Archive for June, 2018

Related imageAn American becomes a member of the Japanese yakuza and tries to help the clan who are under a power pressure from a rivaling gang.

Less stylised than Only God Forgives (2013), director Martin Zandvliet offers a well filmed, satisfying, yet, paint by numbers gangster screenplay from
Andrew Baldwin in the vain of a string of 80s and 90s Japanese organized crime syndicate films, including the likes of American Yakuza (1993) and Black Rain (1989). That said, what makes The Outsider standout and more interesting from many other yakuza yarns is the 1954 post WWII backdrop and the strong cast performances.

The tone and score compliments Zandvliet’s well staged ultra violent moments – fingers are cut off, throats are cut and people are shot, strangled and stabbed. With deaths echoing the Godfather trilogy writer Baldwin wisely includes the staple themes loyalty, betrayal and forbidden love with Zandvliet bringing these visually to life with the grease and atmosphere of the 50s, injected into the costumes sets and locations.

Jared Leto’s snake like performance as prisoner of war Nick Lowell is a highlight as he becomes part of the yakuza. The Shiromatsu patriarch, Akihiro, played wonderfully by Min Tanaka is notable. Tadanobu Asano is memorable as Yakuza member Kiyoshi who Nick helps out of an Osaka prison.

Overall, not a gangster game changer but enjoyable nonetheless.

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Three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing return to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that’s about to erupt but soon uncover a conspiracy that will change the fate of the dinosaurs forever.

Opening with the Mosasaurus destroying a submersible and a Tyrannosaurus attack, J.A. Bayona’s direction is on point as he handles the mammoth film effortlessly. At first Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom appears to improve the ethical conundrums of bringing dinosaurs back to life, building on themes touched on in Spielberg’s 1993 original and the novel source material. However, things take a major turn in the second act.

This instalment offers an impressive (but distracting) CGI loaded destruction of Isla Nublar’s Jurassic Park/World after the eruption. This setup includes a select few of the de-extinct dinosaurs being ‘saved’ only to be used for corporate gain with echoes of The Lost World. Still, the tone shifts to a Halloween-like dark place and Fallen Kingdom becomes a stalker in a mansion, cat and mouse type film.

The latter half offers some serious nightmares for younger viewers and possibly leaves fans of the outdoors feel of its predecessors scratching their heads. While the second half is a brave shift in terms of setting and tone the philosophical points, mostly from an Ian (Jeff Goldblum’s) cameo, are interesting but the message simply feels off and doesn’t really take Kingdom forward.

In amongst the tense well staged action packed set pieces, (drowning in a Gyrosphere springs to mind) and genuinely thrilling moments there are too many unscrupulous cartoon like villains, even more so than its predecessor. Namely Toby Jones Lockwood Estate auctioneer host, unprincipled Dr. Henry Wu (B. D. Wong returns) and there’s corrupt Rafe Spall’s Murder She Wrote-like killer Eli Mills. James Cromwell Sir Benjamin Lockwood, John Hammond’s former partner accent is as out of place as the cloning Scooby doo subplot twist which leads nowhere. On the flipside both Chris Pratt’s Grady and Bryce Dallas Howard’s Dearing are on form and much better performance wise here. Also notable is Ted Levine’s Ken Wheatley, a seasoned mercenary who has a memorable scene with the a newly created dino, part Indominus rex and a Velociraptor, the sociopathic Indoraptor! Trained Blue’s storyline and purpose is never fulfilled, the raptors ‘emotional’ DNA is never used as the weaponised pro-type goes on a hunt through the estate for our heroes and a young girl.

Kingdom returns to the thrills and scares which the first delivered but through no fault of Bayona, over four films, the novelty and wonder has faded. With a post credit scene setting up another sequel you can’t but think that, even with the change of direction, the Jurassic series should be left in Amber.