Sunday, June 21, 2015

7 Days in May | Jurassic Big Eyes of SHIELD

Jurassic World (2015)

I loved it. When I came out of the theater, I thought that I may have even liked it better than the first one. I eventually backed away from that, because I was forgetting how effective some of the scenes are in Jurassic Park, like the initial T-Rex attack and the raptors in the kitchen. But the first one didn't have Chris Pratt commanding a troop of velociraptors. Or Bryce Dallas Howard saving everyone's lives. Or Jake Johnson at all. Or a fully functioning, open-to-the-public theme park. And I like the kids in Jurassic World better than the kids in Jurassic Park (although the first ones were just fine). There are many ways that World is more of what I want out of this concept than Park is.

It's not a perfect movie. There are plenty of loose threads to pull at if you're inclined to do that. And I often am in a lot of films. Just not in ones as thoroughly entertaining as this. I don't think the problems are major ones anyway, but these actors fighting and partnering with dinosaurs in a working theme park is a thing that's so totally in my wheelhouse that I will gladly ignore anything that might prevent my enjoying it.

Big Eyes (2014)

Tim Burton's latest film does have a major problem though. It's based on the true story of Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), the wildly popular artist in the '50s and '60s who let her husband (Christoph Waltz) claim credit for her work. Sadly, Big Eyes isn't interested in the burning question I had, which is why Margaret not only let this happen, but was so invested in the lie that she tried to fool her own daughter into thinking that Margaret had given up painting and that Walter Keane was the only artist in the family.

Late, late in the movie, Margaret offers the explanation that she felt dominated and bullied into it, but that's not really how it plays out. Walter turns scary dominating towards the end, but that's when he feels that everything's falling apart for him. Earlier in the movie, when he develops the scheme and convinces Margaret to participate, he's all charm and smiles. But his charisma doesn't explain her total buy-in and none of the movie works for me without understanding that motivation.

Agents of SHIELD

As part of my Marvel re-watch, I'm giving Agents of SHIELD another go. I watched the first few episodes as they aired, but even though I didn't think it was a horrible show, it was tough to get excited about coming back for every week. It seems to reward binge-watching though. I still don't finish an episode all excited for the next one, but it's easier to get in the habit of watching it when I can see a new episode every night or two instead of having to remember every week.

None of that is great praise, but I'm only six episodes in and haven't hit the post-Winter Soldier episodes yet where it reportedly gets better. So far, I like the characters well enough, but none of them are super intriguing. I want to like Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), but she's being kept mysterious for now, so it's hard to connect to her. The only character with any development so far is Skye (Chloe Bennet). I'm learning to like her, but she's not enough to carry the show. I'm ready for the rest of the team to become as interesting, if not more so.


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

Jurassic World really felt like the original film ON STEROIDS!!! Kind of like how Predators and The Thing 2011 were just same movie remade.

I didn't love it, I didn't hate it, it was just alright. It met expectations and cashed in on name recognition, which is all it needed to do to make bank.

Derek Ash said...

I genuinely felt like I can just have Jurassic Park and Jurassic World and ignore the other two films (I have never seen them anyway) because these two bookend and compliment each other so well.

Jurassic world wants to pay homage to the source material, connect with the source material, and bring new levels of depth to it all at the same time as doing its own new and interesting things. I agree that it is far from being a perfect movie... but when it comes to Jurassic Park I'm not watching to have things make sense all the time anyway. I'm watching BECAUSE DINOSAURS (and because things make enough sense to help me ignore whatever doesn't).

Always really like reading your reviews after the fact. You do a great job of articulating things I either felt myself but had troble pinpointing, or bringing up points I hadn't considered at all. Both great hallmarks of a talented reviewer. Thanks!

Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

I hear on the sequels. I'd put Lost World on par with Batman Returns as they with both highly anticipated sequels and upped the ante on visuals but didn't have any sympathetic characters.

3 was clearly a rush job to put something in the theaters during the writer's strike at the time. The effects feel like they were stolen from the Discovery Channel.

Paxton said...

My wife and I watched Big Eyes a few weeks ago and liked it. I see what you're saying about her motivation for lying. This is how I took it: It was the 60s, and they dropped mentions in the beginning that, NO ONE is buying art from women. Keane is super charismatic. He actually gets her art sold. It helps her raise her daughter. That's her main priority. She's doing it for her daughter. And she feels, and Keane keeps hammering into her, that no one will buy the paintings if they realize they were done by a woman. She's obviously super conflicted about it but lots of money will cool many doubts.

Just my thoughts.


Michael May said...

I think you're right that there are clues. Like when she goes to the priest about lying and he basically tells her to do whatever her husband says, because he'll know what's best.

I can buy that and the economics as explanations for why she went along with the overall scheme, but not for keeping it from her daughter. Why not bring her in on the secret? That was clearly the thing that bothered Margaret the most and it bothered me most, too. I never understood it and it distracted me for the whole movie.

Michael May said...

Derek and Erik, I'm with you guys on the middle ones. I can find things to like about them, but they're largely ignorable.

And Derek, thanks for the kind words!


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