Has any film ever made more money cruising off of pure nostalgia than Jurassic World? Recently bumped down to #5 on the box office charts, the 2015 hit still made an absurd amount of money playing on the desire of a new generation to scare their kids with the dinosaurs that traumatized them. The only thing more hollow than Jurassic World is..well, any other sequel to Jurassic Park. All the elements from the first film return in the fourth film, but the difference is in the director’s chair: Spielberg turning in his last great blockbuster vs. Colin Trevorrow showing how short of Spielberg he is.
The film’s attempt to differentiate itself borrows a lot from The Lost World (and is apparently what Fallen Kingdom will continue to explore): the weaponization of dinosaurs and genetic editing. Primary Incompetent Geneticist Dr. Henry Wu’s tinkering in this film led to the creation of the I-Rex, a camouflaging master and T-Rex/Velociraptor hybrid. I don’t have a big problem with the I-Rex. It’s a nice creature, and its final battle with the original T-Rex is fantastic (coulda done without Deus Ex Mosasaur). But what it represented: a new generation of dinos that were spackled together by scientists rather than recreated from nature is a storyline that I think will eventually extinguish the dinosaur renaissance. If not in the wake of the fifth film than after the already greenlit sixth.
Pete Docter has emerged, over the years, to be the best director to come out of the Pixar brain trust that brought the original Toy Story to screens in 1995. Monsters, Inc. was Docter’s first solo effort and, like Up and Inside Out after it, it’s very concept is an imagination coup in a company known for mind-blowing feats of imagination. Unlike Up and Inside Out, Monsters never entirely lives up to its central idea (and the less said about the sequel the better), but the film is still an extremely solid entry in Pixar’s very competitive library of classics.
All kids have a feeling that there’s a monster somewhere in their bedrooms. Docter uses this idea to form an entire society of monsters that live benignly off of the power generated by the screams of children. It’s such a fantastic idea, and no scene realizes it better than the climatic chase between Mike & Sully and Randall as they race to try to get Boo back to her bedroom door. The planet and reality hopping chase shows the full warehouse of doors and provides for the film’s best action (and some of its funniest moments).
Ocean’s Twelve is probably the least regarded of the Ocean’s Trilogy, and while it does get a little too self-aware (having Julia Roberts play Julia Roberts who actually ISN’T Julia Roberts…yeah), it’s still more fun than most movies that ever get made. If the ensemble from the first one was star-studded enough, the sequel added Catherine Zeta Jones, Bruce Willis, Jared Harris, Robbie Coltrane, and Vincent Cassel to the cast. The heart of the fun, and the reason why the Ocean’s films are so rewatchable, is the real-life friendship between Clooney, Damon, and Pitt translating so well onscreen. In terms of their characters, the Ocean’s movies are elaborate heists that give Clooney and Pitt a chance to screw with Damon. Linus is trying so hard, and Rusty and Danny appreciate it, but it’s not really a heist if they can’t work him into a panic. One of their best “scare Linus for kicks and giggles moments” is when they meet with Robbie Coltrane’s character in a bar to set up what they need, and all three begin talking in complete nonsense phrases leaving Linus scrambling to try to work out to say…and that just goes very badly.
1963 brought Oscar voters one of their biggest dilemmas of all-time as they had to choose between Lawrence of Arabia and To Kill a Mockingbird and Gregory Peck and Peter O’Toole. Lawrence won the most Oscars with 7 and took Best Picture, but Gregory Peck won Best Actor, something Peter O’Toole never did. Both pictures, however, continue to stand the test of time as two of the greatest films ever made with two of the greatest performances ever given.
David Lean’s biopic of TE Lawrence is epic in a scope that modern Hollywood can’t approach. Even filmed in Panavision, the massive landscapes of the desert boggle the mind. In a career filled with astounding performances, O’Toole’s Lawrence is the most iconic. Lawrence is one of my personal favorites and O’Toole probably second only to Paul Newman on my list of favorite actors. I picked one of the film’s first scenes for two reasons. One, Lawrence receiving his assignment establishes just how odd a duck he is even in his “home”. Two, the scene contains-in my opinion-the greatest cut in any film ever made. This is why film editor’s matter (and Anne Coates won an Oscar for it). O’Toole’s extinguishing a match into a desert sunrise is something I’ve watched a hundred times, and it never fails to astonish me with its simple brilliance.