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Quick Reviews: Week Of 06.10.2022
Flash Reviews Of The Upcoming Weekend's Movie Releases
Here are my thoughts on the movie releases from the weekend of 06.10.2022 in alphabetical order of their respective release dates. A reminder, you can click this link to see how I grade films when I review them.
- Plot: After discovering a once in a lifetime player with a rocky past abroad, a down on his luck basketball scout takes it upon himself to bring the phenom to the states without his team’s approval. Against the odds, they have one final shot to prove they have what it takes to make it in the NBA.
- Review: One of the greatest tragedies in modern film acting is that we don’t get more dramatic performances from Adam Sandler. Thankfully we get one of those rare roles from him in Hustle, a movie that ultimately ends up a love letter to basketball with the typical “underdog overcomes through sports” story. But while that story is predictable and sticks to some tropes, the drama behind the plot and the performances including a commendable one from actual NBA player Juancho Hernangómez of the Utah Jazz as the basketball player in question, Bo Cruz, makes it all come together to give us one of the better sports films from the last few years.
We also get to see Queen Latifah play Sandler’s wife, Ben Foster play Sandler’s boss, Kenny Smith of Inside The NBA fame and a former player himself as a sports agent, actual Minnesota Timberwolves’ player Anthony Edwards steals some scenes as Bo’s rival, and the legend himself Robert Duvall has some memorable scenes albeit just a few as the owner of the Sixers. The film has an impressive aesthetic that makes it feel raw as if you were out in the streets’ courts playing basketball yourself and pulls it off without the cinematography being hampered by it. The soundtrack fits every story turn and every vibe that comes off of this. It does everything it can to immerse you in a pretty small scale tale compared to the epic escapist cinema we’ve gotten used to.
Various NBA players and well known names show up as cameos throughout the movie but none of it feels forced because the entire movie explores every inch of the behind the scenes aspect of putting together an NBA team and drafting players. As I stated beforehand, this thing oozes love for basketball. But the movie also doesn’t end up being unwatchable for a casual or non-NBA fan either - anybody can appreciate this film regardless. I really hope we see more movies like this from the Happy Madison crew in the near future then their typical comedic output. This is well worth the watch on Netflix whether you’re an NBA super fan or just a fan of underdog stories in general.
- Initial Grade: B+
JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION
- Plot: Four years after Isla Nublar was destroyed, dinosaurs now live (and hunt) alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.
- Review: Almost everyone agrees that 1993’s Jurassic Park is a genre masterpiece that not only changed the game in regard to visual effects, but has maintained critical acclaim and mainstream attention through the nearly thirty years since its release. The sequels that have sprouted since then however have had more of a mixed response. From the okay received The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic World to the badly received Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The latest string of movies have raised the same debates that the Fantastic Beasts movies did in regard to obvious cash grab films that play off nostalgia and love for a franchise that is decades old.
Now we get the final (Let’s be honest here, given how much these movies make its likely just the final for a decade or so before they inevitably reboot the series) movie in the entire franchise with Jurassic World: Dominion. For those super fans of these movies its been pretty well known just how long producers have been salivating at the idea of a plot for a film where the Dinosaurs are living side by side with the humans. All the intriguing possibilities and potential set pieces. Unfortunately the film we did get was a bit of a mess and this is coming from yours truly who has one of the more positive overall reviews for this movie out there.
The list of gripes I have with this film is admittedly pretty long. Its a Dinosaur movie and yet we don’t really get much screen time from the Dinos until around the third act. Most of the film is devoted to locusts of all things and running around a lab or riding motorcycles through a raptor attack. Some minor characters come and go, including over the top cartoonish villains mid-way through the film that seem to have been forgotten about just as quickly as they showed up. The nostalgia at times feels more forced rather than hitting those positive brainwaves, and the “big bad Dino” of the movie, the Giganotosaurus, is used so sparingly that when the final confrontation with it comes, it feels more hollow and un-earned than the exciting climatic face-offs we’ve seen in the past movies.
But even with all those gripes I can’t say I didn’t have enough things here that I still liked. The original trio of Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, and Laura Dern are wonderful to see back together even if not all of the nostalgia worked for me. The human villain of the movie is a callback that I actually appreciated. DeWanda Wise’s casting as new character Kayla Watts may have just made herself a standout with her show stealing performance in this. And even with little screen time some of the action set pieces involving the Dinosaurs are still awe-striking to see visually.
I completely understand why this film is getting the negative reception its gotten. Its sloppy, its lazy where it shouldn’t be and overly ambitious where it shouldn’t have to be. Its an obvious cash grab that tries to use nostalgia to cover up its cracks. But even then, as a fan of this series and Dinosaurs in general, I still thought there was enough there to not completely regret seeing this at my local theatre. Its my least favorite film in the franchise, and yet it still has glimpses of that Jurassic Park magic.
Overall, this movie isn’t going to change anyone’s minds about this trilogy anymore than the last Fantastic Beasts movie did. Some will continue to loathe this as a beloved franchise taken over by corporate greed and others such as myself will still enjoy it as mindless entertainment. Decent enough for JP enthusiasts and Dino fans, but not good enough to win over any new fans either.
- Initial Grade: B-