Saturday, October 31, 2015

Second Murder

Double Jeopardy
Director: Bruce Beresford
Cast: Ashely Judd, Tommy Lee Jones, Bruce Greenwood, Annabeth Gish
Released: September 24, 1999
Viewed in theaters: September 26, 1999

This is one of those movies that are so bad, they're awesome and enjoyable to watch. I don't know what it is about this movie. I know it's not a particularly great movie, but I've seen it a handful of times and always love watching it. Maybe I just love it when a-holes get their comeuppance.

I don't know whose husband is worst: Jennifer Lopez's in Enough or Ashley Judd's in this movie. One of them was an abusive and cheating jerk and the other faked his own death and made it looks like his wife did it so she would rot in prison! Yes, in this movie, Ashley Judd's husband stages his own death and frames his wife. But she is out for revenge when she is told of a little something called....double jeopardy! Dun dun dun!

Libby and Nick Parsons (Ashley Judd and Bruce Greenwood) appear to have the perfect least to Libby and everybody else! They have an adorable five year old son named Matty, they live in a beautiful home in Whidbey Island, Washington (which I've been to...shout out!), Nick has a successful career. However, Nick is having an affair...with Angie (Annabeth Gish), Libby's best friend of all people. One night, while on a weekend boat trip, Libby wakes up in the middle of the night after a passionate night with her husband to find blood everywhere and her husband missing. She is stopped by the Coast Guard where she is arrested for the murder of her husband. It doesn't seem to cross her mind until much later how weird it is that her husband was "murdered" and yet she was alive and fine. And wouldn't she hear her husband being stabbed to death? It's a big can it be? Exactly, Cal from Titanic. How BIG can it be? I mean, of course people are going to think she was the one who killed him! And that's why she is sent to prison. Although, I say, no death! And they didn't find the body...of course they were out in the middle of the ocean, so they figured she dumped his body in it.

I don't think Nick framed his wife because he wanted to get out of their marriage and be with Angie. That seems a little extreme. Don't get me wrong, the whole thing is extreme, regardless. Rather, he has a nice little life insurance policy that will, should he die, and his wife so happen to be the cause of his death, will go to his son. Libby (not knowing anything about the affair) gives Angie custody of her son. I don't remember if they said anything about her having any parents or siblings she could leave her son with (although there is a scene later where she's visiting her mom in the South). It seems weird that you would leave your child with a close friend rather than a family member. It's just like that movie Life As We Know It....don't even get me started on the stupidity of those parents! I guess the hefty life insurance money went to Angie since she became Matty's guardian, although I always thought when money is for a kid, it stays in the bank where it cannot be touched by anyone until the kid turns 18. But I don't know anything about banking and finances, so I could be totally wrong. Now that Nick has his new girlfriend and a crapload of money (I mean, he had a bunch of money before, so I really don't know why he needed this money so bad...he must have really hated his wife even though we never saw anything to support that), he is able to take Angie and Matty to San Francisco.

This is around the time when Libby is starting to think something is up. I don't remember how long she was sentenced for but at least a year has passed when she notices that Angie and Matty don't come around to visit as much as they used to and soon it gets to the point where Libby can't even contact Angie anymore. Through trickery she obtains Angie's new phone number and address and is beyond pissed to discover she has moved to San Francisco and didn't even tell Libby. Well, yeah, I would be pretty furious too if I was in jail and my friend was watching my kid and they moved to another city without telling me. She calls Angie to give her a piece of her mind, but Angie says she meant to call and tell her, but she's been so busy. Matty is there and wants to talk to his mom so Angie lets him, but her hand is still on the receiver, ready to snatch that sucker away.

Okay, I don't remember anything about being five years old, nor do I know any five year olds, so I don't know a five year old interprets the concept of death or prison. Does he know his dad "died"? Does he understand his mom is in prison because she "killed" Daddy? But SURPRISE! Nick isn't dead. Bet you didn't see that one coming! I thought for sure Matty was going to blurt out, "Mommy! Daddy isn't dead anymore!" But he just talks to her and says he misses her and when is he going to see her again. It isn't until a few minutes later when Nick walks in that he exclaims, "Daddy" and that phone is quickly hung up by Angie.

It all suddenly starts to click together for Libby. It's her "a-ha!" moment. Not only has her husband framed her for his so-called murder, but he was having an affair with her best friend...who basically kidnapped her son and him to another city so they could live off Nick's life insurance money. Well, lucky for Libby, one of her fellow inmates used to be a lawyer and she informs her of a little thing called double jeopardy. It is a clause that states that a person cannot be tried for the same crime twice. That means that since Libby was already convicted for murdering her husband, then she can really murder him and not be sentenced for it. So of course she is all ready to get her vengeance. And if you're asking why didn't she just tell the police, she did, but Nick and Angie changed numbers and moved or did something where they couldn't be traced.

With good behavior, Libby gets out six years later where she lives in a halfway officer and is under the supervision of her parole office, Travis (Tommy Lee Jones). There is an amusing scene where she's at the library trying to find if she can locate Nick's or Angie's address. The guy helps her find the info she needs (remember the present day is 1999 and she was in jail when the whole Internet craze of the '90s broke out so she doesn't know anything about how to get around the 'net). However he is a creeper who blatantly hits on her and asks her out. She tells him she'll have to check with her parole officer and when he asks her what she did, he is out of there in a flash when she replies, "Oh, I killed my husband." That's a good line to get rid of unwanted attention from the opposite sex!

In order to find Nick, she escapes from Travis while they're on a ferry in Puget Sound and her travels take her to Colorado where Nick and Angie lived and Angie died in a fire (but Libby knows the fire was not an accident! I'm not really sure why Nick killed Angie) and then she goes on to New Orleans where Nick has been living under the alias of Jonathan Devereaux. Do you think he took that surname because he's a fan of The Golden Girls? "I'm Jonathan Devereux, no relation to Blanche."

She confronts Nick at a fancy auction he's holding that she snuck into and threatens to expose who he is if he doesn't let her see their son. He tells her they will meet tomorrow at this huge-ass cemetery and for some stupid reason, she agrees to it. I'd be like, "Hell, no, we're not going to some big open space where there are plenty places to hide...we're going to meet at the Starbucks around the corner!" Unbeknownst to Libby (and the audience at this time), Matty, who would be around 12 at this time, isn't even in the same state. He is at boarding school in Georgia. Nick has paid some random kid to take Libby on a wild goose chase and keep running from her until she ends up in a mausoleum where Nick is there to greet her with a knock over the head and puts her unconscious body in a coffin...with another body! Ewwww! Luckily she has a gun (which she stole from Travis) to shoot her way out and luckily she wasn't underground so she can just walk out the door.

Meanwhile, on his quest to find Libby, Travis does his own research on Nick and finds out he's still alive and Libby never killed him. They both confront Nick where Libby tells him she can shoot him in the middle of Mardi Gras and nobody will even blink and Travis confirms that this is true. We-ell, this is not exactly true. I did a little research (and I do mean little!) and double jeopardy doesn't exactly work this way. She would still be convicted if she actually killed Nick. Luckily the movie doesn't have to deal with that because she doesn't kill least not in cold-blooded murder. She decides he's not worth it and he grabs her gun and tries to kill her, but after a struggle, Libby kills him in self-defense.

She goes to see her son and he is played by Spencer Treat Clark who I totally forgot about. I remember seeing him everywhere around the early '00s (like Gladiator and and Unbreakable and Mystic River) and I was like, "Oh, yeah, that kid!" He was a really cute kid and I looked up some recent pics (he's 28 now) and he's really good-looking. He definitely was a winner in the genetic pool. Mother and son have a teary, heartfelt reunion.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Welcome To

Jurassic Park
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, Wayne Knight, Samuel L. Jackson
Released June 11, 1993
Viewed in theaters: Summer of '93 (Like I remember the exact date!)

Oscar nominations:
Best Sound (Won)
Best Sound Effects (Won)
Best Visual Effects (Won)

Many moons ago (I want to say it was in 2010), I wrote about my ten most memorable movie theater-going experiences. As you may have expected, Jurassic Park made the list. It's #3 on the list. If you were around in 1993 (and old enough to remember), then you remember what a big deal Jurassic Park was. It was THE summer movie of 1993. Hell, it was THE movie of 1993, period.

I read the book a few years after the movie. I don't think I was aware that movie was based on a book until after the fact. It's been several years, but I remember the book being very gruesome. Much more than the movie was. Even though I hadn't seen the movie in a few years, I didn't even jump at the scenes that made me jump clear off my seat when I first saw it. And I don't think it's because I'm older....when I saw Jurassic World last summer, I jumped many times. I think it was because I already knew what was coming.

This movie establishes that opening a theme park with real life cloned dinosaurs is a terrible, terrible idea. (And Jurassic World PROVED it!) I would say Jurassic World was worst in that it was a full-operating theme park and there were many people there that day (although the fatality rate didn't seem to be that high considered there were carnivorous dinosaurs running around!) In Jurassic Park, there was only Hammond (Attenborough) and his crew and his guests and grandchildren. The park seems so antiquated compared to what we would later see in Jurassic World. And the dinosaurs didn't seem to be very well contained....especially when the power went off so they could escape from their cages which were held with power lines.

I don't know, if you were going to have a dinosaur theme park, why not start with some simple and non-threating ones? Why have the T-Rex? I sure as hell wouldn't want to go anywhere near that thing! And then why even create raptors when you know they are one of the most vicious and intelligent of the dinosaurs. (Until Chris Pratt will come along 20 years later to train them!) Is Hammond just not thinking about this stuff? At least when his grandchildren are in trouble, he seems to realize what a mistake he made.

But this movie makes for a thrilling, fun ride. It's an action classic and put the velociraptor on the map. Before I saw this movie, the only dinosaurs I was familiar with were T-rexes, brontosaurus, stegosauruses, and triceratops.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Into Thin Air

Director: Balastar Kormakur
Cast: Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Emily Watson, Robin Wright, Keira Knightley, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington
Released: September 18, 2015
Viewed in theaters: September 18, 2015

If you have read Jon Krakauer's book, "Into Thin Air", then you are familiar with the story of an expedition to the top of Mount Everest in which bad weather and faulty planning killed 8 climbers in May 1996, many of them quite experienced among them. (Although, if you are not familiar, be aware of the spoilers!)  This movie is based on Krakuer's book as well as other books that were written by the survivors of this tragedy, but being as he is a writer, Krakauer's is probably the most well-known. I'm a little surprised it took so long to make a movie about this event (almost 20 years!), although there was a made for TV movie about it that was aired in 1997 (probably a little too soon!)

I had read Krakauer's book five years ago so I didn't remember exactly who died and who survived that fateful day, but if I had read the dedication page, it would have refreshed my memory as he dedicated the book to those who perished. Although while watching the movie, I began to remember certain people and what had happened to them. Oh yeah, that poor Japanese woman freezes to death or I remember that Texan man wrote a book about this so he survives. And Rob Hall and Doug Hansen are the guide and client, respectively, who made it to the top way too late and didn't get down in time. All of which I had read five years ago just came back to me in a flood of memories.

Rob Hall (portrayed by Jason Clarke) was a 35 year old New Zealander who was the leader and head guide of Adventure Consultants which took clients up to the summit of Everest. His was probably the most known because he had many successful expeditions. His was almost the most expensive because it cost $65,000 to be part of his group (and that doesn't always guarantee reaching the top!) That was definitely something I remembered from the book and was waiting for it to bring brought up in the movie and sure enough it was. It boggles my mind that anyone would pay that much money to go through hell!  The question is brought up by Krakauer the journalist (portrayed by Michael Kelly who plays Doug Stamper on House of Cards). Not so much the question, "Why would you pay all this money to do this?" but rather "Why are you climbing this mountain?" Doug Hansen (portrayed by John Hawkes) says he wants to let his children see that if an ordinary man like him can achieve an impossible dream, then they can do the same. While most of Hall's clients were fairly wealthy (you kind of have to be!), Doug was a mailman and had paid for the trip by working extra overnight shifts at the post office. He had gone to Everest with Hall the previous year but hadn't reached the top and this time he was determined. Yasuko Namba (portrayed by Naoko Mori) says she has been to six of the seven highest summits and Everest was the last one. She became the oldest woman to summit Everest (although she never made it down alive), but her record was surpassed in 2001.

With conditions of 100 degrees below zero and very thin air that causes extreme altitude sickness, that would be enough to give anyone second thoughts about climbing Everest. It would certainly give me second thoughts. I've had altitude sickness and it makes you feel weak and miserable. But Everest isn't just a mountain that you climb up. There are crevices you have to cross with ladders; there are steep ledges you have to walk along; there are places you have to climb with ropes. It's a very extraneous, very exhausting feat. I told my mom that I would be out as soon as I saw the long rope bridges they have to cross over a huge gap in the earth even before they begin climbing! I'd be like, "No thanks, rather not fall to my death if those ropes break!"

The movie begins at the airport in New Zealand where Rob Hall is with his base camp manager, Helen (portrayed by Emily Watson) and they're getting ready to leave for Nepal. Hall is saying goodbye to his wife, Jan (portrayed by Keira Knightley) who is also a climber (they summited  Everest together in 1993), but can't go with him this time because she is seven months pregnant. I knew for sure he wasn't coming back when she is giving him a tearful goodbye.

There were a lot of people climbing Everest during the same time and it got to be a bit of an issue. Rob decides to team up with another guide, Scott Fisher (portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal) and his clients. They started on March 30 and didn't reach the top until May 10. Something I learned when I read Krakauer's book is that you start at base camp, then go to the camp one, then go to base camp again and repeat this a few times. It's so you acclimatize. It has to be so frustrating to be at camp one, then have to go to base camp and start the climb over again. The (very long) day they reach the top, they start just after midnight with a goal to reach the summit by 2 pm. Anything after that starts to become too dangerous because you have to remember reaching the top is only the halfway mark, you still have to turn around and head back.

Sadly, things do not go as planned. Things are slowed down because there were suppose to be ropes already ready at one point but they are not, so they have to do them themselves and that takes time. Several people are getting sick and weak. But they do reach the top and there is celebration. One of the people who is not there when they reach the top is Doug Hansen and Rob finds him on his way back still trudging up. He tells Doug they need to turn back, but Doug is determined to make it. From where they are, it looks like they are not even a mile from the top, but you know it's going to take a couple hours to reach it. Doug pleads for him to take him to the top and Rob agrees. When they do reach it, Doug is exhausted and Rob is doing everything he can to pull him down the mountain, but Doug won't budge. There is an ominous storm approaching. Rob radios base camp to tell them they need help and where they are. Helen mistakenly thinks he said "the bottom of South Summit" and when he corrects her and tells her they're at the top of the South Summit, you can see her face fall and become extremely concerned at that moment. At that point, Rob is still okay and the urge him to come down and they will send someone back up fro Doug, but he refuses to leave Doug. As his guide, he felt extremely responsible for Doug and I'm sure he knew he should have refused to let Doug to the top seeing as his condition was very weak. Rob tells Doug to stay where he is and that he's going to go for help. At this point, Doug has become very disoriented. I don't know if he didn't hear Rob or just panicked, but he starts to follow Rob and ends up falling off the mountain. I don't know if this is how he really died because Wikipedia lists his death as being from exposure (same as Rob's), but the only other person up there with him was Hall who also died. When asked about Doug from Base Camp, he replies with, "Doug's gone" which is what was spoken in real life by Hall.

Rob is getting weaker and his oxygen tanks have frozen over. He's not really in a position to slide down because it looks like you need a rope to get down. They tell him a team will climb up the next morning to help him, but they have to abort the mission due to another bad storm. They patch him through to his wife in New Zealand and by this time his voice has started to become slurred. This is the part where I start to lose it and cry. The last words Rob says to his wife are, "I love you. Sleep well, my sweetheart. Please don't worry too much." And that is taken from real life, nobody wrote that in the script.

Meanwhile, in other depressing news, Scott Fischer, who has been having some trouble, but passing it off like he is fine, ends up dying from hypoxia. He basically sits down and never gets up again. Then, closer to the camp, but now quite there, a group of climbers have to leave the Japanese woman, Namba and the Texan, Beck Weathers (portrayed by Josh Brolin) behind because they are both too weak to move and the others don't have the means to carry them back. They show them contacting the families and you see Beck's wife, Peach (portrayed by Robin Wright...who I did not recognize at all!) back in Dallas looking devastated and having to tell her kids. I was so confused by this scene because I was sure I remembered Beck surviving this! But then in a later scene, we see Beck with a bloodied face and hands wake up and start to get up and walk back to camp. He is frostbitten beyond belief and Peach organizes a rescue by helicopter which has never been done because it is way to dangerous, but they manage to get him and take him down. I believe they said he lost his hands and nose due to frostbite.

At the end, they have a little tribute to those who died showing photos of the actual people. I was surprised when I read that Rob Hall's body was still on the mountain. I suppose it's in a place that's not easy to get to. But I guess that's not unusual when people die on Everest. Throughout the movie, Rob and Jan had been debating about what they should name their daughter. Rob wanted Sarah, but Jan wasn't keen on the name, but while talking to him on the mountain, promises him she'll call her Sarah and we see a photo of Sarah Arnold-Hall who was 18 when this movie was filmed. She was born two months after her father died.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Nights at the Museums

Night at the Museum
Director: Shawn Levy
Cast: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Carla Gugino, Ricky Gervais, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, Kim Raver, Paul Rudd
Released: December 22, 2006
Viewed in theaters: December 23, 2006

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Director: Shawn Levy
Cast: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Hank Azaria, Robin Williams, Christopher Guest, Ricky Gervais, Bill Hader
Released: May 22, 2009
Viewed in theaters: June 1, 2009

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Director: Shawn Levy
Cast: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Ben Kingsley,  Ricky Gervais, Rebel Wilson
Released: December 19, 2014

Two years before the first movie being released, I had been to New York City with my mom where we had visited the Museum of Natural History which had quickly shot to #1 as my favorite museum of all time ever. (What was #1 prior to that? To be honest, I had never given it any thought). So when I heard about this movie where all the exhibits come to life at night, I thought it sounded like a cool concept and was curious to see it. While I enjoyed it, I was a bit nit-picky. Obviously, if you have been to the Natural History museum, then you know it was not filmed there! (Which I get). But they could at least tried to make it as similar to the real one! True, it's been awhile since I've been there, but I do remember that the dinosaur on display in the main lobby was not a T-rex like it was in the movie, but in fact two dinosaurs: a mother barosaurus and her baby. I suppose a T-rex is more frightening and exciting for a movie audience, but there were more dinosaur bones upstairs that they never had come to life! Although I don't think the Natural Museum has a T-rex because if they did, it probably would be featured in the lobby as the first thing you see! I kept waiting for the movie to show this HUGE grizzly bear that I remember seeing in the North America section (you know, the same section where you would find Lewis and Clark with Sacagawea!) I would be way more scared of that than the three lions that are in the movie....but there was no bears, grizzly or otherwise. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Larry Daley (Ben Stiller), a divorced father of a son gets a job as a night guard at the Museum of Natural History when times are rough for him and he just needs anything that will give him a paycheck. He replaces three nigh guards who are retiring (played by Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cobbs, and Mickey Rooney - who does not play an Asian man as we all remember how totally not racist that was in Breakfast in Tiffany's!) They give Larry a list of instructions which he will soon find out will come in handy. Even though this movie is called NIGHT at the Museum, there are actually three nights that are shown. The other two movies only have one night.

The first night, naturally, is the introduction of the characters who come to life. A bored Larry ends up falling asleep at the front desk (sidenote: how come they only have one night guard now when they used to have three? Maybe they are trying to cut costs?) and when he wakes up he is baffled to see that the bones of the T-rex are gone and thinks Cecil (Dick Van Dyke) and the others have played a trick on him and that they have made the dinosaur bones vanish in a David Copperfield type illusion. But no, the skeletal dinosaur has come to life and starts chasing Larry who hides under his desk and grabs the instruction and reads them for the first time. The first one given tells him to "throw the bone", which he does and the T-rex hurries after it like a dog, wagging its bony tail. While I definitely would be freaked out if dinosaur fossils came to life, I really wouldn't be worried about the dinosaur eating me as there is no digestive tract!

Larry soon realizes that everything in the museum has come to life. There's Attila the Hun; the aforementioned Sacagawea; cavemen; an Easter Island Moai; a large menagerie which probably the most iconic character, Dexter the capuchin monkey, is part of. Dexter torments Larry by stealing his keys, peeing on him, biting his nose, slapping him, and he will continue to be a pain in Larry's ass for the next two movies. Teddy Roosevelt (played by Robin Williams) acts as Larry's guide and offers to help him the first night. He is a wax statue on a horse in the lobby. He brings up something later in the movie that I had been wondering: these are not the actual people that are being shown at the museum. As Teddy tells Larry, he is not the real Roosevelt, but a wax figure made in a factory somewhere. However, he acts like a leader and emulates many of the traits the real Roosevelt had as so many of the other figures with their real life counterparts. (That would be a little creepy if the museum had the corpse of Teddy Roosevelt on display!)

Two other characters who will prominently be featured in the next two movies are a miniature version of a cowboy named Jedediah (played by Owen Wilson) from and his rival in the display next to him, a Roman general named Octavius (played by Steve Coogan. In all three movies there will be a running
gag where the two of them will be in some sort of dire situation and the camera will pull back to show a very calm scene. It's funny at first, but the camera pans back too many time that it stops being funny. In the first movie, they are getting blasted by air from a tire, but when the camera pulls pack we just see a car sitting there.

After the first night, Larry wants to quit and tells the curator (played by Ricky Gervais) he won't be coming back. But after seeing how proud his son is of him, he decides to stick with it. This time he goes in more prepared, or thinks he is anyway. He has read some history books so he knows a few things that might help him with dealing with the live exhibits. He has secured his keys to his belt and fakes Dexter our with a pair of plastic keys. He gives a lighter to the cavemen so they will stop bugging him and they are amazed by how easy it is to start a fire. However, one of them gets out of the building to start a fire in the trash and ends up turning to dust when the sun comes up. Is the caveman also a vampire? No, that is what happens to the exhibits if they are not in the building back in their poses when the sun comes up.

The third (and most adventurous night as he will soon find out), Larry brings Nicky so he can see the displays come to life. Nothing happens and I thought that they were purposely not coming to life because they only let the night guards see them, but it is soon discovered they are not able to come to life because Cecil has the tablet. Oh, I forgot to mention the reason why everything in the museum comes to life: so there's this Ancient Egyptian tablet and it brings everything to life. Yeah. I don't get it either. That's got to be worth a lot of money! I had totally forgotten this storyline where Cecil and the other two guards were the bad guys and wanted the tablet because apparently besides giving life to wax figures, it helps old men have more energy (there's a really bad joke I could insert here, but I won't go there) and they want it so they can stay healthy and spry. At one point Cecil does a backflip It's just totally random and out of left field. Everything comes to life when Larry gets the tablet back and the exhibits help Larry and Nicky stop the three old men. It gets quite ridiculous because at one point Nicky is riding the T-rex through Central Park.

The only way to stop them is to awake the mummy (I think he was a real mummy and not a prop one because in the third movie we will find out he is an actual person who was awaken from the dead? I think?) It's an amusing scene because Larry and his son are really scared and when he unwraps the bandages you think it's going to be some dis-formed  corpse, but it turns out to be a good-looking young guy, an Egyptian prince named Akhmenrah.

I thought there was going to be a romantic sub-plot between Larry and Rebecca (Carla Gugino) who works at the museum and is writing a dissertation on Sacagawea, but they just have one "coffee date" when she offers to tell him some information on the Native American when he asks her. There is a romance between Teddy and Sacagawea, but it mostly consists of gazing into eyes and hand holding. Rounding out the cast is Paul Rudd who plays Larry's ex-wife's new smarmy boyfriend.

Larry has an idea for bringing the museum to "life" at night (which everyone thinks are either actors portraying the notable figures or, in the case of the animals and dinosaur, animatronics) because in a weird plot point, the museum had been having low attendance which made me LOL because please....I really doubt the freaking best museum in the world ever has that problem! When I was there, you had to wait in a long line to pay for your ticket (totally worth it, though). Wait...this might have been in the second movie where this happens....shoot, I don't remember!

Before leaving this movie and the Natural History Museum (because even though there are thousand of exhibits you could base on several movies, the other two movies take place at different museums), I had to share a cute story from when I visited that museum. While my mom was waiting in line, buying the tickets, I was sitting on this circular bench and there were people all around me (I'm telling you: there is no problem with low attendance!) and I overhear a conversation between a mother and her son, probably no older than six. She tells him he has the choice of either visiting the new frog exhibit or going to Central Park. The kid was quiet for awhile, pondering this decision and finally declared he wanted to see the frogs. I silently praised his choice. After all, the frogs were only temporary.

Battle of the Smithsonian is my favorite in the trilogy and that is mostly thanks to Amy Adams who is the MVP of these movies (even though she is only in the second movie). As you can tell from its title, it takes place at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., another museum to which I have been. This time, Larry has only been working at the museum part-time because he has another job selling something he invented...I can't even remember what it was. He was an inventor in the first movie too and had invented the Snapper where you snap to turn off lights, but since the Clapper was already a thing (and way easier to clap than snap!), the Snapper did not sell. His new invention is a big hit and he has become successful.  He finds out the museum is being renovated and they are shipping several of the artifacts to the Smithsonian. This pretty much includes every character from the first movie except for Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams is only in the beginning and end and has a small scene in the middle),  the T-rex bones, all the lions save for Dexter, and the Egyptian prince who comes with the tablet, except that Dexter has stolen the tablet to bring it with them. So you guessed it....everything at the Smithsonian will be coming to life!

Because there are so many new characters, a lot of the exhibits from the first movie take a back seat. The only ones who have a pivotal role are Jedediah and Octavius, our mini friends. We have the antagonist, a corrupted pharaoh named Kahmunrah played by Hank Azaria (also the older brother of Akhmenrah who he is obviously jealous of). He wants the tablet because it will open a portal that will help him take over the world. Or something like that. He enlists the help of three bad guys from history: Ivan the Terrible (played by Christopher Guest) who insisted his real name is Ivan the Awesome; Napoleon Bonaparte (played by Alain Chabat) who is very sensitive and snippy whenever someone mentions his height; and Al Capone (played by Jon Bernthal) who is only shown in black and white which I thought was a cool touch. In a funny scene where he's trying to recruit even more famous baddies, we see him talking to characters off screen saying how much an honor it is to meet them and the camera pans to reveal Darth Vader and Oscar the Grouch.  Kahmunrah has kidnapped Jededian and put him in a sand timer and tells Larry if he doesn't deliver him the code to open the portal in that alloted time, then his "little friend will die."

Helping Larry along the way is Amelia Earhart. (Not the real Amelia, of course, but a wax figure). This is where Amy Adams comes in and she is so delightful in this. She has a very 1940s, rat-a-tat-tat way of speaking and does it very effortlessly and I know that cannot be easy! She rattles out such lines as "You haven't been able to take your cheaters off my chassies since we met!" and "I think we've been jimmy-jacked!"

Instead of just famous figures made of wax and animals coming to life, this movie takes a new twist on things. Paintings come to life, sculptures come to life, the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln memorial comes to life, the bobble-headed Albert Einstein toys come to life. (I feel like there are no rules to this magical tablet...pretty much any inanimate object can come to life!) Since there are so many new characters to meet, it's no wonder many of the ones from the first movie are all but cameos. There is a bust of Teddy Roosevelt that Larry and Amelia get advice from. He is, of course, voiced by Robin Williams and when he learns that there is a full-bodied Teddy Roosevelt at the Natural History Museum he gets very jealous.

My favorite scene is when they go the the Air and Space Museum and Amelia is just enthralled. We did see Larry walking through here before the sun set and they didn't do the best job of setting this scene up. While we see all the historic aircrafts, we didn't see any of the famous aviators that are now being shown. Unless they were like Amelia and woke up in the storage basement and then came to the Air and Space Museum? But don't you have to be a certain distance from the tablet to do that? See, these rules of the tablet are so sketchy. I guess it really doesn't matter. They're about to do a launch and Larry has to abort all of them. Yeah....that would be bad news!

In the end he and his friends defeat the evil pharaoh and he brings everyone back to New York with the help of Amelia and her small plane (which managed to fit everyone in reminded me of a clown call when all they all just come tumbling out one after the other). She flies back to Smithsonian...hopefully she made it back before she turned to wax so she wouldn't crash the plane!

Okay, remember how I couldn't remember Larry having the idea to bring the museum to life after hours happened in the first or second movie? It was this one. I remember now because he notices a woman there who looks like Amelia Earhart (played by Amy Adams without wearing the wig or aviation outfit) and he asks her if she's related to her. For a second I thought it was Amelia Earhart and she had disguised herself but that was so far-fetched...even for this movie!

The third movie takes place at the British Museum in London. Larry has to travel there with Akhmenrah (the Egyptian prince if you recall) and his tablet because something is happening to the tablet where it is starting not to work anymore so Larry has to go see Akhmenrah's parents (the father is played by Ben Kinglsey) who are exhibits at the British Museum. It's kind of sad that Akhmenrah was separated from his parents. So the only actual "real" people in this movie, in terms of exhibits, are the mummies. Everyone else is just made of wax. There's a whole back story at the beginning of the movie that explains the tablet and how it was found when a very young Cecil (you remember him...he was played by Dick Van Dyke from the first movie) was in Egypt with his archeologist father and they unearthed a tomb that held the tablet.

This movie does not really bring anything new in terms of things we hadn't seen from the first two movies. Obviously, since it is set in an entirely different museum we do see new characters and exhibits come to life, most notable Sir Lancelot who is trying to find Guinevere. There is a silly scene where he runs up on stage in the middle of a stage production of "Camelot" and pulls his sword on Hugh Jackman. Um....okay, if that happened in real life, security would be on that guy's ass in five seconds. But he and Jackman just start arguing over who Lancelot is.

Ben Stiller also plays a caveman whose main goal is to annoy Larry. He was created for the museum in honor of Larry and his features were used so the caveman looks exactly like him and so he thinks Larry is his dad and follows him around all the time.

There's a scene where Larry is having a heart-to-heart with Dexter (the capuchin monkey) after Dexter almost died when it looked like the tablet was doomed, but Larry managed to fix it in the nick of time. I thought Dexter was going to slap Larry or bite him on the nose, but he kisses him on the lips which was really cute.

Anyway, I enjoyed these movies. They're just mindless fun. I kind of get a Jumanji vibe from them.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

J-Lo's had 'Enough' and she's not going to take it anymore!

Director: Michael Apted
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Billy Campbell, Juliette Lewis, Dan Futterman, Fred Ward
Released: May 24, 2002
Viewed in theaters: June 2, 2002

This movie. OMG, this movie. It could have been so good if it had a better screenplay, if it weren't so damned rushed and made more sense! It was like this movie just couldn't wait to the part where J-Lo lays the smackdown on her husband (or we he her ex by this time? IDK...tells how much I was paying attention to it!) Yes, this is the movie where J-Lo beats up her abusive husband and you are rooting for her to do it because he just smacks her around (and even pushes their five year old daughter off of him when she jumps on him when he's beating up her mom and that really pisses off J-Lo). Apparently it's based on a book by Anna Quindlen called "Black and Blue. " (I can't remember if you italicize, underline, or put book titles in quotation marks, so I did all three!) I have a feeling it's very loosely based on that book.

The way Slim (Lopez - and who the hell is named "Slim"? Sounds like it should have been one of her aliases instead of her real name!) and Mitch, the abusive husband (Billy Campbell) meet doesn't make any sense. Slim is a waitress at a diner in L.A. along with her best friend, Ginny (Juliette Lewis) and one afternoon this guy, I don't know his name, but we'll just call him Carter since he's played by Noah Wyle, so Carter is sitting in a booth reading a book being waited on by Sim and he's flirting with her and Ginny tells Slim to ask him out so she goes back and starts flirting with him and they make plans for a date and as this is going on, I'm thinking, I don't remember Carter being the abusive husband in this, but then the camera pans farther back so we see a guy get up in the booth behind Carter and tell him he's a jerk because he overheard Carter making a bet with a friend that he could get Slim to sleep with him and this makes Slim angry and tells Carter to get out. The guy who had defended her is Mitch and she is very thankful for what he did and they end up dating and get married and have a daughter. And everything is fine as they are the picture of a happy family until one day, Slim finds out her husband is cheating on her. By now their daughter is about five, so everything has been going pretty smoothly for at least five years. When Slim confronts him about this, he smacks her and tells her some bs about he has needs that she can't fulfill.

We also later found out that he's friends with Carter (who didn't see that coming?) and they had planned this little trick along. I don't know why he ended up marrying Slim if she wasn't satisfying him and why he wanted to stay married to her, but he gets really possessive of her and it was really weird how they were happy for at least five years and then he snaps and starts acting like a total jerk to her. Oh, and the time it takes from when they meet to the first time he hits her? Seven minutes. I'm pretty sure that's what it was. It was really rushed! And remember, this is in a span of at least five years! WTF?

So Slim keeps getting smacked around and she tries everything she can to escape but this guy has thought of everything and she can't get past him. Even when she escapes with her daughter to stay with a friend, Joe (Dan Futterman) in Seattle, Mitch and his cronies suspect that she might be there and threaten Joe so Slim leaves because she doesn't want to put anyone she cares about in danger.

With the help of Ginny, Slim and her daughter do managed to escape for quite a while without being detected by Mitch. She has cut her hair really short and changed her name to Erin. She is able to get money from her rich estranged father, Jupiter (Fred Ward) so she doesn't have to worry about her finances. They're there for a few months before Carter finds them (I forget how he tracked them down) and he tries to run her car off the road which results in a long car chase until she drives under a structure which his huge SUV can't fit under and he gets stuck.

The time has finally come for the attack! Slim has had one training session with a buff black dude (okay, it was probably more than one session, but the way it was filmed, it looked like she learned all this stuff in one day) and she is ready to kick Mitch's ass. She sneaks into his house at night and while he goes to work the next day, she accesses the place and moves his guns so he won't be able to find them, learns how to cut off and turn back on the power, moves the furniture around so she won't get tripped up on it when she's fighting Mitch. He comes home later that night and we get the big show down between the two of them and I do love the scene where Slim smacks Mitch and he says he doesn't want to fight and she goes, "Oh, so now you can't hit back? You didn't have trouble hitting me when I was defenseless." It doesn't take long before he is pissed off and starts hitting back. There's a moment where she has an opportunity when he is (seemingly) conscious, but she can't  do it, so she calls her friend, but while on the phone, she gets attacked and knocked out by him. But she's not totally knocked out that she can't kick him in the groin and send him flying off the balcony to his death. Or something like that. I can't remember exactly how it went. She ends up reunited with her daughter (who she sent on a vacation with her friend and her children) and ends up with Joe. Yay.

I seriously felt like I was getting whiplash from this movie.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dreaming Of You

Director: Gregory Nava
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Edward James Olmos, Jon Seda, Jackie Guerra
Released: March 21, 1997

Late at night when all the world is sleeping...
I stay up and think of you...
and I still can't believe 
that you came up to me
and said, "I love you."
....I love you too!

That's my favorite line from my favorite Selena song. To be fair, I only know two of her songs: "Dreaming of You" and "I Could Fall in Love", both of which are featured in this movie, to nobody's surprise. This is a biopic about Selena Quintanilla (yes, she did have a last name!), a Mexican- American  growing up in Texas who started singing with her brother and sister when she was around 12 in a band her father created, then started branching out as a solo singer when she became a teenager. Even though she knew English (I believe it was her first language), she sung in Spanish so she was very popular with the Spanish-speaking population of America, and Mexico, of course. In fact, I just checked Wiki and it said her father had to teach her how to say the words phonetically, so she did not know Spanish. I guess he thought it would be an easier market than the English-speaking one! She was nominated for Best Mexican/American album (I had no idea that was even a category!) at the Grammys in 1994 and won which propelled her status with the rest of the world and was invited to make her first English-speaking album which came out the next year.

Now none of this really warrants a movie about someone's life. It's great to see someone slowly become more successful, but there were really no struggles that she had to go through (well, that's not totally true...she did have a couple, but we'll get to those later). But it's not like she was Tina Turner who literally came from nothing to make something of herself, only to have to endure with an abusive spouse. The reason that there is a biopic about Selena is because she was murdered at the very young age of 23. We'll get to who murdered her, and why and how and all that later. She was murdered in 1995 and this movie came out two years later (in fact, almost to the date as she was killed on March 31). It does seem like they were trying to capitalize on her death by having the movie released only a couple years know they probably made it only a year after she died. But if they got the family's permission (which I believe they did), then that's all that matters.

Before she was
Jennifer Lopez plays Selena. At the time, she wasn't J-Lo as we all know and love her. (Or not if you're not a J-Lo fan!) This was her first starring role. She was 28 and plays Selena from ages 17-23. She looks young enough that it's not an issue and when she plays teenaged Selena they do a good job with giving her a short haircut with bangs and dress her in denim shorts and clothes a teen would wear. Her hair was really dark...even more dark than when you see Lopez with dark hair, like it was almost black. When she had bangs, I could see "Selena" and forget that Jennifer Lopez was there...except when she talked because Jennifer Lopez always sounds like, well, Jennifer Lopez! But when she had her hair back and didn't have bangs, oh man, all I saw was Jennifer Lopez. Especially in this one scene where she's wearing a leather newsboy cap that totally screams J-Lo. All I could see was a young Jennifer Lopez. It was a little distracting. Of course, I'm seeing this movie all these years later after Jennifer Lopez has become a huge name in the business, so of course it's going to be distracting. At the time this movie was released, she had been in a few things, but hadn't become what she is now. But I think she did very well for her first starring role. When she sang, they used Selena's tracks over the song so you would hear her voice, which thank God, because Selena was a much better singer than J-Lo is! Plus it would be weird hearing J-Lo's voice singing Selena's songs!  Here is a photo of the real Selena next to Jennifer Lopez: 

The most interesting part of the movie and the thing she struggles with most is her relationship with her band's guitarist, Chris Perez (Jon Seda). Chris comes from a rough and tumble background that her father and manager (Edward James Olmos) does not approve of, but he plays one hell of a guitar which is why he got the gig. Her father is very strict with her. He does not like her wearing her studded brasiers, even though she would wear them with pants so it wasn't like she showing that much skin! Actually, the worst outfit she wears in the entire movie is what (appeared to be) was her final performance. She was wearing this purple jumpsuit and it was open at the stomach so you could see skin there...which was just really weird. Plus J-Lo and her Kim Kardishan-sized butt looked ridiculous in it. Maybe the real Selena pulled it off better, although she would still have that weird stomach baring circle of non-fabric. Her best outfit was the dress she wore at the Grammys. But I'm getting off topic...after her father discovered they were in a relationship, he yelled at both of them, accused Chris of only wanting to be with his daughter for her money,
fired Chris, yelled at Selena some more, she cried, he held his ground. Selena and Chris secretly stayed together, she would find time to sneak out to be with him. They eloped in 1992 and by this time she was a well-known figure within the Mexican-American community and her wedding was leaked on the radio right away, forcing Selena to tell her father. She had planned to tell him anyway...but wanted to give it a day or two before she did. He told her that at first he was angry, but then understood why she did it and he was proud of her and welcomed Chris to the family. I don't know if it went that smoothly in real life! Probably not!

Sometimes this movie played like a really bad episode of Ugly Betty, you know the hijinks of a Mexican-American family. But even Ugly Betty was never as bad as this movie got sometimes. For instance, there's a scene when a young-and-upcoming Selena is driving somewhere in a van with her brother and sister and it breaks down so they have to pull over by the side of the road. The brother tries to wave some cars down, but they pass, and Selena says, "Let me show you how it's done" and of course she gets the first car to pull over because she's beautiful and wearing skimpy clothes and there are two young guys in the car who pull over to help them. They get really excited when they realize the hot chick they're going to help is Selena and say in these really thick accents, "Ooh, eeet's Seeeleeeenaaaaa!" But that wasn't the worst part. No, the worse part is when they're about to call their dad to let them know that the van broke down and Selena says, "I can just see it now" and then she mocks her dad says, "You guys did what!?!?!?" Then cut to their father on the phone exclaiming, "You guys did what?!?!?" Oh my God, it was SO bad! So terrible! So cringeworthy. So awful. That was the worst example, but it was little things like that which didn't elevate the movie any higher.

There was another scene which I'm 150 percent sure never happened in real life and was only thrown in to the movie for comedic relief or the director was a huge fan of Pretty Woman. Selena has just been nominated for her first Grammy and takes her entourage to Los Angeles to go shopping.  When you think of Grammys and buying a dress for the event, where is the first place you would go? Probably NOT the mall....but that is where she and her sister (or a friend...I can't remember who was with her) go. What the hell? The freakin' mall? To buy a dress for the Grammys? Ridiculous. They do find a higher-end store because when Selena is looking at a dress, a saleswoman passes by and she says, "Excuse me, how much for this dress?" and the saleswoman sniffs and says, "More than you can afford. It's $700." Obviously she was being racist to this young Latino woman. Well, being that this is Los Angeles and Selena is popular with Mexican-Americans and L.A. is full of them (imagine that!), a Hispanic custodian sees Selena go into the dressing room and he starts passing the word on and soon all the Hispanic people who work at the mall are coming to that store and crowding into. The white, 40-ish saleswoman is really confused and has no idea what's going on. Selena has a very Vivian Ward moment where she tells the saleswoman, "I won't be needing that dress...but thanks." In the end, she chose a beautiful dress for the Grammys that did NOT look like it came from the damn mall!

For anyone watching this who wasn't familiar with Selena or her story, they would get very confused by her death scene. They don't actually show it, which I understand, probably out of respect for the family as it had only been two years since her death. But even I was like, "What the hell just happened?" even though I know that Selena was murdered by the woman who ran her fan club. She was appointed the job in 1994. In early 1995, Selena's father began receiving calls from people who never got their stuff. I would always see information about fan clubs in my CD booklets, but I never joined any so I have no idea what it all entailed. Do fan clubs still exist even? I honestly have no idea. He did an investigation and discovered that she had embezzled more than $60,000 from the money fans were sending in to join the fan club and from the fashion line Selena had. Holy crap. I forgot where Mr. Q found her, but didn't they do a background check on this woman? When Selena goes to confront her, this is when she was killed. I guess the woman was scared and she didn't want Selena to blab and go to the shooting someone will make it all better. If you think you're going to get some time for embezzling, I'm pretty sure you're gonna get some hard time for murder! Idiot. Hope she's enjoying her time in prison! And it's just really sad being that Selena was only 23 and had a bright future ahead of her as a rising star with her first English-language album just being released a few months later after her death. I remember "Dreaming Of You" and "I Could Fall in Love" being played all over the radio during that time.

In the movie, they show a bunch of cop cars at the motel where Selena went to talk to her murderer. Then you see her death being announced on TV and her family at the hospital looking very crushed and devastated. She was still alive after she was shot and was rushed to the hospital, but they couldn't save her. The part that made me really tear up was the end when they played "Dreaming of You" (of course!) and showed images of the real Selena from her various moments in life and footage of people mourning her death and placing flowers and cards as memorials.

And because the text doesn't do it any justice, here's the audio form of my favorite line from my favorite Selena song. Beautiful!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Maid to Order!

Maid in Manhattan
Director: Wayne Wang
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Stanley Tucci, Bob Hoskins
Released: December 13, 2002
Viewed in theaters: December 16, 2002

This movie is like a PG-rated version of Pretty Woman, only replace a prostitute with a hotel maid. As for as romantic comedies go, this one is meh. It's not great, but it's not horrible. Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes are fine in their roles, except they really don't have any chemistry with each other. Lopez is Marissa, a single mother of a ten year old boy, Ty. She works as a maid for a fancy New York Hotel where they receive many important guests. This includes Senator Chris (Fiennes) who is staying there with his assistant (Tucci) and dog. All I can tell you about Chris is that he's a Republican...I really don't remember anything else about his politics. Either because it was boring or because there really was nothing else.

The late, great Natasha Richardson plays socialite Caroline who is also staying at the hotel the same time as Chris. She is a bit demanding of Marisa, asking her to do this and do that. This includes taking back a designer outfit to the store that she doesn't want. In one of the stupidest scenes of the movie, while Marissa and a fellow maid friend are in the room with Marissa gathering the garment, her friend eggs her on to try on the outfit. It's white pants, a white sleeveless turtleneck, and a white coat. (Duh, it's the outfit in the above photo!) Marissa says no, she can't do that, but her friend says it's her size and it's going back to the store anyway so it doesn't belong to Caroline so what's the problem? Uh, because you shouldn't try on other people's clothes, you dolt!

Meanwhile, Ty is at the hotel because his dad couldn't pick him up for a trip they were suppose to take so Marissa has to watch him. I don't know why she didn't leave him with her mother, but instead brings him to work. He sneaks off from doing homework and runs into Chris and his assistant and dog in an elevator. Ty knows who he is and Chris is impressed with his knowledge of politics. We had already seen a scene earlier of Ty giving a speech on Richard Nixon, so you'd think the movie was establishing he was into politics, right? No, wrong! He did the speech on Nixon because he's obsessed with the '70s as J-Lo later tells Fiennes. WTF? What kind of kid from 2002 likes the '70s? Nobody likes the '70s! Horrible music, horrible fashion, horrible home furnishings! It's the decade that gave us The Brady Bunch for god's sake! I mean, c'mon!

So Chris tells Ty that he is taking his dog for a walk and Ty asks if he can come and Chris says sure why not. Okay, yeah, just go for a walk with Voldemort! But seriously, it's a little weird that Chris is letting a young boy take a walk with him. Like that's not going to be suspicious to people who see that in the paper. He tells Ty to get permission from his mom so he takes them all up to Caroline's suite (I guess she told him where she would be) and Marisa is wearing the all-white ensemble (and quickly hides the tag). She gives a "be quiet" motion to her son not to blow her cover and pretends to be the Caroline who is staying in the suite. She goes out for a walk with Chris in Central Park wearing that all white outfit. You think something is going to happen, like a rip or a stain, and while there is a moment of horror when a magazine gets stuck to her butt (don't ask), everything is fine and she is able to return the outfit to the closet (she never had time to return it to the store) safe and sound. And not only do they walk around Central Park, but they also go to the zoo. So you're outside for a couple hours and don't even get one little stain on all that white fabric? Uh huh.

Chris is very taken with "Caroline" and wants to meet her again. However, when he sends a note to the suite asking Caroline to meet him for lunch, the note gets to the real Caroline and she is giddy because she had met Chris before once and knew they had "shared a moment". Marisa and the head butler (Bob Hoskins) are there to help out (I don't know why they need two people to help serve two people eating lunch...) and Marissa has to hide herself so Chris doesn't see her. Remember, he doesn't know she's a maid and thinks she's a rich socialite! When Chris sees a white blond woman enter, he is very confused and asks where that hot Latina woman is. Okay, he didn't say that! He actually referred to her as "Mediterranean." Butler Hoskins realizes that it's Marissa he's referring to and lets her leave so she can quit hiding behind flower vases and tea pots.

While driving somewhere, Chris sees Marissa and Ty walking and pulls over to talk to them. He tells them he's going to the Bronx to...I don't remember....and Marissa says "Blah, blah, you can't learn everything from just visiting there once. You didn't grow up there like I did or live there like I do." You think that this is going to be a political movement that will bring them closer together. Maybe Marissa will point out some issues that need to be addressed within her home district and he will bring awareness to it, but no, it never goes there.

He invites her to some ball, and Marissa still keeping up the charade, gets all dolled up in her Cinderella moment. There she runs into Caroline who recognizes her and outs her in front of Chris and everybody and accuses her of wearing her clothes. Somehow she found out about that...I forgot how. Marissa is fired and Chris is angry she lied to her. Who really cares. They only spent a day walking in a park and then had a one night stand after the Cinderella dance. But then Ty brings them back together and they become one of New York's most high profiled couple! GROAN!

Oh, I forgot to mention another really stupid scene: Marissa needs something, so she goes down to the hotel's gift shop (I'm assuming) and the woman at the register is talking on the phone and it's obvious she's talking with a friend and not helping out a customer and she's just blowing off Marissa and the other people behind her until Marissa finally yells at her and tells her to do her damn job. This scene is only in here to establish that Marissa would make a fine good manager, a job that her friend has applied her for. I have never seen somebody in customer service blatantly ignoring a customer while talking to a friend on the phone. You would have to be PRETTY STUPID to do that!

The more I think about it, the more stupid this movie is!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Simply the Best

What's Love Got To Do With It?
Director: Brian Gibson
Cast: Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Jennifer Lewis, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Khandi Alexander, Chi McBride
Released: June 25, 1993

Oscar nominations:
Best Actress - Angela Bassett (lost to Holly Hunter for The Piano)
Best Actor - Laurence Fishburne (lost to Tom Hanks for Philadelphia)

I was a big fan of Tina Turner's music before I saw this movie and knew about her past with the abusive Ike Turner, but after watching this, I had a whole new appreciation for the struggles she went through and how she became a superstar recording artist. This is probably one of the better music biopics I've seen. It's based on an autobiography Tina Turner wrote called I, Tina. The movie mainly focuses on her meeting Ike Turner and how she became a recording artist. We do get a few scenes of her as a little girl, then named Anna Mae Bullock (while I did know that Tina Turner wasn't her given name, I couldn't have told you her birth name prior to seeing this film) growing up in Nutbush, Tennessee. Now that song "Nutbush City Limits" makes a lot of sense! "They call it Nutbush! Oh, Nutbush! Nutbush city limits! Nutbush city!" On the Nutbush, TN Wiki page, it says that "Nutbush is best known as the home of Tina Turner." Who would have thought? That's probably the only thing they're known for (it's a town with a population of a little over a thousand people).  You have to admit that's a pretty impressive thing to be known for. What are the odds that a town with such a small population would have produced one of the world's most successful singers? And I'm sure you'll find many signs like this if you drive through it:

The movie establishes her love of singing as we see her as a young girl singing (very loudly) in the church choir. She is so disruptive and obnoxious that the choir director kicks her out! As a teenager, she relocates to St. Louis where she sees Ike Turner (Laurence Fishburne), the bandleader of a band called Kings of Rhythm, perform at a bar. The ladies think Ike is very smooth and charismatic and every time his band plays "Darlin', You Know I Love You" (a song I was not aware of prior to seeing this film), he lets one of his many admirers try her hand at singing, but will take the mic away is she gets booed for being awful. Anna Mae and her sister go back to the club and when the song is played, her sister convinces her to take the mic and sing. Anna Mae had been practicing the song and is embarrassed when her sister and mother catch her singing it into the bathroom mirror. This is the scene where Anna Mae catches Ike's eye (and ear!)

Obviously Angela Bassett is lip-synching with Tina Turner's voice dubbed in. I believe Tina provided all the vocal tracks for the film. Which you kind of need because she has such a distinctive singing voice. It's hard to imagine anyone else but Angela Bassett in the iconic role because she is so great in it, but there were other big names up for the part including Whitney Houston. That would have been really weird to see a really popular singer play a....really popular singer. I know they would have made her up to look like Tina and any signs of Whitney Houston would have vanished, but it still would be weird. Plus, let's be honest, while Whitney was a great singer, she really wasn't that great in the acting department. Okay, at best. Everyone knows that Angela Bassett can act circles around her. There's really no contest.

Anna Mae becomes ones of Ike's back up singers, known as the Ikettes. She is clearly the best singer and becomes Ike's favorite. This is where the movie starts to move fairly fast. Anna Mae moves in with Ike, gets pregnant, they get married in Mexico, they have a baby boy. We get a very quick scene where Ike tells Anna Mae that new name is Tina Turner. There's no explanation on why 'Tina" was chosen. Perhaps he likes alliteration?

Soon Ike and Tina Turner become a sensational duo and are writing and recording hits and making lots of money and are soon able to afford a nice house with a pool and furnished with nice stuff. Ike is angry at Tina for buying so much stuff and tells her she needs to sing the songs he's writing for her better and she offends him by saying all his songs are starting to sound the same. This results in the first time we see Ike get physically abusive towards her and it's pretty harrowing to watch. He is slapping her, dragging her, punching her, cussing at her in front of their children (their biological son and Ike's two sons from a previous marriage whose ex-wife (Khandi Alexander) had dropped off at their house one day and both adults are arguing RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN. Real nice!)

At one point, Tina tries to escape when she leaves the house in the middle of the night and takes the children with her to her mother's. They take a bus and while at a pit stop, she has her son, but is trying to find her step-sons and finds them by Ike's car. He had found them and threatens for Tina to get into the car with him and the children.

While performing some of their latest hits on an American Bandstand-type show (maybe that was the show),  Tina and Ike are approached by Phil Spector who wants to record a song with Tina. Ike mistakes this and thinks this means BOTH of them, but no, he only wants Tina. The song is "River Deep, Mountain High" and this was the first song played in the movie that I was familiar with. This was around 1965 and this is where Tina starts becoming much more popular than Ike which makes him jealous and makes him more irate which only results in more beatings for Tina. He even rapes her in their home recording booth after beating her up and getting angry at her for the way she's singing a song.

Of course we get a scene of Ike and Tina singing what is their most well-known song, "Proud Mary". In fact, this song is so synonymous  with them, that I always thought they were the original writers/singers of the song and all the covers came after them, but it was first recorded by the band, Creedence Clearwater Revival. But ask anybody who sings that song and I'll guarantee you they'll say, "Tina Turner".

At one point, Ike beats Tina so bad that she ends up in the hospital and she is visited by one of the former, Ikettes, Jackie (Vanessa Bell Calloway), one of Tina's closest friends. She has always pleaded for Tina to leave Ike. She turns Tina onto Buddhism which helps her calm herself and gather her thoughts. It gives her confidence and tt's the turning point for her when she and Ike are staying in a swanky hotel while on tour and Ike beats Tina so bad that she has blood all over her face. She runs out of the room and out of the hotel, crosses a busy street with cars honking everywhere and goes to a cheaper hotel where she asks to speak to the manager and says, "My name is Tina Turner and I need a room. I only have 32 cents in my pocket but I promise I will pay you back." Of course they accommodate her.

That incident was the final straw and soon Ike and Tina are in court. Tina says that Ike can have all the rights to their songs and keep all their material possessions and pretty much everything else. The only thing she wants to keep is her name. She is so confident in her ability to build herself up with her name and talent that she doesn't care if she looses everything she's earned along the way. This makes Ike angry (what else is new?) and says that was the name he gave her and that she should be stripped of it if she is leaving him, but the judge lets her keep her famous household name.

Obviously we know who the real winner is. Tina Turner went on to become one of the most famous recording artists in the world and is worth millions of dollars. After breaking up with Ike in 1978, she began working on her solo career and in 1984 released an album with all the songs I'm most familiar with like "What's Love Got To Do With It?" and "Private Dancer." Just as I did with Michael Jackson Madonna, and Whitney Houston, she is one of the artists I grew up with so of course I'm mostly familiar with her '80s music. (Although of course I knew "Proud Mary" as a child). She went on to record many popular hits. She's won eight Grammys.  I know she now resides in Switzerland. I remember she was living in the south of France at one time (I think it was Nice?) and about ten years ago InStyle magazine did an article (complete with gorgeous photos) of her estate. Tina Turner's life is just fine. Ike, on the other hand, became known as being a wife abuser and never really elevated to any fame besides being the ex-husband (and abuser) of Tina Turner. He's only known for being a bad guy, really. He spent some time in jail for drug-related charges, continued his drug habit with cocaine and died in 2007. His life did not turn out so well.

The movie ends with Tina singing her new hit single (at the time), "What's Love Got To Do With It?" because you couldn't NOT have that song in this movie! It's kind of cool because you see Angela Bassett in the famous Tina Turner shag wig sing it and then it shows the real Tina Turner singing the song at a huge stadium. While Angela and Tina have completely different shaped faces and facial features, their bodies are very physically similar and Angela emulates Tina's stage mannerisms so well. You know that she did her homework with studying Tina during her performances.

Highly recommended; I might even go so far as to say that this is my favorite music movie biopic.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What a Feeling

Inside Out
Directors: Pete Doctor and Ronald Del Carmen
Voice Talent: Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Richard Kind, Diane Lane, Kyle McLachlan, Kaitlyn Dias
Released: June 19, 2015
Viewed in theaters: June 22, 2015

Congratulations, Pixar, you've done it again! You've managed to make me cry like a baby while watching one of your films. This is the first Pixar movie I've seen in the theater since Toy Story 3 in 2010 and the first new Pixar movie I've watched since seeing Brave on DVD in early 2013, but the wait was worth it. I loved it. It's really hard for Pixar to do any wrong. And this one ranks on the higher end of their list. I made sure to attend the 9 pm show to make sure there weren't any kids around. I have had made the mistake of seeing Pixar movies in the middle of the afternoon with tons of screaming kids and no, I will not ever make that mistake again and I never did. Ironically, I saw Jurassic World at 9 pm and there were kids everywhere! Including a few younger than the age of five! WTF? The youngest people at my Inside Out viewing were teenagers. 

Spoilers ahoy! (See this movie!)

They take an interesting approach with this movie as the emotions in an eleven year old girl's heads are the characters and take the "controls" for whenever Riley (the young girl) is feeling a certain emotion. 

Anger, Disgust, Joy, Fear, and Sadness

The emotions are Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). There is a memory vault of the emotions that Riley acquires and each memory is represented by its emotion's corresponding color. Joy is represented by yellow and therefore most of Riley's emotions are yellow. (You can see in the above pictures the colored orbs behind the characters...those are the memories). Joy is very proud that the majority of Riley's memories have been happy and takes great pride in that. Riley loves her life in Minnesota. She has many friends, loves to play hockey, and joke around with her mom and dad (voiced by Diane Lane and Kyle McLachlan). Joy couldn't ask for anything better and thinks nothing will ever go wrong until the family moves to San Francisco causing all the emotions panic. 

Nothing goes right with the move. Riley doesn't like her new house and the moving van has gotten lost along the way. She has trouble making friends at her new school and misses Minnesota. (And I loved how it was always "Minnesota" - because nobody knows any cities in that state!) As Joy explains to us, part of Riley's mind is creating Personality Islands. These help define Riley and make her who she is. These include Friendship Island, Family Island, Hockey Island, etc. However, these start to crumble as Riley loses interest in hockey because it's not the same to her anymore or getting angry at her best friend back home.

Riley's mother tells her she knows that moving has been tough on her and that she wants her to stay strong and be her "happy girl" as Riley is known for being positive most of the time. Riley tries to do that for her parents, but it's gotten to be too much for her. This rings very true for me and I'm sure many others as sometimes you feel like you need to be happy/positive for the sake of others, but inside you are anything but.

Meanwhile, inside her head, Joy is trying to keep Riley happy while also making sure Sadness doesn't get anywhere near the controls or turn one of Riley's memories into a sad one. She draws a circle for Sadness to stand in and keep all the sadness in that small circle. Joy doesn't want Sadness to be an overwhelming emotion for Riley.

Somehow, Joy and Sadness get sucked out of "headquarters" and end up in Riley's subconscious where, in order to get back to the control room, they have to get through Long term Memory while hitching a ride on the Train of Thought and along the way they enter Imagination Land and Dream Productions. They even go through a section which was Abstract Thought. I'm pretty sure that one flew over all the kiddies' heads! 

Joy's and Sadness's trek to get back to Headquarters is a journey and meanwhile, Anger, Disgust, and Fear have become the main emotions for Riley which results in her back talking and yelling at her parents. There was one scene where we saw her parents' own emotions inside their heads and it made me cringe a little because it was very stereotypical: the wife's emotions are nagging at the husband because he isn't paying attention and doesn't notice that their daughter is unhappy and the husband's emotions aren't paying attention because they are thinking of the game and don't know why the wife is wanting his attention. It's the only part of the movie that's just really stupid and we've seen this joke a thousand times. 

Along the way, Joy and Sadness meet Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Riley's imaginary friend from her younger days who is part elephant, part cat, and part dolphin. He agrees to take the two of them back to HQ. I loved the scene where they garbage-man type characters who are sucking up some of Riley's memories and protests this until one of them tells her that Riley doesn't need to know all the name of all the Pretty Princess Ponies (I forget exactly what it was...but it was something to that effect). I loved this because I actually do remember most of the names of my My Little Ponies. I actually have a lot of useless and stupid information stored in my brain! They also erase all her memories of the piano pieces she's learned except for "Heart and Soul" and "Chopsticks". But of course! 

All throughout the movie, Joy has been very dismissive of Sadness, not having any time for her depression. And I know this is going to sound weird, but Sadness made me laugh so much. Just her delivery and Debbie Downer-ness was great. "I'm too sad to walk." She was really kind of a pathetic little thing. But she has a very nice moment with Bing Bong when he cries about Riley forgetting about him and listens to him and lets him cry it out. When Joy and Sadness finally get back (and not without tears from me as their journey is not without trials and tribulations!), Joy pushes Sadness to the controls and Riley, who has decided to run away and has become emotion-less at this point the other emotions have gotten the control boards jammed, just becomes overwhelmed with sadness and she returns homes to her parents who are relieved to see her and she is just crying and telling them all the feelings she's been holding in. Then her parents start crying, I start crying, I'm sure everyone else in my theater was crying! It was so sad!  All along you knew that Sadness was going to play a major role and she does. This movie points out that it's OKAY to be sad and it's perfectly natural emotion. 

It's kind of hard to explain this movie, but once you see it, it makes a lot more sense. It's very clever filmmaking and the story is great and heartwarming. It made me laugh and cry so it definitely got all my emotions in overdrive!  Highly recommended.

I loved the end because they showed different minor characters and their emotions at work. We see Riley bump into a boy her age and all his emotions are freaking out and yelling, "GIRL, GIRL, GIRL!" We even see the emotions of a dog and a cat. The cat made me laugh so much because it's so true. Its emotions are just wandering around and not paying attention and doing whatever they want.

The emotions notice a new button has popped up among the controls and pronounce the word as "Pooo-bore-tee". Hehe. Is a sequel in the works?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Welcome to

Jurassic World
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jake Johnson, BD Wong
Released: June 12, 2015
Viewed in theaters: June 16, 2015

If you remember, a few years back I posted my top ten most memorable movie experiences and, of course, Jurassic Park made the cut.  After my brother had seen it with his friends and  hearing him rave about it, I didn't want to be left out and wanted to see it too so my mom took me. The movie scared me so much....and so did my mom as she kept grabbing me every time something scary happened and that scared me more sometimes! But I loved seeing those movie dinosaurs come to life and had a lot of fun watching it, that I didn't mind I almost had a heart attack a couple times during the duration of the film!

The last time I saw Jurassic Park was July 2007 so I would like to revisit it and write a review. I don't have any plans on re-watching its two god-awful sequels (both last seen in August 2007) so don't expect anything on those. Remember that scene where Malcolm's daughter does a gymnastics trick to take out one of the velociraptors? bad. Not surprisingly, Jurassic World is heaps better than the sequels...not that that's hard to do! It would have to be a terrible, crappy movie to be worse than those films! However, nothing can top the magic that is the original. And this movie knows it and pays homage to it.

Let me first start off by saying I really enjoyed this movie and had a lot of fun watching it. I did jump several times, said "Oh, shit" aloud a couple times (even though there was a toddler sitting in front of my friend and me...yes a toddler...I don't think she was paying attention or could hear me since the movie was so loud), and even did the put-my-hands-to-my-face-in-shock-and-horror move once (which I also did a lot when I watched Breaking Bad!) It definitely got a reaction out of me. So before I go into spoiler territory, I highly recommend it and think everyone should go and watch it, especially if they were a fan of the original, because they have lots of hidden (well, not so hidden as they're overtly out in the open!) gems throughout.

Spoilers ahoy! Don't read any further if you don't want any surprises! And if you're going to continue to read, go ahead and play the Jurassic Park theme song...I know you have it on your iTunes!

Okay, so it's been 22 years since the events of the first park happened (and 22 years since Jurassic Park played in theaters, coincidentally!) and even though that didn't go so well, the new and improved Jurassic World has been operating for ten (? - I didn't quite catch how many) years without a hitch. You will also have to keep in mind that the movie is smart to pretend the two sequels never happened, so there was never a T-Rex running around in San Francisco or wherever the hell it got lose in the second movie (*faceplam*). They treat the events of the first park as a 9/11-type event. One of the operators wears a vintage Jurassic Park t-shirt and is admonished by his supervisor because wearing it is in poor taste of what happened 22 years ago. Shouldn't they at least be happy that all the main characters survived that horrific event?

Bryce Dallas Howard plays Claire, the operating manager of the park. I have to tell you a (somewhat) funny story. When I first saw the trailer, I just assumed the redheaded woman was Jessica Chastain and I was listening to a podcast about upcoming summer movies and this one was naturally brought up and one of the hosts said it starred Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard and the other one says, "Wait, that's not Jessica Chastain?" which made them both laugh. I was just as surprised as he was because that's who I thought it was all along until I heard that! Anyway, so Claire is very business-like and buttoned up and takes her job seriously and is always looking for ways to keep the park ratings up and get money from sponsors for new and exciting exhibits. This includes introducing a new species of dinosaur that they genetically created called the Indominus Rex, which will be the film's Big Bad. It is the size of a T-Rex (but with longer arms!) with the smarts of a raptor. It has also been genetically given other useful traits from other reptiles and amphibians which helps it be as evil as it wants. Claire mentions that they want to give a new and exciting dinosaur to the public and that viewing the same dinosaurs has the same effect as viewing an elephant at a zoo and that's why they need something new to entice their audience.

Okay, movie. Time out. TIME OUT! WTF? No, just no. That is the sorriest excuse I've ever heard. Yes, the park has been opened for at least ten years, but there's only one place in the world you can go to see real-life dinosaurs: a little island off the coast of Costa Rica called Isla Nublar.  You know the entrance fee's got to be steep, plus you gotta pay for airfare and a place to stay. Most people will probably not have the opportunity to go to this magnificent park, so maybe it's just the same rich people and their families going every year and that's why their spoiled and whiny kids are getting so bored looking at a triceratops or a stegosaurus. "Wah, wah, I'm bored looking at these magnificent animals that have been extinct millions upon millions of years and were only brought back in the span of my lifetime by the wonder of science but I have never known a world without dinosaurs so I don't give a shit and I want to see something new..wah, wah, wah!" That's what it felt like to me, anyway! If John Hammond were still alive, he would never have agreed to such a monstrosity!

Chris Pratt plays Owen, a guy who lives in a shack on the island and works and communicates with the raptors. Now all the raptors from the first movie were killed off, correct? So who thought it would be a good idea to create new raptors? They're only the park's most vicious animal! They didn't make that chirping dinosaur with the clown collar that spit poison into Newman's eyes! (According to Wikipedia, that was a dilophosaurus). So why did they think it was a good idea to give life to more raptors? Okay, yeah, I know a Jurassic Park movie just wouldn't be the same without its raptors! I was a little worried because the previews showed Pratt's character riding his motorcycle among the raptors and another scene had him enclosed with the raptors and it looks like he's in control of them. He appeared to be the Raptor Whisperer and the thought of the raptors becoming pets just made me roll my eyes. While Owen is somewhat of a Raptor Whisperer as he does build a relationship (built on trust) with them, it's not exactly that they're his loyal pets. We find out he is only in the enclosure with them because a new guy who works there has fallen in (and that was the first time I said, "Oh, shit!" aloud - I thought for sure that guy was a goner!) and Owen runs in and has the guy slowly back away as he tries to calm the raptors while telling the other guys not to shoot or otherwise the raptors will never trust him again.

There are four raptors. Their names are Blue, Charlie, Delta, and Echo. Blue is the Beta. Do you see a pattern? "Who is the Alpha?" Tim Murphy 2.0 asks Owen. "You're looking at him," Owen replies. If you didn't already know, Owen is a basically a badass. Although I would probably argue that the raptors would disagree with who the alpha is!

Tim 2.0 is Gray (Ty Simpkins) a kid who is visiting Jurassic World with his older brother, Zach (Nick Robinson). Their aunt is Claire, but she is too busy too show them around, so she has her assistant, Zara, chaperone them. They get bored at the dino petting zoo and ditch her. The dino petting zoo was the cutest thing ever! Little kids could ride baby triceratops and baby stegosauruses. One kid hugged a baby brontosaurus and it was just so stickin' cute! They see a water show attraction of the mosasaurus, this aquatic dinosaur that appears to be 100 times bigger than a great white shark as it eats a shark and it looks like a guppy in comparison! You have to wonder how much it costs to feed this thing (not to mention all the other huge animals that are in the park...I am surprised they aren't bankrupt!)

Claire wants Owen to inspect the exhibit for the Indominus Rex to make sure it is safe before they unveil her to the public. It's not exactly safe yet as she has already tried to break the glass! Here is where we get a scene where everybody but the dinosaur acts like morons. Instead of cameras, they use thermal sensors to find the dino, but it is not showing anything anywhere. Owen notices some claw marks on a wall and it appears as though the I-Rex has escaped. Instead of Claire calling the control center to have them pinpoint where the I-Rex is IMMEDIATELY (all the dinos have tracking devices),  she decides to wait until she is in her car and driving back to headquarters and Owen has already gone into the enclosure with the guard (who is overweight and you immediately know he is gonna be dino-chow!) and some other worker (who is also a tasty meal) to assess the wall. Claire is told that the dinosaur is still in its habitat and she screams and tells them to get everyone out of there. Uh...why wasn't this the first thing they did? If they had just checked to make sure where it was before they started opening doors and letting huge-ass dinosaurs out, this would have never happened! Also, I would like to point out that there were construction workers who were making the walls higher so if they noticed that they were all gone due to being eaten, then yes, maybe they should have been concerned, but didn't they think to check on the workers and ask them if they had seen anything suspicious? We later find out the I-Rex has attained a gene where it can hide from thermal sensors AND it can also camouflage itself which is pretty cool.
Little Foot and Cera!

The boys are the last ones to get on the Gyroscope ride before it is ordered to close down due to a "technical difficulty". This ride is the most ridiculous thing ever. Instead of it being on a track, you can just roam around anywhere you please. True, they were only in the "vegetarian" dinosaurs' land, but some of those dinosaurs are HUGE and could easily stomp on that glass ball and some of them have horns and could ram into them. Even though Jimmy Fallon tells them they are very safe, we soon learn they are not when Zach wants them to go off roads into a restricted area. There they come across the I-Rex and there's a scene very similar to the one in the first movie when Lex and Tim are in the Jeep being attacked by the T-Rex.  The boys manage to run away and jump off a cliff into a lake. The I-Rex just sorts of looks down at the water like, "Where did my snacks go?" This dinosaur is freaking 50 feet tall....jumping off a cliff probably wouldn't be a big deal for it, but she just turns and walks away.

Then we come to the part of the movie which I call the Nostalgia Scene. The kids come across the old building of the first movie and we see the banner that reads "When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth" and the bones of the dinosaur skeleton that the T-Rex knocked down when it was attacking the raptors. We also see the night vision goggles that Tim wore and the '92 Jeep they rode in. It would have been so cool if they had gone into the kitchen...didn't Sam Neil trap a raptor in a freezer? I really need to watch that movie again! And, of course, while they are discovering the remains of the old Jurassic Park, the theme song is playing. It is just awesome and I loved it. I loved my Jurassic Park shoutouts! Speaking of shoutouts, I guess someone is seen reading Ian Malcolm's book, but I didn't catch that. I did, however, see Mr. DNA (that cartoon DNA thread) make a small cameo. I always loved how he pronounced "Dyno-saaaahs!"

The Indominus Rex is four miles from any attraction and has only killed two employees and the entire tac team they send to take it down. So far the civilians (well, except for Gray and Zach) have been out of harm from it. It is only when the I-Rex breaks into the aviary where chaos ensues. Scores of pteranodons and pterodactyls are released and fly to the center square where they start attacking everyone. This makes me wonder how the aviary worked. Was there a net between the animals and the public? This is where Claire and Owen reunite with the boys and Owen and others are shooting down the flying reptiles. This is also the scene where we get the most gruesome death, not just from this movie, but probably from ANY of the Jurassic movies. Remember Zara? Claire's assistant whose only crime was not watching the two boys because she was too busy talking on her phone? She gets a very horrific and gruesome death that is usually reserved for the really bad people in these movies; you know, the ones who really deserve it. But because the bad guy of this movie will be killed by a raptor (and we'll get to that later), they really didn't have anyone else to spare for this death so I guess Zara was the chosen one. She is picked up by a pteranodon (or maybe it was the other one...), then dropped in mid air before she is scooped up by another, then she is dropped into the lagoon, but the two birds fly in to get her and she is tossed around for awhile, before, finally, the mosasaurus eats both her and the pteranodon. It just went on and on! These were nasty birds! They were even trying to pick up a baby triceratops by its saddle which made me very upset! Luckily it was too heavy for it and wasn't carried off!

So the bad guy I mentioned before is played by Vincent D'Onofrio and he likes how Owen can "train" the raptors and think they should weaponize them and have them trained in combat so they can seek out and kill the enemy. It's pretty much the stupidest idea ever. He's a very slimy character and the raptors snarl at him whenever he gets close to their cage and you just know he is going to get killed by one. And he does. Who didn't see that one coming? He puts his arm out to try to calm the raptor like he's seen Owen do before, but the raptor just bites his hand off. Chomp! But before he goes, he wants Owen and a team of his men to follow the raptors to the I-Rex so the raptors can help take it down. But it turns out the I-Rex is part raptor and can communicate with them and Owen is no longer the Alpha! D'Onofrio and his team are all killed within minutes, but Owen, Claire, and the boys manage to escape with the raptors chasing them. One raptor was killed back when they were hunting the I-Rex, but the other three have the four humans cornered, but Owen somehow manages to calm them down and have them be on his side, so when the I-Rex appears again, she is attacked by the raptors, but really, what can they do? They may be smart, quick, and vicious, and very good at killing people, but they are small compared to the I-Rex and their attempts at attacking her are noble, but not working. Claire notices this and goes to the paddock where the T-Rex is and has her let out. Before this, we had only seen a snippet of the T-Rex when the brothers go to view her. Now it is its time to shine! Claire is wearing high heels and waits until the T-Rex is only a half foot behind her before she starts running. Take off your damn shoes so you don't fall and break your ankle! When she reaches the I-Rex, the T-Rex starts attacking it and Claire collapses right behind one of the T-Rex's foot and in front of the tail. Um, why don't you move so you're out of the way? Good Lord! But she and the others manage to escape to safety while they watch the two dinosaurs fight.

By this time there is only one raptor left. I'm assuming it's Blue as she's the one who seems to be Owen's favorite. I remember seeing two other raptors getting killed, but I don't know how the third one died. There's a slow motion scene where Blue runs at and attacks the I-Rex. It's a very heroic scene, but it just cracked me up how it was done. Remember how the T-Rex was the hero in the first movie? Well, in this movie the hero is the mosasaurus because while the T-Rex and I-Rex are fighting right by the lagoon, it leaps up and grabs the I-Rex by the neck and takes it into the water. Damn, how hungry is this giant crocodile? It's already had a great white shark, a pteranodon, a human, and now a huge-ass dinosaur! And all in one day!

Blue and the T-Rex acknowledge each other and go on their merry way. Everyone has been evacuated safely off the island and the boys are greeted by their tearful parents. Claire and Owen have already kissed, but they share a moment. The T-rex climbs to the top of a mountain. RAWWWWWWWRRRRRR!

A very fun and entertaining movie, but lots of little things that didn't quite make sense.