Film Review – JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION (2022)

JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION (2022, USA/Malta, 146m, 12) ***
Action, Adventure
dist. Universal Pictures; pr co. Amblin Entertainment / Latina Pictures / Perfect World Pictures / Universal Pictures; d. Colin Trevorrow; w. Emily Carmichael, Colin Trevorrow (based on a story by Derek Connolly & Colin Trevorrow and characters created by Michael Crichton); pr. Patrick Crowley, Frank Marshall; ph. John Schwartzman (Colour | 2.00:1); m. Michael Giacchino; ed. Mark Sanger; pd. Kevin Jenkins; ad. Ben Collins.
cast: Chris Pratt (Owen Grady), Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire Dearing), Laura Dern (Ellie Sattler), Sam Neill (Alan Grant), Jeff Goldblum (Ian Malcolm), DeWanda Wise (Kayla Watts), Mamoudou Athie (Ramsay Cole), Isabella Sermon (Maisie Lockwood / Young Charlotte Lockwood), Campbell Scott (Lewis Dodgson), BD Wong (Dr. Henry Wu), Omar Sy (Barry Sembène), Justice Smith (Franklin Webb), Daniella Pineda (Dr. Zia Rodriguez), Scott Haze (Rainn Delacourt), Dichen Lachman (Soyona Santos), Kristoffer Polaha (Wyatt Huntley), Caleb Hearon (Jeremy Bernier), Freya Parker (Denise Roberts), Alexander Owen (Angus Hetbury), Ahir Shah (Sundar Kumar).
This is the globetrotting sixth (and likely final) entry in a series that has undoubtedly run out of steam but still manages to entertain on a basic level. The story takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed. Dinosaurs now live–and hunt–alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures. Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return from the previous two films, as do Neill, Dern and Goldblum, stars of the original Jurassic trilogy. It is the latter who provides most of the nostalgic warmth and this is where the film derives much of its entertainment value. Neill slips easily back into his awkward palaeontologist role and Dern into hers as Neill’s more idealistic and pro-active associate, whilst Goldblum can still deliver wryly comic lines. The plot involving genetically created giant locusts being used to dry up the natural food supply so the bad guys can control the world’s resources through manufactured foods is certainly heavy-handed and lacks any real substance. Sub-plots surrounding the kidnapping of Sermon, a genetically created child, and a baby raptor are intended to provide an emotional core, but merely feel contrived to raise the stakes even further. The action set-pieces and dinosaur sequences are what the series is all about. Here the action often feels mechanical and derivative, but occasionally thrills, whilst the dinosaur sequences tend to repeat what we have seen before, albeit with the customary skill and technical proficiency. The film is also overlong and would have benefited from further trimming. Otherwise, it provides sufficient thrills and entertainment but without the depth to make it anything other than pure popcorn entertainment.

Film Review – THE SAINT AND THE BRAVE GOOSE (1979)

THE SAINT AND THE BRAVE GOOSE (1979, UK, 94m, PG) **½
Action, Crime, Mystery
pr co. ITC Entertainment; d. Cyril Frankel; w. John Kruse (based on the character created by Leslie Charteris); exec pr. Robert S. Baker; ph. Frank Watts (Colour | 1.33:1); m. John Scott; ed. Bert Rule; pd. John Stoll.
cast: Ian Ogilvy (Simon Templar), Gayle Hunnicutt (Annabel West), Stratford Johns (George Duchamps), Derren Nesbitt (Insp. Lebec), Joe Lynch (Capt. Finnigan), Michelle Newell (Genevieve), Edward Brayshaw (Oscar West), Peggy Thorpe-Bates (Mrs. Cloonan), John Hallam (Bernadotti), Leon Lissek (Pancho), Michael Robbins (Beeky), Prentis Hancock (Vic), Wensley Pithey (Franklyn), Cyril Luckham (Coroner).
Originally broadcast as “Collision Course” a two-part episode of Return of the Saint (1978-9), this was compiled into a feature film for the home video market as well as receiving a limited theatrical release. Hunnicutt’s husband is killed when his power boat blows up during a race and sets off for the French Riviera to collect ‘The Brave Goose’, a luxury yacht he has left her. She is followed by associates of her husband, who believe she knows the whereabouts of the spoils of a gold bullion robbery, whilst the Saint (Ogilvy) is also on her trail. Although shot on location in France, the film struggles to escape the limitations of its TV budget and whilst the story is passable it rarely catches fire. Ogilvy lacks the charisma Roger Moore brought to the role a decade earlier and Frankel’s direction is a little flat. Some good underwater footage during the finale adds much-needed suspense to an otherwise overly familiar tale.

Film Review – THE LOST WORLD (1960)

THE LOST WORLD (1960, USA, 97m, PG) ***
Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
dist. Twentieth Century Fox; pr co. Saratoga Productions; d. Irwin Allen; w. Charles Bennett, Irwin Allen (based on the novel by Arthur Conan Doyle); pr. Irwin Allen; ph. Winton C. Hoch (DeLuxe | 2.35:1); m. Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter; ed. Hugh S. Fowler; ad. Duncan Cramer, Walter M. Simonds.
cast: Michael Rennie (Lord John Roxton), Jill St. John (Jennifer Holmes), David Hedison (Ed Malone), Claude Rains (Prof. George Edward Challenger), Fernando Lamas (Manuel Gomez), Richard Haydn (Prof. Summerlee), Ray Stricklyn (David Holmes), Jay Novello (Costa), Vitina Marcus (Native Girl), Ian Wolfe (Burton White), Colin Campbell (Prof. Waldron (uncredited)), John Graham (Stuart Holmes (uncredited)).
This adaptation of Conan Doyle’s classic adventure is given a contemporary setting. Allen had also wanted to use stop-motion dinosaurs, but due to budget constraints, he had to use lizards with plastic horns and spikes on model sets. You could hardly call them dinosaurs. That said the production is enjoyable hokum with familiar thrills and excitements. The story sees anthropology professor George Challenger (Rains), explorer Lord John Roxton (Rennie) and an assorted team of thrill-seekers and experts, led by Hedison and including the delectable St. John, trek through a South American rainforest Rains claims is home to living prehistoric creatures. There they meet the dangers of the environment and a lost native tribe. Rains has enormous fun as the eccentric Challenger and Hedison makes an admirable action hero. Rennie, however, seems a little old for his role and at odds with the material. If you can get past the cut-price effects work and often flat direction, this makes for diverting entertainment but fails to do Conan Doyle’s novel justice.

Film Review – THE GREY (2011)

THE GREY (2011, USA, 117m, 15) ***½
Action, Adventure, Drama, Thriller
dist. Open Road Films (USA), Entertainment Film Distributors (UK); pr co. Open Road Films / Inferno Distribution / Scott Free Productions / Chambara Pictures / 1984 Private Defense Contractors; d. Joe Carnahan; w. Joe Carnahan, Ian Mackenzie Jeffers (based on the short story “Ghost Walker” by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers); pr. Joe Carnahan, Jules Daly, Mickey Liddell, Ridley Scott; ph. Masanobu Takayanagi (DeLuxe | 2.35:1); m. Marc Streitenfeld; ed. Roger Barton, Jason Hellmann; pd. John Willett; ad. Ross Dempster.
cast: Liam Neeson (Ottway), Frank Grillo (Diaz), Dermot Mulroney (Talget), Dallas Roberts (Henrick), Joe Anderson (Flannery), Nonso Anozie (Burke), James Badge Dale (Lewenden), Ben Hernandez Bray (Hernandez), Anne Openshaw (Ottway’s Wife), Peter Girges (Company Clerk), Jonathan Bitonti (Ottway (5 years old)), James Bitonti (Ottway’s Father), Ella Kosor (Talget’s Little Girl), Jacob Blair (Cimoski), Lani Gelera (Flight Attendant), Larissa Stadnichuk (Flight Attendant).
This tense survival thriller is a solid vehicle for Neeson. Alaskan oil refinery workers, including sharpshooter Neeson, are flying home for a much-needed vacation. A violent storm causes their plane to crash in the frozen wilderness. As the small group of survivors trek southward toward civilization and safety, Neeson and his companions must battle mortal injuries, the icy elements, and a pack of hungry wolves. Shot in a washed-out colour palette, which adds further harshness to the already unforgiving environment. Carnahan directs his actors skilfully to produce naturalistic and believable performances. The constant threat of wolf attack plagues the group as the savage creatures pick the survivors off one by one. This is helped by the chilling sound design, which adds considerably to the foreboding atmosphere. One or two weak CGI effects and the familial flashbacks occasionally break the relentless suspense, but with Neeson at his grizzled best, this remains an absorbing watch for the most part.

Film Review – TWISTER (1996)

TWISTER (1996, USA, 113m, PG) ***½
Action, Adventure, Drama, Thriller
dist. Warner Bros. (USA), United International Pictures (UIP) (UK); pr co. Warner Bros. / Universal Pictures / Amblin Entertainment / Constant c Productions; d. Jan de Bont; w. Michael Crichton, Anne-Marie Martin; pr. Ian Bryce, Michael Crichton, Kathleen Kennedy; ph. Jack N. Green (Technicolor | 2.39:1); m. Mark Mancina; ed. Michael Kahn; pd. Joseph C. Nemec III; ad. Dan Olexiewicz.
cast: Helen Hunt (Dr. Jo Harding), Bill Paxton (Bill Harding), Cary Elwes (Dr. Jonas Miller), Jami Gertz (Dr. Melissa Reeves), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Dustin Davis), Lois Smith (Meg Greene), Alan Ruck (Robert ‘Rabbit’ Nurick), Sean Whalen (Allan Sanders), Scott Thomson (Jason ‘Preacher’ Rowe), Todd Field (Tim ‘Beltzer’ Lewis), Joey Slotnick (Joey), Wendle Josepher (Haynes), Jeremy Davies (Laurence), Zach Grenier (Eddie), Gregory Sporleder (Willie), Patrick Fischler (The Communicator), Nicholas Sadler (Kubrick), Ben Weber (Stanley), Anthony Rapp (Tony), Erik LaRay Harvey (Eric (as Eric LaRay Harvey)).
A white-knuckle ride following a group of storm chasers, brilliantly filmed by de Bont and his crew with notable sound design and visual effects work. During the approach of the most powerful storm in decades, university professor Hunt and her underfunded team of students prepare a ground-breaking tornado data-gathering device, which was conceived by her estranged husband, Paxton. When Hunt tells Paxton that the device is ready for testing — and that their privately funded rival Elwes has stolen the idea and built his own — Paxton re-joins the team for one last mission. Echoes of Howard Hawks amidst the natural destruction make this worth seeing. Hunt and Paxton are likeable leads and spar well off each other. They are given a witty script and an assortment of oddball supporting characters as their “professional” group. Gertz is charming as Paxton’s delightfully naive fiancée, who gets caught up in the adventure. The story may have more than its fair share of cliches, but the set-pieces are excitingly staged if a little far-fetched in the lack of injuries Hunt and Paxton sustain amongst the flying debris.
AAN: Best Sound (Steve Maslow, Gregg Landaker, Kevin O’Connell, Geoffrey Patterson); Best Effects, Visual Effects (Stefen Fangmeier, John Frazier, Habib Zargarpour, Henry LaBounta)

Film Review – THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (2004)

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (2004, USA, 124m, 12) ***
Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
dist. Twentieth Century Fox; pr co. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation / Centropolis Entertainment / Lions Gate Films / Mark Gordon Productions; d. Roland Emmerich; w. Roland Emmerich, Jeffrey Nachmanoff (based on a story by Roland Emmerich); pr. Roland Emmerich, Mark Gordon, Thomas M. Hammel; ph. Ueli Steiger (DeLuxe | 2.39:1); m. Harald Kloser; ed. David Brenner; pd. Barry Chusid; ad. Claude Paré.
cast: Dennis Quaid (Jack Hall), Jake Gyllenhaal (Sam Hall), Emmy Rossum (Laura Chapman), Dash Mihok (Jason Evans), Jay O. Sanders (Frank Harris), Sela Ward (Dr. Lucy Hall), Austin Nichols (J.D.), Arjay Smith (Brian Parks), Tamlyn Tomita (Janet Tokada), Sasha Roiz (Parker), Ian Holm (Terry Rapson), Robin Wilcock (Tony), Jason Blicker (Paul), Kenneth Moskow (Bob), Tim Hamaguchi (Taka), Glenn Plummer (Luther), Adrian Lester (Simon), Richard McMillan (Dennis), Perry King (President Blake), Mimi Kuzyk (Secretary of State).
Even global warming advocates may baulk at the situations presented in this far-fetched, but surprisingly enjoyable disaster epic. After climatologist Quaid is largely ignored by U.N. officials when presenting his environmental concerns, his research proves true when an enormous “superstorm” develops, setting off catastrophic natural disasters throughout the world. Trying to get to his son, Gyllenhaal, who is trapped in New York with his friend Rossum and others, Quaid and his crew must travel by foot from Philadelphia, braving the elements, to get to Sam before it’s too late. The game and likeable cast keep their faith in the lame script, delivering awkward dialogue without a metaphorical wink to the audience. Emmerich loves destroying his iconic buildings and landmarks and here he and his effects team take their carnage to impressive set-pieces in LA and NYC. He asks an awful lot of his audience to suspend their disbelief, but for those willing to do so this is a fun ride.

Film Review – THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972)

THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972, USA, 117m, PG) ****
Action, Adventure
dist. Twentieth Century Fox; pr co. Twentieth Century Fox / Irwin Allen Productions / Kent Productions ; d. Ronald Neame; w. Stirling Silliphant, Wendell Mayes (based on the novel by Paul Gallico); pr. Irwin Allen; ph. Harold E. Stine (DeLuxe | 2.39:1, 2.20:1 (70mm prints)); m. John Williams; ed. Harold F. Kress; pd. William J. Creber.
cast: Gene Hackman (Reverend Scott), Ernest Borgnine (Mike Rogo), Red Buttons (James Martin), Carol Lynley (Nonnie Parry), Roddy McDowall (Acres), Stella Stevens (Linda Rogo), Shelley Winters (Belle Rosen), Jack Albertson (Manny Rosen), Pamela Sue Martin (Susan Shelby), Arthur O’Connell (Chaplain), Leslie Nielsen (Captain Harrison), Eric Shea (Robin), Fred Sadoff (Linarcos), Sheila Allen (Nurse (as Sheila Mathews)), Jan Arvan (Doctor Caravello), Byron Webster (Purser), John Crawford (Chief Engineer), Bob Hastings (M. C.), Erik L. Nelson (Mr. Tinkham).
Ocean bound from New York City to Greece on New Year’s Eve, the luxury passenger ship the S.S. Poseidon is capsized by a tidal wave. With the captain (Nielsen) dead, a group of surviving passengers, led by the passionate clergyman (Hackman), struggle through numerous obstacles and a labyrinth of ladders and tunnels in a desperate attempt to reach the surface through the ship’s hull. Following 1970s AIRPORT, this was the movie that set the benchmark for the disaster cycle of the 1970s and made Irwin Allen the king of the blockbuster. The impressive all-star ensemble cast ensures investment in the characters as well as the spectacle. Hackman and Borgnine (as a former cop) are particularly impressive in their antagonistic roles, Whilst Stevens has fun as Borgnine’s reformed hooker wife. Winters gained weight, which is thoughtlessly referenced on numerous occasions by other characters, specifically for her role. Excellent production design and tight direction by Neame help make this an exciting and tense affair. Followed by BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1979) and remade for TV in 2005 and again for theatrical release as POSEIDON in 2006.
AA: Best Music, Original Song (Al Kasha, Joel Hirschhorn for the song “The Morning After”); Special Achievement Award for visual effects (L.B. Abbott, A.D. Flowers).
AAN: Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Shelley Winters); Best Cinematography (Harold E. Stine); Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (William J. Creber, Raphael Bretton); Best Costume Design (Paul Zastupnevich); Best Sound (Theodore Soderberg, Herman Lewis); Best Film Editing (Harold F. Kress); Best Music, Original Dramatic Score (John Williams).

TV Review – DOCTOR WHO: LEGEND OF THE SEA DEVILS (2021)

DOCTOR WHO: LEGEND OF THE SEA DEVILS (2022, UK, 47m, 12) **½
Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
dist. BBC; pr co. BBC Studios; d. Haolu Wang; w. Ella Road, Chris Chibnall; exec pr. Chris Chibnall, Matt Strevens; pr. Nikki Wilson; ph. Mark Waters (Colour | 2.00:1); m. Segun Akinola; ed. Tom White; pd. Dafydd Shurmer; ad. Ifan Lewis; cos. Ray Holman; vfx. DNEG, sp fx. Real SFX.
cast: Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan), John Bishop (Dan Lewis), Marlowe Chan-Reeves (Ying Ki), Crystal Yu (Madame Ching), Craige Els (Marsissus), Arthur Lee (Ji-Hun), David Tse (Ying Wai), Simon Carew (Sea Devil), Jon Davey (Sea Devil), Chester Durrant (Sea Devil), Mickey Lewis (Sea Devil).
The Easter Special and penultimate outing for Jodie Whitaker’s Doctor is yet another frenetic and haphazard episode. The Doctor, Yaz (Gill) and Dan (Bishop) travel to 19th century China, where a small coastal village is under threat from both the fearsome pirate queen Madame Ching (Yu) and a monstrous force, which she unwittingly unleashes. The production looks glossy and the effects work is good, but here again, the script tries to cram in too much plot and action leaving little room for breath or dramatic build-up. There is also the constant background (and not so background) music that often drowns out the dialogue in the sound mix. Whilst it is good to see the Sea Devils make an appearance, they lack the menace they had in their debut back in Jon Pertwee’s tenure. There is still much to like in the performances of Gill and Bishop, whilst Whitaker’s energy only partially offsets her lack of gravitas.

Film Review – THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938)

THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938, USA, 106m, U) *****
Action, Adventure, Romance
dist. Warner Bros.; pr co. First National Pictures / Warner Bros.; d. Michael Curtiz, William Keighley; w. Norman Reilly Raine, Seton I. Miller; pr. Hal B. Wallis, Jack L. Warner (both uncredited); ph. Tony Gaudio, Sol Polito (Technicolor | 1.37:1); m. Erich Wolfgang Korngold; ed. Ralph Dawson; ad. Carl Jules Weyl.
cast: Errol Flynn (Robin Hood), Olivia de Havilland (Maid Marian), Basil Rathbone (Sir Guy of Gisbourne), Claude Rains (Prince John), Patric Knowles (Will Scarlett), Eugene Pallette (Friar Tuck), Alan Hale (Little John), Melville Cooper (High Sheriff of Nottingham), Ian Hunter (King Richard the Lion-Heart), Una O’Connor (Bess), Herbert Mundin (Much), Montagu Love (Bishop of the Black Canons), Leonard Willey (Sir Essex), Robert Noble (Sir Ralf), Kenneth Hunter (Sir Mortimer), Robert Warwick (Sir Geoffrey), Colin Kenny (Sir Baldwin), Lester Matthews (Sir Ivor), Harry Cording (Dickon Malbete), Ivan F. Simpson (Proprietor of Kent Road Tavern).
Not only the definitive Robin Hood movie, but one of the all-time great adventure films and highly influential on George Lucas and his STAR WARS saga. When King Richard the Lionheart is captured, his scheming brother Prince John (Rains). aided by Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Rathbone), plots to reach the throne, to the outrage of Sir Robin of Locksley (Flynn), the bandit king of Sherwood Forest. Rounding up his band of men he eventually wins the support of the lovely Maid Marian (de Havilland). Filmed in three-strip Technicolor, this is a sumptuous production full of verve and pomp. Flynn is perfect as the energetic and charismatic Robin. He has the ideal cast in support, from the calculating Raines to the poise of the sadistic Rathbone and the sensitive beauty of de Havilland. The set design and matte work are first-rate for the period, whilst Dawson’s slick editing and Korngold’s boisterous score add significantly to the production. Milo Anderson’s costumes are designed to maximise the use of the Technicolor process. The climactic swordfight between Flynn and Rathbone is inventive and often hailed as one of the best filmed. Curtiz replaced Keighley as director of the film to add vigour to the action scenes. The film won 3 Oscars: Best Soundtrack, Editing and Art Direction (Carl Jules Weyl). The film was entered into the National Film Registry for its culturally, historically, or aesthetically significance in 1995.
AA: Best Art Direction (Carl Jules Weyl), Best Film Editing (Ralph Dawson), Best Music, Original Score (Erich Wolfgang Korngold)
AAN: Best Picture

Film Review – JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987)

JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987, USA, 89m, 12) **
Adventure, Thriller
dist. Universal Pictures; pr co. Universal Pictures; d. Joseph Sargent; w. Michael De Guzman (based on characters created by Peter Benchley); pr. Joseph Sargent; ph. John McPherson (DeLuxe | 2.35:1); m. Michael Small; ed. Michael Brown; pd. John J. Lloyd; ad. Donald B. Woodruff.
cast: Lorraine Gary (Ellen Brody), Lance Guest (Michael Brody), Mario Van Peebles (Jake), Karen Young (Carla Brody), Michael Caine (Hoagie), Judith Barsi (Thea), Mitchell Anderson (Sean Brody), Lynn Whitfield (Louisa), Jay Mello (Young Sean Brody), Cedric Scott (Clarence), Charles Bowleg (William), Melvin Van Peebles (Mr. Witherspoon), Mary Smith (Tiffany), Edna Billotto (Polly), Fritzi Jane Courtney (Mrs. Taft), Cyprian R. Dube (Mayor), Lee Fierro (Mrs. Kintner), Moby Griffin (Man in the Boat), Diane Hetfield (Mrs. Ferguson), Daniel J. Manning (Jesus).
Whilst not as bad as its reputation, this third sequel to 1975’s JAWS becomes increasingly preposterous and unravels totally in its final act. The family of widow Ellen Brody (Gary) has long been plagued by shark attacks, and this unfortunate association continues when her youngest son Sean (Anderson) is the victim of a massive great white. In mourning, Ellen goes to visit her other son, Michael (Guest), in the Bahamas, where she meets the charming pilot Hoagie Newcombe (Caine). As Ellen and Hoagie begin a relationship, a huge shark appears off the coast of the island, and Ellen’s trouble with the great whites begins again. The premise presented here through Gary’s paranoia is that the shark is targeting the Brody family. Whilst this is never overtly stated as the reason for the latest attacks, the lack of any logical alternative explanation leaves the film dependant on our willingness to suspend our disbelief. The film is well presented in its early scenes in Amity. When the action moves to the Bahamas, the exotic location makes for some nice photography both above and below the surface. Caine offers up a likeable performance, whilst Gary does her best to persuade us her fears are grounded. Sargent then loses total control of the film in its finale, which is hampered by poor effects work and haphazard editing, which stifle any potential build of tension. Reminders of the masterly original only serve to confirm how low the series had sunk since that classic tale of character and suspense.