The Jurassic Park Series (Anyway, That’s All I Got)

jurassic park series

In what is undoubtedly our longest episode to date, we decided (against our better judgment) to revisit all five movie in the Jurassic series, from the original Jurassic Park all the way to the newly released Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, we dissect the few successes and many failures of the series thus far, all the while pondering how this franchise manages to continue, and how the hell it got to the point it’s at today. Needless to say, we have plenty of agreements, disagreements, and insights along the way, and at the end of the show we give our individual pitches for where we’d like the franchise to go.

Hosted by Sam Noland, Jason Read, and Anthony Battaglia!

Go on…The Jurassic Park Series (Anyway, That’s All I Got)


Ep105: Describe Yourself In Three Magnificent Characters

now conspiring

You can also download this podcast episode on iTunes and Stitcher.

Hey conspiracy cats, this week we review The Magnificent SevenStorks, and Queen of Katwe. But honestly, we spend most of our time talking about…mansplaining? The internet? Our patronuses? Look, you listen to this podcast for a reason, and Dumbledore help us, we don’t know exactly what that reason really is.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: How would you describe yourself using three fictional characters?

Go on…Ep105: Describe Yourself In Three Magnificent Characters

Review: ‘The Magnificent Seven’ Is Enjoyably Average

magnificent seven

In 1960, The Magnificent Seven came about under the direction of John Sturges to limited acclaim. Critics didn’t love it because Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (of which Magnificent is adapted from but with a Western spin) was still a near-perfect film fresh on everyone’s minds. In the decades since, critics have grown to appreciate Magnificent Seven more due to the cascading success of the film’s actors, and it’s hard to deny the sheer entertainment value to be had in the first 2/3rds of that film.

As someone removed from that era entirely, I found the 1960 adaptation to be a forgettable shadow of Seven Samurai — but I’ve always been interested in the idea of updating the original concept with heavier themes, better visuals, and other details it could rightfully borrow from Kurosawa’s work.

Yes, Magnificent Seven has had sequels and even a TV show since its mid-century release, but we now have a modern remake in the fashion of 2010’s True Grit. The only difference, though, is that Grit managed to be a remake with a purpose. By comparison, the 2016 Magnificent Seven is more akin to a video game made from the movie. There’s more violence, the characters’ stories are tossed aside for manufactured movie moments, and there’s little reason to watch this one outside of seeing a fast-paced action Western. If that’s what you want out of Magnificent Seven because you have some sort of sketched idea of what the original (and the original before that) had to offer, then you’ll probably walk away satisfied.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training DayThe Equalizer), this new take on Magnificent focuses on Rose Creek, an American frontier town under siege by a robber baron aptly named Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), who mostly mumbles vain platitudes about how capitalism justifies his boring villainy. This is a strange departure from the small Mexico town victimized by bandits in the 1960 version, made more confusing by the fact that this change to Rose Creek holds little meaning outside of a desire to keep things American, which has all sorts of troubling implications if you think about it too long.

magnificent seven

To ward off Bogue’s militia, newly-widowed Emma Cullen (played by Haley Bennett) seeks out the help of Sam Chisholm (Denzel Washington), a warrant officer from Kansas who in turn recruits six other mercenaries from around the area. They include wise-talking and gunslinging Joshua Faraday (Chris Pratt as Star Lord in the West, essentially),  a confederate sharpshooter (Ethan Hawke), his knife-throwing Chinese “manservant” Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), frontier survivalist Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), a gruff Mexcian outlaw Chisholm was previously in pursuit of (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and a Comanche archer named Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). 

A significant amount of time in Magnificent Seven is spent fleshing out character skill-sets more than anything else, like why any of the mercenaries are willing to put their lives on the line for strangers. The film tries to posit this as some sort of “Eff it” mentality that might be mixed in with a soft decency that doesn’t come across in any performance, especially with Faraday, who seems to change his temperament based on the position of the sun. Chisholm is the closest to having any real sense of intention in the script, and there could have been real opportunity to make his growing affection for the rest of the cast convincing. But unfortunately, Washington brings almost zero nuance or heart to the role, and the entire ensemble suffers for it.

There are flaws aplenty in the film’s basic narrative structure and script that prevent Magnificent Seven from ever having an affecting impact. But at the very least, it competently accomplishes what it set out to do. The half hour or so of nonstop gun-toting action is thrilling to watch, and you might care enough about some of the characters involved (if not the one-note villain) to share some of their tension as the odds grow ever against their favor. But once the dust settles, you’ll start to wonder what the point of all this endless violence really was as the film rushes to the finish line with as little effort as possible. There’s no reflection on much of anything important that the film accidentally managed to say.

Grade: C+

Extra Credits:

  • I love Matt Bomer, and there is no reason for him to be in this movie (for about four minutes).
  • The late James Horner composed the film’s score (which is fantastic), and it’s also his last composition.
  • Believe it or not (and I checked), this is the first western Denzel Washington has starred in. What a waste.
  • So…Chris Pratt. Honestly, I think the actor was underserved here, same as Washington. The film would have been saved if the script had gotten their chemistry right, but there’s nothing to see here.
  • Review in four words? “The quintessential RedBox movie.”

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Review: ‘Jurassic World’ Spared No Expense

Jurassic World mini review

Jurassic World is the fourth movie in the overall Jurassic Park franchise that kicked off 22 years ago. We’ve been waiting 14 years for a new movie, but does this return to Isla Nubar satisfy?

Turns out, it really does. Jurassic World is a ton of a fun, and I had a blast watching it. The enjoyment I gained from the movie even rivals the original Jurassic Park, which was a staple of my childhood (and yours, probably). But it’s a different movie with a different tone, and even some different things to say.

Go on…Review: ‘Jurassic World’ Spared No Expense

Chris Pratt Correctly Predicted His ‘Jurassic World’ Leading Role…In 2009

Coincidentally, I’ve just finished binge-watching the first 6 seasons of Parks and Recreation, so finding this clip was too perfect timing-wise. In this “behind the scenes footage,” you’ll see Pratt joking about getting a text from Spielberg about his upcoming role in Jurassic 4 (which will actually be called Jurassic World).

Found this pretty entertaining as a huge Andy Dwyer fan. And it’s painfully obvious that this man controls the future.

Seriously, after starring roles in The Lego MovieGuardians of the Galaxy (which ended up being the biggest superhero movie of the year, by the way) and the upcoming Jurassic Park franchise, there’s literally no stopping this guy. And that’s a good thing.

If you still haven’t seen an episode of Parks and Recreation, do yourself a favor and check out the whole series on Netflix. Stomach through the admittedly bland first season and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the payoff.

Chris Pratt Shares Plot and Character Details For Jurassic World

Andy from Parks and Recreation is a big fan of helping to remind us that a Jurassic Park-er-World movie is actually happening. Yes, we’ve been told that it is officially coming out next June, but they haven’t even started filming yet.

Editing alone is going to be a dinosaur of a task when it comes to remaking a franchise that literally makes all of its money from having the best special effects of its time, so I’m ready and willing to hear out Pratt on some new story details that will hopefully get us excited.

Let’s over-analyze!

(The following is based on an interview between Chris Pratt and MTV)

Pratt on what drew him to the project: “What I liked about it is that it answers the question of, ‘Why would they do that?’ How do you suspend disbelief to be like, ‘Oh, yes! Let’s make this mistake again! We haven’t learned our lesson about dinosaurs. “We should definitely live with them and see how that works out!””

Wow. Chris said exactly what everyone is thinking.

“After three tries, they answer the question really well through the script. Colin did a great job of writing it and justifying it. Kind of, in his own way, having fun with that so that anybody who goes in with that question will be really amused the way I was.”

OK, so Chris is hinting at a possible motivation for bringing dinosaurs back to life aside from the whole “because dinosaurs” plotline from the first few films. 

Pratt on how his role compares to Ian Malcom and Dr. Alan Grant from previous movies: “He’s got a little of both [characters]. He’s got a little bit of the Goldblum cynicism, but also the Sam Neill excitement at the wonder and the biology of it all.”

If there is anyone who captures enthusiasm in a way that doesn’t actually make us uncomfortable, it’s absolutely Andy Dwyer.

I have to be honest here. Is anyone really excited about this movie? I’m trying to be, as I’ve always been a big fan of the fun that comes with the Jurassic Park movies, but I’m also hesitant to see how the lore has aged.

Keep in mind that this is the same movie that was originally conceptualized to feature human/dinosaur hybrids. Obviously, this is no longer the case and the script is in better hands, but that doesn’t make me any less fearful that this is going to be a major disappointment.

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