Genre: Animation

DirectorS: Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda

Screenplay: Brian Lynch

Voice Cast: Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Pierre Coffin, Michael Keaton, Alison Janney, Steve Coogan, Geoffrey Rush

Running Length: 91 minutes

Synopsis: Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob (Pierre Coffin) are recruited by Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb (Jon Hamm), hatches a plot to take over the world.

Review: With the widespread (and totally understandable) popularity of the Minions, it was only a matter of time before they broke away from the Despicable Me franchise and became a standalone film. And make no mistake, this movie is catered specifically for Minions fans, which means it will do well enough at the box office, but is unlikely to win over any moviegoer who isn’t already enamoured with the yellow creatures.

The best part of the movie is the first half hour, in which we see the Minions serving various “bad guys” from prehistoric times until they go into a self-imposed exile after a disastrous stint with Napoleon. Although most of the sight gags have already been featured in the film’s trailer, but the inventiveness of the various skits still proves humorous despite having been revealed beforehand.

However, the rambling plot starts to unravel once the film moves into the 60s, where the trio of Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob (all voiced by director Pierre Coffin) behave almost like the Three Stooges, trying their best to please their new master Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock in a very uninspiring, blasé vocal performance). Though it can be quite entertaining to watch their antics, the entire last hour of the film feels like a string of loosely connected skits rather than a coherent whole, and the eventual denouement feels almost like writer Brian Lynch was high on hallucinatory drugs.

Unlike Despicable Me and its sequel which had a bit of heart, this prequel completely lacks any brains or heart, and is enjoyable solely on a very superficial level. The film is bright and colourful and will certainly appeal to the key audience group of under-10s, and the 60s setting does inject a good number of musical numbers that would add some appeal to adult viewers. While it isn’t a bad movie in any way, there’s nothing really good about it either, and is instantly forgettable once the credits roll (do keep your 3D glasses on during the entire credits sequence to make it really worth the additional 3D price of entry).

Rating: * * ½ (out of four stars)


Jurassic World

Genre: Action/Sci-Fi

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Screenplay: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow, based on the novels by Michael Crichton

Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, B.D. Wong, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy

Running Length: 123 minutes

Synopsis: Located off the coast of Costa Rica, the Jurassic World luxury resort provides a habitat for an array of genetically engineered dinosaurs, including the vicious and intelligent Indominus Rex. When the massive creature escapes, it sets off a chain reaction that causes the other dinosaurs to run amok. Now, it’s up to a former military man and animal expert (Chris Pratt) to use his special skills to save two young boys and the rest of the guests from an all-out, prehistoric assault.

Review: It has been a long time since the Jurassic Park franchise has seen the big screen, with the last (rather dismal) movie, Jurassic Park III released in 2001. Stuck in development hell for over a decade, Jurassic World represents a somewhat triumphant return for the franchise, though it would be hard to imagine there being enough interest for a fifth installment. Jurassic World boasts excellent visuals, and strong performances from leads Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, but is a little let down near the end when the CG takes over the movie, like so many films these days are wont to do.

The 22-year old Jurassic Park was one of the first movies to make use of the then cutting-edge computer generated imagery, and the awe and wonder of seeing dinosaurs come to “life” can never be replicated in present times. The CGI in Jurassic World is miles ahead of the original film, but that’s honestly a given these days when technology has advanced so far. But, probably akin to the jaded amusement park attendees that populate Jurassic World, it doesn’t stir the soul like that Brachiosaurus reveal in the first film. Perhaps that’s the power of nostalgia speaking, but Jurassic World also falls to the uniquely present-day trap of letting the CGI do the acting – without going into spoilers, the finale sequence feels entirely (and probably is) artificial, and hence it was difficult to vest myself in the outcome in any way.

Although it works as a standalone film, Jurassic World assumes prior knowledge of the Jurassic Park films, never really delving into the backstory of the theme park. There are also a multitude of references to the first movie, which will particularly resonate with fans of Jurassic Park (aren’t we all, though). Michael Giacchino, who takes over the scoring of the movie from John Williams, does not shy away from the well-known musical cues from Jurassic Park either, although his score can feel a bit too bombastic at times. While it would be good to see Jurassic Park on as large a screen as possible to take in the majesty of the imagery, 3D is once again absolutely pointless and should be avoided.

Chris Pratt has really stepped up his Hollywood leading man game, and in Jurassic Park he channels his performance in Guardians of the Galaxy – funny and macho at the same time, he’s instantly likeable as Owen. Bryce Dallas Howard has the slightly more uphill task, since she needs to play both the “modern” action heroine and the “traditional” damsel in distress, and the duality does not work very well at times. She does share great onscreen chemistry with Pratt, which makes much of their interaction pleasant to watch. However, the Jurassic Park franchise has never been about the human actors, and relies more on its dinosaur counterparts. In this aspect the movie is not as successful. Although the Indominus Rex is positioned as a bad-ass dinosaur that’s even more dangerous than a T-Rex, she doesn’t really feel all that menacing onscreen. The velociraptors also make a return, but once again they come across as rather tame and certainly not as intelligent as the old raptors seemed to be.

No movie in the franchise will ever compare to the original, but it’s easy to place Jurassic World as the second-best film thus far. I am firmly of the opinion, however, that this should mark the end of the franchise – there’s no room in the franchise for any additional plot development, and any sequel after this one will be flogging a dead horse. I won’t put it past the studio executives to greenlight more films, especially if Jurassic World does well, but if this is indeed the swan song, it will conclude the franchise on a relatively high note.

Rating: * * * (out of four stars)