Jurassic World

Jurassic-World-The-GameJurassic Park was the biggest box office hit of the summer before it even came out. The anticipation and excitement over this film was almost unprecedented, and with good reason. Everyone loves the original Jurassic Park films. How can you not? There’s dinosaurs, pretty music, and Jeff Goldblum. The original Jurassic Park movie is a classic, and right now Hollywood is into rebooting 1970’s classics. Star Wars is the obvious example, plus the rumors over another Indiana Jones film.

But of course, creating a new part of an established cinema legacy comes with a lot of pressure. Everyone loves the original Jurassic Park movie(s), so they are expecting a spectacular film. Something reminiscent enough of the original franchise to evoke nostalgia, but something creative enough to feel like something new. I believe the box office numbers will support the thesis that Jurassic World achieved both of these things.
Chris Pratt as Owen

Chris Pratt as Owen

I’m not going to lie; I teared up a little the first time Jurassic World played John’s Williams beautiful theme. That, more than anything else for me, brought forth a strong feeling of nostalgia for the original movie. But Jurassic World also included some comedic references to the original film (one of the tech guys is wearing a classic Jurassic Park shirt and gets grief about it from Bryce Dallas Howard), as well as an actual visit to a ruined part of the original park. These scenes tied the new movie to the old, but they didn’t dwell on the past. Rather, they honored it as they moved forward.

After three Jurassic Park movies, the real challenge for the creators of Jurassic World was to find a new twist to the old story–park full of dinosaurs, dinosaurs get loose and eat people. We’d already had the bad boy T-rex, the menacing raptors. So Jurassic World went for something totally new: a brand new dinosaur. It was staged perfectly. The park needed something new to keep people’s interest, and so did the movie, so a new hybrid dinosaur is born. It’s intelligent, big, and very carnivorous. Audiences had a new ‘king’ dinosaur to hate/fear/wonder at with the Indominus Rex.
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire with Chris Pratt

Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire with Chris Pratt

But the people behind Jurassic Park didn’t just stop at something as basic as creating a new dinosaur. They also evolved the old ones, particularly the raptors. Anyone whose seen any of the old Jurassic Park movies knows that the dinosaur you really have to fear is not the T-rex, but the raptor. But in Jurassic World, raptors have formed a tenuous relationship with their trainer (Chris Pratt). Now, some of the dinosaurs are the good guys.

The actors are great. There are the required children–every Jurassic Park movie has to have kids. The kids are a little cliche with their parents going through a divorce, but almost getting eaten by dinosaurs brings them together. Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt are the stars. Howard is the no-nonsense manager of Jurassic World, efficient if a little cold at times. Chris Pratt is the raptor trainer, for lack of a better title. As the kids attest, he is awesome. And he and Howard have great chemistry.
Nothing brings brothers together like trying to avoid getting eaten.

Nothing brings brothers together like trying to avoid getting eaten.

The supporting actors are also great. The owner of the park, played by Irrfan Khan, reminds the characters and audience why Jurassic Park/World is so special. He keeps the big picture in mind. There are also a couple of tech/operations characters that keep things fun and engaging.

I don’t think anyone will be disappointed by Jurassic Park. The dinosaurs are amazing, the characters are a great. It is a great homage to the original films while making the franchise fresh and relevant again. I loved it. All my friends who have seen it loved it. It is definitely the must-see film of the summer.

The Special

The_Lego_Movie_posterAs long as we’re talking about enjoying kids moviesThe Lego Movie. This was a movie I really had no interest in seeing. I love kids movies—Disney movies, good Dreamworks movies, The Sandlot. But those movies are entertaining for adults. They have good stories, great punch lines, and catchy songs. Based on previews and other advertising, The Lego Movie seemed to be one of those films that really is only for kids, like Disney’s Planes or the Tinker Bell movies. Not funny if you don’t have the sense of humor of a five year old, nothing creative or original, just a generic film to keep your kid occupied for an hour and a half. But over the Fourth of July weekend, my brothers kept insisting that it was actually was entertaining for adults too, so we watched it. And it wasn’t the first time I had to eat my words. It was actually pretty good.

If you’re a completely serious, no-fun intellectual snob, then you aren’t going to like this movie. But if you appreciate a corny joke, a variety of characters, and a deep metaphorical theme form out of nowhere, then you will enjoy The Lego Movie.

The movie is about Emmet, a regular construction worker Lego. There’s nothing special about Emmet. He tries very hard to fit in, following all of the instructions and leading a normal life. Then his life gets turned upside down when a red object—the piece of resistance—gets stuck to his back. Now he’s supposed to be ‘the special’, the Lego who is supposed to save the world. Caught up with an edgy Lego chick named Wyldstyle, wise old Vitruvius, a unicorn/cat, Batman, and a 1980’s astronaut Lego, he must try to prevent President Business form destroying the world with the Kraggle.

The movie is well balanced with jokes aimed at nine year olds and jokes aimed at adults. It also has a song that will not leave your head for days, “Everything is Awesome.” But underneath the childishness of the film lies a deeper, and very important, message.

Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) speaks a prophecy about ‘the special’ at the beginning of the film, but at the end you find out that he made it up. Destiny has not chosen Emmet as the special, but rather, he must decide for himself that he is special and he can save the world. Like many kids movies, The Lego Movie is about finding what makes you special, being true to yourself, and succeeding with the help of your friends.

Emmet and the piece of resistance.

Emmet and the piece of resistance.

But the surprise ending is that the Legos aren’t actually alive doing their thing. Well, they are, but only through the imagination of a child. A boy is playing with the Legos, and that is what is creating the movie. And while the Legos are fighting against President business to prevent him from using the Kraggle to destroy the world, the fight is much more realistic for the boy. President Business is his dad, and the Kraggle is the super glue his dad uses to glue all of the Legos in place so that they are a display and no longer a toy. The climax of the movie comes when Emmet confronts President Business and the boy confronts his father, and both conflicts resolve with the idea that everyone can be special, because being special is being yourself.

Much like Rise of the Guardians, The Lego Movie is about discovering who you are. Jack Frost needed to find his center, and Emmet needed to find out what made him special. But on top of that, both films are about the importance of childhood. Legos are toys. They’re meant to be played with, not set up as a display with “do not touch” signs posted everywhere. Playing is important, and it isn’t just for kids. The boy needs to play and create and grow, but so does his dad. The imagination of a child is an incredible thing. It can create the elaborate and creative story of The Lego Movie. As we grow older, we can’t let this imagination die. We have to keep playing and creating and seeing the world through the eyes of a child.