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Jurassic World: Dominion (2022) Review

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Jurassic World Dominion

Time: 146 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing
Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm
Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant
DeWanda Wise as Kayla Watts
Mamoudou Athie as Ramsay Cole
Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood
Campbell Scott as Dr. Lewis Dodgson
BD Wong as Dr. Henry Wu
Omar Sy as Barry Sembène
Justice Smith as Franklin Webb
Daniella Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez
Director: Colin Trevorrow

Four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar, dinosaurs now live and hunt alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.

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I was going into Jurassic World: Dominion only mildly interested. I’m not the biggest fan of the Jurassic Park franchise. The first movie is known as a classic and was highly influential for cinema, I liked it but wasn’t in love with it like many other people are. At the same time, I like all the movies in the series. The sequels are definitely flawed and aren’t as good as the first or even second movies, but I found some enjoyment in them. So I went into Dominion fairly open minded and expecting to like it, and I did.

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I had fun watching Jurassic World: Dominion but I had some issues with it, mainly the writing. You can tell that it really pitches itself as this grand and epic conclusion of the Jurassic Era, by that I don’t mean that it feels epic, but rather that it is trying to feel epic. Despite all that, Dominion doesn’t seem like a conclusion to the Jurassic World trilogy let along the whole Jurassic “Saga”, and it doesn’t feel like much has happened by the end. It is also very long at around 2 hours and 30 minutes, and by the end it just felt dragged out, messy and bloated. I think it does have a very weird plot for a Jurassic Park movie, even more so than Fallen Kingdom which had one half about saving dinosaurs from an erupting volcano and the second half a suspenseful mansion sequence with a killer raptor. Instead of it being isolated to one location full of dinosaurs, Dominion has a globetrotting and at times convoluted plot with so many subplots and too many moving parts. The characters don’t go through much development, it is just them moving from one place to another. The movie itself didn’t get off to a great start with its opening 30 minutes. 4 years had passed since the events of Fallen Kingdom and in its first scene it attempts to recap what happened since then. Whether it be with the returning Jurassic World characters, the original Jurassic Park characters, and the overall world, it just feels rushed and messy. The recap of what happened with the world is worst of all with a montage and a narration flat out telling you, the worst part is that they made it in the form of a NowThis video. The movie is pretty bad at exposition dumps, even if nothing is as bad as that opening monologue. Exposition aside, the dialogue is awkward much like the previous Jurassic World movies. The worst cases are with some of the dialogue between Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant (Laura Dern and Sam Neill) because its them having to say really bad lines. I really could’ve done without Laura Dern having to deliver the line “he slid into my DMs”.

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Dominion takes a lot from the previous Jurassic movies and can be repetitive, not really covering new ground. The main theme once again is about how humanity shouldn’t meddle with nature, there’s yet another story of an amoral billionaire using science to profit (and going full Umbrella Corporation). Without getting into too much depth, the movie even ends up having its own ‘park’ despite the world now being established as having dinosaurs roaming free. Instead of taking advantage of the end of Fallen Kingdom, it introduces this random plot about locusts which ends up being a central part of the plot. One plotline that is continued into Dominion however is the one focussing on the character of Maisie and her being a clone. It’s still weird and crazy considering that it is in a Jurassic Park movie, but I liked it more than I expected. At the very least there was more going on with her compared to some of the other characters (especially Owen and Claire). Dominion does lean into some absurdity thankfully, especially with a sequence in Malta. It really picks up in the second half and it is nonstop action in the third act. Of the Jurassic World trilogy, Dominion tries the hardest for nostalgia, which you could probably expect considering that they brought back the main trio of Jurassic Park characters into the plot here. I don’t think it earns the nostalgia, but I don’t dislike their inclusions.

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The returning Jurassic World characters aren’t that great, mainly Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, despite some decent enough performances from both. The highlight of the whole movie for me were the returning Jurassic Park trio: Laura Dern as Ellie Sattler, Sam Neill as Alan Grant, and Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm. It’s definitely a play for the nostalgia crowd but I can’t deny, it is so great to see them back. A lot of the time they’re not really given great material to work with, but their presence added a lot to the film and I would’ve liked the film a lot less without them. There are some new characters, DeWanda Wise is my favourite performer of the movie outside of the aforementioned Jurassic trio, and I really liked her. The villainous characters are quite generic and over the top but not nearly as silly as the ones from Fallen Kingdom. The central antagonist is the main corporate billionaire played by Campbell Scott who seems like he’s basically playing Tim Cook. Scott is clearly enjoying playing a goofy biotech mogul and it’s a fun performance at least, making the cliched character more enjoyable to watch.

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Colin Trevorrow’s direction isn’t great but I do think its an improvement over his work in Jurassic World. The visuals are fairly nice, the dinosaurs look great and fun to watch too. It seems that they finally found the right balance of practical and special effects. There are some enjoyable action sequences too, from the sequence in Malta involving a motorcycle chase with raptors, to the thoroughly enjoyable third act. I actually think the moments of horror are really well done, there are some good scenes of suspense.

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I would say Jurassic World: Dominion is probably one of the worst movies in the series, but it’s at least better than Jurassic Park III. It has some entertaining moments and aspects I really liked. Still, I think a lot of the other films achieved what they were setting out to do a lot better. The plot is very bloated and strange and there’s fun to be had with that, but for a film aiming to be an epic conclusion, it was underwhelming. I can’t tell who’ll like the movie, but if you disliked the previous Jurassic World movies, I’m pretty sure you won’t like Dominion. As someone who generally likes all the films in the series however, I enjoyed it.

Mr. Robot Season 4 (2019) Review

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Mr. Robot Season 4

Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson
Carly Chaikin as Darlene Alderson
Portia Doubleday as Angela Moss
Martin Wallström as Tyrell Wellick
Christian Slater as Mr. Robot
Michael Cristofer as Phillip Price
Grace Gummer as Dominique “Dom” DiPierro
BD Wong as Whiterose
Elliot Villar as Fernando Vera
Ashlie Atkinson as Janice
Creator: Sam Esmail

Set during the 2015 Christmas holiday, the fast-paced season will be one filled with answers, hacking and blood. Elliot (Rami Malek) and Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) are getting back to work and down a path that could prove endless. But have they crossed a line?

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Mr. Robot was already a fantastic show, Season 1 was a great start, Season 2 was solid while having its issues, and Season 3 took the show to new heights. However, much of how a show is eventually perceived depends on how well it finalises its story and characters at the end. With that being said, Season 4 is not only possibly the best season of the whole show, it’s one of the most memorable and satisfying conclusions I’ve seen to a TV show.

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It goes without saying, but there is a spoiler warning for the previous seasons leading up to this one in this review. An interesting aspect to note is that the whole show is stuck in 2015, this season picks up with having only advanced to just before Christmas 2015. As America recovers from the Five/Nine Hack, the focus of the narrative shifts to a somewhat heroic Elliot as he sets his sights on taking down Whiterose and her Dark Army. The show ups its game to deliver one very eventful season, one that raises the stakes for every character whilst delivering some of the best television in recent years. Season 4 really does feels like a true send-up of the first season everyone fell in love with, and everything that first season promised the show could be is what the final season is. Mr. Robot’s final season can be best described as incredibly emotional and heartbreaking; the opening moments of its first episode really does establish how much of a gut punch the whole season is. Season 4 runs for 13 episodes, making it the longest in the show’s history, and unlike say season 2, its time is not put to waste. I blasted through the episodes back-to-back, it was incredibly riveting and intense, even the slower paced episodes worked appropriately for the story and characters. As said previously, the main drive of this season is Mr. Robot taking down Whiterose, however there’s also plenty of other things happening at the same time. For example, there are episodes that focus heavily on the relationship between Elliot and Mr. Robot, which shows them more closely aligned in their goals compared to the past couple of seasons. This new dynamic is interesting and the writing definitely takes advantage of that, for instance, the narration to the audience that was done by Elliot is mostly done by Mr. Robot in this season. Additionally, as the season progresses, a lot of the sub-plots from the past and present interweave with Elliot’s journey. I won’t give too much away for fear of spoilers but suffice to say the final few episodes turn everything we’ve learnt up until this point completely on its head, delivering a shocking couple of plot twists to round out a thrilling and intense final season. Even on its last season, there are plenty of surprises that a lot of audiences won’t have expected. These plot twists are so good that it actually paints the entirety of Mr Robot’s early seasons in a completely different shade and I’m sure this will be a show that will be completely different to watch a second time through.

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The acting from everyone as usual is fantastic. Rami Malek and Christian Slater remain as brilliant as ever, and the change in their dynamic will be a treat for many. Rami Malek has always owned his role as Elliot Alderson but in this season in particular, he really shows his diversity and range with an absolutely stunning performance. There is particularly one episode (if you watch the episode you already know which one) in which Elliot learns something significant, and Malek’s performance is nothing short of spectacular and heartbreaking. This season also gives Christian Slater a lot more material than he has had since the first season. Slater is excellent in the role of Mr Robot, and his shift in character this season makes him much more intriguing than ever before. Many of the other actors playing the major roles of Price, Whiterose, Darlene and Dom all bring their A-game here and are given enough screen time to really flesh out their characters. Some characters get more attention than others, for example I would’ve liked to have seen more of Tyrell Wellick, but on the whole everyone’s stories were handled well, and as usual they were performed greatly. Outside of the main cast, one of the standout performers was Elliot Villar as the character of Vera. Vera had a small supporting role in the first season before he disappears from much of the show, only to return for this season. While he has a smaller role in this season, he’s great in his scenes, and especially shines in one particularly significant episode.

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All 13 episodes of this season are excellently directed by Sam Esmail, Mr Robot is on a technical level is in a league of its own when it comes to tv shows. The cinematography and visuals remain outstanding, and the sound design and score are top notch as ever, with composer Mac Quayle as usual somehow managing to top his work with every season. In its third and fourth seasons, the show has taken its stylistic ambitions to new heights. In season 3 it has a whole episode that was filmed and edited to seem as if it was taking place in a long, continuous single shot that darted and weaved in and around a massive skyscraper. I won’t go into season four’s own stylistic achievement of filmmaking, but just know that it only features two lines in the entire episode, and considering the stuff that happens in that particular episode, it’s incredibly impressive that that pulled it off.

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Mr. Robot’s fourth and final season is nothing short of outstanding, not only managing to produce its best season yet, but also able to wrap up the storylines and characters in such an impactful and satisfying way, while providing so many unexpected surprises throughout. Everything from the writing, directing and acting is at the show’s best. If you loved Mr. Robot from the past few seasons, I think you’ll really love how the final season turned out.

Mr. Robot Season 3 (2017) Review

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Mr Robot Season 3

Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson
Carly Chaikin as Darlene Alderson
Portia Doubleday as Angela Moss
Martin Wallström as Tyrell Wellick
Christian Slater as Mr. Robot
Michael Cristofer as Phillip Price
Stephanie Corneliussen as Joanna Wellick
Grace Gummer as Dominique “Dom” DiPierro
BD Wong as Whiterose
Bobby Cannavale as Irving
Creator: Sam Esmail

Picking up immediately following the season two cliffhanger, season three explores each character’s motivations and the disintegration between Elliot (Rami Malek) and Mr. Robot (Christian Slater).

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Season 2 of Mr. Robot, while good, did feel a little disappoint when compared to its previous season. While it was ambitious and ended strongly enough, Season 2 was bogged down by self-indulgence and some storylines that seemed to be going nowhere. Even though I liked it, parts of it did feel like a chore to get through. Season 3 however is a noticeable step up and a real return to form for the series, a lot more focused and constantly engaging from beginning to end.

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This goes without saying, but this review will contain spoilers for seasons 1 and 2 of Mr. Robot. The action picks up from where we last left the show, with Elliot having just been shot by fugitive and former E Corp senior VP Tyrell Wellick. Angela is working with both Tyrell and the Dark Army, and Darlene is now serving as an FBI informant for Dom who, along with her colleagues, is still trying to get to the bottom of the E Corp Hack. A large part of season 3’s success comes from how it deals with that season 2 cliffhanger. Something that also made this season quite interesting is that Elliot and Mr. Robot are now individual personalities. This creates a new and interesting dynamic between those characters and others in their sphere. It also gives Season 3 a clearer narrative structure, as Elliot’s two personalities now rarely appear in the same scene together. and aren’t aware what the other is doing. It adds an extra level of tension and allows the audience to better understand every character’s motive, all while avoiding a simplistic ‘good vs evil’ narrative.

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For those already weary at the prospect of more episodes rife with frustrating mind games, just know that in season 3, Mr. Robot is much more consistently assured and compelling than it was in its uneven second season, while still having plenty of floating questions and mysteries. Esmail cleverly retrofitted some of the less clear plot points and character decisions in the past by filling the audience in on the missing parts (even dating back to season one) – all without being too much, or feeling dumbed down and just explained to us.  You do get some of the answers that many of us wanted, including what exactly Tyrell had been doing while he’s been away for most of season 2. It’s a tight season at 10 episodes but it’s very eventful and tense throughout, characters are placed in very dangerous situations in the story. The main arc of the season, centered around the Dark Army’s terrorist attack and Elliot’s attempts to stop it, comes to a head in a sensational midseason double-bill, and I won’t spoil it but it’s excellently done. As season 3 picks up and races forward, the series continues to poke fun at itself, this season particularly has a good sense of humour. Episode 2 for example opens with a mostly upbeat eight-minute sequence that follows Elliot as he re-acclimates to daily life as a corporate drone. The series also gets back to letting viewers dive into big questions of government control, corporate greed, the rights of citizens, and the power and shortcomings of technology. The season doesn’t really end with a cliffhanger, but it does end in a way that makes you excited for season 4.

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The acting from everyone is fantastic as usual. Elliot Alderson and Mr Robot get more focus in this season compared to the last, and thus Rami Malek and Christian Slater get to shine more. With their new dynamic (as mentioned much earlier) this means that Malek and Slater are more united ever as actors because they’re called to dip into each other’s performance tics in specific scenes. Both continue to give very compelling performances. The returning supporting cast including BD Wong, Grace Gummer, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallstrom, and Michael Cristofer also perform quite well in their parts. All of their characters are taken in more interesting directions than before, and as a result they get to do a lot more. There’s some particular standouts. Portia Doubleday’s Angela Moss is placed in an interesting position as she’s now working for the Dark Army, and she gets to stand out, especially in the second half. Speaking of which, there’s a lot more screentime for BD Wong as Dark Army leader Whiterose as we learn more about her, and as usually he’s fantastic in the role(s). The biggest surprise however is Tyrell Wellick, played by Martin Wallstrom, he’s taken to a whole other level in this season. It’s almost a reinvention of the character that we knew from him in the first two seasons, and Wallstrom does some excellent shape-shifting to pull that off. Bobby Cannevale also joins the cast as Irving, a fixer of sorts for the Dark Army. Cannavale maintains a chill, chatty demeanour throughout, and was quite entertaining to watch. He could’ve easily come across as too cartoonish, but Cannavale is so immersed in character that it works, he’s terrific.

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Sam Esmail directs every episode, some which started from the second season and continuing through to the very end of the series. Esmail remains a flashy and ambitious filmmaker, framing certain shots to be extra-top-heavy and capturing chaotic scenes via lengthy tracking shots, but in ways that feel more natural and doesn’t feel like it’s showing off. This is a show which moves its cameras like no other, plays with reality like no other, blends timelines across seasons like no other. His use of long one-take shots were particularly effective, it helps that this technique is saved for moments so dramatic you’re not even looking for the cut. Speaking of which, there’s particularly one episode which is made to look like it was in one shot, this episode remains one of the best episodes of the entire series and for good reason, it’s incredible impressive. The score by Mac Quayle is even better here than in the past seasons and it was already amazing.

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Mr. Robot Season 3 is a return to form for the series. From the first episode to the last, it’s a tight, incredibly tense and entertaining ride. The writing is incredible with compelling character work and social commentary, the visually striking direction is only improving as the show continues, and the performances from the stellar cast are fantastic as always. It continues on the ambitions brought forward from season 2 and is as precise and well put together as season 1, while also making itself quite distinct in tone and style. It’s a strong contender for best season of Mr. Robot, it’s between this and the final season.