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John’s Horror Corner: Amityville 3-D (1983), a boring slog of a haunted house movie featuring Meg Ryan.

June 27, 2022

MY CALL: I wasn’t a fan and don’t recommend this movie, whose pacing is just way too slow for me even to recommend to lovers of ‘so bad it’s good’ cinema. Not much happens until the very end, it’s very boring, and it pays little respect to its source material. MORE MOVIES LIKE Amityville 3-D: Uhhhhhh, stick to Amityville II: The Possession (1982) and wander no further in terms of franchise sequels. Part II has all the dumb fun you’re looking for with great pacing.

As with this movie’s predecessor, director Richard Fleischer (Soylent Green, Conan the Destroyer) wastes no time jumping into the action with this sequel. After the slaughter of now two different families in the Amityville house built over the Native American burial ground, reporters Melanie (Candy Clark; The Blob) and John (Tony Roberts; Popcorn) expose a charlatan medium operation during a sham séance… in the Amityville house. Their examination of the house reveals a sort of crude well in the basement floor referred to as ‘the gateway to Hell.’ And shortly after this discovery, John Baxter said “to Hell with the superstitions” surrounding the house and decided to buy it, so cheap they were practically giving it away. Estranged from his wife Nancy (Tess Harper), it just seemed like the best way for him to move on was to buy the haunted house.

If Amityville II: The Possession (1982) was using The Exorcist I-II’s (1973, 1977) playbook with some Poltergeist (1982) flair, then Amityville 3-D is using The Omen’s (1976) tactics along with a strong dose of Poltergeist (1982). With people alarmingly distorted in photographs, this utilizes the means we’d later observe in the Final Destination (2000) franchise. Appear distorted in a photo… you can likely expect to be dead in a few scenes. And while Melanie notices the correlation and fears a deadly supernatural link, John denies the existence of such silly superstitious things.

Following The Exorcist II (1977) and Poltergeist (1982), Dr. Elliot West (Robert Joy; Fallen, The Dark Half, The Hills Have Eyes) plays the resident supernatural researcher, a scientist who has made profession from disproving most unusual coincidences. As we’ve seen in the aforementioned movies, West and his team conduct an overnight paranormal investigation with loads of scientific instruments.

It’s not the most exciting and I’m not sure why it’s fatal (perhaps ‘fright’), but the first death scene is death by swarm of pestilence. Overall, I’d comfortably say that the haunted house stuff is all quite cheap and weak compared to part II. Moreover, part II had appreciably entertaining pacing, whereas 3-D is largely a boring slog.

I realize I just said it, but it merits repeating. This movie is horrendously boring. Outside of being dedicated to doing a full franchise rewatch, this movie viewing experience has proven wholly regrettable. The tail end of the movie has a few briefly satisfying visuals (e.g., the screaming corpse emerging from the well, a mongoloid demon breathes fire on a man’s face). But they do not make up for the sluggish, unexciting stretches leading up to them. The most interesting thing about this movie is seeing Lori Loughlin and Meg Ryan (City of Angels, In the Cut) in early career roles.

At this point I feel the need to identify that whereas part I showed us what a bunch of desecrated (and thus enraged) Native American spirits may do to those who reside upon their graves, part II shifts into a demonic possession that is treated as an evil spirit to be exorcised by a Catholic priest. Here in part III, the movie doesn’t even feign interest in the source material (i.e., angry Native spirits). The evil here is simply some basement demon hiding in the “gateway to Hell.” No one ever suggests righting the wronged Native people. It just becomes a truthseekers’ mission to prove the supernatural exists. Subsequent “sequels” (e.g., ’89 The Evil Escapes, ‘92 It’s About Time, ‘96 Dollhouse) seem to follow suite and simply treat the Amityville house as cursed or evil.

So that’s it. I wasn’t a fan. I don’t recommend this. And while many enjoy deliberately bad movies, this one’s pacing is just way too slow for me to recommend to lovers of ‘so bad it’s good’ cinema.

John’s Horror Corner: Amityville II: The Possession (1982), an entertaining and rather off-the-wall sequel shifting from a Poltergeist-ish haunted house to a possession and exorcism movie.

June 25, 2022

MY CALL: Taking some off-the-wall liberties in its storytelling, this is exactly the kind of high energy, high lunacy sequel that we sort of secretly want from our beloved horror classics. After watching this, you’ll have so much to take about. I promise. MORE MOVIES LIKE Amityville II: If you enjoyed this even a little bit and have not yet seen the original The Exorcist (1973) or its sequel The Heretic (1977), then that’s where you ought to venture next.

Not so long after the horrible events of The Amityville Horror (1979), Anthony (Burt Young; Rocky I-V, Rocky Balboa) and Delores (Rutanya Alda; The Stuff, The Dark Half, Mommy Dearest, Christmas Evil) move their four children into the cursed Long Island house on the water. The family’s dysfunction as advertised heavily before they even enter the house as teenagers Sonny (Jack Magner) and Patricia (Diane Franklin; TerrorVision) discuss their parents toxic bedroom life and Sonny is physically threatened by his father with dialogue identifying its commonplace nature. So the sins of the household are obvious. Anthony raises his hand to his wife and children with familiarity at the first signs of adversity.

About as soon as they enter the house, occasional visions of bloody plumbing, mini-assaults of pestilence and wind, cracked mirrors, and other minor poltergeisty goings-on abound as overt signs of a supernatural presence. This haunting rapidly advances to telekinetic displays, loud knocks and sacrilegious graffiti before they have even spend their first night in the house. That said, as wildly silly as this movie is right out of the gates, its pacing is truly energized.

Just as the original, we cover the main beats. Some weird things alarm the family, Father Adamsky (James Olson; The Andromeda Strain) is invited to bless the house, and the house… resists. Perhaps as retribution, the house possesses Sonny and he wanders to lecherous, incestuous places (yes, for real). Just as overt is the voice in Sonny’s head beckoning him to kill; much less subtle or abstract than the goading of part 1. A moderately interesting special effect is Sonny’s pulsating skin. When it flairs up it’s as if he’s trying to fight evil temptations or even battling becoming something. He somewhat behaves like someone turning into a werewolf, not wanting to be seen or near his loved ones.

Unexpectedly happening about the middle of the movie, the family slaughter scenes fell quite flat. Weak gunshot wounds, no chase or thrill; just summary execution. The death scenes are nothing special, and that sucks. But still, this movie’s pacing keeps things very entertaining overall.

This movie’s first half is better than the second half, for the second half of this movie is basically just trying to be The Exorcist (1973) or part 2 (The Heretic, 1977). We spend too much time with police and lawyers—any atmosphere once cultivated is readily lost. It’s kind of annoying. We begin with an enjoyable haunted house full of poltergeisty shenanigans, and transition into an Exorcist wannabe that tries too hard to be something it probably never should have been. By the end, Sonny has gone snot-faced Evil Dead-ite-Lite for a soft, largely forgettable exorcism. But you know what? After all the Reagan callback-style dialogue with the priest, the eventual finale effects are pretty cool. Sonny’s face swells, crusts, splits and pulsates into a Brundlefly-like gory mess to reveal the snaggle-toothed demon under the skin.

Not that this movie was serious enough for me to care, but I did find it somewhat confounding that a Catholic priest was attempting an “exorcism” on what should just be angry Native American spirits (who were probably good normal people) roused from their burial ground defiled by the building of the Amityville house upon their sacred resting place. Father Adamsky, as if speaking to a Biblical demon, even shouts “tell me your name!” So now we’re just treating these Native American spirits as pure Biblical evil? Or did an actual evil demon replace the Native spirits at some point? Maybe director Damiano Damiani (The Devil is a Woman, The Witch, Blood Feud) was just collecting his paycheck and couldn’t be troubled. But would an exorcism work against a collective bunch of Native American spirits lashing out against those who continue to torture their afterlife? Just a thought…

So maybe between the silly fun of the first half, the satisfying finale effects, and some theological and ethical preponderances to mull over after the fact, this sequel was well worth it overall. Despite a very slow 20-ish minutes before the closing scenes, I quite enjoyed myself.

John’s Horror Corner: Dashcam (2021), the delightfully wild found footage horror that keeps getting gorier and crazier.

June 24, 2022

MY CALL: If you enjoy found footage and impressive lower budget fare (that never feels low budget), this is for you. This film is wildly bonkers and boasts more impressive and gory special effects than we generally expect from the found footage subgenre. Plus, the characters are well written and very likable. Strong rec.

Driving around streaming live improv-rap to amuse her fans, Annie (Annie Hardy) is a social media entertainer living her best (and often hilariously rude) life during the pandemic lockdown. Annie is quite likeable and equally annoying from the start, very grounded and funny, raunchy and pushy. Annie reunites with her old vlog-mate Stretch (Amar Chadha-Patel; Willow, Doom: Annihilation) in the UK as a diversion from the monotony of Covid life.

An interesting dimension to the film is Annie’s subscribers’ comments perpetually populating the lower corner of the screen. Sometimes you read them when a scene is slow, other times the comments cue you to look at the screen to see what they’re talking about. It’s a mildly distracting dynamic that I find enhances my experience. We likewise observe the polarized range of safety considerations and conspiracy beliefs revolving around the Covid pandemic, from mask rage to preaching propaganda.

When a stranger pays Annie to transport an obviously sick older woman to a specific location, Annie’s day takes an interesting turn. The old woman is disoriented, incontinent, and doesn’t seem to speak English (or at all). Far weirder are the inexplicable occurrences that surround this old woman.

But oh my God the incredibly gross and gruesome things that happen to and around this old lady are jarring! The characters scream and I find myself slack-jawed, lost in the lunacy. There are multiple POV car crashes, bloody shenanigans, and some positively demonic goings-on as well. This movie also features an amazingly gory arm-break. Wow! Much better gore and effects than we generally expect from the lower budget subgenre of found footage. Many of the visuals capture powerful images from classic supernatural concepts, other brief monstrous images leave me wondering what the crap I just saw (in an awesome way). And like a Sam Raimi movie, Annie Hardy and her co-stars are really put through the ringer by director Rob Savage (Host). Aspects of this film fondly reminded me of Brightburn (2019), Willow Creek (2013) and As Above So Below (2014). All the while the movie leaves you in the dark as to whether this some sort of pandemic zombie movie, demonic possession movie, supernatural somethiorother… we don’t know and I don’t care.

I liked all the characters, whose dynamic relationships kept things entertaining even in the earliest scenes. Once the horror truly begins, this film manages to consistently remain incredibly tense while still occasionally funny. I was quite taken off guard many times and I never felt the low budget woes of found footage here either. There’s a lot of blood, and anything not clearly in frame (thus saving money on effects) is very understandable given the panicked hat-cam situation. This was good! I am so pleased with how this turned out.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 433: Riddick, Hot Planets, Legendary Bad Days

June 22, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

Mark and Norbert (@eddiecaine on Twitter) complete their Riddick trilogy series by discussing the 2013 film Riddick. Directed by David Twohy, and starring Vin Diesel, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista and a cute CGI jackal, the movie focuses on what happens when a group of mercenaries attempt to capture Riddick (it doesn’t end well for them). In this episode, they also talk about Vin Diesel, legendary bad days, and the best moments in the trilogy. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker.

John’s Horror Corner: Alligator (1980), a huge animatronic alligator that is an absolute joy to watch.

June 18, 2022

MY CALL: No joke, this was way better than expected. And not totally in a “so bad it’s good” kind of way, which it is. But in a great animatronic monster movie kind of way. The animal attack scenes were wide shots full of monstrous glory swallowing victims whole on-screen. Just plain fun! If you don’t love this, then I don’t know what could possibly please you.

NATURAL HORROR SIDEBAR: Looking for more natural horror? Check out Night of the Lepus (1972), Frogs (1972), Bug (1975), Jaws (1975), Food of the Gods (1976), Grizzly (1976), Squirm (1976), Empire of the Ants (1977), Day of the Animals (1977), Orca (1977), Piranha (1978), Piranha II (1981), Of Unknown Origin (1983), Cujo (1983), Razorback (1984), Monkey Shines (1988),  Slugs (1988), Gnaw: Food of the Gods II (1989), Shakma (1990), Arachnophobia (1990), Ticks (1993), Mosquito (1994), The Ghost in the Darkness (1996), Anaconda (1997), Lake Placid (1999), Rogue (2007), Pig Hunt (2008), Chaw (2009), Piranha 3D (2010), The Grey (2011), The Bay (2012), The Shallows (2016), 47 Meters Down (2017), Boar (2017) and Crawl (2019).

12 years after a young girl’s pet baby alligator was flushed down the toilet, chewed up dismembered human body parts and dead over-sized dogs have been turning up in the Chicago sewers. A private research company has been doing experiments on dogs with growth hormones, and the dead dogs have been dumped where they’ve been feeding this now hormoned-up alligator. Nice one, mankind! We’re just lucky the sewer rats didn’t get into it as well for some Gnaw: Food of the Gods II (1989) as icing on that toxic pollution cake.

The investigating officer David (Robert Forster; The Wolf of Snow Hollow, Psycho, Scanner Cop II, Maniac Cop 3) goes spelunking through the sewers only to witness in horror as his rookie partner is dragged away by a tremendous alligator. Of course, no one believes what he saw. Not even herpetologist Marisa (Robin Riker)—who might have lost a pet alligator 12 years ago.

The huge animatronic alligator is an absolute joy to watch. The effects may have nothing on Crawl (2019). But these clunky 80s monsters are not without their charm. When the beast bursts through concrete onto the city streets from the sewers below, we see the whole beast lumbering its body past cars for a sense of magnificent scale.

The movie doesn’t breeze by with the best pacing. The slow parts are very slow. But I just get such a kick outta’ seeing this monster on the city streets or eating a small child in a swimming pool that it’s all worth the wait. At one point, the behemoth ambushes a man from hiding in a giant trash heap in an alley and we see the entire monster with the man in his jaws, and then working his body down his gullet just as you may have seen a gator take a whole chicken at feeding time at the zoo! We have the pleasure of seeing this beast chew on several victims. Few movies offer such man-eating joie de vivre as was so happily delivered by director Lewis Teague (Cat’s Eye, Cujo). If you don’t love this, then I don’t know what could possibly please you.

The finale defeat of the alligator is rather anticlimactic, but at least we see the gator’s head explode. And oh, of course, there was another baby gator left behind… dun dun dunnnnnn! Although I’ve heard nothing but warnings to avoid the sequel/remake.

John’s Horror Corner: The Exorcism of God (2021), an exorcism movie that starts strong, really strong…

June 17, 2022

MY CALL:  This is a decent exorcism movie with a really great opening sequence. But it lacks the desired follow-through and consistent intensity promised in the early acts. Recommended to anyone who enjoys a spirited demonic possession movie. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Exorcism of GodFor more quality exorcism movies I’d recommend The Exorcist (1973), The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), The Unborn (2009) or The Last Exorcism (2010).

Haunted by his deeply sacrilegious indiscretions of a past exorcism, Father Peter Williams (Will Beinbrink; It Chapter Two) has spent nearly twenty years in Mexico trying to atone for his sins. When he is summoned to a prison to assess possessed inmate Esperanza (María Gabriela de Faría) who asked for him by name, Peter is reacquainted with his sins rather directly. So he calls upon his elder exorcist Father Michael Lewis (Joseph Marcell; The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) to aid him. Nothing an old priest and a young priest can’t solve, right?

I have often felt that the exorcism/possession movie subgenre is hard to nail in terms of credibility. How would a demon act? What kind of things would the devil say? Without the most vile gravity, it’s hard for me to believe the movie, the victim, or the possessing fiend. Many have tried and failed to impress me—among them The Rite (2011), The Devil Inside (2012), Belzebuth (2017), The Crucifixion (2017) and The Cleansing Hour (2019).

It’s easy to get carried away in the look or dialogue of the possessed. The make-up, visuals, sounds, words and behavior of this particular possessing demon rank high among possession movies when we first meet it. Lascivious seduction is a tool swiftly used by the fiend against its chaste perpetrator in the name of God.

The pacing is not as swift as I’d prefer, however the story builds well in its slower parts. Yet I wish the middle and end scenes were as provocative as the opening scenes, which really set my expectations high for the film. But alas, they simply could not keep up the intensity or demonic credibility. Not bad, but not as compelling as I had hoped with such a bold title—I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Director Alejandro Hidalgo (The House at the End of Time) brought us a decent movie, even a good one, but I continue to struggle to find exorcism movies that can truly impress me.

Cha Cha Real Smooth (2022) – Review: I Really Like Cooper Raiff Movies

June 17, 2022

Quick thoughts – Grade – B+ – Cha Cha Real Smooth is an earnest and sensitive film that proves Cooper Raiff is a filmmaker to watch. 

What’s great about Cha Cha Real Smooth and Sh*thouse is how writer/director Cooper Raiff is able to largely avoid “coming of age” or “feel good story” tropes by leaning into sharp observations (twentysomethings don’t have to fall into one stereotype) and sensitive moments  that audiences haven’t really seen before. His characters mostly defy convention and I really wish they’d have been around when I was in college (I had “sensitive” movies like Garden State and college movies like Old School and Van Wilder) because Raiff’s films don’t seem like the stock-shlock that Hollywood has thrown at audiences for years. It’s nice that Raiff swings for the fences with his emotions and despite a few negative reviews that use terms like “naracissitic nazal-gaving,” the majority of critics appreciate his brand of optimisim and messiness. Since it’s only his second feature-length production it’s not surprising that there are big speeches, tiny speeches, and emotional speeches that take up a decent amount of the running time. However, unlike other first/second time writer/directors, these speeches don’t feel overly-written or inorganic. There’s no “life is like a necktie that wraps itself around my neck” speeches (Best example I could think of) that feel overly-clever or too pleased with themselves.

Cha Cha Real Smooth revolves around Andrew (Raiff) a recent college graduate who moves home to New Jersey to figure out his next step in life. His main goal is to move to Barcelona to be with his Fullbright scholar girlfriend, but when she starts dating someone else he’s forced to pivot to something new that doesn’t involve living with his mom (Leslie Mann), younger brother (Evan Assante) and Greg (Brad Garrett), his stepdad who seems totally fine, but is wildly loathed. His career prospects perk up when he finds himself at a bat/bar mitzvah with an empty dancefloor due to lack of proper party motivation.  After he helps kick off the festivities by getting everyone dancing, he’s flooded with offers to be a party-starter for upcoming bar/bat mitzvahs. It’s during these parties that he meets Domino (Dakota Johnson) and her teenage daughter Lola (Vanessa Burghardt), and the three quickly form a friendship that gets messy as Andrew begins babysitting Lola and becoming too close to the engaged Domino. 

I really don’t want to give away the rest of the plot because it veers into unexpected territory that shouldn’t be spoiled. Just know that Raif, Mann, Johnson, Assante, Garrett and Burghardt are all solid and they’re each given several moments to shine. The highlight of the film is the performance from Vanessa Burghardt, an autistic actor who worked with Raif to develop the role and make her into a very likable character with solid comic timing. I really enjoyed watching Raiff and Burghardt onscreen together because they become friends and equals who enjoy spending time with each other. Also, Dakota Johnson is excellent as always and she’s asked to do the majority of the emotional heavy-lifting by creating a character who is likable, damaged, mature, uncertain, and about 30 other adjectives. Raiff must’ve been stoked when Johnson signed on because she’s able to create a three-dimensional human who never feels like a character written by a love-lorn twentyseomthing. 

Final thoughts: Watch Sh*thouse and Cha Cha Real Smooth because Cooper Raiff is a most welcome voice in the industry right now.

John’s Horror Corner: The Cursed (2021), a most welcome spin to a gypsy curse film that is a triumph in its subgenre.

June 16, 2022

MY CALL:  Don’t read too much about this film before seeing it; don’t seek out screen grabs or clips. It’s creepily atmospheric, graphically gory, and wondering if this is more creature feature or more Sleepy Hollow (1999) is a fine part of its unnerving charm. Strongly recommended! MORE MOVIES LIKE The CursedThis movie reminds me most of Sleepy Hollow (1999), The Brothers Grimm (2005) and The Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001). For more “gypsy curse” horror, try Thinner(1996) and Drag Me to Hell (2009).

Ten minutes into this film and I know that director and writer Sean Ellis (Anthropoid) is someone whose work I now intend to follow!

Our opening war scenes in France are grim yet gorgeous, depicting the cruel hardships faced by soldiers and the war infirmary brutalities that were suffered by survivors. The gore here is grounded and realistic, but still viciously eye-turning as limbs are audibly sawed off of screaming patients and bullets are wrenched from abdomens free of anesthesia. Truly, this film aspires in its graphic gore at every opportunity and the wound work is wincingly outstanding. We likewise find excruciating hatcheting of extremities against gypsies… and such cruel offenses earn the perpetrators a gypsy curse.

There is something dire about watching gypsies melt down silver and pour it into casts to produce silver teeth, that would then replace the formerly human teeth in bone mandibles, created with the utmost care, respect and even reverence.

We later find young Charlotte and Edward tended by their affluent parents, the tender Isabelle (Kelly Reilly; Eden Lake) and their rather cold father Seamus (Alistair Petrie; Victor Frankenstein, Hellboy). When Edward is attacked by a wild animal and subsequently disappears, searches are conducted as another young boy is discovered in the woods, brutally mangled! To investigate the case, pathologist John McBride (Boyd Holbrook; Morgan, The Predator) is commissioned to find Edward. McBride’s methods span classic Holmesian means, from crime scene investigation to questioning people about the boy and even techniques including blood and microscopy. The story and curse escalate, some turning to denial and others to fear, and more people tied to the violations of the gypsies die.

The creature attack scenes are quite effective. You see just enough to know what the monster is doing and have a vague idea of the monster’s form, seeing more and more of the monstrosity with every encounter. Other scenes show victims of the gypsy curse entangled by animated tentacle-like viny roots, and a most anatomically gory, writhing and slimy autopsy scene kindles memories of The Thing (1982).

This was a solid film! Very well made, well executed, visually well told, and I was perfectly satisfied with the ending. I want more of this; more from the mind and vision of Sean Ellis!

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 432: The Wizard, California and Video Game Tournaments

June 16, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

Mark, James and Norbert (@eddiecaine on Twitter) discuss the 1989 cult classic The Wizard. Directed by Todd Holland, and starring Fred Savage, Beau Bridges, Christian Slater, and Jenny Lewis, the movie focuses on what happens when three children hitchhike to California so they can enter a video game championship. In this episode, they also talk about dinosaurs, Nintendo, and deleted scenes. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker.

Jurassic World Dominion (2022) – Review: An Entertaining Sequel That Works Best When It Embraces Silliness

June 14, 2022

Quick Thoughts – Grade – B – Jurassic World Dominion is a globe-trotting adventure film that delivers some wonderful dino-carnage. It’s the best of the latest trilogy and it features the Pyroraptor (AKA swimming chicken dinosaur), which is quite possibly my favorite dinosaur featured in the six Jurassic Park films. 

Taking place four years after Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the movie focuses on the franchise’s core characters coming together to stop the villainous Biosyn genetics from causing a worldwide catastrophe that involves giant locusts eating all of the earth’s crops (that aren’t genetically modified Biosyn crops – which is insane because everyone would know who modified the locusts)) and causing massive starvation (it’s bonkers). To do this, they meet up with new characters and travel to an Italian mountain range that is home to swimming chicken dinosaurs, gigantic laboratories, and the Biosyn headquarters. From there, new characters meet legacy characters and together they run from new dinosaurs that want to eat them. It’s silly stuff, but director/writer Colin Trevorrow and co-writer Emily Carmichael know that it’s silly, and they make sure to embrace family-friendly chaos that is occasionally a lot of fun. Overall, it’s better than the lifeless requel Jurassic World and the misguided (but still welcomely different) Fallen Kingdom.

There’s a moment in Dominion that puts a giant smile on my face, and that’s when the’ A-plot kicks off with a promise to a velociraptor. In the years following Fallen Kingdom, Blue the smart velociraptor from the two prior films was relocated to the Sierra Nevada mountain range and managed to have a baby named Beta. Blue and Beta live near Owen, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), and their adopted clone-daughter Maise (Isabella Sermon), who refuses to stay in the cabin after four years of being kept near or inside the home. One day, Beta and Claire are kidnapped by Biosyn thugs, and Owen promises Blue that he’ll return Beta safely to her. This leads Owen and Claire to Spain, where they team up with Barry Sembène (Omar Sy – Returning from Jurassic World) and attempt to rescue Blue and Beta. After a botched rescue attempt at a blackmarket that sells dinosaurs (and dinosaur meat?), Owen and Claire team up with a pilot named Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) who flies them to the Italian mountains. This is where they meet legacy characters Ellie Satler (Laura Dern) and Alan Grant (Sam Neil) who traveled to the headquarters to investigate the locust plague. The two groups teamup, and are aided by Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum) and Ramsay (Mamoudou Athie), the head of communications for Biosyn. Together, they get stranded in the large dinosaur habitat and find themselves battling new dinosaurs such as the Giganotosaurus (bigger than a T-Rex, and more mean), Therizinosaurus (Freddy Kreuger dinosaur),and Atrociraptors (meaner and bigger than velociraptors). 

It’s a globe-trotting good time that is at its best when it veers toward silliness (AKA promises to raptors). The current 30% Tomatometer score seems harsh and I find it odd that some critics are complaining that there isn’t enough dinosaur carnage. This is odd because there is a wild amount of dinosaur carnage that involves Bryce Dallas Howard clotheslining an Atrociraptor with a metal pole during a chase in Malta. The movie is packed with fun new dinosaurs and despite being filmed during the pandemic, it has a large scale that makes it feel like a Jason Bourne film met a National Treasure movie and teamed up with the Jurassic Park franchise. The legacy characters from the first trilogy are all used well and have a reason to be there, and this trilogy’s cast seem more comfortable with their roles as the franchise has aged (I like Dad Pratt more than cocky dino-trainer Pratt). It’s the sixth film in a franchise that has gotten progressively more silly, what were people expecting? 

Final thoughtsJurassic World Dominion is a likable sequel that features several fun moments that make it worth watching on the big screen.

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