We review this week’s new releases, including ELYSIUM, JURASSIC PARK 3D, and THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES
JURASSIC PARK 3D (USA/12A/128mins) the T-Rex
Directed by Steven Speilberg. Starring Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Wayne Knight, Samuel L. Jackson
THE PLOT: During a preview tour, Jurassic Park – a theme park filled with cloned dinosaurs, resurrected through the wonders of technology and mosquitoes getting stuck in amber while filled with dinosaur blood – suffers a catastrophic power failure. The dinosaurs run amok, and the humans must find a way to survive.
THE VERDICT: The good news is that Jurassic Park is still a phenomenal movie. All the guts and glory that you remember – the score, Ariana Richards’s scared face and the scale – are all still as impressive as they were the first time around. The bad news is that at the screening I went to, the 3D went out. I say bad news, but as someone who almost always rails against the use of 3D, this was actually something I appreciated; I got to watch Jurassic Park in IMAX, 20 years after I first saw it on the big screen. No complaints here!
Watching Jurassic Park now, it is hard not to pit it against films that have come out since, and the way that cinema has changed in the last 20 years, and even still the film holds up. Dr. Grant’s lesson about accepting the kids into his life is no less poignant, John Hammond’s insistence that no expense was spared, while he eats the melting ice cream and his life’s work collapses around him is still tragic, and the dinosaurs are still scary, sneaky and impressive. The CG is a little ropey in places, but since a lot of the work was done with animatronics, the T-Rex chase still looks fantastic and is as tense as you remember.
Jurassic Park is a clever twist on our fascination with life and control, and it is still a damn good adventure movie; who doesn’t want to sit in a tree and feed leaves to a brachiosaurus, then encounter a T-Rex face to face? Speilberg has proven time and time again that he is a master at creating fun, engaging movies on an epic scale, and Jurassic Park is no exception. The effects may be slightly dated, but the story, wonder and spectacle endure.
Jurassic Park is a fantastic adventure, monster movie and nostalgia piece. The clever VFX used mean that the film still holds up visually, and the story is still scary, funny and filled with suspense. Of course the issues with the film are still there, and some of the ‘science’ seems downright silly but in all, Jurassic Park is one film that still holds up 20 years later. I may even go and see it in 3D. You heard it here first.
Review by Brogen Hayes
MOVIES.IE’S ONE TO WATCH!
WE’RE THE MILLERS (USA/16/110mins)
Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Ed Helms, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Matthew Willig, Luis Guzman.
THE PLOT: Finding himself in some very serious debt to wacky criminal mastermind Brad Gurdlinger (a weak Helms), longtime drug dealer David Clark (Sudeikis) is given a lifeline – bring back “a smidgen and a half” of marijuana across the Mexican border, and $100,000 is his. Deciding the best way to avoid suspicion is to go full Flanders and find himself the perfect RV family for the trip, Dave enlists the help of old buddy and down-on-her-luck stripper Rose (Aniston) to play mummy, whilst wide-eyed sidekick Kenny and homeless hottie Casey are enlisted to play their squeaky clean offspring. An Elmore Leonard bunch trying to fake a Norman Rockwell life doesn’t come easy though, but soon, playing happy families is the least of their worries when the foursome realise they’ve unwittingly double-crossed a gold-plated Porsche-driving drug lord…
THE VERDICT: Most critics have been pretty dismissive of this crowd-pleasing comedy, but then, comedy tends to get a rough ride from pseudo-intellectuals, and truly pleasing a crowd has been in short supply at the box-office this summer. Sure, this film is raunchy, and rude, and Jennifer Aniston continues to abuse her sexuality to hold onto her fading fanbase (well, it’s almost working for Diaz too), but We’re The Millers is funny. Very, very funny. The zinger hit-rate is surprisingly high.
A film that might as well have been called We’re The Farrellys, director Thurber (who gave us the mighty Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story) and his team of four writers (including Wedding Crashers duo Bob Fisher and Steve Faber, who originated the story) just know how to deliver funny. And so too does SNL also-ran Sudeikis, the just-about-jaded Jennifer, and breakout star William Poulter (so good in Son Of Rambow and kiddie sketch show School Of Comedy). Having the likes of Offerman and Hahn (the latter playing the sex-starved sister-in-law in Step Brothers) amongst your supporting cast doesn’t hurt either.
Review by Paul Byrne
THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES (12A/USA/130mins)
Directed by Harald Zwart. Starring Lily Collins, Robert Sheehan, Jamie Campbell-Bower, Lena Headey, Aidan Turner, Jared Harris.
THE PLOT: When her mother disappears Clary (Lily Collins) quickly learns that the world around her is not all that she thinks it is. Clary is descended from a line of warriors, tasked with keeping demons at bay, and there is another world around her that she has been protected from.
THE VERDICT: Fresh from her performance in MIRROR, MIRROR, Lily Collins seems more relaxed and natural. Robert Sheehan, best known for his cheeky/bad guy roles in MISFITS and LOVE/ HATE, takes on the role of Clary’s best friend Simon, a nice guy who will almost certainly finish last. Jamie Campbell-Bower rounds out the love triangle, as Jace. Campbell-Bower gives the character a nice edge, but also has some of the corniest lines in the film; some of which work and some of which don’t.
As far as the adults are concerned, Jared Harris takes a leaf from Anthony Stewart Head’s book in his role as mentor Hodge. Although Jace introduces Clary to the hidden world of the Shadowhunters, it is Hodge who educates her. This is a still and contemplative role, well within Harris’s capabilities, so of course he manages it well. Harris’s performance is strong, although the character feels slightly too weak when his importance within the world is taken into consideration. Lena Heady doesn’t have a lot to do, other than look good while floating, Aidan Turner plays both sides of the good guy/bad guy divide to his advantage. Turner proved his strength in BEING HUMAN but sadly, does not have a lot to do here either. Jonathan Rhys Meyers hams it up as villain, Valentine. There is little scenery left in chewed through his performance, but Meyers is still hugely entertaining and his heightened performance actually underlines the fact that this is not our world.
Writer Jessica Postigo creates an exciting world on screen, butter strength is obviously in showing the every day. As soon as the Shadowhunters’ world is revealed, it seems that some lines of dialogue may have been best left in the books; what works on the page, doesn’t always work on screen. As well as this, a subplot that heads toward incest could have been handled a little more carefully. The story feels incredibly familiar and, while it is a new franchise being introduced, it is hard to shake the associations with hidden world Tween romances that have gone before.
Director Harald Zwart’s resume includes AGENT CODY BANKS, THE PINK PANTHER 2 and ONE NIGHT AT McCOOLS. Following in the director’s tradition, the set pieces are huge and exciting, but the relationships between the characters fizzle, and acting quickly turns to over acting. That said, the film is nicely paced and feels relatable, if a little familiar.
In all, THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: THE CITY OF BONES is almost an exciting fantasy action movie. Some parts work better than others and the film is certainly familiar – it feels like a combination of Harry Potter and TWILIGHT – but if this is the new franchise set to win the hearts of Tweens around the world, then at least it is entertaining, if slightly overblown.
Review by Brogen Hayes
Directed by Neill Blomkamp. Starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Deigo Luna, William Fichtner.
THE PLOT: For 36-year old former convict Max, living in Los Angeles 2154 is akin to Mexico City with robocop thugs. Life becomes that little less sweet after a malfunctioning door at work sees Max being given just 5 days left to live. Luckily, his underground buddies can rebuild him – with knobs on. And they’ve got a mission for the understandably mad Max. To make it off this desolate worker bee planet and onto the man-made floating country club that is Elysium. Only trouble is, the booted and besuited iron lady Delacourt (Foster) has her own evil plans for Elysium…
THE VERDICT: There’s an integrity about the film choices Matt Damon makes, a sense that for every outing he does for Hollywood credit, there’s another film with hair on its balls and brains in its head. His latest offering straddles both camps, big-budget sci-fi being all the rage in Tinseltown this summer – only this time, you’ve got the director of District 9 behind the camera.
A dab hand at mixing sci-fi and sociopolitics, self-confessed “dirty, cheap filmmaker” Blomkamp was given an estimated $115m budget (compared to District 9’s $30m) to play with here – and that means box-office expectations are high. Luckily, Elysium hit the no.1 spot in the US, and it should fare pretty well here too, but there’s no denying that it doesn’t quite reach the heights that its director and star were aiming for.
Review by Paul Byrne
Directed by Bob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman. Starring Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Juno Temple, Chris Noth, Bobby Cannavale, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, Chloe Sevigny, James Franco, Debi Mazar, Wes Bentley.
THE PLOT: With her domineering and God-fearing mother (a suitably haggard if unconvincing Stone) still reeling from her daughter’s unplanned pregnancy the year before, teenager Linda Boreman leads a somewhat repressed life. Here’s a girl ready to be rescued. And ravished. And then reborn. And the man to instigate all three turns out to be sleazy stoner Chuck Traynor (Skarsgaard, in full Malkovich protege mode), convincing Linda’s parents that he’s a respectable young man, and Linda herself that he’s her knight in crushed-velvet armour. Only trouble is, Chuck’s a bit of a budding pimp, and when he teaches his wide-eyed young bride a new trick or two when it comes to oral sex, he quickly realises that he might just be staring down a goldmine. And he’s right, Linda’s trademark move becoming the selling point for the 1972 hardcore skin flick Deep Throat, a $225,000 production that launched America’s porno chic craze whilst going on to become one of the highest grossing movies of all time. A few years later, as Linda prepares her third autobiography, Ordeal, she claimed, “Virtually every time someone watches that movie, they’re watching me being raped”, going on to paint a dark and disturbing picture of her time in pornography and with Traynor…
THE VERDICT: A film that wants to have its peppermint knickers and eat them, Lovelace spends the first half of its running length trying to get its rocks off on the hazy, crazy world of 1970s porn (think Boogie Nights without the wit or style) and the second half denouncing it. Only trouble is, neither its AC nor its DC is particularly memorable.
Making the leap from Oscar-winning documentary filmmaking (scoring with their 1989 offering Common Thread), co-directors Bob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman take two juicy stories – one about zeitgeist rumpy-pumpy, the other about redemption, regret and being reborn) and somehow manage to neuter both. Seyfried is smart casting – given that she’s a pretty, doe-eyed young Hollywood thing whose clothes have a habit of falling off – but it’s not enough. Especially when the bulk of the supporting cast verges on panto casting (Franco, in particular, as Hugh Hefner, is uninspired), and your leading man comes across as a bad Ike Turner impersonator. Go check out the 2005 documentary Inside Deep Throat instead.
Review by Paul Byrne
THE KINGS OF SUMMER (USA/Light House/95mins)
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Starring Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Erin Moriarty, Craig Cackowski, Nathan Keyes, Cristoffer Carter, Megan Mullally.
THE PLOT: Realising that the life of the fox is better than that of the repressed Ohio teenager, best friends Joe (Robinson) and Patrick (Basso) decide to go live in the nearby forest, oddball Biaggio (Arias) deciding to join them on their great adventure. Surviving not so much on nuts and berries but on supermarket leftovers, the trio are quickly the subject of a missing persons search – but the boys have got more important things on their minds. Kelly (Moriarty) – a girl Joe has a crush on – pays a visit with her friends, but soon lets it be known that she likes Patrick. Which sparks some trouble in paradise, and Patrick is soon home with his parents, and Kelly feels single dad Frank (the mighty Offerman) should know where his son Joe is…
THE VERDICT: Without a dead body to poke or an alien invasion to contend with, this kids-in-Americana coming-of-age tale may appear dangerously slight on the surface but first-time director Vogt-Roberts and first-time writer Chris Galletta deliver just about enough wry wit and Malick meditations to make this picnic of a film worthwhile. That we’ve been here many times before – from Badlands to Moonrise Kingdom – hardly matters when this wisp of a film hits far more right notes than flat cliches.
Review by Paul Byrne
WHAT MAISIE KNEW (USA/15A/99mins)
Directed by Scott McGehee, David Siegel. Starring Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan, Alexander Skarsgard, Joanna Vanderham, Onata Aprile, Said Rae, Jesse Stone Spadaccini, Diana Garcia, Amelia Campbell.
THE PLOT: When the pizza delivery arrives at the bohemian New York home of married couple Susanna (Moore) and Beale (Coogan), their loud bickering means it’s 7-year-old daughter Maisie (Aprile) who fetches the money and pays him. Indeed, the only consistent guiding light in Maisie’s life is her nanny, Margo (Vanderham), a sweet, blonde wisp of a Scottish girl. Which is perhaps why Beale has her move into his new apartment once he wins the custody battle. And, for just a little while there, life is finally sweet for the stoic Maisie. But then, her fading rocker mother – who clearly studied at The Courtney Love School Of Mothering – dives deeper into depression, and drugs, ever more determined to make her ex-husband pay. And that means getting Maisie back by hook or by crook, Susanna marrying naive barman Lincoln (Skarsgard) so as to look better in the courts. Margo too begins to feel that she may be just a weapon to hurt Susanna…
THE VERDICT: Taking Henry James’ 1897 and updating it to present-day New York to let us know that self-serving asshole parents are still very much with us, directing duo Scott McGehee and David Siegel (The Deep End, Bee Season) helping us once again to realise that some kids end up having to rely on the kindness of strangers. For the rest of their lives. Maisie is the fly on the wall to these selfish monsters’ soul-destroying mutual destruction, and worse, a pawn in their increasingly nasty custody battle. How could we not be drawn by surrogate parents Margo and Lincoln, just as these double-crossed young lovers are drawn to one another?
The young Skarsgard lad and Scot Vanderham are well cast, whilst Coogan largely extends his cowardly ladies man from Winterbottom’s A Cock And Bull Story and Moore’s jaded rocker could be her twisted Boogie Nights matriarch with guitars.
Review by Paul Byrne