REVIEW: THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK

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CAST

Jeff Goldblum (The Fly)
Julianne Moore (Hannibal)
Pete Postlethwaite (Solomon Kane)
Vince Vaughn (Swingers)
Arliss Howard (Full Metal Jacket)
Richard Attenborough (Doctor Dolittle)
Peter Stormare (22 Jump Street)
Richard Schiff (The West Wing)
Joseph Mazzello (The Social Network)
Ariana Richards (Timescape)
Camilla Belle (When A Stranger Calls)
Robin Sachs (Buffy)
Marjean Holden (Vampire)
Michael Milhoan (That 70s Show)
Mark Pellegrino (Lost)

Four years after Jurassic Park was overrun by cloned dinosaurs on the Central American island of Isla Nublar, a young girl named Cathy Bowman wanders around on nearby Isla Sorna during a family vacation, and survives an attack by a swarm of Compsognathus. Her parents file a lawsuit against the genetics company InGen, now headed by John Hammond’s nephew, Peter Ludlow, who plans to use Isla Sorna to relieve the company of financial losses. Mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm meets Hammond at his mansion. Hammond explains that Isla Sorna, abandoned years earlier during a hurricane, is where InGen created their dinosaurs before moving them to Jurassic Park on Isla Nublar. Hammond hopes to stop InGen by sending a team to Isla Sorna to document the dinosaurs, to help rally public support against human interference on the island. After learning that his girlfriend, paleontologist Dr. Sarah Harding, is part of the team and is already on the island, Ian agrees to go to Isla Sorna, but only to retrieve her.

Ian meets his teammates, Eddie Carr, an equipment specialist and engineer, and Nick Van Owen, a video documentarian. After arriving on the island, they locate Sarah and discover that Ian’s daughter, Kelly, had stowed away in a trailer being used as a mobile base. They then watch as an InGen team of mercenaries, hunters and paleontologists led by Ludlow arrive to capture several dinosaurs. Meanwhile, team leader Roland Tembo hopes to capture a male Tyrannosaurus by luring it to the cries of its injured infant. That night, Ian’s team sneak into the InGen camp and learn the captured dinosaurs will be brought to a newly proposed theme park in San Diego. This prompts Nick and Sarah to free the caged dinosaurs, wreaking havoc upon the camp.

Nick also frees the infant T. rex and takes it to the trailer to mend its broken leg. After securing Kelly with Eddie, Ian realizes the infant’s parents are searching for it and rushes to the trailer. As soon as Ian arrives, the infant’s parents emerge on both sides of the trailer. The infant is released to the adult T. rexes, which then attack the trailer, pushing it over the edge of a nearby cliff. Eddie soon arrives, but as he tries to pull the trailer back over the edge with an SUV, the adult T. rexes return and devour him. The trailer and the SUV both plummet off the cliff. Ian, Sarah, and Nick are rescued by the InGen team, along with Kelly. With both groups’ communications equipment and vehicles destroyed, they team up to reach the old InGen compound’s radio station on foot.

The next night, the two adult T. rexes find the group’s camp. The female T. rex chases the group to a waterfall cave, while Roland tranquilizes the male. Much of the remaining InGen team is killed by Velociraptors while fleeing through a tall grass savannah. Nick runs ahead to the communications center at the InGen Worker’s Village to call for rescue. When Ian, Sarah and Kelly arrive, they are attacked by the raptors. They evade the raptors until a helicopter arrives and transports them off the island.

A freighter transports the male T. rex to the mainland, but crashes into the dock after the crew is killed by a creature of unknown species. A guard opens the cargo hold, accidentally releasing the T. rex, which escapes into San Diego and goes on a rampage. Ian and Sarah retrieve the infant T. rex from a secure InGen building and use it to lure the adult back to the ship. Ludlow tries to intervene but is trapped in the cargo hold by the adult T. rex and mauled by the infant. Before the adult can escape again, Sarah tranquilizes it while Ian closes the hold. The T. rexes are escorted back to Isla Sorna, and Hammond says that the American and Costa Rican governments have agreed to declare the island a nature preserve, affirming that “life will find a way”.

It’s by no way a cheap show, and there are plenty of fun moments. Vince Vaughn and Pete Postlethwaite have fairly interesting characters, even if the rest of the supporting cast is along just to be eaten alive.

REVIEW: JURASSIC PARK

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CAST

Sam Neill (The Piano)
Laura Dern (Everything Must Go)
Jeff Goldblum (The Fly)
Richard Attenborough (Doctor Dolittle)
Joseph Mazzello (The Social Network)
Ariana Richards (Timescape)
Bob Peck (The Storyteller)
Martin Ferrero (Get Shorty)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Samuel L. Jackson (Avengers Assemble)
Miguel Sandoval (Collateral Damage)
B.D. Wong (Gotham)

Industrialist John Hammond and his bioengineering company, InGen, have created a theme park called Jurassic Park on Isla Nublar, a tropical Costa Rican island populated with cloned dinosaurs. After one of the park workers is killed by a Velociraptor, the park’s investors, represented by lawyer Donald Gennaro, insist that experts visit the park and certify it as safe. Gennaro invites mathematician Ian Malcolm, while Hammond invites paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant and paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler. Upon arrival, the group is stunned to see a live Brachiosaurus.

At the visitor center, the group learns that the cloning was accomplished by extracting dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes that had been preserved in amber. DNA from frogs was used to fill in gaps in the dinosaur genomes. To prevent breeding, all the dinosaurs were made female. Malcolm scoffs at the idea of such controlled breeding, declaring it impossible. The crew witness the birth of a baby raptor and visit the raptor enclosure. Grant, Sattler, and Malcolm have reservations about the idea of resurrecting dinosaurs, but Hammond and Gennaro dismiss their fears.

The group is then joined by Hammond’s grandchildren, Lex and Tim Murphy, for a tour of the park, while Hammond oversees the trip from the park’s control room. The tour does not go as planned, with the dinosaurs failing to appear. The group later encounters a sick Triceratops. The tour is cut short as a tropical storm approaches Isla Nublar. Most of the park employees depart on a boat for the mainland and the visitors return to their electric tour vehicles, except Ellie, who stays with the park’s veterinarian to study the Triceratops.

Jurassic Park’s computer programmer, Dennis Nedry, has been bribed by Dodgson, a man involved with a corporate rival, to steal dinosaur embryos. Nedry deactivates the park’s security system to gain access to the embryo storage room. Nedry stores the embryos inside a canister disguised as Barbasol shaving cream, supplied by Dodgson. Because of Nedry, the power goes out and the tour vehicles become stuck. Most of the park’s electric fences are deactivated as well, allowing the Tyrannosaurus to escape and attack the tour group. Grant, Lex, and Tim escape while the Tyrannosaurus injures Malcolm and devours Gennaro. On his way to deliver the embryos to the island’s docks, Nedry becomes lost in the rain, crashes his Jeep, and is killed by a Dilophosaurus.

Sattler assists the park’s game warden, Robert Muldoon, in a search for survivors, but they only find an injured Malcolm before the Tyrannosaurus returns. Grant, Tim, and Lex spend the night in a tree, and befriend a Brachiosaurus. Later, they discover the broken shells of dinosaur eggs. Grant concludes that the dinosaurs have been breeding, which occurred because of their frog DNA—West African bullfrogs can change their sex in a single-sex environment, allowing the dinosaurs to do so as well, proving Malcolm right.

Unable to decipher Nedry’s code to reactivate the security system, Hammond and the park’s chief engineer Ray Arnold opt to reboot the entire park’s system. The group shuts down the park’s grid and retreats to an emergency bunker, while Arnold heads to a maintenance shed to complete the rebooting process. When Arnold fails to return, Sattler and Muldoon head to the shed. They discover the shutdown has deactivated the remaining fences and released the raptors. Muldoon distracts the raptors while Sattler goes to turn the power back on before being attacked by a raptor and discovering Arnold’s severed arm. Meanwhile, Muldoon is caught off-guard and killed by the other two raptors.

Grant, Tim and Lex reach the visitor center. Grant heads out to look for Sattler. Tim and Lex are pursued by the raptors in an industrial kitchen, but they escape and join Grant and Sattler. Lex restores full power from the control room, allowing the group to call for help. The group is cornered by the raptors, but escape when the Tyrannosaurus suddenly appears and attacks the raptors. Hammond arrives in a Jeep with Malcolm, and the entire group boards a helicopter to leave the island.All these years later, the leaps in visual magic that made Jurassic Park such an eye-opening experience at the time still impress, in a film loaded with thrill-ride action, some genuine scares and suspense and general filmmaking expertise on the part of Spielberg and his team.

 

 

REVIEW: INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

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CAST

Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games)
Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park)
Jessie Usher (Almost Christmas)
Bill Pullman (The Grudge)
Maika Monroe (The 5th Wave)
Sela Ward (Gone Girl)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
Judd Hirsch (Tower Heist)
Corin Nemec (Stargate SG.1)
Brent Spiner (Star Trek: TNG)
Vivica A. Fox (Idle Hands)
Angelababy (Hitman: Agent 47)
Robert Loggia (Psycho II)
Joey King (The Dark Knight Rises)
Chin Han (Arrow)
Ryan Cartwright (Bones)
Mckenna Grace (I, Tonya)

Twenty years after a devastating alien invasion, the United Nations has set up the Earth Space Defense (ESD), a global defense and research program to reverse-engineer alien technology and serve as Earth’s early warning system against extraterrestrial threats. The main defense force utilizes equipment salvaged from the remains of the alien forces and operates military bases built on the Moon, Mars, and Rhea. The Area 51 base in Nevada has become the ESD Headquarters.The world is preparing to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their survival after the invasion. In the provincial African state Republique Nationale d’Umbutu, ESD Director David Levinson meets with Dr. Catherine Marceaux and warlord Dikembe Umbutu, who lead him to an intact alien destroyer. Aboard the ship, they discover that the alien occupants sent a distress call to their home planet before being defeated. Furthermore, Umbutu, former U.S. President Thomas Whitmore, and Dr. Brackish Okun (who awakens at Area 51 after a twenty-year coma)—all of them once telepathically linked with the aliens ever since their personal encounters with them—have of late been receiving strange visions of an unidentifiable spherical object.An unidentified spherical ship, with design and technology different from that of the aliens who attacked 20 years earlier, emerges from a wormhole near the ESD’s Moon defense headquarters. Levinson believes that it belongs to another extraterrestrial race that might be benevolent and urges the world’s Security Council not to attack, but they vote to shoot it down regardless. Against the Council’s orders, pilots Jake Morrison and Charlie Miller pick up Levinson, Marceaux, Umbutu, and U.S. federal controller Floyd Rosenberg on a space tug, and they head for the wreckage near the Van de Graaff crater, where they recover a container. An alien mothership 3,000 miles (4,800 km) in diameter suddenly emerges and destroys Earth’s planetary defenses before approaching the planet. The space tug is caught in the mothership’s gravitational pull, which lifts objects from across Asia, causing massive damage on its path. The debris falls all over Europe, where the tug manages to escape before heading on to Area 51. The mothership lands over the north of the Atlantic Ocean, destroying cities on the Eastern Seaboard, and begins drilling a hole through the bottom of the ocean floor to harvest the Earth’s core for fuel, which will destroy both its magnetic field and atmosphere in the process, killing all life.Whitmore’s group interrogates one of the aliens held in captivity from the war, who has recently awoken from a 20-year catatonic state. The ESD learns that the aliens exist in eusociality and that one of their colossal Queens is commanding the invasion. Levinson hypothesizes that, if they kill the supervising Queen, her forces will cease drilling and retreat. An ESD aerial fleet, led by Captain Dylan Dubrow-Hiller, stages a counterattack on the Queen’s chamber, but they are caught in a trap within the mothership, which nearly wipes out the entire unit. In Area 51, Okun opens the container and releases a giant white sphere of virtual intelligence; indeed benevolent and more advanced than the attacking aliens. It reveals that its mission is to evacuate survivors from worlds targeted by the aliens, whom it calls “Harvesters”, and that it has gathered a viable resistance force against the Harvesters, hidden in a refugee planet at a location unknown to the Harvesters. Despite being the last of its kind, the sphere implores the humans to destroy it in order to prevent the Harvesters from discovering the location of the planet where it has hidden the survivors. In the mothership, Dylan, Jake, and other survivors manage to escape by hijacking enemy attack craft, and pursue the Queen’s personal ship, which is heading to Area 51 with its convoy.Knowing the Queen has become aware of the sphere’s presence, the ESD forces hide it in an isolation chamber and use a decoy to lure the Queen’s ship to a trap filled with fusion weapons. Against his daughter Patricia’s wishes, Whitmore volunteers to pilot the space tug on the suicide mission, leading the warship to the trap and detonating the bombs, thus sacrificing himself and destroying the ship. However, the Queen survives by using an energy shield on her biomechanical suit. Several fighters fire at the Queen, but the shield protects her.However, Patricia manages to fire through a gap in the shield when the Queen prepares to fire her own gun, thereby disabling the Queen’s shield, allowing Dylan’s arriving party to kill the Queen before she can take the sphere. With the Queen dead, all the remaining alien fighters are rendered inactive, while the mothership stops drilling and retreats to space. Okun reveals that the sphere has asked humanity to lead its resistance and has offered the humans new technology in preparation for a counterattack to assault the Harvesters’ home world and take the fight to the aliens.The action is decent. The jeopardy level is good. What it can’t quite offer is the shock of the new that the original gave us. But for fun science fiction action blockbuster escapism, it’s not bad. So it’s an entertaining watch.

REVIEW: INDEPENDENCE DAY

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Bill Pullman (The Grudge)
Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park)
Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)
Judd Hirsch (Tower Heist)
Robert Loggia (Psycho II)
Randy Quaid (Kingpin)
Margaret Colin (Gotham)
James Rebhorn (Meet The Parents)
Vivica A. Fox (Idle Hands)
Harvey Fierstein (Kull The Conqueror)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Brent Spiner (Star Trek: TNG)
James Duval (Gone In 60 Seconds)
Lisa Jakub (Mrs. Doubtfire)
Giuseppe Andrews (Cabin Fever)
Mae Whitman (Boogeyman 2)
Bill Smitrovich (Iron Man)
Kiersten Warren (13 Going on 30)
Harry Connick Jr. (The Iron Giant)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Leland Orser (Daredevil)
Devon Gummersall (Roswell)
Raphael Sbarge (Risky Business)
Bobby Hosea (Xena)
Jay Acovone (Stargate SG.1)
Thom Barry (Cold Case)
Robert Pine (Red Eye)
Derek Webster (Stargate)
Rance Howard (Nebraska)
Kevin Cooney (Legally Blonde)
Jim Piddock (Mascots)
Tracey Walter (Batman)

On July 2, 1996, an enormous alien mothership that has one fourth the mass of the Moon enters orbit around Earth, deploying 36 smaller spacecraft, each 15 miles (24 km) wide, that take positions over some of Earth’s major cities and military bases. David Levinson, an MIT-trained satellite technician, decodes a signal embedded in the global satellite transmissions that he determines is a timer counting down to a coordinated attack. With the help of his former wife, White House Communications Director Constance Spano, Levinson, and his father Julius, gain access to the Oval Office and warn President Thomas J. Whitmore that the aliens are hostile. Whitmore orders large-scale evacuations of New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C., but it is too late; the timer reaches zero and the ships activate devastating directed-energy weapons, killing millions. Whitmore, the Levinsons, and a few others, narrowly escape aboard Air Force One as the capital is destroyed, along with other locations over which the ships are positioned.On July 3, international military leaders begin ordering individual counterattacks. Their aviation forces attack destroyer ships positioned above the ruins of the cities, but they are protected by force fields. Each destroyer launches a swarm of attack fighters, which wipe out the human fighter squadrons. Captain Steven Hiller, a pilot with the Marine Corps squadron VMFA-314 based out of Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, survives by luring his attacker to the enclosed spaces of the Grand Canyon and sacrificing his plane, forcing the alien to crash-land. He subdues the injured alien pilot and flags down a convoy of refugees, hitching a ride with former combat pilot Russell Casse. They transport the unconscious alien to nearby Area 51 where Whitmore’s group has landed. Through Secretary of Defense Albert Nimzicki, they learn that a faction of the government has been involved in a UFO conspiracy since 1947, when one of the invaders’ attack fighters crashed in Roswell. Area 51 houses the refurbished alien fighter and three alien corpses recovered from the crash.When eccentric scientist Brackish Okun examines the alien captured by Hiller, it regains consciousness and attacks. It telepathically invades Okun’s mind and uses his vocal cords to communicate with Whitmore before launching a psychic attack against him. Whitmore sees visions of the alien’s plans: their entire civilization travels from planet to planet, exterminating all indigenous life and harvesting the planet of all natural resources. After Secret Service agents and military personnel kill the alien, Whitmore reluctantly authorizes a nuclear attack; a B-2 Spirit fires a nuclear cruise missile at an alien destroyer positioned above Houston, but the ship remains intact.On July 4, Levinson demonstrates that the key to defeating the aliens lies in deactivating their force fields, and devises a way to do so by uploading a computer virus into the mothership. He proposes using the refurbished alien fighter to implement the plan, which Hiller volunteers to pilot. The two are able to implant the virus and deploy a nuclear weapon on board the mothership. With military pilots in short supply, Whitmore enlists the help of volunteers with flight experience, including Casse, and leads an attack on a destroyer ship bearing down on Area 51. With the alien’s shields deactivated, the fighters are able to inflict damage but their supply of missiles is quickly exhausted. As the destroyer prepares to fire on the base, the last missile, equipped on Casse’s plane, jams, and Casse decides to sacrifice his own life. He flies his plane kamikaze-style into the directed-energy weapon port, which results in an explosion that destroys the ship. Human resistance forces around the world successfully destroy the other craft using this vulnerability. As humankind is rejoicing in victory, Hiller and Levinson return to Area 51 unharmed and reunite with their families. They and military officers nearby accompany Whitmore and his daughter in watching the wreckage from the mothership burn up, resembling a fireworks display as it enters Earth’s atmosphere.Independence Day is arguably one of the greatest SF disaster movies of all time. With REM’s ‘It’s the end of the world’ sampled near the beginning of the movie, you definitely know that Roland Emmerich’s view about alien encounters is more akin to War of the Worlds than E.T. Filled with stunning special effects, stirring music, unpretentious sentimentality and laced with good natured humour there is no need to bemoan the lack of character development or obvious narrative coincidences. There is no pretence at being a great cinematic masterpiece examining deep philosophical themes. This is a two hour long, ludicrously enjoyable, preposterously pompous, unbelievably incredible ‘backs against the wall’ slice of SF fantasy which still entertains after numerous viewings.