Tag Archives: Jurassic Park

Jurassic World strikes deal with…Barbasol?

14 May

In a cute, but unexpected marketing ploy, on of this year’s most anticipated blockbusters signed a deal with a shaving cream company.

As you may remember, a can of Barbasol takes center stage in one disgruntled employee’s attempt to steal dinosaur embryos in Jurassic Park. Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) believes that he is underpaid for his services and decides to make quick buck by ‘liberating’ the building blocks for making dinosaurs.

We all know how this story ended, Nedry was blinded by a Dilophosarurus and we see the can buried in a mudslide to become a modern-day dinosaur fossil–see how it went full circle!

So, of course Universal decides to capitalize on this 22-year-old reference and strikes a deal with Barbasol. The cans have special artwork to commemorate the movie and Universal/Barbasol even came up with this ‘clever’ video:

This ploy makes zero sense! Who do you know that uses Barbasol? Certainly no one in the demo for this movie. My dad used Barbasol and he is closing in on 60. Universal made a PG-13 movie to appeal to kids who were not even born when the first film was released. Are prepubescent tweens going to run out and buy Barbasol and ‘shave’ with their dad’s credit cards? NO! Now let’s assume that this ad strikes a chord with the 30-ish crowd. There is one big problem here–Hipsters don’t shave! Beards are gaining popularity and decimating the companies who make, razors, shaving cream, aftershave, etc. So who are you appealing to Barbasol?

This is bad and desperate marketing for a movie that we already believe will suck! This type of senseless marketing only makes me more convinced that this will be one of the worse movies during this jam-packed summer.

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New Trailer – Jurassic World

23 Apr

Universal hopes to recapture the wonder of 1993’s Jurassic Park, but can the excitement be brought back from extinction?

22 years ago, Steven Spielberg made us believe that dinosaurs could be brought back to life, and it would be simultaneously cool and terrifying. Jurassic Park demonstrated the danger of man’s hubris–believing that they could control the most fearsome creatures to ever walk the earth. And viewers bought into Spielberg’s vision–Jurassic Park netted more than $1 billion at the box office.

The tyrannosaurus rex, brontosaurus, and velociraptor became overnight stars. Who can forget the first time the dinosaurs appeared on screen? We were all like Dr. Grant (Sam Neill); speechless and awestruck. Sitting in theaters, we shared the wonder of seeing the long-dead reptiles live and in flesh, and we all felt the terror when the power went out and the dinosaurs took control. We all knew the science was unrealistic (seriously, DNA cannot live for tens of millions of years in a fossilized mosquito), but that didn’t matter. For just a couple of hours we were kids again!

And then something terrible happened. More specifically, two somethings terrible happened–The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III. There is no getting around it, those movies were just bad, really bad. Now, 22 years have passed since the events of the first Jurassic Park and we return to Isla Nublar (not Isla Sorna where moves 2 and 3 take place). It is clear that the writers are hoping to pretend the events of the original sequels did not happen–something anyone who saw those movies can empathize with. And the producers are placing this billion dollar franchise in the hands of a director who has only one previous feature-length directing credit to his name. Colin Trevorrow helmed the cult dramedy, Safety not Guaranteed; a movie that grossed just over $4 million. Now, he is leading a movie that has a budget of more than $180 million. That’s a big risk…

The Trailer:

When your movie stars Chris Pratt, it is a good idea to lead your trailer with him. Pratt has been on fire since 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty, and cemented his status as a blockbuster star with last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy. In Jurassic World, it appears that Pratt may be the “Velociraptor Whisperer”, but Jurassic World is a much better title. And comes a scene that is at the center of some online controversy. Pratt is telling a scientist–played by  Bryce Dallas Howard–how the dinosaurs are motivated by the need to hunt and…make dino-babies. Joss Whedon, the man behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, took issue with the scene, after a self-styled feminist pop-culture blog posted an article gawking at Pratt in the scene.

Park - concept art

Now we get the see guests in the park that John Hammond envisioned more than two decades ago, and what’s not to love? You can take a motorized hamster ball and drive it among dinosaurs; you can observe a goat being eaten from the safety of a glass tube that is designed to look like a tree trunk; you can sit in the ‘splash zone’ for a show featuring a blood-thirsty, prehistoric, Shamu; and you can stroll down the park’s main street for some shopping!

Swimming Dinosaur

We hear that the park was a hit, but people just are not impressed by dinosaurs anymore–large numbers of visitors only visit the park with the promise of a new exhibit. Now the company in charge of the park thinks they have a winning idea: they want to genetically modify dinosaurs!

A nameless scientist, portrayed by Omni-present B.D. Wong, says the new ‘attraction’ was “designed to be bigger than a T-rex!’ And apparently she really wanted to be an only child, because she ate her sibling. The brains at corporate also decided to make their new pet smart–she removed a tracking implant that she shouldn’t remember having implanted. As if that weren’t enough, she is like 19th Century American frontiersmen–she kills for sport. How do the humans respond to the threat? By using a two-pronged approach: one, loosing Chris Pratt and his band of velociraptor hunting buddies; and two, allowing Vincent D’Onofrio to unleash everything but tactical nuclear weapons to stop the beast.

Will it Suck?

Is there any demand for another Jurassic Park movie? Can the movie rise to the nostalgia-inflated heights of the original film? Will a new generation buy into the idea of a dinosaur theme park? Those are some big unknowns confronting a blockbuster in a summer as jam-packed as 2015. Last year, this movie cruises to a huge box office total. But this year, movie-goers have so many options–Avengers 2, Mission Impossible 5, Mad Max: Fury Road, Tomorrowland, etc. If this trailer is any indication of what we can expect, the biggest crowds for this movie, may be in the movie. The trailer had plenty of action, but by creating a monster, you lose what captured the imaginations of audiences with Jurassic Park–the most fearsome animal ever gets loose and we can’t stop it! In 2015’s Jurassic World, Godzilla-lite causes chaos on some remote island.

Pratt and Raptors

Jurassic World releases June 12.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

19 Apr

Planet of the Apes. Have you seen it? I was in college when I happened to catch the Charlton Heston original late one night on cable, and after the first twenty minutes, I remember thinking it was really, really… gay. A bunch of male astronauts crash land on an unknown planet, strip naked and bathe with one another, and lie around musing how much they miss their dear friend Landon. It was pretty weird, and no one really explained quite why a movie that supposedly made a pretty strong case for the Civil Rights movement, had so many naked men in it. Flash forward 30 years and several B-movie sequels, and you’ve got Tim Burton, master of the modern day gothic, giving us a pretty uneven remake. Was it necessary? I don’t know, but it certainly had way fewer naked dudes. Skip another 10 years, and Hollywood does what it does best – squeezing blood from a stone, reigniting the franchise with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, set for release this summer.

Starring James Franco and Brian Cox, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is set in modern times, and is supposed to be the beginning point for what would eventually become the planet of the apes that Heston knew so well. Forget that we already know the punch line, and that the planet that is ruled by super-intelligent monkeys is actually Earth, Rise of the Apes shows us how we got there. Franco, a scientist working on a cure for brain damage victims, tests his new serum on primates (like all good movie scientists – see Outbreak). A friend to the funky monkeys he operates on, Franco’s ‘Will’ begins to notice that while the brain does indeed begin to repair itself, it doesn’t stop there, and grants higher intelligence to the apes that receive the drug. Soon the captive gorillas learn how to open their cages, and all hell breaks loose from there, unleashing a horde of super-smart damn dirty apes upon the city.

Now let’s set aside the obvious first question about James Franco as a convincing genius scientist, and just focus on the movie in general for now. A film about scientists who go too far and have to deal with playing God? Fine. A movie where humans are attacked by intelligent animals? Great! I loved Jurassic Park. But a Planet of the Apes prequel where all the apes terrorizing the city are actual apes? Wait just one minute there. A movie where monkeys get loose and trash the place is fine, but already knowing ahead of time that they’re going to win, and eventually turn into upright walking and talking Roddy McDowalls, just doesn’t work for me. The apes in the movie don’t appear to have formed language skills, and they’re still knuckle dragging gorillas with ferocious wild tendencies. When I watch a ‘Planet of the Apes’ movie, I want my monkeys talking, using tools, and basically living the life I do now; in a “civilized society.” What I’m getting is a movie about a bunch of apes escaping from the zoo.

Now, onto the question of James Franco as a brilliant biologist. Sure, I don’t know the guy, and given stories I’ve heard, I bet he’s very well-read and able to formulate abstract thoughts. However, I’ve never heard of the guy constructing complex enzymes needed to rebuild cell structure, and frankly, the majority of the roles I’ve seen him either show him as a half-baked actor (Flyboys), or a fully baked stoner (Pineapple Express, “Freaks and Geeks”). Yes, he showed much range in last year’s 127 Hours, but he was playing a granola nature boy, who let’s face it, was probably high the night before heading out into the canyons of Moab, Utah. His look, mannerisms, even his voice, just scream Liberal Arts, and for us to believe that he holds advanced medical degrees, let alone even made it through his pre-med classes, have us calling shenanigans right off the bat. Not something you want your viewer to have to constantly fight the urge to question throughout an entire film.

So, will it suck?

Yes, of course. Franco is ill-equipped for the role, and hasn’t yet established himself as an actor with the range to tackle anything more than a high-ranking lab assistant. And the movie doesn’t provide any of the social commentary that could be made of our still very racially segregated state. It’s just another action movie that omits the big questions, much like Will Smith’s I Am Legend. Remember what we thought about Tim Burton’s movie? I’ll remind you – “not much”. The original Planet of the Apes was a science fiction fable about what could happen in the nuclear age when we blast our cities back to the pre-dawn era, and where humans are the sub-species to a master race of apes. Was there action? Sure, a little horseback riding and hand to hand combat, but that only served to drive the underlying message. Burton’s apes were wildly jumping monkeys running through the jungle, and the movie just didn’t work until the final scene, which only left us wanting to see that, not the previous 90 minutes we just sat through. With Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it seems like we’re getting a movie that is meant to set up a franchise, but not necessarily a movie that we want or need to see. It’s nice to know just how the apes came to get their super-intellect, but forgive me for saying that I’d much rather watch a film that questions what would happen if the primates were the ones running society, rather than a movie where a bunch of apes run amok.

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