Tuesday, June 26, 2018

This Week In Tickets: 18 June 2018 - 24 June 2018

I decided I did not have the strength for two long movie commutes this weekend and maybe that was a mistake.

This Week in Tickets

First up, though, was an IFFBoston-sponsored preview of Searching at the Brattle on Monday. I was going back and forth, because it's going to be at Fantasia, maybe with a guest or two, but I figured the free slot there would be worth something.

The rest of the week was busy at work, especially Friday, which kept me long enough to be too late for 7pm shows and once that happens, I'm probably watching baseball, wondering if I'll have what it takes for a midnight. It turned out that I did not, figuring it was better to be able to get up at a reasonable hour to make the trip out to West Newton for The Catcher Was a Spy, a watchable movie that doesn't really get as much out of one of twentieth century America's more interesting lives as it could (the next time you think a movie is too high-concept, remember that this one about America sending a Jewish baseball player to assassinate the head of the Nazi atomic program is based upon a true story). After that it was back home for Lobster Cop, an enjoyably goofy thing from China about cops who take over a restaurant for a surveillance operation and wind up discovering one can cook.

The plan the next day was to head out to the furniture store for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, but that would have meant an hour hanging around waiting for a bus on either side, so I nixed it, not happy that none of the other premium screens were playing it in 3D. So I decided to hit the Seaport... who sold me a 3D ticket, handed me 3D glasses, and played the movie in 2D. I probably should have gone to talk to one of the really excessive number of employees they keep hanging around, but that might have meant missing some of the movie, and the opening bit is kind of good. So I sit, and it's okay in 2D, but you'd think there would be people standing outside handing out free passes or something.

Ah, well, it's not like it was something really made for 3D. As always, check my Letterboxd account if you want to see a preview of next week where I really don't care about spelling!

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 24 June 2018 in Showplace Icon at the Seaport #9 (first-run, RealD 3D DCP)

Like Jurassic World before it, Fallen Kingdom can't be accused of not delivering what's on the label - it's got dinosaurs, guys who can't just be in awe of them, and a likable-enough bunch that actually have some bigger goals than just getting out alive this time. It even brings back Jeff Goldblum to explain why the whole thing is foolhardy in better-than-average pseudoscience.

And, as big blockbusters go, it does okay. The returning Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are still a likable pair who can sell dropping into this adventure from the sidelines well, the nosy-kid material works despite the filmmakers needing to use it for just a little more, and Ted Levine stealing the scenes where they let him go nuts as a mercenary hunter in grand fashion. J.A. Bayona is a good choice to direct; he might not be Steven Spielberg (few are), but he's more visually adventurous than other people they could have hired (including Colin Trevorrow, who will be back for the next); few others could or would have imbued the time on the island with a sense of tragedy the way he does,or made the moment that cements it works as well as he did. He does a lot of clever things, like allowing a bull in the China shop sequence to play kind of funny when others might have made it serious.

And there's something about the finale that feels flawed but perfect in conception: It builds on how the enormous Lockwood Manor merges a tech-y underground laboratory and what amounts to a private natural history museum in one complex. Where Jurassic World was about people taking dinosaurs for granted, causing them to make something bigger and bigger until the whole thing collapsed (sure, that could be a metaphor for big effects-driven movies themselves!), Fallen Kingdom backs up, letting characters love dinosaurs unconditionally, and as much as the secret supervillain headquarters underneath the exhibit hall is kind of silly, it fees right, something corporate and practical usurping the place that lets us love discovery.

The film's biggest issue is perhaps a bad case of middle-movie syndrome, though, where the big climax feels less like something the filmmakers have been building to than set-up for Part 3. It handles that better than most, but there's something just not right about a movie that ends with the audience not gasping or exhaling in relief, but shrugging, figuring it will maybe have some sort of ending in 2021. As much as Marvel-style serialization has become what a lot of studios are eyeing, it's still pretty important to get people coming out as excited for what they've just seen than for what they may see later, if not more so.

The Catcher Was a Spy
Lobster Cop
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

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