Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Due Date (2010)

Due Date (2010)
Rated R
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Jamie Foxx
Directed by: Todd Phillips
Tagline: Leave your comfort zone.
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Watched: Blu-ray

Quick Summary: With the birth of his first child less than a week away, architect Peter Highman must find a way to get from Atlanta to Los Angeles after he is kicked off of his flight and added to the no-fly list. After leaving his luggage and wallet on the plane, Peter is forced to hitch a ride with Ethan Tremblay, an aspiring actor heading to Hollywood.

I had wanted to see this when it first came out, but just never found the time. Once I saw it on Netflix, I moved it to the top of the queue. Robert Downey Jr.’s career resurgence has been phenomenal. After Tropic Thunder, it was clear to me that he could do comedy, and do it well, I mean, he was nominated for an Oscar for it. So I am at least interested in any movie his is in. On the strength of The Hangover, most any Zach Galifianakis movie is worth a shot in my book. So adding the two, it should be a sure fire hit.

It was funny. It wasn’t nearly as funny as The Hangover or Tropic Thunder, in my opinion, but it certainly had its moments. My favorite being when Galifianakis is talking to his father’s ashes and says “Dad, you were like a father to me.” It took me a second to catch it, and when I did, I couldn’t stop laughing. And that is something that is great about Zach Galifianakis, his delivery is awesome.

There’s not much to say about the supporting cast, as pretty much anyone could fill the other roles, its really all about Downey, Jr., and Galifianakis. The other big names making appearances could have been anyone else. Neither Jamie Foxx nor Juliette Lewis brought anything special to it, but they didn’t need to. I do like that Todd Phillips puts himself in his movies, usually as a creepy/pervy guy. But this time, he gave himself a little bit more of a role, not much, but still more than the others.

If I am ranking Todd Phillips’ movies from top to bottom, it would go like this: Old School, The Hangover, Due Date, Road Trip and Starsky and Hutch. So Due Date falls directly in the middle. I thoroughly enjoyed all of them, except for Starsky and Hutch, which was a completely unnecessary remake, but it still had some laughs…

So it wasn’t Todd Phillips best movie, but the real question is: Was it better than Avatar?
Yes. It’s worth watching.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)

I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
Rated R
Starring: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann
Directed by: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Tagline: The Conman who wouldn’t go straight.
Running time: 109 Minutes
Watched: Blu-ray

Quick Summary: I Love You Phillip Morris is based on the true story of Steven Russell, a former police officer who drastically changes his life in the aftermath of a car accident. He was a seemingly happily married family man, but he was living a lie. After the crash, he decided to live his life to the fullest, and no longer live a lie, he opens up about his homosexuality and begins living for himself. His new life leads him into a world of cons and fraud in order to get what he wants, and ultimately lands him in jail, where he meets quiet, sensitive Phillip Morris. Russell’s devotion and love for Morris leads him to go through extraordinary cons and lies so that they can be together.

I like Jim Carrey, and have for quite some time. I think he can be one of the funniest comedic actors working today in the right movie. But what intrigues me about him is when he is cast against-type, when he isn’t playing an over-the-top goofball. More serious roles in movies like The Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Number 23, and The Majestic. He is actually not that bad of an actor. In I Love You Phillip Morris, he is kind of playing both serious and over-the-top. It’s pretty astounding to me. Ewan McGregor did a pretty good job as Phillip Morris. He was quiet and kind of sweet and ultimately believable.

I am drawn to movies that are controversial. This movie was made in 2009, but not released domestically until December of 2010. It was delayed from being released in theaters for over a year and a half because nobody wanted to release it. They were afraid of the subject matter and the nature of this movie, which is stupid. It is an interesting and outlandish true story, and that should be more important than the content. There are other R rated comedies that are far worse in terms of sexual content and language, and there is little to no controversy around them.

Anyways, that’s enough of a rant for now.

Was it a great movie? I don’t know, it was pretty good, but I wasn’t blown away by it. There are some funny moments, and there is some heart to the story, which is good.

I am glad they tried to make it a comedy rather than a drama, though it probably would have worked as well either way.

Was it better than Avatar? Yes. It’s based on a true story, so it really happened, unlike Avatar, which was a cartoon movie about aliens that may or may not exist. I Love You Phillip Morris is an intriguing movie, and definitely worth a look.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Other Guys (2010)

The Other Guys (2010)
Rated PG-13
Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes
Directed by: Adam McKay
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Watched: On Netflix

Quick Summary: The Other Guys is an action/comedy about two bumbling New York City Police detectives looking to step up and fill the void after two hot-shot detectives die in the line of duty. They take on a high-profile case involving shady business dealings and quickly get in over their heads. Will they be able to actually solve the case and become respected detectives, or will they continue to be seen as The Other Guys?

As has been stated previously, I like Mark Wahlberg movies. So I was going to see this one eventually. I also like Will Ferrell’s movies, so that expedited my desire to see this one. Not enough that I was going to go see it in the theater, as my wife HATES Will Ferrell and I am not going to go watch a movie in the theater by myself. So I waited until it hit Netflix Instant Queue.

So, after watching it, I have to say that this movie is both as funny and not as funny as I was anticipating.

There were several opportunities for this movie to be much funnier or much less funny. It’s a fine line in comedies, especially action comedies. If you go too hard on the action, it becomes less funny and if you go heavy on the comedy, then it becomes a farce. I feel like they did a pretty good job on keeping this movie in the middle of the action-comedy scale, but it could have been funnier.

And I think that Mark Wahlberg is the one at fault for this. He was the straight-man in this duo, and he played it a little bit too intense and too serious. What I was looking for from Walhberg was a performance similar to that of another action comedy he was in, The Big Hit, which I loved. In that, he balanced action and comedy much better than in The Other Guys. It seemed, at times, that he was trying to be more serious to balance against Will Ferrell’s antics. But Ferrell wasn’t that zany in this one.

And that may be my favorite type of character that he plays. He is exceptionally funny when he plays the over the top zany characters, such as in Anchorman, Old School, Talladega Nights and Elf. But his character in The Other Guys, Allen Gamble, was a lot more realistic than most of his other characters. He was still a quirky and odd person, but he was more believable in this.

I appreciate the cameos and supporting cast in this and most all of Will Ferrell/Adam McKay movies. Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, and Michael Keaton were awesome. And any time you get Ice-T to serve as narrator, you’ve got something special going on.

A lot has been made in comparing this to a very similar movie that also came out in 2010. Cop Out, a buddy cop action comedy starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, directed by Kevin Smith. Most every review that I have seen has panned Cop Out and rated The Other Guys much higher. But I have to say that I enjoyed them equally. I think the writing and story for The Other Guys was better than Cop Out, but I wouldn’t say that it was a better movie overall.

It still baffles me that someone paid $100 million to make The Other Guys. That seems like such a ridiculous amount of money to spend on something, especially when you consider that The Fighter, a much better movie, cost a third of that to make. But the movie making business is one that I will probably never understand anyways, so I guess that’s just part of it.

But was it better than Avatar? Yes. It was far more enjoyable a movie to watch, even if you hate Will Ferrell.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Fighter (2010)

The Fighter (2010)
Rated R
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, Amy Adams
Directed by: David O. Russell
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Watched: Blu-ray

Quick Summary: The fighter is the story of “Irish” Micky Ward, a boxer from Lowell, Massachusetts, and his half-brother and trainer Dicky Ecklund, a former boxer with minor success in the 1980’s. Ward has not been very successful in his career, and after a severe loss to a bigger fighter, he is considering quitting. At the urging of his father, he continues on, under the conditions that his domineering mother and brother are not to be involved anymore, and earns the title fight he had been working for.

The boxing film is one that has been done almost to death. And that’s just the Rocky series. It’s hard for another film to bring anything new to a movie about a boxer, but The Fighter was able to do that. The story is not a new one, but it’s the characters that really bring this movie up to another level. More than just boxing, this story is about a family, struggling to stay together amidst difficult times.

The acting is superb. Both Christian Bale and Melissa Leo were well deserving of their Best Supporting Oscars. Christian Bale gets so deep into his characters that it is a little bit disturbing. He was, at times, annoying as Dicky Ecklund, but it wasn’t a distraction. He was just portraying a fractured man with a debilitating addiction. He doesn’t really disappear into his characters, because you still know that it’s Bale, but he just owns the characters he portrays. It was about time that he got recognized for his work.

I kept wondering where Melissa Leo was while watching the movie. Not because she didn’t stand out, but because I didn’t recognize her. I was looking for the woman I saw at the Oscars accepting the award, but she disappeared into Alice, Dicky and Micky’s domineering mother. I felt that Amy Adams could have easily won the Oscar too, as her performance was pretty powerful as Charlene Fleming, Micky’s girlfriend.

I think Mark Wahlberg continually gets overlooked for his performance in the movie. He is the main character, and he does an excellent job as Micky Ward. That’s not to say he deserved to be nominated for Best Actor or anything like that, I just feel that he gets overshadowed by the supporting actors and actresses who all gave outstanding performances as well. I have liked Mark Wahlberg for a while now, as an actor, and haven’t really seen any movies of his that I didn’t like.

It’s clear that this is a project that Wahlberg was extremely passionate about, and without him, it would have probably never been. He, and the rest of the cast, became really close with the family and with Micky and Dicky. I thought it was great that they gave them shout-outs during the awards show acceptance speeches. It was a touching and real moment.

Nominations – Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress (2x), Best Editing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture

Wins – Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale), Best Supporting Actress (Melissa Leo)

Did it deserve to win more awards? I could see it winning for Original Screenplay, Director and even Best Picture and it wouldn’t have bothered me.

Was it the Best Picture? No, but it was close. I’d probably put it in the upper ranks of the 10 nominees.

Was it better than Avatar? Absolutely. The acting and the story are far superior to that of Avatar. Plus, it’s real. So it’s got that going for it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Fountain (2006)

The Fountain (2006)
Rated PG-13
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Tagline: What if you could live forever?
Running time: 96 Minutes
Watched: on Netflix

Quick Summary: The Fountain consists of three parallel stories spanning 1000 years. In the first, a Spanish Conquistador searches for the tree of life among the Mayan civilization to free his queen. In the second, a researcher, using various trees and plants, searches for a cure for his dying wife. And in the third, a space traveler, looking for eternity with his true love, travels through space towards a dying star.

This is probably my least favorite of Darren Aronofsky’s films. I don’t exactly know why that is, but I just couldn’t really get into it. It was a bit convoluted for me, the intersecting of the three storylines, the same actors playing different characters with the same names. Were they the same people who had found eternal life or was it just three related but separate stories? I couldn’t tell.

I was bored more than anything else. And that is the worst thing that can happen when watching a movie. I thought about pausing it to finish later, and just go to bed, but I soldiered on (probably because I would never have finished it ha I done this).

I don’t know what about it caused me to not really like it, the story isn’t a bad one, it’s really interesting, but I feel like any one of the three parallel stories could have been the central story and would have made a an interesting story as well. The acting is good, as far as I can see. Nobody made me question their performances or pulled me away. Some of the effects were spectacular, and visually speaking, the movie looked great.

Maybe it was me. I was tired when I watched it, and it was late, but I just couldn’t get into it.

It is interesting to me that Darren Aronofsky seems to be solely interested in obsession. In each of his movies, the central character becomes obsessed with something until it tears them apart. He’s telling the same basic story every time. Not to take anything away from him, but it may be time for him to branch out a bit. I still think he is a good director, and will still continue watching his movies

If I am ranking his movies, it goes like this:
  1. The Wrestler
  2. Black Swan
  3. Requiem for a Dream
  4. Pi
  5. The Fountain

Was it better than Avatar? I don’t know. This may be the first time when I genuinely don’t know. I didn’t hate The Fountain, but I don’t know if I would rather watch it again or Avatar…

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Quick Hits 4/11/2011

Mad Max (1979) Rated R. Starring Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel. Directed by George Miller. 88 Minutes.

In a post-apocalyptic Australia “a few years in the future,” outlaw biker gangs wreak havoc and run amok throughout the country. After his best friend, wife and child are murdered, cop Max Rockatansky loses it and becomes Mad Max, hell-bent on vengeance.

Ah, back when Mel Gibson was still Australian. I can’t believe that I had never seen this movie until this year. It’s pretty awesome. I miss Australian Mel Gibson. I probably need to see the rest of the trilogy now as well, just to see where it goes. But it was a fun movie to watch. It had some pretty sweet car chase sequences, which far outshone the acting, but in a movie like this, it doesn’t matter. The action is what makes it cool. The only real complaint that I have is that Mel Gibson wasn’t in it enough.

District (2009) Rated R. Starring Sharlto Copley, David James and Jason Cope. Directed by Neil Blomkpamp. 112 Minutes.

A dying extraterrestrial race arrived in South Africa in the 1980’s, initially welcomed with open arms. They were eventually sequestered into government camp, known as District 9. A private corporation has tasked with moving the aliens to a new camp outside of Johannesburg, led by operative Wikus van der Merwe. In the process, van der Merwe is exposed to a mysterious substance that begins turning him into one of the Prawns, and is forced to change his stance and work with the Aliens to survive.

Initially, I was intrigued by this movie, but never had a strong desire to see it. It looked like an alien movie that was trying to look like a documentary. But when I finally did watch it, I must say I was impressed. It was a pretty good movie, which I wasn’t expecting. The story is a parallel of the story of apartheid in South Africa in the recent past. I must say it is a pretty interesting take on it. I was surprised by it, which is always a welcome feeling after watching a movie.

Moon (2009) Rated R. Starring Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey. Directed by Duncan Jones. 97 Minutes.

Astronaut Sam Bell, nearing the end of his 3 year contract with Lunar Industries, is the lone employee working at a lunar station, mining and sending back to Earth a new clean fuel harvested from the rocks of the Moon. His only companion is the lunar station’s computer, GERTY. He only wants to return home to see is wife and daughter, who was born just before he left. As the end approaches, he gets into an accident that cause him to question his situation and the events surrounding him.

The idea of a movie centered on one man is not a new one, but it is always interesting. You need an actor strong enough to carry the project for long spells with no one else to lean on. Sam Rockwell does a phenomenal job carrying this film. It’s a bit slow I the beginning, but not so much so that you lose interest, and it helps to make you see just how alone he is on this space station. It’s an interesting movie, and one I would highly recommend. Kevin Spacey gets kind of annoying as the voice of the robot GERTY, but not so much that it is distracting.

Friday, April 8, 2011

300 (2006)

300 (2006)
Rated R
Starring: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Tagline: Prepare For Glory!
Running time: 117 Minutes
Watched: DVD

Quick Summary: Gerard Butler stars as King Leonidas in this adaptation of a graphic novel by Frank Miller, set in 480 B.C. and based on The Battle of Thermopylae. As the Persian Army, led by King Xerxes, advances upon Greece with over 100,000 soldiers, King Leonidas leads an army of 300 Spartans, with the help of hundreds of other Greeks, to fend off the invasion.

It has occurred to me that Zack Snyder is a 14 year old nerd. He specializes in ultra-violence, random nudity, and costumes. Looking at his filmography, it’s clear: 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch, Dawn of the Dead and apparently (according to IMDB), the next Superman movie. The only movie he’s made that doesn’t fit in to this is The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole (that cartoon movie about the owls…). But I guess it could still technically fit since it’s a fantasy/adventure movie.

It took me four years to finally sit down and watch 300. It was one of those movies that I felt was over-hyped at the time that it came out. Everyone told me I needed to go see it and how awesome it was. I tend to be skeptical of movies like this (see: Avatar). I do not like being let down when I spend my time watching movies. So I waited, forgot about it. Then one day, I said, I might as well watch it.

And it was pretty cool. It wasn’t outstanding or even all that great, but it was fun. At least the action sequences were cool. The acting won’t blow you away, and the story, outside of the parts that are based on the actual events, isn’t outstanding. But the fight scenes are spectacular.

If the entire movie was just fighting, I would have been cool with it too. All the other parts of the story didn’t matter to me. I just wanted to watch Spartans kill Persians.

When I watch movies, I don’t like being able to tell that everything is fake. I like for it to look real. And watching this, I couldn’t help but realize that almost the entire movie took place on a soundstage, in front of a green screen. I know that they wanted it to look like a graphic novel, and it did. And it looked great for a comic book. But for a movie, it just looked fake. The film was set predominately outside, but I never felt that. And it distracted me, at least, when they weren’t fighting.

300 isn’t a great movie, to be honest. But it is cool. It’s a popcorn movie. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Was it better than Avatar? Yeah. Watch 300, then spend the time you have leftover wishing for six pack abs.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
Rated R
Starring: John Cusack, Rob Cordry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke
Directed by: Steve Pink
Tag line: Kick some past.
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Watched: Netflix

Quick Summary: Four down on their luck guys are transported back in time to 1986 by the titular hot tub. In order to return to 2010 without incident they must retrace their steps from that night and do it all again. But given the chance to relive an important night in their lives, will they do it all the same or make different choices that could alter their future lives?

Any movie with a title like this is not to be taken seriously. Luckily, the filmmakers and actors knew this going in, so expectations were understandably low. The plot’s not really important in a movie like this, the only real goal is to cram as many dirty jokes as you can in the allotted time and have fun doing it. This movie falls into the relatively knew genre of Adventure Bromance alongside movies like The Hangover, Grown-ups, Road Trip and Old School.

The problem is, the jokes weren’t all that funny. There are a couple of laughs, but for the most part, it’s just a story about sad older men trying desperately to be cool and how ridiculous everything in the 80’s was.

The acting wasn’t anything special, as it doesn’t really need to be in these types of comedies. John Cusack is the same character he always is, a just-dumped loveable loser. But in this, his performance just seemed a bit forced to me. Rob Cordry was pretty funny as the Will Ferrill/Zack Galifinaikas character of this group. Craig Robinson was…I don’t know. He’s a funny guy, but I don’t think that I ever believe him in anything. Clark Duke is the probably the funniest one in the movie, but that may be because I can more closely relate to him than the other three.

It was kind of funny that Crispin Glover was in this movie, given his history in the time-traveling genre. Chevy Chase also makes an appearance, but to be honest, it could have been anybody who was big in the 80’s and it wouldn’t have made much difference.

It wasn’t the funniest movie I’ve seen recently (that’s still probably The Hangover, which was over a year ago…), but it had some comedy to it. It could have been a lot funnier...but it could have also been a lot worse. 

In my opinion, there weren’t enough Back to the Future references or jokes for my taste, aside from Crispin Glover and somebody saying “Hello McFly.” But I do love the Back to the Future series, so that may just be me. To be honest, that’s probably part of the reason why I watched this movie. I like the idea of time-traveling in movies, and they were kind of big the 80’s. So it was kind of a let down for me, but it wasn’t terrible.

Was it better than Avatar? I guess. If I had to watch one over the other, I’d chose Hot Tub Time Machine, if for nothing other than closing credits video of Rob Cordry as Vince Neil in a Motley Crue video. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

127 Hours (2010)

127 Hours (2010)
Rated R
Starring: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara
Directed by: Danny Boyle
Tag line: There is no force more powerful than the will to live.
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Watched: Blu-ray

Quick Summary: 127 Hours is the true story of Aron Ralston, a mountain climber, who becomes trapped under a boulder while climbing alone near Moab, Utah. For five days he remained there, examining his life and trying various ways to free his arm before he finally musters the courage and strength to extricate himself and survive.

James Franco definitely deserved to be nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for this performance. He was able to carry the entire hour and a half movie by himself. I like him as an actor, but I never thought of him as a great one, and he still may not be great, but he gave a great performance in this. I wasn’t sure how I would feel watching a movie with no real supporting cast, it was just James Franco for most of the movie, but it didn’t matter. The story is so powerful and his performance is so real that it didn’t matter.

I don’t know how I feel about Danny Boyle yet. I haven’t seen all of his movies, but I liked the movies I have seen. But I think I like these movies, not because of him, but for other reasons. Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire were good, but I liked them for the stories, not for the directing. He’s not a bad director by any stretch, but he’s not a difference maker in my opinion.

He made some decisions in this movie that did kind of detract from the story a little bit. I wasn’t 100% on the way it was edited, too many quick cuts for my liking. I also think he tried a little bit too hard to be creative and artsy with some of the camera angles and shots. There were a lot of flashbacks that at times seemed like they were filler, and it pulled me away a little, but I understand the need for some of them, they broke up the story a bit so we weren’t just looking at James Franco trapped for the whole thing. The story is so strong that it didn’t really need any thing else to add to it.

James Franco 
I think I came away from this movie learning some valuable life lessons:

1. Never go rock climbing alone
2. Always tell someone where I am going
3. Always be prepared
Aron Ralston

I’d like to think that I could handle the situation the same way that Aron Ralston did, but the truth is, I don’t know if I have the strength or the fortitude to go through with something like that, and then hike 8 miles to get help.

I love when movies like this give cameos or incorporate the actual people in the movies. It’s a classy move. 

It's pretty amazing to me to learn just how accurate they made the movie. According to Ralston, it is as accurate as it could possibly be. I think they nailed it. It certainly helped that Ralston was able to document the entire ordeal with pictures and video. 

Nominations – Editing, Original Score, Original Song, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture

Wins – None

Did it deserve to win any of those awards? As I said above, I didn’t like the editing. The song was pretty good, so it could have one and I wouldn’t have cared. James Franco could have won Best Actor in against lesser competition. It wasn’t going to beat out the Social Network for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Was it the best movie of the year? It was good, but it wasn’t the best. I’d probably put it somewhere in the middle of the pack.
But the real question: Was it better than Avatar? Absolutely. The story is so much better than Avatar, and was a true story. And the acting is better too, but people usually out-act computer graphics. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Quick Hits 4/4/2011

Jurassic Park (1993) Rated PG-13. Starring Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Sam Neill. Directed by Steven Spielberg. 127 Minutes.

Based on the novel by Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park is about a group of people given the opportunity to tour a new theme park featuring cloned dinosaurs. After a severe storm knocks out the power to the island, the security systems shut down and the animals escape. Wreaking havoc across the island and terrorizing the tour group.

I was 9 years old when this movie came out, so it was right up my ally. I remember thinking that it was scary when I first saw it, but every time I’ve seen it since, I think its awesome, not scary at all. Jeff Goldblum is great in this movie, but the special effects are the real story. They were surprising realistic for 1993, and never once do you get pulled out of the film because something looks fake. The movie won 3 Oscars for effects.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) Rated PG-13. Starring Jeff Goldblum, Vince Vaughn, Julianne Moore. Directed by Steven Spielberg. 129 Minutes.

Jeff Goldblum reprises his role as Dr. Ian Malcolm in this sequel to Jurassic Park. He is sent along with three others to Site B, a second island full of cloned dinosaurs, to observe the dinosaur’s behavior. Not long after they arrive, another group arrives at the island with a different plan: to capture and bring the dinosaurs back to the U.S. to open a new theme park in Southern California. The team’s mission quickly changes from observing to surviving and escaping as the dinosaurs are free to hunt the humans.

The sequel, also based on Michael Crichton novel, not quite as good as the first, but it’s still pretty good. Goldblum is great in his reprisal of Malcolm, but Pete Postlethwaite is phenomenal as Roland Tembo, a big game hunter looking to kill the greatest predator the world has ever known. Vince Vaughn and Julianne Moore don’t really bring anything special to the film, but they don’t really need to. This one gave them the opportunity to bring in some different dinosaurs that didn’t really show up in the first film, but the T. Rex is still the main attraction. Especially when rampaging through the streets of San Diego.

Jurassic Park III (2001) Rated PG-13. Starring Sam Niell, Tea Leoni, William H. Macy. Directed by Joe Johnston. 92 Minutes.

The third in the trilogy, the only one not based on one of Cricthon’s novels or directed by Steven Spielberg, brings back Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant. Grant is hired by a wealthy couple under the auspices of serving as their tour guide as they fly over Isla Sorna (the island from the second film). Grant soon discovers the true reason they hired him, to help them navigate the island and find their son, who disappeared on a parasailing trip with his step-father weeks before. The must fend of and survive attacks from several knew species of dinosaurs and some old familiar species in their efforts to find the boy and escape the island.

This was one of those sequels that seemed completely unnecessary to me, but it still did well at the box office. I remember seeing a midnight showing of it back in 2001, so I was still excited about it, even at 17. It definitely suffers from not being based directly on a Crichton novel, but it did incorporate some of the elements from both books that never made it into the previous two films. It probably also hurt having a new director as well, it’s hard to live up to Steven Spielberg and the work he did on the first two. The special effects were still pretty good, though this was the first in the series not nominated for Special Effects Oscars. But eight years after the original, the special effects were no longer cutting edge or new.

All in all, I enjoy each of them. If they come on TV and I have nothing else going on or nowhere to be, I am definitely going to watch them, as happened yesterday when The Lost World was on AMC. I would definitely watch any and all of these before Avatar.