone to a gratuitous cameo while still moving the new story forward (“new” is relative, though…longtime fans have been aware of this coming war for years). 

For the most part, the film is successful, mainly because Marvel has done a pretty masterful job of laying the groundwork during the past decade of MCU movies. So when Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) engages in verbal chest-thumping with Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the story doesn’t need to spend time establishing their personalities the way a stand-alone film must. Speaking of which, the film’s best moments are when these iconic characters are meeting each other for the first time. Those involving one-or-more of the Guardians of the Galaxy are predictably the funniest, and sometimes surprisingly moving.

The downside, of course, is that anyone not fully up-to-speed with the doings in the MCU will be completely lost. Sure, they could (mostly) follow the story, maybe even a few of the subplots, but will have absolutely no emotional stake in any of these characters. And there’s no other film in the MCU that depends more on the audience’s investment in its characters than Infinity War (especially during the final act).

Even without the burden of character exposition, bringing them all together convincingly takes a considerable amount of time (which Infinity War does by presenting three concurrent subplots). Could the rising action leading to its epic climax have been trimmed-up a bit? Absolutely. Infinity War is occasionally meandering and apocalyptic battles are so standard in this franchise that simply making them longer doesn’t necessarily make them grander. However, the story doesn’t feel gratuitously padded just to squeeze-out two movies. Casual viewers may be impatiently checking their watches after ninety minutes, but it goes without saying that anyone who loves these characters won’t want it to end. 

But end it does, with whopper of a cliffhanger that’s more Empire Strikes Back than An Unexpected Journey. In other words, the story may be incomplete, but not the experience. And if all 18 of the previous entries in the MCU can be considered converging roads leading up to this moment, then perhaps two movies is justified. I guess we’ll all know for sure next year.

Until then, because of its size, scope, references to past events and plethora of Easter eggs, Infinity War makes better repeated viewing at home than the usual superhero film. Nobody but the most dedicated fanboys would be capable of catching everything the first time. On a related note, I’m sort-of surprised at how light this Blu-ray is on supplemental material. The featurettes are entertaining, but mostly promotional and pretty short compared to those included on many other Disney/Marvel releases. 

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) Movie Review By John Gray

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

Director: J.A. Bayona
Writers: Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall

Jurassic Park is the movie that got me into movies. It’s my favourite film, by my favourite director, scored by my favourite film composer. The sequels have been hit and miss, even the Spielberg directed Lost World was lacklustre, and JP3 was little better than a TV movie in my opinion.

Jurassic World, however, brought us something I always wanted to see; a fully functioning park. It wasn’t a patch on the first film, but was fun, exciting, and full of good ideas. Its sequel, Fallen Kingdom, does something else I always wanted the series to do, by delving into the darker implications of genetic technology.

The director, J.A. Bayona, stated in interviews that he wanted a good reason for going back to the park, and he succeeds in giving us one. Isla Nublar is about to be destroyed by a newly active volcano, and the race is on to stop dinosaurs becoming extinct all over again. Enter Claire, Owen, and John Hammond’s old business partner, played by James Cromwell. Of course others have far less altruistic plans for the animals, namely selling them off to all sorts of questionable corporations and private collectors, and here is where the conflict comes in.

To say much else would spoil some of the movie’s surprises, and I’m happy to report there are actually a few. The movie could so easily have been predictable, but Bayona delivers a switch in the second half, effortlessly changing to a darker, more suspenseful tone. It’s the first time a Jurassic Park movie has been scary in a while.

The opening set- piece in particular is fantastic. In fact, Bayona shows a deft hand at creating thrilling set- pieces throughout, bar one mis-judged gag involving Owen and some lava. You’ll know it when you see it. Other nitpicks would be an over- intrusive musical score and an uneven script with some pretty cringe-worthy dialogue and jokes that don’t quite pan out.

When the script fails it’s largely saved by the sheer likability of the two leads. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are as solid as ever in their roles. Howard’s Claire gets more to do here, and is less of a buttoned-up cliche than she was in the last movie. She brings warmth and passion to the character, who has some hard truths to face about her role in all that’s happened with the park.

Pratt is charismatic and effective as a leading man, even if his character evolves a little less than Howard’s. He’s more stoic this time around, less of a man-child, but still not very interesting. His connection to the velociraptor, Blue, is well played though, and should have been the heart of the movie. Unfortunately the script downplays this connection during scenes where it would have made more dramatic sense to bring it to the fore.

Fallen Kingdom is a thrilling, fun, tense movie that takes the story in new directions. The ending leaves the Jurassic Park franchise in a fascinating place. What works so well about the main plot of this film and its ending is that both feel like they were always inevitable. From the moment John Hammond cloned that first dinosaur we were always headed in this direction. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2 (2017) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2

Director: James Gunn
Writers: James Gunn, Dan Abnett (based on the Marvel comics by)
Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista

Plot: The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.
Running Time: 2 hours 16 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 83% Audience 88%

Why I Watched It: I really enjoyed the first one, and for Marvel they took a risk, this was a cult comic and lesser known heroes but Marvel did what they do so well, the perfect cast a director they trusted and it was great. I will say this one is more bloated and much bigger and you can tell they’ve traded off from the goodwill of the first film, I was excited to see what they came up with this time and of course Kurt Russell is always welcome in any movie I watch.

What I Liked: Say what you want about Marvel but they really don’t make bad movies and they don’t make boring movies. You can call it a formula but it’s more of a style and something they nail every time. Marvel is smart enough to know what works and what they’re fan base wants to see. The other big thing Marvel does is they spend money and a lot of it is on the screen. This film looks great, all the tech stuff, the sound, the editing, the score is top notch.

Guardians is a different comic book movie, sure it’s set in space but it’s really about this ragtag group of outsiders who have formed more than friendship but a family and what makes these films different is it’s really about their relationship and their dynamic that make the films work. The cast is tight and you consider two of the characters are CGI it works seamlessly. The standout for me is Dave Bautista here’s very good here and oddly gives the best performance. Kurt Russell is good here, he’s always good but he doesn’t have much to do but he fits in well.

I said it earlier but this is a much bigger film, lots of characters and lots of balls in the air, lots of things going on, the one thing they hit on is they have five main characters and all have issues so there’s lots of things to play off of and this movie they decide to focus on family and for the most part it works, it’s nice to have a story this epic in scope come down to not being alone.

The thing I was glad they kept was the humor cause that’s what makes Guardians different, it’s heavy at times but they keep that light tone and the humor works and of course you have baby Groot here who is beyond cute.

What I Didn’t Like: The film is bloated, and at times it’s all over the place, clearly director James Gunn had a lot on his mind and blew his wad here. The biggest flaw for me was splitting up the team, I don’t think that worked as well as they thought, the group dynamic isn’t as strong here. Also they added a lot of characters and a ton of sub-plots. The film feels overly busy and man it’s too long, it drags at times and really they need to trim this down, losing at least 15 minutes would have been this film better.

The first film had a soundtrack so of course we needed a mix tape Vol. 2, the music cues felt like that and the songs were a little too on the nose and really anything big that is happening gets this famous golden oldie as well, I would it a bit distracting.

The cast if fine but I will say rocket does come off a little too harsh and at times annoying, also they didn’t need Stallone here, he gets nothing to do and really anyone could have done that part. Also they didn’t need all the story they threw in here, the should have just dealt with Star Lord finding out who his father is and the team dealing with it.

Final Thoughts: It’s a fun but flawed film not as enjoyable as the first but an entertaining Summer film just the same.

Rating: 7/10

Jurassic World (2015) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

JURASSIC WORLD.png

Director: Colin Trevorrow
Writers: Rick Jaffa (screenplay by), Amanda Silver (screenplay by)
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins

Plot: A new theme park, built on the original site of Jurassic Park, creates a genetically modified hybrid dinosaur, which escapes containment and goes on a killing spree.

Running Time: 124 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 71%   Audience 78%

Why I Watched it: I dragged my feet on this one, I’ve seen the other films in this franchise so I finally sat down to give it a watch.

Random Thoughts: To be honest I’m not a fan of this franchise, I’ve liked some of the acting but the series as always left me cold, the whole set up is they built something just so it could fail and we could have a movie.  I was a big fan of the first book, very good read and really different from the first film, much more tech based and more should we be playing God.  I would also like to say this film Jurassic World is almost a copy of Deep Blue Sea, same plot and really the same film, just saying, I love Deep Blue Sea.

What I Liked: Can’t argue the film is really nice to look at, it’s CGI eye candy, they did a nice job of giving us a different looking Jurassic Park.  Everything seems bigger, the scope of it just screams Hollywood Blockbuster.  The sound, the editing, the cinematography is great as well. I thought Chris Pratt would bother me more than he did, but he’s fine here.  I do fear he’s just going to play these types till we get sick of them, his relationship with Bryce Dallas Howard’s character feels like something from an 80′s movie to be honest.

What I didn’t Like: Let’s get this out of the way, it’s a big loud, dumb movie, entertaining at times but good lord is it cliched. I mean really cliched, so cliched I don’t even know where to start. Bryce Dallas Howard, no I’m not blaming her, well maybe a little she should have fought for her character to actually have some character.  Come on this was cliched 30 years ago, the driven ice queen, who has no time for family, she doesn’t know how old her nephews are one minute but then is willing to give up her life for them.  Please lets give her some depth, lets get to know something else about her.  Pratt is also just a type an action adventure type, he’s charming and that’s it.  Now the bad guy role here of course is played by Vincent D’Onofrio who looks honey baked here, he’s tanned and stuffed and of course he’s government/military you know the type he sees a rubber duck and wants to turn it into a weapon, and that’s all he says and does for the entire run time of the film.

Here’s my biggest beef with the film it’s the two brothers, one’s a teenager and the other is younger and they have no character at all, they are cheap heat, they are dumbly put in danger, that is their sole purpose in this movie.  really did you need this sub-plot, there’s enough going on we didn’t need these two just to be there so we could figure out Howard’s character loves her family and shouldn’t be so one track minded. The ending is overblown of course and it goes on forever.  Some of it is shot well and done well but it does drag and add the fact that the film is over 2 hours make’s it tough sledding by the end.  We know where this is going and really this feels like a remake of the first film the only difference is the tech and actors.

Final Thoughts: You know what this is one of those blockbusters that I didn’t hate but I wish they gave a crap about the script and kind of developing characters, but it’s a big loud CGI fest, a decent watch but empty calories.

Rating: 5/10

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) Movie Review by John Walsh

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

Director: James Gunn
Writers: James Gunn,  Dan Abnett (based on the Marvel comics by)
Stars: Chris Pratt,  Zoe Saldana,  Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russell

The first Guardians of the Galaxy film was and still is my favourite comic book movie to ever be released. Gunn weaved magic, rolling out a fresh concept in a fairly bloated genre and ultimately rewarding Disney for the enormous risk they took. It possessed everything; humour in spades, emotion, action, amazing visuals and arguably the best soundtrack out there. It also had a quintet of characters that really anchored the film, transcending the story and forging an instant connection with the overwhelming majority of viewers.

It really was an impossible task then to better that piece of cinematic magnificence in the sequel and whilst James Gunn didn’t quite achieve the impossible, he still got mighty damn close. All the favourites are back and the same hilarious banter that made the first film is back with them. I’ve heard more than a few suggest that the humour was forced, that it didn’t quite pay off or hit the heights of the first. I can only go with my experience and Drax (Dave Bautista) alone had me in stitches at several points. He definitely served as the main comedy provider in the film this time, subsequently being robbed of a more beefier role in the action sequences, which was a minor disappointment. Whilst Chris Pratt as Quill, the other provider of near as many laughs, is a match made in heaven to the point where, like Jackman and Downey Jnr as Wolverine and Iron Man respectively, I honestly can’t envisage anybody else playing that role now.

The film excels in the first and middle act when it strangely lacks a notable plot or villain, instead choosing to primarily focus on the quintet (prominent side characters not withstanding) and the unique, almost dysfunctional, relationship they share with one another. I can relate more than most to this in many ways, as I have a similar relationship with my family, banter flying around and more than a few profanities flung in for good measure. Disney, caught on the hop originally, realised just how popular Baby Groot was going to be and capitalised fully in a brilliant, incredibly cute opener that also lets the viewer know that the music in the second instalment is going to be every bit as varied and good this time round. When Kurt Russell does finally return to the screen again as Quill’s estranged father (there’s a much younger CG version at the beginning which I actually loved), it becomes almost immediately apparent that something isn’t ringing quite true with him.

For one, his name is Ego, which is so glaringly not a name for a benevolent Demi-God. He attempts to reconnect with his prodigal son, explaining that he too has god-like powers, though slyly withholding his real motive until later. Meanwhile, Yondu (Michael Rooker), the man who actually raised Quill steps in to provide some much needed action and a change of pace as the former settles into the transcendental, zen like, environment of Ego’s very own planet. (How fitting was My Sweet Lord by George Harrison during their arrival?) Rooker was absolutely fantastic in this film and the real standout performer. Just about everyone seemed to have a family issue at some stage; Quill with Ego, Gamora with Nebula, Drax and his daughter. Which made Yondu’s arc in particular all the more meaningful, providing some real emotional resonance to the film as his dealings with both Rocket and Quill further fed into the family dominant thematics at play.

If I was to have any criticisms then it would be the underuse of Gamora, those annoying gold gits and the way they continually made a nuisance of themselves at pivotal points, the climatic battle between Ego and the Guardians, and the latter’s suitability/choice as a villain in general. Kurt Russell was amazing don’t get me wrong, I’ve said it before, I love that man and his mere presence was felt here, believe me. It just felt to me like Gunn looked upon the plot and Ego as an afterthought though. His motivations and need for Quill were a little iffy and what was that bizarre jelly plant turning into a weird, city consuming, landslide thing all about? The gold aliens (I hate them that much, I refuse to even google their name) boiled my blood, they were that stupid and irrelevant to the story. As for the climatic battle; it just felt a little rushed, predictable and CG heavy. It wasn’t offensively bad or anything like that, but it was a small gripe nonetheless.

Ultimately though, much like in the first film, it’s all about the characters. They epitomise Guardians of the Galaxy for me and it was them I came back to see. The story didn’t have to be an epic, riveting tale, full of complicated twists, and quite frankly, it wasn’t. It was more inward looking, focusing on emotion and only really exploded into a Galaxy saving experience in the final act. I’m pleased to say that Gunn delivers and some in fleshing out the characters. He continued to develop the backstory of Gamora, her idiosyncratic relationship with Nebula and even the self-titled Starlord himself, delving a little further into his childhood and the relationship between him and Yondu in particular. He also delivered with an absolute belter of a soundtrack and visuals that were borderline eye porn at times. I loved just about every minute of this film and although it’s not quite as good as the first one, there’s not much in it.

If by some bizarre reason you haven’t yet watched this fantastic film, then I would absolutely recommend giving it a blast. Some things need to be experienced in a cinema and this is definitely one of them.

Jurassic World (2015) Movie Review by John Walsh

JURASSIC WORLD

Director: Colin Trevorrow
Writers: Rick Jaffa (screenplay), Amanda Silver (screenplay)
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins

I may have mentioned this before, but I have a terrible habit of missing blockbuster films and not seeing them until years after their release. That’s exactly what happened with Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World, which features a pacy, exciting, action packed story with some stunning visuals and just enough little nods to the originals to make it a satisfying experience. It also wets the appetite for the final instalment in Disney’s sequel Star Wars trilogy, to be directed by the same man. He’s certainly proved he can handle a massive franchise with this one.

The story pretty much follows the same premise of Jurassic Park, the 1992 classic from a certain Mr. Spielberg, with the only difference being they’ve built the enclosure walls a little higher this time and played god terribly by breeding a Frankenstein’s monster of a dinosaur instead of our good old friend, the faithful T-Rex. That’s pretty much where this one starts. It introduces the two brothers, Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) as they’re sent off on a short vacation to the theme park by their soon to be divorced parents. The latter you presume hoping the experience will have the joint effect of providing some light respite from that reality and also a chance to spend time with their estranged aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who runs the park.

Of course, things don’t go quite to plan, as you’d expect in a Jurassic Park film. First of all, Claire is far too busy trying to appease investors and the wacky, almost hippy like, park owner Masrani (Irrfan Khan) to spend time with her nephews and secondly, there’s the small issue of the aforementioned hybrid dinosaur, the ‘Indominus Rex’, escaping from its secluded enclosure, high up in the ominously titled ‘Restricted zone’. This bid for freedom comes after Owen (Chris Pratt), a dinosaur whisperer of sorts, is sent up for a quick introduction to the parks newest attraction (he gets a tad closer than he’d like to I’m sure) and also to investigate the standard of the creatures home.

The creature of course, goes on a tear up, murdering poor herbivores left, right and centre, heading further and further south towards the thousands of park visitors. The two brothers, who by this point have ditched their English nanny/guide (how original) don’t wait quite so long to get in about the action. Barely making it inside the gyrospheres before the ride is shutdown, they take the incredibly dumb decision to go for a stroll about the restricted area, a decision made by the slightly perverted Zach (he was giving me those vibes with the weird stares), and run right into our monstrous Dino friend. Aside from this primary focus on the Indominus Rex, there’s also a second plot thread running, concurrently, with the fat, annoying Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), a man obsessed with using trained Velociraptors as a futuristic (prehistoric?) weapon.

I can’t discuss this film without praising Mr. Pratt. I’m running out of superlatives to explain my admiration for this man. He’s his usual, funny self in this film and proves once again that he’s more than capable of leading a blockbuster franchise with an excellent performance as Owen. He gave me Indiana Jones vibes (maybe that was down to the similar outfit) and I would’ve loved to have seen him play Han Solo, but Ehrenreich got that gig and I’ll have to respect Disney’s so far impeccable casting choices. I loved Bryce Dallas Howard too, she played off Pratt nicely, the pair had good chemistry together and should definitely be the two to lead any future films in the franchise forward. Credit to the two young actors Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins also, Zach’s oddly perverted stares aside, they were very decent.

The film has many cool action sequences throughout and these seem to build into a glorious crescendo as the finale nears closer. You’ve got Owens motorcycle ride beside the rapid moving Velociraptors; the fun scene with the Pterodactyl’s swooping down on the crowd, causing chaos (and also ending Misrani in the helicopter, which was telegraphed); that sequence of events with the English nanny getting ragdolled around in the air before meeting her watery grave and finally the incredible finale with Owen, Claire and the boys, which features an epic showdown between the T-Rex and Indominus Rex (or should that be Raptor by now?). There’s the downfall of Hoskins in there too, which was immensely satisfying to watch.

Major props Giacchino in this film, who does a fantastic job of blending John Williams classic theme and score with newer music, proving that he can do it successfully if he’s given enough time. I imagine this is what got him the gig with Rogue One after Alexandre Desplat was forced to pull out. I know that particular score received some heavy flak, but I actually enjoyed that too. He does do a far superior job here however.

I’d normally discuss whether I’d recommend this film or not, but it’s been two years since this thing released, I’m well in truly late to the party and I would imagine the overwhelming majority of people have already seen it. Still, if you haven’t and you were a fan of the originals then do yourself a favour and watch it. I actually still prefer Jurassic Park myself, I have fond memories of seeing that as young boy in the cinema, but this is an excellent action flick too and a nice return to the franchise.