Review: Wicker Man (2006) | Scott-Bakula.com

Wicker Man (2006)

Wicker Man (2006)
Wicker Man (2006)

I consider this film horror-suspense, because it is neither one nor the other. The film exists at the intersection of horror and suspense, in my opinion. The only “horror,” strictly speaking, concerns “the evil men do,” as it were.

This is a suspense film, as I would have it, because we are at least led to believe (as is the protagonist) that Nicholas Cage, the central character, has to do something within a general time-window in order to avert disaster.

When the “moment of truth” arrives, we will see that the would-be hero’s efforts are for naught, that is to say, irrelevant. In the place of resolution, there is the horror I referred to.

Let’s slow down and back up a little.

Let me start by saying that I shall have to break one of my rules, and discuss the end of this movie. I give fair warning to all of you squeamish about “spoilers,” and all that.

My first reaction, upon seeing the film, was to be angry with it, as I was (and still am) with M. Night Shaymalan’s The Village. Like “The Village,” I believed Wicker Man to have been a film that was not honest with itself, let’s say.

My rage against The Village, has to do with my belief that the story was based upon a fragile, unsupportable premise. My first reaction upon seeing Wicker Man, was to feel that initial pang.

Nicholas Cage plays a police officer, who finds himself investigating the disappearance of some ten-eleven-twelve-year-old girl, on an island village community. I might mention here that this film is a remake of the 1973 original.

Here’s how everything unfolds…

It turns out that the girl in question, is his daughter, from a relationship he had had with a young woman from that village community, years ago, obviously. But Cage had not known that he was a father.

Okay, moving along…

It turns out that the girl is not really missing, or in danger of any kind.

Then it turns out that the young woman, who is the daughter of the village high priestess, and the little girl herself, astonishingly, were in on a plot to lure Cage to the village, so that he may be killed, sacrificed to the “Wicker Man,” by fire.

It turns out that literally the entire—and I mean the entire—village was in on the plot to lure Cage to his death; each played a specific role.

You see, Cage was deliberately misled to believe that a young girl, his daughter, was in danger of being killed, for some reason.

I just want to emphasize that every single member of the village community was in on this plot.

The reason the village did all of this was to appease their pagan fertility gods. They had been having a tough time with their honey production; and jump starting it, apparently requires human sacrifice. However, not just any human sacrifice will do.

The offering must be both a stranger and yet connected to them, as in, say, a father of a child with one of the village women, according to “prophecy.”

Anyway, the film ends with Nicholas Cage being burned to death in the giant, wicker, vaguely man-shaped statue. After that, there is a scene in which a couple of good looking young women go into the big city, on a deadly double date; because the object is to ensnare another victim for the Wicker Man.

Now…

The reason my first reaction to this film was a pang of anger, was, ultimately, the reason this film is so chilling and disturbing and good. You see, I found myself feeling a feeling of contemptuous dismissal of the “religion” of the villagers. I found myself thinking that the villagers were nothing but serial killers, operating on the justification of a pagan fertility cult.

You see, at first I found this to be a reason to think the film wasn’t being honest with itself. But then, thinking about it some more, I decided that that was precisely what made the film so brilliant! We were given a look at a new kind of serial killer.

This is not one, or two, or three, or even a group of psychopathic killers. No, it was an entire village community, linking up like the Voltron Lions, or something, to create one, gigantic, amalgamated killer. It was literally everybody in that community, coming together to kill.

Yes, the fertility gods say it is absolutely necessary; but if you watch the film’s ending, the “big reveal,” as it were, you understand quite clearly, that this community, this amalgam “Voltron” serial killer(s) really, really, really enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Each person who spoke, talking about how they had trapped Cage, could not keep a certain glee out of their voices.

Here’s what I’m saying…

Instead of a film that is not, as I previously put it, “not honest with itself,” Wicker Man with Nicholas Cage (2006), is a chilling, disturbing, and quite excellent “horror-suspense” film. The film is a remake of the 1973 original, which, I understand, the Nicholas Cage version is often unfavorably compared to by professional critics.

Obviously, I do not agree. In fact, I believe that the Cage version has a shot at becoming a classic in its own right.

Let me wrap this up by pointing out two things, that I see as making Wicker Man (2006) a powerful, chilling, disturbing, and quite excellent horror-suspense film.

1. This film offers us something relatively new, though it was first introduced in the 1973 original version, as far as I can tell. I am speaking of a new kind of serial killer. Its not one individual; its not two individuals working together; its not three or more people working in concert.

It is an entire village, including the children, who, collectively, make up the serial killer. On their own, as individuals, these people would not, perhaps, be killers. But together, under the justification of their pagan religious beliefs, something happens to them.

What about religion?

Well, what about it? As far as we know (from the movies, anyway), all serial killers operate out of some kind of underwriting psychological or supernatural justification. Its rarely claimed that the kill simply because they enjoy killing, though they clearly do.

The village community on the island do not claim to embark upon homicide lightly. They do so, they say, on behalf of their pagan fertility rites. That may be true, but they really enjoy the thrill of the hunt, for victims to feed to the “Wicker Man.”

2. This film turns the “country bumpkin”- “city slicker” axis on its head. Let’s call the villagers the ostensible “country bumpkins,” if you will.

You know, the fictional private ‘consulting detective,’ Sherlock Holmes, frequently said that the greatest horrors were likely to happen, not in the crowded city, but out in the country, the isolated country, where there are not so many people around to hear your screams…

What is so chilling and dread-full about Wicker Man, is that the “country bumpkin” villagers actually use the “city slickers'” own sense of superiority (of sophistication) against them! The end of the film, as I said, features a scene in which two good looking young girls from the village go into the big city, on the prowl for another victim.

We see that yet another police officer (newly minted police officer) is selected. One gets the impression that the villagers’ preferred victims are police officers from the “big city.” By the way, recall how we are told (in the movies and television dramas) that serial killers all have a profile of their preferred victims.

And, it makes sense that the villagers’ preferred victims be police officers, if you think about it. What they need are victims with the courage and investigative curiosity to follow the breadcrumbs of the false trail into their trap.

Okay, that’ll do it.

Thank you so much for reading!

Review: The Rocketeer | Scott-Bakula.com

The Rocketeer

 

The Rocketeer
The Rocketeer

Background

In 1991, Joe Johnston and Walt Disney Pictures released The Rocketeer, based on the character of the same name created by comic book writer and artist Dave Stevens. Starring Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, Timothy Dalton, Terry O’Quinn, Paul Sorvino, and Tiny Ron Taylor, the film grossed $46.7 million at the box office. Nominated for the Hugo Awards for Best Dramatic Presentation and the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film, losing both to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the film won the Saturn Award for Best Costumes. It was also nominated for the Saturn Awards for Best Supporting Actress and Best Special Effects.

Synopsis

Set in 198 Los Angeles, stunt pilot Cliff Secord discovers a jetpack that enables him to fly and his ensuing heroic deeds not only attract the attention of Howard Hughes, but the FBI and some Nazi operatives who want the pack back.

Review

A comic book movie before comic book movies were wildly popular The Rocketeer is a pretty decent film with a fun story and some pretty fun characters, though with some interestingly unanswered questions.

It being based off a comic that was an homage to 1930s pulp magazines, the film’s story is purely good vs. evil, with Cliff against Neville Sinclair, who an operative for the Nazis. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some interesting turns of events that happen, especially with the film’s portrayal of the mob. Throughout most of the film, they’re working with Sinclair trying to get the jetpack and don’t think anything about who they’re working for. But it’s interesting to see that when Cliff reveals that Neville is a Nazi to the mob, they turn on him because they may not be making honest livings, but they’re Americans. And in the ensuing battle, the mob works with the FBI and it shows that even to the lower dregs of the American criminal underworld, they’re the good guys when it comes to the Nazis. And back to the goodness of Cliff, it’s notable that what he really wants to do when he’s got Jenny back from Neville is to give the jetpack back to Howard Hughes and the FBI.

 

The Rocketeer
The Rocketeer

 

And that really goes into the character of Cliff. The film portrays him as the quintessential good American against the traitorous Neville. Cliff, who’s also an ace pilot, just wants to do the right thing, fight crime and win the love of his life. And his characterization as the good American seems to be a self-aware moment for the film because when he’s about to launch himself onto the zeppelin at the climax, there’s a big American flag right behind him. He even defeats Neville without really killing him, giving him a jetpack that has a hole in the fuel tank. Compare all this to Neville, a Nazi spy who has everyone else, from his giant henchman to the mob, do his dirty work for him. He’s initially seen as an actor that plays heroic characters but is quite nasty off screen. And at the reveal, it shows just how much the man can act and that he was able to fool everyone by thinking he was some great American when he really wanted America to fall at Hitler’s hands.

But even with the decent aspects of the film, there’s still some silly aspects to it that either fails to answer a question or just makes no sense. For one, there’s the exhaust flame that comes out of the jetpack. While it does have a cooling feature to keep it from exploding, that doesn’t answer why the flame doesn’t burn the legs of whoever is flying on it. There’s also the influx of Nazi commandos at the end, which is essentially an act of war and it was witnessed by the FBI. Combine that with a video that outlines the Nazi’s plan to invade America, it means that the United States should have recognized said act and decided to take part in World War II. Or maybe they decided to cover everything up to not get involved and decide to not reveal the existence of the rocket. Or maybe they decided to backwards engineer it and history takes a turn further down into alternate history with WWII jetpacks. That’s something that should be explored.

Rocketing Up? or Crashing Down?

Though not without some flaws, The Rocketeer is still a pretty fun movie. While it won’t be going through either Threshold, it’ll get three stars and will land at #23 on the 1990-Recent Rundown.

Review: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure | Scott-Bakula.com

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

 

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

 

Background

In 1989, Stephen Herek released Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the first film in the Bill & Ted franchise. Starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin, Terry Camilleri, Dan Shor, Tony Steedman, Rod Loomis, Al Leon, Jane Wiedlin, Robert V. Barron and Clifford Davis, the film grossed $40.5 million at the box office. Eventually, the film spawned a sequel, two spin-off television series, a tie-in comic, a few video games and a Halloween show at Universal Studios Orlando and Hollywood. The city of San Dimas also celebrated 50 years of incorporation in 2010 with the slogan “San Dimas, 1960-2010 – An Excellent Adventure.”

Synopsis

Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted Logan, two air-headed rocker kids from San Dimas are so focused on their wannabe rock band that they’re in danger of failing their history class and being held back, which would make Ted’s father ship him off to a military academy in Alaska. However, a time traveler named Rufus offers them the use of his time machine to do the research needed to pass their assignment.

Review

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure may seem like a braindead buddy comedy at first, but looking into it, the film is not only clever in the intricacies of how it treats time travel, but has some wild characters that lead up to a really fun climax.

Interestingly enough, one of the first things the film does in regards to time travel is to break the rules with future Bill and Ted meeting their past selves to give them some helpful advice. And not only are those rules broken, it’s fun to see said rule broken to show that this film isn’t going to be like every time travel film before it. This leads to a fun question that ends up hurting one’s mind in that this meeting is where Bill and Ted learn Rufus’ name: from themselves and trying to think too much about that point will invariably cause one to remember the old MST3K mantra. But there’s other good stable time loops in the film, such as the duo needing Ted’s father’s keys to bust the historical figures out of jail, so they go back in time and place them behind a sign, leading Ted’s father to search for them during the beginning of the story. It’s clever. And the film also shows that the duo aren’t entirely braindead because they remind themselves that when their whole assignment is over, they need to go back and steal the keys.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

As for the characters, despite being total idiots, Bill and Ted are also portrayed as true friends who are genuinely nice guys, with the whole philosophy of “be excellent to each other and party on.” They both antagonize each other, but neither wants to be separated from the other and when it seems like Ted dies in the middle ages, Bill tries to avenge him and when it’s found that Ted doesn’t die, they share a bro hug. And that’s nothing to speak of the amount of historical characters found in the film, especially when it comes to Beethoven. When the clerk turns the synthesizer on, he has a look of amazement that shows he hasn’t lost his hearing yet and he’s just wildly enjoying being able to try out a new instrument and a new method of music production. The ensuing scene where’ he’s soon playing a symphony on several of them is a great addition to the film. Freud is also hilarious trying to psychoanalyze police interrogator after hitting on women unsuccessfully in the mall.

All of it leads up to a great climax as well, where they give their report where all the historical figures speak about themselves and their experiences in 1989. Really, the clincher is where Abraham Lincoln gives a speech that shows just what Bill and Ted’s teacher wants them to learn and then goes into detail about how Bill and Ted are his friends and friends with the other figures as well as their own philosophy being the exact same that he is dedicated to.

Excellent?

More fun than it initially seems, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is quite funny and a great film. It’ll get four stars and break through the Threshold of Enjoyment, coming in at #5 for the 1980-1989 Rundown.

Review: Welcome To The Punch | Scott-Bakula.com

Welcome To The Punch

 What’s the big deal?

“Welcome To The Punch” is a British action thriller film released in 2013 and is written and directed by Eran Creevy. It features James McAvoy and Mark Strong as the two leads and the film is executive produced by Ridley Scott and Liza Marshall of Scott’s own production company, Scott Free.

Welcome To The Punch

It is an attempt to emulate American-style action movies, with its heavy use of firearms, chase sequences and stylish villains, but in a modern, British setting. Sadly, it doesn’t really work and audiences agreed – the film failed to recoup its modest budget and disappeared from public consciousness fairly quickly.

What’s it about?

Career criminal Jacob Sternwood has left London behind, having gotten out of the business after injuring his nemesis DI Max Lewinsky. Sparing Max’s life, Sternwood leaves with his ill-gotten gains and flees the country to Iceland to lie low. Unfortunately, his son Ruan is left in London to grow up to form his own reputation but sadly, Ruan is not as successful as his father. Ruan is attacked by unknown assailants and Max believes that he knows who is responsible, forcing him to return to London to seek justice.

For Max, it gives him one last chance to put Jacob behind bars – a chance he’s been seeking ever since he was shot in the knee. Ignoring his fellow officers, his partner DS Sarah Hawks and even his superior Commander Geiger, Max will stop at nothing to get his revenge. But things aren’t always what they seem and soon, both Max and Jacob must confront a conspiracy that runs deeper than they could imagine…

Actor
Role
James McAvoy
DI Max Lewinsky
Mark Strong
Jacob Sternwood
Andrea Riseborough
DS Sarah Hawks
Elyes Gabel
Ruan Sternwood
David Morrissey
Commander Thomas Geiger
Daniel Mays
DCI Nathan Bartnick
Jason Flemyng
Harvey Crown
Technical Info

Director
Eran Creevy
Screenplay
Eran Creevy
Running Time
99 minutes
Release Date (UK)
15th March, 2013
Genre
Action, Thriller

What’s to like?

I assume that Creevy is a fan of Michael Mann films like “Collateral” because “Welcome To The Punch” looks very similar to that. The skyscrapers in the City of London offer a cold, steely backdrop to the action with their empty office windows twinkling like stars. The action is also of a high standard with necessary slow-motion sections and enough gun-fu to give John Woo a run for his money. McAvoy ditches his natural Scottish accent and adopts a convincing London one and opposite him, Strong delivers yet another calm, controlled performance as the crook with a heart.

Welcome To The Punch

The supporting cast also deliver the goods, despite the weakness of the script. I was encouraged by the performances of Daniel Mays and Johnny Harris and I also applaud director Creevy for a job well done – he knows how to deliver a picture that is engaging and exciting to watch, despite his limited experience.

What’s not to like?

The script lets it down – the story is not the easiest to follow and it remains all too predictable. But the biggest problem is the tone of the film is all wrong. It puts its heart and soul into trying to imitate a hundred American movies that you’ve all seen before and as a result, it is cold and soulless. At no point did I care about any of the characters and instead of enjoying the action, I found slightly silly. I’ve lived in London and I know Canary Wharf – where a lot of the film seems to be set – very well indeed. To look at the film, you’d swear that the characters in the film were the only people actually in London – the streets are conveniently empty and suspiciously clean so car chases aren’t interrupted by the hoards of people normally milling about. I especially loved the nightclub shoot-out which didn’t even seem to have a DJ, let alone revellers!

It’s a difficult film to enjoy because there’s next to no humour in it (besides the bizarre shoot-out at the home of some character’s granny) and it is relentlessly grim. If I wanted a film about Cockney bank robbers and the ‘rozzers’ trying to stop them then I’d watch “Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels” which is equally daft but it’s funny – the criminals are charming, the heroes are hopeless and the banter is inspired. This just feels like it could have been any American movie but with English accents. It’s like “Hot Fuzz” but without a single laugh anywhere and set in the city of London instead of a sleepy rural village somewhere.

Should I watch it?

if you wanted a cheap laugh at its expense then “Welcome To The Punch” offers plenty of unintentional giggles but for anyone hoping for a decent action film, you won’t find it here. What you will find are tired old clichés regurgitated and recycled for your amusement, scenes that would simply never happen in London or anywhere else in the UK, one-dimensional characters and such a ludicrous amount of guns, it made me wonder whether the Metropolitan Police actually saved up all their confiscated hardware and lent them to the filmmakers. It shows promise but ultimately disappoints.

Welcome To The Punch

Great For: anyone with an allergy to Americans, action fans, McAvoy’s voice coach

Not So Great For: fans of cop films, Londoners, British film industry

What else should I watch?

Both “Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch” offer a slightly more realistic look at crime in London but with a strong comedic twist. Guy Ritchie might have had a somewhat chequered career but his early films were fearless and genuinely funny.

Of course, the US is the home of the action cop genre and offers everything from “Beverly Hills Cop” and the charismatic comic genius of Eddie Murphy in prime form to the likes of “Bad Boys”, “Lethal Weapon” and Michael Mann’s own attempts, the somewhat undercooked “Miami Vice” and the sublime epic “Heat”. Personally, I preferred Mann’s single-night thriller “Collateral” which doesn’t have much in the way of cops but Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise in a gripping and tense battle of wills.

Review: The Terminator | Stream on MoviesWatchh.com

The Terminator

 What’s the big deal?

“The Terminator” is an action sci-fi film released in 1984 and is the first film in the Terminator franchise. Its star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, would find himself linked to the role of an unstoppable cyborg assassin for the rest of his career while the film’s director, James Cameron, would go on to have phenomenal success with two of cinema’s biggest ever films, “Titanic” and “Avatar”.

The Terminator

The movie was not expected to be a hit by distributors Orion who even limited the film to a single preview showing for critics, fearing negative reviews. But the film became a surprise smash and as time has gone, its reputation has not dimmed one bit which may or may not be due to a number of inferior sequels…

What’s it about?

It’s the future where humankind is struggling to survive in a war against machines which have risen up and all but wiped us out. The human resistance, who are led by John Conner, are proving to be stubborn opponents so the machines hatch a plan to send one of their elite units, a Terminator T-800 cyborg assassin, back in time to 1984 to locate and kill John’s mother Sarah to prevent his existence. Ignoring the obvious paradox (if John Conner is never born, why does the need to kill him exist in the future?), John selects one of his men – Kyle Reece – to also travel back in time to protect Sarah from the Terminator.

With brutal efficiency, the Terminator begins his search while Kyle struggles to convince Sarah of the danger she unknowingly finds herself in. Unable to trust the police who don’t believe them and unable to stop the machine with our primitive 20th century technology and weapons, Sarah and Kyle are forced to go on the run as the Terminator gets ever closer to them and fulfilling its chilling mission objective…

Actor
Role
Arnold Schwarzenegger
The Terminator
Linda Hamilton
Sarah Conner
Michael Biehn
Kyle Reece
Paul Winfield
Lieutenant Ed Traxler
Lance Henriksen
Sergeant Hal Vukovich
Earl Boen
Dr. Ed Silberman
Bess Motta
Ginger Ventura

Director
James Cameron
Screenplay
James Cameron & Gale Anne Hurd *
Running Time
107 minutes
Release Date (UK)
11th January, 1985
Genre
Action, Sci-Fi

What’s to like?

It’s not hard to see why the role of the Terminator was perfect for Schwarzenegger and continues to haunt him today. As the relentless and largely silent killing machine, he makes an indelible impression in imposing leather jacket and sunglasses destroying all around him. He’s good that you might forget the efforts of Hamilton and Biehn opposite and in truth, neither really hold as much screen presence as Arnie. Hamilton actually does a pretty good job and you can see the evolution of her character from terrified waitress to reluctant heroine begin here (and obviously carry on in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”).

The Terminator

Given the age of the picture, the special effects actually hold up fairly well and particularly the unforgettable sight of the Terminator robot itself emerging from the flames with glowing red eyes. Some of the model work is a bit crude but generally speaking, it looks far better than its modest budget might suggest. The film moves along at a cracking pace and even takes a few moments to remind us of our future – the scenes where we see machines today benignly working for us contrast starkly with the scenes of them working violently against us, a sea of human skulls turned into dust by huge caterpillar tracks. The action may takes its time arriving but it’s more than worth it when it does.

What’s not to like?

Given the film’s small cast, it is somewhat disappointing that a principal cast member lets the side down a little. Biehn is no stranger to these sort of violent hero-types but he can’t seem to make his mind up whether he is on top of the situation or not. Schwarzenegger and Hamilton feel much more planted in their roles, which admittedly are more clearly defined than Biehn’s.

Of course, the film has dated badly in other areas as well – the soundtrack is a odd mix of cheesy 80s synthesizer and stark, minimalist chords that underline the bleakness of the future. Along with the fashions, the film itself is ironically somewhat out of its time nowadays but the biggest issue is the enormous plot hole in the entire series. I’m not a professional spotter of gaffes and goofs but even I can recognise that eliminating someone in the past automatically negates the need to arrange such an undertaking in future – I have a mental image of the other Terminators watching Arnie disappear, wondering why their plan didn’t work and then collectively slapping their stainless-steel foreheads in realisation. But then again, they would have known the consequences of their actions beforehand. After all, it was left open for a sequel or two…

Should I watch it?

In the hands of a lesser director, “The Terminator” might have been a forgotten mid-80s shooter with a slight sci-fi twist. But Cameron’s ideas and skill as a director were first evident here and he turns the film into a quality product with a genuinely terrifying performance from Schwarzenegger as the most famous cinematic robot in history. Ignore the temporal paradox and go with the flow – trust me, you’ll be back!

The Terminator

Great For: Schwarzenegger’s career, Cameron’s career, action fans

Not So Great For: the squeamish, children, technophobes

What else should I watch?

Is the Terminator really the most famous robot in cinema history? I’m sure “RoboCop” would have something to say about that or even Robbie the Robot from “Forbidden Planet”. But neither would generate such a long series of films, although RoboCop would have given it a run for its money if the studio hadn’t gone bust. The film that settles the argument for me is the landmark “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” which would bring together Cameron’s ideas and blend them with cutting-edge special effects, incredible action sequences, Arnie in equally good form as a goodie this time and probably one of my favourite villains in any film, the liquid-metal shape shifting T-1000.

Review: The Lego Movie | Scott-Bakula.com

The Lego Movie

 What’s the big deal?

“The Lego Movie” (sometimes stylised as “The LEGO Movie”) is an animated family comedy film released in 2014 and is directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the pair behind “21 Jump Street”. Based on the popular construction toy, it is the first film produced by the Warner Animation Group since 2003.

The Lego Movie

It was a surprise critical and commercial success, so much so that a second and third film are being made (at the time of writing). Its ensemble cast features Will Arnett, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson. So popular was the film, in fact, that there was briefly a Lego shortage in September 2014 as children across the globe rushed out to buy Lego sets including recreations of the movie’s characters and scenes.

What’s it about?

The majority of the film is set in a Lego-built universe where the wizard Vitruvius battles to protect a superweapon called the Kragle from the evil Lord Business. After he is defeated, Vitruvius predicts that a powerful figure called The Special will find the mysterious Piece Of Resistance which will render the Kragle useless. Eight years later and construction worker Emmet encounters the beautiful Wyldstyle searching in his construction site. Pursuing her, he accidentally becomes fused with the Piece Of Resistance and experiences a number of visions including a strange figure called “the Man Upstairs”.

Emmet’s misfortunes continue as he is rescued from President Business’s henchman Good Cop/Bad Cop by Wyldstyle who believes that Emmet is The Special. Convinced that ultimate victory is at hand, Wyldstyle leads Emmet on a wild adventure across the known lands while the forces of evil are never far behind…

Actor
Role
Chris Pratt
Emmet
Elizabeth Banks
Wyldstyle
Will Arnett
Batman / Bruce Wayne
Morgan Freeman
Vitruvius
Liam Neeson
Good Cop / Bad Cop / Pa Cop
Will Ferrell
Lord Business / President Business
Channing Tatum
Superman
Nick Offerman
Metal Beard
Charlie Day
Benny the 1980’s Space Guy

Directors
Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Screenplay
Phil Lord & Christopher Miller *
Running Time
100 minutes
Release Date (UK)
14th February, 2014
Genre
Animated, Comedy, Family
Academy Award Nomination
Best Original Song

What’s to like?

I find it staggering that of all the things it could have been nominated for, the Academy chose its repetitive and annoying song. Why not the animation because this is one of the best animated films I’ve ever seen – it’s designed to look like everything is built in Lego and animated in a stop-motion style but the quality of the CG is breath-taking. The attention to detail is glorious, making every character feel alive and living in this strange and unusual place. It is a glorious triumph of the imagination, as is the story. It might be a thinly-veiled rip-off of “The Matrix” but the dialogue sparkles and crucially, they have learnt the lesson that Pixar have been preaching for years – that any family film must appeal to adults as well as children. Speaking of the story, don’t expect everything to be straight forward – the movie throws in the odd twist or so.

The Lego Movie

Vocal performances are also fantastic – Neeson is hilarious as Good Cop/Bad Cop but Arnett’s Batman is a revelation, proving that the Dark Knight can have a laugh every now and again. It also avoids feeling too much like product placement – the whole thing is essentially a feature-length advert for Lego but frankly, you’re having too much fun to notice. Kids will love the story and the pace of the film as it leaps from weird landscape to weird landscape. Adults will laugh at the in-jokes and enjoy the nostalgia – I loved every minute with Benny, a figure I myself owned which was broken in the same place as well!

What’s not to like?

Quite simply, the final third. What was shaping up to be a five-star picture throws it all away when it merges with the real world, becoming an all-too-predictable fable about following your imagination and not running with the crowd. If only the film followed its own advice – I didn’t want or need the moral of the story crudely tacked on in such a manner because it was an undercurrent anyway. At least it gave the story some purpose, solving the mystery of what exactly the Kragle was but by this point, the story was getting increasingly weird and I started rapidly losing interest.

It’s such a shame that they cocked the ending up – I wanted more of the story, more of the madness that felt like it flowed from a child’s imagination. I didn’t want Will Ferrell realising that he was the true baddie and soft music underlining the point. What had been noisy, colourful and genuinely funny became a stodgy and lumpen mess and it completely ruins the film’s mojo. The last gag brings it all back again but by then, the damage had been done.

Should I watch it?

Watch it with children and then watch them tear through whatever Lego pieces they have (and whatever ones they now want) and indulge their imaginations. Or you can watch it yourself and remember how great it felt to construct buildings of your own design and tell stories that you yourself had come up with. It can’t sustain its momentum but “The Lego Movie” is one seriously good picture and one that anyone with kids would do well to watch together.

The Lego Movie

Great For: the Lego company, hyperactive kids, families

Not So Great For: senior citizens, fans of traditional animation, people with short-term memory problems

What else should I watch?

This is a plethora of family entertainment out there but an awful lot of it is dross. Pixar, generally speaking, are the kings of family entertainment as they have been making feature-length CG films since 1995’s “Toy Story”. For me, their most family-friendly film is probably “Toy Story 3″ which is both exciting, entertaining and also heart-wrenching at times – I defy anyone not to have a lump in their throat come the finale. But Pixar’s best picture ever is “WALL·E”, a superbly animated fable about the dangers of commercialisation, overconsumption and environmental catastrophe set against two robots with a rudimentary understanding of what it is to love. I adore that film so much, it’s unhealthy.

None-Pixar films can still be worth tracking down – “Happy Feet” is an unusual combination of musical and penguins but great fun, though probably more for kids than adults. Of course, “The Muppets” never go out of fashion as their recent revival is a stonking mix of catchy songs, characters you all know and love and slapstick comedy.

Review: The Expendables | Scott-Bakula.com

The Expendables

 What’s the big deal?

“The Expendables” is an action film released in 2010 and is directed by Sylvester Stallone who also stars. Intended as a tribute to the action films of the 80’s and 90’s, Stallone personally sought a large number of current and former action movie stars to appear. Despite some mixed reviews, it was far more successful than distributors Lionsgate supposed which led to the film starting a franchise.

The Expendables

Each “Expendables” film has gotten bigger and bigger as more action movie stars ask to be included so this is undoubtedly the smallest in the series so far. It’s mix of bloody combat scenes and comic banter ensured that it remains popular among audiences across the world.

What’s it about?

After taking out a boat-load of Somali pirates, a team of mercenaries return to their base of operations in New Orleans. The leader, Barney Ross, later meets up with a rival and the shady “Mr Church” who offers them both a mission to take out a dictator in the island nation of Vilena in the Gulf Of Mexico. Ross accepts and together with his number two Lee Christmas, sets off to scout out the island.

Their contact, freedom fighter Sandra, meets up with them but they quickly discover that ex-CIA agent James Munroe is supporting the regime of General Garza, who happens to be Sandra’s father. Ross aborts the mission but after Sandra is captured by Munroe, they have no choice but to go back in and rescue her. But with the element of surprise lost, what hope do a handful of heavily-armed mercenaries have against a small army?

Main Cast
Actor
Role
Sylvester Stallone
Barney Ross
Jason Statham
Lee Christmas
Jet Li
Yin Yang
Dolph Lundgren
Gunner Jensen
Randy Couture
Toll Road
Eric Roberts
James Munroe
Steve Austin
Paine
Terry Crews
Hale Caesar
Mickey Rourke
Tool

Director
Sylvester Stallone
Screenplay
Dave Callaham & Sylvester Stallone *
Running Time
103 minutes
Release Date (UK)
19th August, 2010
Genre
Action
Razzie Nomination
Wrost Director

What’s to like?

It’s refreshing these days to see a resolutely old-school action film, one which is proud to shun Bullet-Time and other CG gimmicks from the “Matrix” book of tricks. In fact, the only CG I could detect was the lashings of gore splashing everywhere. It’s also good to see these guys tear up a movie set like they used to. – this is Lundgren’s first theatrical release since 1995’s “Johnny Mnemonic”! It’s proud to wear its heart on its sleeve – it knows that it’s about as cutting edge as a flint axe but it doesn’t care. Special mention must go to Rourke’s performance as he must have dismissed the memo about acting being optional and delivers a powerful monologue about serving in Bosnia and the effect such mayhem has on one’s mind. A shame, really, that such a performance is drowned out amid the grunts and gunshots.

The Expendables

The action is undoubtedly the highlight of the movie, coming thick and fast with a satisfying crunch. This is as brutal as they come – clearly, Stallone remembered some of the tricks he used in his recent “Rambo” outing – although I did detect an over-reliance on throwing knives. Action fans won’t care one bit – they’ll just be pleased to be watching something that is the very antithesis of a rom-com, the polar opposite of something like “Sex And The City”.

What’s not so good?

The film is not a great example of how to light a set – much of the action is obscured in murky darkness, especially the final assault, which means that you often lose track of who is fighting who. And naturally, everyone is wearing black so this complicates things even more! The film also makes the classic mistake of having its best scene near the start – the cameos from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger will have most action fans salivating like rabid dogs but it doesn’t lead to anything, making you wonder what might have been. There are also plenty of action stars who don’t appear in the movie, making a mockery of its intention of being the ultimate macho action piece.

Acting is obviously pretty suspect, as you’d expect from this ragtag bunch of beefcakes, although Dolph Lundgren’s suspiciously white teeth give a fine performance of their own! For an action film, it’s impossible to track seriously – the banter between the stars is amusing at first but quickly forgotten while the story is merely an excuse to shoot the film somewhere hot. It’s a good action picture, no doubt, but it drags its knuckles along the floor and doesn’t do anything you haven’t seen before besides these particular stars taking on each other.

Should I watch it?

Action fans will lap this and the two sequels up. “The Expendables” offers a delicious mix of bloody action, self-referencing dialogue and explosive stunt work but it is as shallow and empty as they come. It’s a difficult film to hate, however – it never claims to be a masterpiece, just a bunch of movie veterans going on a final tour of duty. And for that, I salute it.

The Expendables

Great For: action fans, men of any age, Lundgren’s dentist

Not So Great For: date nights, girly nights in, Stallone’s health insurance

What else should I watch?

Probably the best in the series is “The Expendables 2″ which has a bigger cast, more recognisable names (like Chuck Norris!) and retains the 18-certificate violence. Stay away from the third, however, which tones it down for a PG-rating and is appalling.

Action films come in many shapes and sizes. The early 80’s gave us the likes of “Commando” and “First Blood” which are good fun. Later on, we have “Predator” and of course, “Die Hard”. The 90’s had even more to choose from which I’m sure you could recall yourself. If you really wanted to celebrate the good old days of explosions and war then watch any of them and enjoy the authentic nostalgia.

Review: Skyfall James Bond Movie | Scott-Bakula.com

Skyfall James Bond Movie

 What’s the big deal?

“Skyfall” is an action spy adventure film released in 2012 and is the twenty-third entry in the James Bond series. It marks Daniel Craig’s third film as 007 and was released to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the first Bond film “Dr No”. The film sees Bond return from a period of absence to investigate a cyber-attack on MI6 orchestrated by a former MI6 operative.

Skyfall

It became a critical and commercial hit, becoming the first Bond film to gross more than $1 billion worldwide and the most successful Bond film in history. It also became the first Bond film to win two Academy Awards and the first to win any since “Thunderball” in 1965. To call the film a return to form would be the understatement of the century…

What’s it about?

Patrice, a mercenary, has got his hands on a list of all NATO operatives working undercover in terrorist organisations around the world. In Istanbul, British secret agents James Bond and Eve Moneypenny are in hot pursuit but while Bond and Patrice fight atop a speeding train, M orders a nervous Eve to shoot. She does and accidentally hits Bond, knocking him off a bridge and into a river. Patrice escapes with the list and Bond is presumed dead.

In London, M finds herself increasingly under pressure to resign from the Chairman of the Intelligence & Security Committee, Gareth Mallory. In addition, MI6’s servers are hacked by an unknown source and an explosion occurs in M’s office which kills a number of people, although M survives as she watches the explosion whilst returning from a meeting. With MI6 forced underground, M is startled to find 007 at her private residence, eager to rejoin. But after getting a little rusty having been away for so long, and with the stakes rarely higher, M has no choice to but send Bond to investigate…

Main Cast
Actor
Role
Danel Craig
James Bond
Judi Dench
M
Javier Bardem
Raoul Silva
Ralph Fiennes
Gareth Mallory
Naomie Harris
Eve Moneypenny
Ben Whishaw
Q
Bérénice Marlohe
Sévérine
Albert Finney
Kincade

Director
Sam Mendes
Screenplay
Neal Purvis, Robert Wade & John Logan *
Running Time
143 minutes
Release Date (UK)
26th October, 2012
Genre
Action, Spy, Thriller
Academy Award
Best Original Song, Best Sound Editing
Academy Award Nominations
Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing

What’s to like?

For the first time since “Goldfinger”, all the right pieces were in the right place at the right time and not only that but there is finally some acknowledgement of Bond’s previous cinematic career. The cast are superb – Craig genuinely feels like Bond now that he’s rediscovered his sense of humour but the film belongs to Dench and Bardem. Dench’s M has been a staple of the series since “GoldenEye” in 1995 and her resolve and determination are as solid as ever but Bardem’s Silva is a genuinely menacing and unsettling character, unpredictable and very dangerous. For me, he is right up there with Gert Fröbe’s Auric Goldfinger for the best villain in the series. All we need now is a bad guy called Mr Bronze and we have the whole set…

Skyfall

The action is the best we’ve seen in the series for a long time. Gone are the excessive stunts and in comes close-quarter, brutal action that feels real. In Singapore, the film has arrived at a truly stunning location – the sequence involving Fabrice’s assassination and his scrap with Bond feels like a neon-lit nightmare, filmed just out of shot on the set of “Blade Runner”. For long-time fans, the reappearance of Q and Bond’s trusty DB5 provoked squeals of delight. Whishaw shares a wonderful scene with Craig at the National Gallery that’s as funny as any of the great Desmond Llewelyn’s scenes. Even Finney, who’s little more than a cameo really, has a great line when the action moves to Scotland and it’s here in the final moments when “Skyfall” begins to unexpectedly suffer.

What’s not to like?

The moment the story moves from London to Bond’s ancestral home in a remote part of the Highlands, the film starts to run out of steam. The finale, while making sense in a story perspective, doesn’t feel like it fits in with a Bond film as it comes across like a deadlier version of “Home Alone” with exploding light bulbs and floodboards. I also didn’t like the idea of Silva’s private island base, shot in the haunting location of Hashima Island off the coast of Japan. It felt a little convenient, script-wise, and also a little old-fashioned – the sort of thing Blofeld might have considered if he couldn’t have got his fake volcano built in “You Only Live Twice”.

Apart from these minor niggles, the film is an absolute delight. Part of me wishes that Craig’s films would stop trying to appeal to fans of the earlier Bond fans, which became more bloated with bad jokes and special effects as the years rolled by. Craig feels like his own Bond now and there should be no room for gimmicky henchmen, women with silly innuendo-laced names and ridiculous gadgets. They have fought hard to regain some sense of reality instead of existing in a world where megalomaniac villains are around every corner and an assassin lurks in every bush.

Should I watch it?

It’s hard for me to separate which one is the better Bond film – “Goldfinger” or “Skyfall”. Both are brilliantly entertaining pieces of escapist cinema with plenty to enjoy and a story that keeps things ticking along nicely. But Craig is closer to Fleming’s original vision of Bond, the action is much more convincing, the scenery is more impressive and the baddie is equally as memorable. But the film fan in me just prefers “Goldfinger” – the name Pussy Galore never stops being funny…

Skyfall

Great For: action fans, Bond fans, film fans

Not So Great For: errr… I’ll get back to you on that one….

What else should I watch?

The fact that “Skyfall” is so close to “Goldfinger” in terms of admiration speaks volumes, not just about how good they are but how average a number of other Bonds are. The only other Bond I have given 5-stars to is Craig’s debut in “Casino Royale” which is just as good but not as much fun as the Big Two.

Of course, there are plenty of people who enjoyed the likes of “The Man With The Golden Gun” and “A View To A Kill”. But personally, I felt that they lacked the fun and wit that Bond was supposed to be about. “Skyfall” has plenty of action but also makes you laugh at times, such as Bond’s distaste for M’s Union Jack-adorned porcelain bulldogs. I can’t recall a single laugh in “Quantum Of Solace” or “The Living Daylights”…

Review: Octopussy | Watch online on scott-bakula.com

Octopussy

What’s the big deal?

“Octopussy” is an action spy adventure film released in 1983 and is the thirteenth production in the James Bond series. Roger Moore returns for a sixth time as 007, investigating the mysterious death of a British agent and tangling with an insane Soviet general and a wealthy Afghan prince with plans for nuclear annihilation. Although the film’s story is largely original, the title comes from a short story written by Bond creator Ian Fleming.

Octopussy

It was released the same year as the non-official Bond film “Never Say Never Again” which saw Sean Connery return to the role of Bond. Despite mixed reviews, the film was still successful and grossed more than its upstart rival.

What’s it about?

British secret agent 009 is found dead at their embassy in Berlin, dressed like a clown and clutching a fake Faberge egg. Given the unusual circumstances, fellow agent James Bond is dispatched at once to discover the meaning behind it. Suspecting KGB involvement, Bond attends an auction where the real egg is being sought by exiled Afghan prince Kamal Khan. Following Khan back to his palace in India, Bond links up with his Indian contact Vijay and discovers that Khan is working with aggressive Soviet general Orlov.

Bond soon deduces that Khan and Orlov are exchanging priceless treasures and replacing them with replicas then smuggling them via a travelling circus troupe run by Khan’s lover and accomplice Octopussy. But with time counting down on a nuclear device smuggled into a US airbase in Germany, can Bond prevent a catastrophe and stop both Khan and Orlov instigating a new world war?

Main Cast
Actor
Role
Roger Moore
James Bond
Maud Adams
Octopussy
Louis Jourdan
Kamal Khan
Steven Berkoff
General Orlov
Kabir Bedi
Gobinda
Kristina Wayborn
Magda
Desmond Llewelyn
Q
Walter Gotell
General Gogol
Vijay Amritraj
Vijay

Director
John Glen
Screenplay
George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Maibaum & Michael G. Wilson *
Running Time
131 minutes
Release Date (UK)
6th June, 1983
Genre
Action, Adventure, Spy, Thriller

What’s to like?

Once again, the film’s many action sequences are the reason anyone would watch this. The stunt team are on top form in “Octopussy” with scenes that make you stare at the screen in disbelief with people hanging off the side of trains or clinging to the roof of airplanes in the sky. It’s also unusual for being a Bond film with a deliberately political tone to it, even if the story can’t quite back it up. It’s a curious mix of action thriller, Cold War shenanigans and light-hearted comedy as Moore turns his comedic side up to 11. Does he not realise that the film had the potential to be as contemporary as the story from “From Russia With Love”, which would make this film relevant instead of escapist nonsense?

Octopussy

The only other thing I liked about the film was the scenes shot in India which are as bright, colourful and chaotic as you’d expect. I especially enjoyed the tuk-tuk chase which is funny and entertaining, sort of like “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” on steroids. Tennis player Vijay Amritraj proves he has a decent sense of comic timing but unfortunately for him, isn’t in the movie that much. He makes up for it by filling his dialogue with as many tennis references as he can and he is much more enjoyable than the increasingly arthritic Moore.

What’s not to like?

The story is an absolute shambles, making no sense at all and only just manages to explain what it happening on screen (although never why – I don’t even think we get the truth behind the initial murder of 009!). It’s impossible to take seriously as a thriller because Moore is constantly undermining the severity of the situation, the classic example being Bond trying to defuse the nuclear device dressed in full clown costume and make-up. And that’s before he dresses up in a gorilla suit… See, “Octopussy” should be a gripping film but instead, it’s a light-hearted caper through endless clichés that’s about as entertaining as a box-set of TV’s worst commercials.

The devil-may-care attitude in the film’s name never shows up in the movie, as though calling itself and its lead Bond girl Octopussy is some sort of giggly teenage snigger. By the time of the now traditional assault on the lead villain’s base for the climatic showdown, “Octopussy” had become a near-farcical addition to the Bond series with scantily-clad circus performers and gymnasts fighting alongside Bond and Q in a hot-air balloon engaged in a pitch battle with hardened terrorists with AK47s. It is every bit as bad, annoying and shameful as you might imagine.

Should I watch it?

With Moore’s time slowly coming to an end, “Octopussy” highlights everything that went wrong under his tenure. The series had gone from genuine spy films and exploits to family-friendly adventures that visited as many far-flung corners of the world as the budget would allow. “Octopussy” is a sorry state of affairs and wastes all the good work the stunt team put into the film, which frankly saves it from being a complete disaster.

Octopussy

Great For: action fans, Indians, carnival folk

Not So Great For: Bond fans, paying punters, Roger Moore’s reputation

What else should I watch?

Moore’s best Bond film by some way is “The Spy Who Loved Me” which is a winning blend of action, gadgets, locations, story and characters. But his time as 007 would be remembered for films which stagnated not just the Bond series but spy films in general – “Moonraker” and “The Man With The Golden Gun” have their good points but simply don’t cut the mustard in the way Sean Connery did in “Goldfinger”.

Spy films wouldn’t really become cool again until Matt Damon stepped up for “The Bourne Identity” which has no gadgets or henchmen to concern itself with. It’s an intriguing thriller with a good story at its heart, brutal action and fight sequences and winning performances from Damon and Franka Potente as his unwitting sidekick and Chris Cooper as the desperate diplomat trying to keep a lid on things.

Review: Jurassic Park | scott-bakula.com

Jurassic Park

 What’s the big deal?

“Jurassic Park” is a sci-fi adventure film released in 1993 and is based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie utilises a combination of then-cutting edge CG and animatronics to create the most realistic dinosaurs ever seen in cinema at the time. The film became a runaway success, grossing over $900 million on its initial release and more than $1 billion after a 3D rerelease in 2013. It also spawned the “Jurassic Park” series – the fourth film “Jurassic World” being released in 2015.

Jurassic Park

“Jurassic Park” went on to win twenty film awards including three Oscars and is regarded as a landmark picture in terms of CG and animatronic effects as well as being one of the highest grossing movies in history.

What’s it about?

John Hammond, the CEO and founder of biotechnology firm InGen, has created a theme park populated with clones of dinosaurs following the discovery of fossilised DNA. He has built Jurassic Park on the tropical island of Isla Nublar but his investors are concerned when a park worker is killed on site. Hammond finds that a group of inspectors are sent to the island to ensure everything is running smoothly, a group which include palaeontologist Alan Grant, paleobotanist Ellie Sattler and mathematician Ian Malcolm. Hammond also invites his two grandchildren Timothy and Lexie in order to impress them.

As a tropical storm approaches the island, most of the employees return to the mainland while Hammond supervises his visitors from the control room. As night falls, Dennis Nedry initiates his plan to steal dinosaur embryos for a corporate rival by shutting down the power – which enables the dinosaurs to escape from their pens, trapping the group out in the jungle. As hoards of Velociraptor roam free and the enormous Tyrannosaurus Rex chases everyone, it falls to Grant to get the kids to safety and Sattler and Malcolm to get the power back on.

Main Cast
Actor
Role
Sam Neill
Dr Alan Grant
Laura Dern
Dr Ellie Sattler
Jeff Goldblum
Dr Ian Malcolm
Richard Attenborough
John Hammond
Ariana Richards
Alexis Murphy
Joseph Mazzello
Timothy Murphy
Wayne Knight
Dennis Nedry
Samuel L Jackson
Ray Arnold
Bob Peck
Robert Muldoon

Director
Steven Spielberg
Screenplay
Michael Crichton & David Koepp *
Running Time
127 minutes
Release Date (UK)
16th July, 1993
Genre
Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Academy Awards
Best Sound, Best Sound Effects, Best Visual Effects

What’s to like?

There is little doubt that in terms of special effects, this movie is as big a landmark in cinema as “Star Wars” was in 1977. To see the movie is to believe the movie – Spielberg knows that less is more so we don’t see that much of the beasts but when we do, they are completely and worryingly real. The level of detail is exquisite like breath fogging up glass or eyes reacting to torchlight, pupils dilating as you would expect. Whereas Spielberg’s buddy George Lucas would rather drown us in CG, Spielberg gives enough of a drip-feed to still make the movie feel and look like reality.

Jurassic Park

The other Spielberg trademark – namely, all-American kids looking for a father figure – is also present but thankfully, it doesn’t take over. Both Richards and Mazzello are great as the terrified twosome and get most of the scary scenes between the two of them. The stand-off between them and the two Velociraptors in the kitchen area is genuinely tense and has been endlessly parodied ever since (most recently in a breakfast cereal advert on TV). Attenborough is also very good as the misguided Hammond, coming across like a biotechnology-version of Father Christmas. The script really stops to let you catch your breath and while it may take some time to get going, the film really delivers the shock and wonder you hope it might.

What’s not to like?

Unfortunately, the rest of the human cast cannot compete with the dinosaurs which are far more interesting and animated. Dern and Neill – who I tend to associate with more indie-films than blockbusters – look uncomfortable and out-of-place while Goldblum gives the impression that he’s somewhat high on something with dialogue delivered rapidly and mannerisms being slightly off-kilter. But the biggest problem is the script which misses out a lot of the detail and science the novel contained. It’s also been considerably lightened by the director – body count has been dramatically reduced and even the T-Rex gets its moment in the spotlight.

While on the subject of the ending, I almost got angry because another of Spielberg’s annoying habits – the happy ending – reared its ugly head. If you’ve read the book then you’ll know that not everyone makes it off the island safely but then, that makes it harder for them to have a sequel. You get the feeling that they were so confident that the film was going to be a winner that they took their eye off the ball and allowed the film to wallow in its own success.

Should I watch it?

For sheer excitement and entertainment, they isn’t much to touch the original “Jurassic Park”. The human cast might not be that great and the script isn’t a patch on the novel but the beauty of the effects overcomes any resentment you may have towards it. It has been weakened by lesser sequels but for anyone looking to scare their kids for a couple of hours, this will do the trick.

Jurassic Park

Great For: families, dinosaur enthusiasts, thrill-seekers

Not So Great For: very young kids, plot-hole spotters

What else should I watch?

Between this and “Jurassic World”, there are two other films to look at – “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic Park 3″. Neither are much to write home about, to be honest – once you’ve gotten used to the sight of dinosaurs running about the place, they all seem to treat very familiar paths to each other.

Anyone looking for dinosaurs in the past will have to go back to the Ray Harryhausen-days of stop-motion animation in such films as “One Million Years BC” and “The Beast From 20’000 Fathoms”. Of course, the Japanese are far more familiar with giant prehistoric monsters than we are – “Godzilla” has been roaming the oceans for millennia…