The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By D.K. Holm
For The Courier 

Movie Reviews: Jurassic World and Pitch Perfect 2


Steven Spielberg is one of the most important living filmmakers as both director and producer, with his hand also in numerous TV shows, but he is not immune to the glitzy, avaricious aspect of showbiz. Jaws was his first big hit. Later he had another blockbuster with the broadly similar Jurassic Park, also based on a popular novel. But Hollywood DNA must replicate itself, and so there were sequels.

Do you remember how many sequels there are to Jaws? After the first film came Jaws 2, followed by Jaws 3-D, and concluding, one hopes, with Jaws: The Revenge, none of which Spielberg actively participated in. In 1993, he released Jurassic Park. Twenty-two years later his company now offers the fourth Jurassic film, after the intervening The Lost World: Jurassic Park, directed by the maestro, and Jurassic Park III, helmed by Joe Johnston, a respected action director. It can be said with certainty that the Jurassic Park sequels are less worse than the Jaws sequels, primarily because Spielberg kept his hand in the mix, but still the films are generated with diminishing artistic returns. Meanwhile there are four Indiana Jones films, with a possible fifth on the way.

Jurassic World pretends that Lost World and III didn't happen. Still, it seems that every time a billionaire wants to resurrect a dinosaur for spectator sport, something goes awry and soon helpless little people are running for their lives. This time around the sheen has dimmed on the idea of Jurassic Park after 10 years in operation since the first film and so to increase foot traffic the park's corporate masters have bred a new dinosaur, one combining the skills, traits, and looks of various others. Naturally, it gets loose on the island, where visitors are trapped. Only one man can save them all, and he is Owen (TV's Chris Pratt), who grabs his motorcycle and his three trained Velociraptors and heads into the jungle. Also in the cast are the scenery consuming Vincent D'Onofrio as the command-central guy and the bland Bryce Dallas Howard as the corporate shill who more or less brings about all the chaos.

Jurassic World is directed by Colin Trevorrow, who did the small-scale Seattle-based indie film Safety Not Guaranteed and on paper he is an unlikely candidate for epical sci-fi fun in the Jurassic vein, and it took four writers to concoct this simple, derivative plot, a blend of The Most Dangerous Game and the nightmare on Norway's Utøya Island. It will all depend on the special effects.

Meanwhile the popular Pitch Perfect 2 continues at the Valley Cinema 2. As I mentioned last week, the film is a duplicate of its predecessor only much worse. Pitch Perfect was based on a journalistic account of the a cappella college circuit, synthesized into a teen comedy about acceptance and ambition. The main character was Beca (Anna Kendrick), an unwilling freshman at her dad's school, the fictional Barden College, who really wanted to be a music producer. Beca was an unpleasant, judgmental pill, who has to be wised up by her participation in the Barden Belles a cappella group. Unlike the a cappella you and I are used to, however, these singers dance, rock out, wear sexy costumes, and even have musical accompaniment. How one chorus manages to win over another is never explained. The criteria are mysterious, particularly when each group is musically indistinguishable from the others. The Belles return in Pitch Perfect 2 now more eager than ever to embrace the vulgarity of groundbreaking women's comedies such as The Heat and Bridesmaids, themselves throwbacks to god-awful comedies such as The Sweetest Thing from 2002. Now a senior, Beca is minimized to just a member of the team that plays before the President at Lincoln Center when one of her colleagues unintentionally flashes the audience. This leads to the humiliation of the Belles, who must redeem themselves by winning an a cappella contest in Germany. Along the route, the choir picks up a new recruit, Emily, played by True Grit's Hailee Steinfeld. There are romantic fumblings, mean German singers, and a series of utterly unfunny pratfalls, gastrointestinal gags, and a presentation of women as being little different from the worst impression some males make – competitive, jealous, egoistic, and racist (various jokes at the expense of Japanese and Lesbian characters). Most discouraging of all is that the film is directed by Elizabeth Banks, who also plays the snide sports TV commentator trailing a cappella groups, a variation on her Effie Trinket character from the Hunger Games series. Talk about internalizing one's oppressor.


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