JURASSIC WORLD || 22 years after the original, and “Jurassic World” sets out to make the sequel that fans were actually waiting for. This time, the park is open, despite the events that happened in Spielberg and Crichton’s original. Bryce Dallas Howard plays one of the executives of the park while Chris Pratt plays a velociraptor trainer who has trained them to follow his commands. The villain of the film is a genetically modified dinosaur made from the DNA of several other animals/dinosaurs. Too many times CGI over practical effects, the film does succeed in being the best sequel yet, but fails to quite live up to the masterpiece that is “Jurassic Park”.
ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL || When high school senior Rachel (Olivia Cooke) is diagnosed with cancer, her awkward classmate Greg (Thomas Mann) is forced to hang out with her by his mom (Connie Briton). His friend Earl (RJ Cyler) tags along for the ride. As irreverent as the film wants to be, with its constant jabs at how normal romantic teen comedies play out and its self-aware narration that points out what is going to happen at the end of the film, the film never quite rises above being somewhat average, trying to hard to be the cool kid in class. A small step above “The Fault In Our Stars” but along the lines of “Paper Towns”. Despite winning the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, do not expect this one to show up at the Oscars.
THE WOLFPACK || Very few documentaries actually grab my attention, but as most of the reviews for the film “The Wolfpack,” this one has to be seen to be believed. Telling the story of the six Angulo brothers who are basically locked away from the world in their apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, they use films as a window to the outside, recreating scripts and props to feel normal. But when one escapes, apparently the power dynamic changes in the house and their oppressive father can no longer keep them contained.
11TH HOUR || Kim Basinger’s latest film sets out to show exactly how far a woman will go to get a baby when she can’t have one. Setting out to find a young woman being sold into sex slavery, she comes across a little person that finds her a baby. But that obviously doesn’t come without a hitch and enter evil Peter Stormare to delve out justice. With tinges of psychological thriller and a hint of the paranormal, “11th Hour” is so all over the place and so convoluted, if it didn’t have the strong theme of a mother searching for a baby to call her own, this would hardly even be a film. Basinger has seen better days as well.
SET FIRE TO THE STARS || Elijah Wood takes on the true story of the New York academic John Malcolm Brinnin who brings his hero, the poet Dylan Thomas (Celyn Jones), to America. But instead of impressing him or enlightening him, Thomas proves to be quite the handful and Brinnin must take him to a secluded retreat to get him ready to actually face people in America. Wood has been taking on many independent roles like this lately. This one, shot in black-and-white, feels a little too thick, with a script co-written by actor Celyn Jones.
SOAKED IN BLEACH || Part documentary, part reenactments, “Soaked In Bleach” is the Kurt Cobain documentary that wasn’t greenlit by the friends or family. This one delving into the mysterious circumstances involving his death, private investigators, detectives, and medical examiners involved in the case are interviewed and most express the strange details of the case, including actual audio recordings of Courtney Love and others pointing a suspicious finger at Love being involved with what was ruled a suicide.
THE STRANGER || Yes, the title of the film is “The Stranger,” but what I find strange is that in describing Eli Roth as the producer, they use two films that have yet to be released (“Knock Knock” and “The Green Inferno”). In this psychological thriller, a stranger shows up in town with what looks like an infection and as he warns people to stay away from him, of course the people don’t listen. As more people get infected, the town tries to contain the outbreak.
VENDETTA || Obviously if WWE puts its name on it so blatantly and puts one of its superstars in it, it cannot be that great. And “Vendetta” is just that. It does not look great. The Big Show is convict that killed a detective’s wife. Dean Cain’s wife. So to get revenge, Cain gets himself put in jail. Fighting everyone that comes his way, the man he has his eye on is The Big Show. Basically professional wrestling meets an action film, this shows more for the endless money Vince McMahon has to keep putting into these movies more so than actually showing a decent film.
THE YES MEN ARE REVOLTING || An activist group of pranksters is how the Yes Men are described. They’re fighting corporate greed on the front lines. Media hoaxes. Political parades. And tons of costumes. That’s how these guys shine a light on their causes. One of the highlight objectives covered in this particular documentary are the melting ice caps and getting certain corporations to admit to their impact.