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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.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) Retrospective Review

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Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing
Rafe Spall as Eli Mills
Justice Smith as Franklin Webb
Daniella Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez
James Cromwell as Sir Benjamin Lockwood
Toby Jones as Gunnar Eversol
Ted Levine as Ken Wheatley
B. D. Wong as Dr. Henry Wu
Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood
Geraldine Chaplin as Iris
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm
Director: J. A. Bayona

Three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) return to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that’s about to erupt. They soon encounter terrifying new breeds of gigantic dinosaurs, while uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the entire planet.

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Many people seem to be very split on Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, even among those who liked/disliked the first Jurassic World. I was very mixed about Fallen Kingdom when I first saw it, so I was curious about whether my opinion would change that much on a rewatch. I can at least say that I appreciate it a lot more this time, despite its numerous flaws.

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Like with Jurassic World, the main issue here is the script. The story is a mixed bag with plenty of cliched and recycled plot points. One thing notable about Fallen Kingdom is that it is not a film of 3 acts, but of two very different halves. The first half is about Owen, Claire and co. trying to save the dinosaurs from an island whose volcano is about to erupt. I wasn’t such a huge fan of that section, it wasn’t that interesting to me. It felt like it was falling back into Jurassic World’s worst tendencies with humour that falls flat, bad dialogue, and poorly written characters. The second half is where the movie begins to work more for me, going in a different direction compared to the first half. It consists of the main characters being inside a mansion and trying to stop dinosaurs from being sold off, while a special dinosaur wreaks havoc. I liked the plot more in this section and I especially enjoyed the horror aspects.

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I do think that out of the 5 movies thus far, Fallen Kingdom is the weirdest of the Jurassic Park movies, from the closed in haunted house second half, to the weird decisions, and there certainly are plenty of weird decisions. The one that springs to mind is a subplot following a girl named Maisie played by Isabella Sermon, where it is revealed in the third act that she’s not the granddaughter of James Cromwell, but rather a clone of his daughter. It is really out of place from the rest of the movie. Most of all, it feels contrived, like it was only there so that she would make the decision to let the dinosaurs out at the end. Much of the absurdity of these movies continues with Fallen Kingdom. That extends to the militarisation of the dinosaurs which is full on Umbrella Corporation and Weyland-Yutani levels of silliness. However, the first Jurassic World sort of got away with it because of the self awareness and the silly tone. Its follow up however seems to be comparatively darker and serious, making its absurd moments feel even more out of place. There are some genuinely good scenes. The moment with the brachiosaurus being left behind as the boat leaves stands out most of all, very startling in fact, coming out of nowhere. It is a very memorable and effect moment, even if it’s a bit emotionally manipulative. There are also some good character moments, and the plotline between Owen and an intelligent raptor named Blue was one of the highlights and I thought it worked well enough. Also, Fallen Kingdom ends on the note with dinosaurs going into the wild, leading the franchise into a direction that it hadn’t gone in before (and will be shown in the third movie).

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Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return to their roles of Owen and Claire and gave similar performances. Their characters may be more bearable to watch, but their acting isn’t quite as good, and they feel a little bland here. Once again, the chemistry isn’t strong and it falls flat, but thankfully the film doesn’t seem to be focussed on it in contrast to its predecessor. James Cromwell is decent in the few scenes he’s in. BD Wong also returns as a minor recurring antagonist Dr Wu. Jeff Goldblum returns as Ian Malcolm, but really it is just for two scenes, in the first act and at the end. It really feels like he was included just so that he can say “Welcome to Jurassic World” at the end. A lot of the other characters are poor however. There’s a couple of people who tag along with Claire and Owen played by Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda, and they were really a source of a lot of the annoying humour in the movie. Then there’s the villains, who are somehow even more over the top than Vincent D’Onofrio in the last movie. You have Rafe Spall as a character who you can immediately tell is going to be revealed to be evil at the end. There’s also Toby Jones as a generically evil auctioneer for dinosaurs, and as well as Ted Levine as a cartoonishly evil mercenary and dinosaur hunter.

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J.A. Bayona honestly added something to Fallen Kingdom with his direction, more so than Colin Trevorrow in the previous movie. There are some good action scenes and set pieces from the volcano erupting in the first half, to the haunted house in the second half. A lot of Bayona’s horror skills get to be on display here, and the horror elements in the second half work quite well. Even the Indoraptor plays like a full on horror movie villain; there’s a scene where it approaches Maisie in her bedroom like it was Freddy Kreuger. The visuals in Fallen Kingdom were improved from Jurassic World, same with the CGI on the dinosaurs. A big part which probably helped is that in Fallen Kingdom, outside of a few sequences, there usually isn’t an overload of too many dinosaurs on screen at the same time. When the volcano erupts and lava is pouring close to a paralysed Chris Pratt, it looks fake but that’s just in one scene.

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was better than I remembered. There are plenty of bad elements that make the experience frustrating, but it is mainly because there are some other aspects that are really good. For what it is worth, I do think that Fallen Kingdom is slightly better than Jurassic World. There are some really good scenes, and most of all the direction from J.A. Bayona was solid. The end of the movie has an opportunity for the franchise to take a different direction, which Dominion hopefully takes advantage of all.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) Review

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The Lost World - Jurassic Park

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains violence & coarse language
Cast:
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm
Julianne Moore as Dr. Sarah Harding:
Pete Postlethwaite as Roland Tembo
Arliss Howard as Peter Ludlow
Richard Attenborough as Dr. John Hammond
Vince Vaughn as Nick Van Owen
Director: Steven Spielberg

John Hammond along with few other members try to explore the Jurassic Park’s second site. However, things get complicated when the dinosaurs go wild and everyone is forced to run for their lives.

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Jurassic Park became an instant classic when it released in 1993, becoming both a critical and box office success. However, all the sequels following did not seem to have been received favourably. The follow up was again directed by Spielberg, and some people viewed it as a disappointment. However I ended up really liking it, even if its not quite as good as the first movie.

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The Lost World is distinctly different from the Jurassic Park, but in a good way. The movie is larger in scope, and the concept and set up of having a different island where dinosaurs roam free was exciting. It’s a nice way to make it stand apart from having yet another dinosaur outbreak like the first Jurassic Park was. Storywise, it definitely has more flaws than the first movie, its certainly not as memorable. It also seems to have a stronger focus on excitement and thrills over its story, and leans more into being a rollar coaster ride. With that said, it succeeds as such, with some entertaining and thrilling moments. The Lost World is a darker movie than Jurassic Park, yet also manages to be sillier and on the more absurd side, so it can be tonally inconsistent at points. Characters in monster movies making bad decisions isn’t exactly an anomaly, however The Lost World has a lot more of it than Jurassic Park, and for whatever reason its more frustrating. Its probably because these people really should know better, especially Julianne Moore’s character. There’s also some moments where the plot gets a little far fetched and doesn’t make sense. There are some very silly moments that are over the top, including one involving a dinosaur being taken out by gymnastics of all things. Finally, the third act has a notable setting change that’s out of place from the rest of the movie, even though I enjoyed it.

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The cast of characters aren’t as good as the characters in the first movie, they weren’t as memorable or as interesting, and I say this even though I don’t even think the collection of characters of the first movie were all that great. However, the characters of The Lost World still work in their parts and are performed well. Jeff Goldblum was a scene stealer as Ian Malcolm in the first Jurassic Park and he returns here in a larger part, taking the lead role this time. While I do feel like he works better as a side character than a protagonist, he is still good, fun to watch and has some memorable lines. Julianne Moore, Richard Attenborough, Pete Postlethwaite, Vince Vaughn and others are good, though I will say that Moore does feel a bit underutilised, and Vaughn randomly disappears from the final act.

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Unsurprisingly, Steven Spielberg’s direction was one of the strongest parts of this movie, with strong technical elements. The cinematography is polished and energetic, it is a visually stunning movie. The majority of The Lost World is set at night, and is darker and rainier than even the first movie. The sets are grand and spectacular with some stellar production design. The visual effects and sound design are on top form too. Some of the CGI aren’t quite as strong compared to the first movie, but its nonetheless impressive, and the animatronics still hold up. The set pieces are riveting, entertaining, and very tense. Once again, Spielberg exceeds at the tension and suspense. One moment which stands out particularly is a scene where the main characters are on the edge of a cliff, it is incredibly well crafted. The deaths in The Lost World are interestingly more violent and brutal than the last movie’s, as if Spielberg was carrying over his mean streak from Temple of Doom. The score by John Williams is great as to be expected, and this time has a comparatively darker tone, fitting for this movie.

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The Lost World was a decent follow up to the first Jurassic Park. Once again, it has problems with the characters, and the writing is a bit of a mixed bag. Otherwise, the cast are pretty good, and the direction from Steven Spielberg really made it something worth watching. At the very least, The Lost World is the best of the Jurassic Park sequels.

Jurassic Park (1993) Review

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Jurassic Park

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] 
Cast:
Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant
Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm
Richard Attenborough as Dr. John Hammond
Bob Peck as Robert Muldoon
Joseph Mazzello as Tim Murphy
Ariana Richards as Lex Murphy
Samuel L. Jackson as Ray Arnold
Wayne Knight as Dennis Nedry
Martin Ferrero as Donald Gennaro
B.D. Wong as Dr. Henry Wu
Director: Steven Spielberg

John Hammond, an entrepreneur, opens a wildlife park containing cloned dinosaurs. However, a breakdown of the island’s security system causes the creatures to escape and bring about chaos.

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With the third Jurassic World movie coming soon, I thought I’d rewatch the movies in the Jurassic Park/World series. To be blunt, I have no nostalgia for Jurassic Park. I didn’t watch the original until I was later in my teens, and I’m pretty sure I saw the second or third movies before it. While I liked the original, I just wasn’t as attached to it as much as others. Having revisited it, that remains the same case, but I still quite liked it and can appreciate the fantastic work here.

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While I do have problems with it, the script of Jurassic Park is solidly written and well crafted; I was on board from beginning to end. The film is 2 hours long, but doesn’t waste time in setting everything up. The first half sets the mood by introducing the park, explaining why it was set up and how the dinosaurs are back. It allows many of the characters to be in awe seeing these dinosaurs brought back to life. Then in the second half, it turns into a thriller when the dinosaurs get loose. As that, Jurassic Park works. I do have issues with the film, nothing movie breaking but enough to prevent me from liking it more. It potentially might be an unpopular opinion, but the characters here weren’t all that interesting, and were a bit thin. That being said, it still has the best set of characters from the Jurassic series thus far. Whenever the dinosaurs are on screen, I think the film really works and succeeds, but a lot of the human drama is rather forced. I think it succeeds more with spectacle and chase scenes over the character moments, which is unfortunate because stronger character moments really would’ve made it so much better. Otherwise, it is a solid script.

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As I said earlier, the characters aren’t all that great, but the performances make up for them. The main trio of Sam Neil, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum are great and make their characters memorable. Richard Attenborough is also great as John Hammond, the creator of Jurassic Park. Out of all the characters in the film, Hammond is given probably the most amount of depth. The rest of the cast including Samuel L. Jackson and Wayne Knight also bring it to their parts. The only acting that doesn’t work that well for me were the grandchildren of Hammond who were a little annoying, but I think most of my annoyance came from how they were written.

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Steven Spielberg directed Jurassic Park and his expert craft is on display here. The cinematography is stunning, and everything is perfectly filmed. The visual effects are fantastic, especially with the blend of practical effects, animatronics, and CGI together, which today appears more fluid than you’d initially think for a movie released in 1993. Speaking of which, the presentation and presence of all the dinosaurs were incredibly effective. Something that Spielberg does incredibly well is build up suspense, things which he brought over from his earlier movies like Duel and Jaws. There are some very memorable and iconic sequences, including but not limited to the introduction of the T-Rex. Finally, you can’t talk about Jurassic Park without talking about the memorable score from John Williams, ranging from triumphant and epic to tense and thrilling. I can’t imagine Jurassic Park without this music.

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I will admit that Jurassic Park is not one of my favourite Steven Spielberg movies and I have some issues with the film, mainly with some of the writing and the rather lacklustre human characters. As I said, I don’t hold the same love for it like most people do. Still, it is undeniably an iconic and monumentally impactful and influential film, and was truly a technical achievement.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) Review

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

Time: 99 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language, sexual references & nudity
Cast:
Ralph Fiennes as Monsieur Gustave H.
Tony Revolori as Zero Moustafa
F. Murray Abraham as Mr. Moustafa
Adrien Brody as Dmitri
Willem Dafoe as J. G. Jopling
Saoirse Ronan as Agatha
Tilda Swinton as Madame D.
Edward Norton as Albert Henckels
Mathieu Amalric as Serge X
Jeff Goldblum as Kovacs
Harvey Keitel as Ludwig
Tom Wilkinson as Author
Jude Law as the Young Writer
Bill Murray as M. Ivan
Jason Schwartzman as M. Jean
Léa Seydoux as Clotilde
Owen Wilson as M. Chuck
Director: Wes Anderson

Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), a concierge, is wrongly framed for murder at the Grand Budapest Hotel. In the process of proving his innocence, he befriends a lobby boy (Tony Revolori).

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I remember The Grand Budapest Hotel as being one of the earlier movies I saw from Wes Anderson, and it was the first movie from him I watched in the cinema. I had previously seen Fantastic Mr Fox and Moonrise Kingdom and while I liked them when I saw them for the first time, I wasn’t really into his work that much. I remember the experience in the cinema back in 2014 watching it because I found myself surprised at just how much I loved it. A rewatch upon watching all of Wes’s movies only confirms to me that it is his best, an unbelievably delightful and charming movie that entertains from beginning to end.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel’s screenplay is again written by Wes Anderson, and I have to say that it has to be one of his most polished and complete works, if not his most. This movie is one of the select number of films which I can say I found genuinely enthralling. Wes Anderson’s strongest movies with the likes of The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore had me interested generally throughout. However, The Grand Budapest Hotel had me invested from beginning to end and was endlessly entertaining. The movie feels completely original, and the story is heartfelt and endearing, features quirky and entertaining characters, and some unique and hilarious comedy. The dialogue was great, quick witted and memorable, and it’s perfectly paced across its 100 minute runtime. The plot itself is intricate but never confusing, and is also the largest scale movie from Wes Anderson. The Grand Budapest Hotel really gives you a sense of adventure and escapism, while also having melancholic and darker qualities and themes that you don’t expect at first.

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Wes Anderson is known for his massive and talented ensemble cast, but this may well be his biggest cast to date, and that’s saying a lot. Ralph Fiennes as Gustave H. gives not only one of his best performances of his career, but one of the best performances from a Wes Anderson movie. He’s charismatic, his line delivery is absolutely perfect, he really does handle the dry humour perfectly and fully portrays his well written and memorable character. Tony Revolori is also one of the leads and shouldn’t be overlooked, he’s really great too and shares great on screen chemistry with Fiennes. There was quite a supporting cast including Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Harvey Keitel, Tom Wilkinson, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Mathieu Amalric, Lea Seydoux and Owen Wilson. Everyone is great in their parts and make themselves stand out in their respective scenes, even if they are in just 1 or 2 scenes.

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Wes Anderson’s direction is phenomenal, even when compared to all his past work. His style is instantly recognisable once the movie begins. The cinematography is beautiful and vibrant. It is said with some movies that every shot could be framed as a painting, The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of those movies. The changing of the aspect ratios was also effective, moving to 4:3 for most of the film. The production design and costume design were outstanding too. The score by Alexandre Desplat is unique and amazing, and it really fits perfectly with the rest of the movie.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel is an enthralling and delightful adventure, perfectly written and directed by Wes Anderson, and features an outstanding ensemble of great performances. It’s like he took everything great from his past movies and put it all in here with this one. Having gone through his entire filmography, I can say with confidence that this may well be his magnum opus. It is also firmly one of my favourite movies, especially from the 2010s. It’s an essential watch for sure, and also a great place to start with Wes Anderson if you haven’t seen any of his movies before.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) Review

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Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] low-level offensive language
Cast:
Bill Murray as Steve Zissou
Owen Wilson as Edward “Ned” Plimpton/Kingsley Zissou
Cate Blanchett as Jane Winslett-Richardson
Anjelica Huston as Eleanor Zissou
Willem Dafoe as Klaus Daimler
Jeff Goldblum as Alistair Hennessey
Michael Gambon as Oseary Drakoulias
Bud Cort as Bill Ubell
Director: Wes Anderson

With a plan to exact revenge on a mythical shark that killed his partner, oceanographer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) rallies a crew that includes his estranged wife (Anjelica Huston), a journalist (Cate Blanchett), and a man who may or may not be his son (Owen Wilson).

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I heard of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was a Wes Anderson movie, and so I was interested to watch it. I also heard that although most of Anderson’s movies are greatly received, this was a movie that some people were mixed or divided on. I really had no idea what to expect going it, and unfortunately I can definitely say that this is one of my least favourite movies of his. It’s got some problems for sure, and I’m not sure how to feel about parts of it. However, looking at it on a whole, I still say it’s pretty good.

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When the movie started, it felt a bit off to me. It was eccentric, quirky and visually pleasing, which I was expecting from Wes Anderson. However, something just felt empty when it came to the characters and story. Compared to his other movies I just didn’t find myself that invested in what was happening. The pacing is quite slow too, and the runtime is just under 2 hours long. I wouldn’t say I was bored or anything, I was still somewhat paying attention to what was happening, it’s just that maybe the script maybe could’ve been a bit tighter. It picked up for me in the second half however for whatever reason, I probably settled into whatever this movie was going for. Credit where it’s due, when it’s good, it’s really great, the dialogue is sharp and quirky, and the movie does have some very funny and entertaining moments.

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This cast is just massive. Bill Murray plays lead character Steve Zissou and he’s great. The rest of the cast including Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, Anjelica Huston, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Gambon are also pretty good. I do feel like the supporting cast aren’t as utilised as well as they could’ve (compared to say The Royal Tenenbaums), most of them didn’t really add too much to the film. With that said, Owen Wilson and Cate Blanchett are really good, Willem Dafoe was great and hilarious on his part and I would’ve liked to have seen more from Jeff Goldblum.

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This movie is directed by Wes Anderson, and you can definitely tell that from beginning to end. The visuals were really great to watch, Anderson definitely went wild with his $50 million budget. The production design is excellent and serves the style really well. I liked the practical set design, especially when the camera was following characters walking into different rooms of the submarine in the same shot. Even some of the CGI touch ups and animation I thought added to the style and made the movie a little more endearing. Soundtrack is great too and was utilised greatly in the scenes.

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The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is one of Wes Anderson’s stranger movies, and I have somewhat mixed feelings about it. The script has quirks, the dialogue is well written and some of the characters are memorable but it also feels a bit empty. I don’t think it fully works but has enough good things for me to call it a solid movie. The movie does have its moments, it’s entertaining at some points, and the cast are good on their parts. Not one of Wes Anderson’s best movies, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend watching it as his first movie if you’ve never seen any of his other work before, but I do recommend at least checking it out at some point. I don’t feel inclined to watch it again, but I get the feeling that I’ll probably ease into the movie more upon repeat viewings.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) Review

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing
Rafe Spall as Eli Mills
Justice Smith as Franklin Webb
Daniella Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez
James Cromwell as Sir Benjamin Lockwood
Toby Jones as Gunnar Eversol
Ted Levine as Ken Wheatley
B. D. Wong as Dr. Henry Wu
Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood
Geraldine Chaplin as Iris
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm
Director: J. A. Bayona

Three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) return to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that’s about to erupt. They soon encounter terrifying new breeds of gigantic dinosaurs, while uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the entire planet.

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I wasn’t particularly looking forward to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. When I saw Jurassic World for the first time it was fine to me but it really got worse over time. The one thing that gave me hope however instead of Colin Trevorrow returning to direct, J. A. Bayona was directing it, Bayona did a fantastic job with A Monster’s Call. However on the whole I was still rather sceptical, but still willing enough to try it out. Fallen Kingdom turned out to be better than I thought it would be, but at the same time it wasn’t particularly good. While it has some pretty good aspects like a decent second half and J.A. Bayona’s direction, it also has one dimensional and annoying characters, overused plot points and some other really dumb aspects (many of them brought over from the first Jurassic World). It’s a rather mixed bag.

Fallen Kingdom doesn’t feel like it has 3 acts, its more split into two halves. I wasn’t impressed by the first half, with it being not particularly interesting, way too familiar to other Jurassic Park movies and just flat out annoying at times. The second half is much better, which was probably a mix of me getting used to the plot, a more horror-like emphasise and certain plot aspects getting better over time. The plot itself isn’t that great, despite it being a Bayona directed movie, you can really feel Colin Trevorrow’s writing here following on from the previous movie, and that includes many of its more absurd aspects. It seems like he really still thinks that Jurassic World’s plotline about military people thinking that weaponizing dinosaurs is genius, because he uses it again here, and it’s just as dumb as it was in the previous movie. A lot of the human characters are once again quite poor, I think that’s one of the aspects about these newer movies that make them not work as well as the other movies (even Jurassic Park 3), the characters are so poorly written and don’t work in any way. There is a bunch of humour that really falls flat, and there are plot points that once again are cliched, too familiar and don’t work. There is an odd plotline focussing on a girl played by Isabella Sermon. It ends with a twist that works okay but is rather confusing and out of place, it really didn’t need to be in the movie. However it’s not all bad. The plotline/scenes involving Chris Pratt and an intelligent raptor named Blue were one of the highlights of the movie, it actually was quite effective. Also despite the first half feeling rather average, at the end of that segment is a startingly effective emotional scene which really got to me. It just came out of nowhere and despite not liking the movie particularly much, it actually worked. The movie is over 2 hours long and it can drag at times, even during the second half, you kind of feel the 2 hour+ length. This movie ends on an interestingly different note, one that the next movie seems like it’ll be focussing on. It has potential but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in the sequel. I didn’t watch it myself but for those interested, there is an end credits scene as well.

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard like in the first movie do pretty well here. Their chemistry isn’t really that strong for the most part but the film doesn’t try to emphasise that aspect as much as the previous movie, so it was somewhat tolerable. Jeff Goldblum returns as Ian Malcolm for like one scene, he really didn’t need to return to this movie. James Cromwell is decent in his role but really his character could’ve been played by anyone. Isabella Sermon is good in her role, despite the odd choices with the character’s storyline. A lot of the other actors however are stuck with poor characters. One is Justice Smith as some IT guy who really is annoying, especially during the first half. However the more stand out annoyances are the villains. If you couldn’t stand Vincent D’Onofrio’s cliched character in the first Jurassic World, you’re going to have a hard time with Fallen Kingdom. You have Rafe Spall as some business guy who predictably turns out to be evil, Toby Jones as an auctioneer for dinosaurs and Ted Levine as an over the top mercenary, and all of them are so cartoonishly evil its actually rather astounding. I know at the very least that Toby Jones and Ted Levine are great actors, but they aren’t given really anything to work with except with acting evil, none of their talents is on display here.

J. A. Bayona really added something to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom with his direction. In the second half, the movie utilises a lot of horror elements that is actually rather effective, and plays a large part in this half working so well. The CGI on the dinosaurs is better here than on the previous Jurassic World, they really don’t look as great as in the original film. I think a big part about why it works better is that unlike the previous movie, they don’t have an overload of too many dinosaurs on screen at the same time. There was one lava effect that I felt looked really fake looking but that’s just in one scene.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was slightly better than I was expecting and wasn’t quite the disaster that a lot of people seemed to make it out to be. However, it’s still not that good either. For every element or scene that worked quite well, there was another that made the whole experience frustrating, dull or just annoying. With the different story direction that Fallen Kingdom ends on, I can say that there is an opportunity for a different direction to take the franchise that can lead to more places that’s not just familiar territory (that the franchise had been constantly doing for the past films). However, the next film is directed by Colin Trevorrow, so I’m not holding out much hope for it for now. If you could somewhat tolerate the first Jurassic World, you should be fine with this one. Otherwise I’m not sure how much you are going to like Fallen Kingdom, if at all.

Isle of Dogs (2018) Review

Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence and Coarse Language
Cast:
Bryan Cranston as Chief
Koyu Rankin as Atari Kobayashi
Edward Norton as Rex
Bob Balaban as King
Bill Murray as Boss
Jeff Goldblum as Duke
Kunichi Nomura as Mayor Kobayashi
Akira Takayama as Major Domo
Greta Gerwig as Tracy Walker
Frances McDormand as Interpreter Nelson
Akira Ito as Professor Watanabe
Scarlett Johansson as Nutmeg
Harvey Keitel as Gondo
F. Murray Abraham as Jupiter
Yoko Ono as Assistant Scientist Yoko Ono
Tilda Swinton as Oracle
Ken Watanabe as Head Surgeon
Mari Natsuki as Auntie
Fisher Stevens as Scrap
Nijiro Murakami as Editor Hiroshi
Liev Schreiber as Spots
Courtney B. Vance as the narrator
Yojiro Noda as News Anchor
Frank Wood as Simul-Translate Machine
Director: Wes Anderson

When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, 12-year-old Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.

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I was looking forward to Isle of Dogs, it was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. For whatever reason, I’ve been having to wait for this film to release here when it was already released a couple months prior everywhere else, however it’s finally here. I’ve seen a few films from Wes Anderson (Grand Budapest Hotel, Fantastic Mr Fox and Moonrise Kingdom) and I liked what I’ve seen from him. With this being the second time he stop motion animated a movie (with the first being Fantastic Mr Fox), I was confident that this would be a solid movie, and that it was. It was pretty much what I expected and maybe a little bit more.

Isle of Dogs is an hour and 40 minutes long and from start to finish I was entertained. You can tell that it is definitely a Wes Anderson story. It has a very unique and original story with quirky characters, deadpan humour which is really funny and unique and is just entertaining overall. I didn’t really have too many faults with it, though there might’ve been a slight overuse of flashbacks, which does halt the story at times. Also some places and characters that the film at times cuts to (AKA characters that aren’t the main characters) really weren’t as interesting as the main storyline/characters. Isle of Dogs is kind of a kids movie, though it does go a little unexpectedly dark at times, so if you have some kids thinking that they’re going in expecting a cute film about a bunch of talking dogs, let’s just say that it won’t be what they are expecting. Aside from some minor faults, Isle of Dogs has a pretty solid story.

There is a lot of voice actors involved (Wes Anderson always seems to have a large and talented cast in his films). Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Liev Schreiber and much more consist of the voice cast, and they all did good jobs as their characters, with Cranston being a particular standout.

As I said, this is the second time that Wes Anderson has directed a stop motion animated movie and once again he did a great job. Fantastic Mr Fox was good, but his handling of stop motion animation was even better here with Isle of Dogs, it is a great looking film. Also on top of the movie feeling like a Wes Anderson written movie, it also feels like a Wes Anderson directed movie. Everything from the framing, camera position, editing, everything here really feels like his film. Now if you’re not familiar with Wes Anderson’s style in his films, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s really difficult to describe because you can’t compare his movies to anyone else’s. If you haven’t seen any of his movies before, I do recommend giving this a go. If you can’t get into Wes Anderson’s other movies because of his style, chances are Isle of Dogs won’t win you over. There was an interesting decision made, all the dialogue from the dogs are in English, however most of the dialogue by the humans are in Japanese, and a significant amount of it isn’t translated into English. It works most of the time to show the language barrier, but I only say that it works most of the time because often times someone else has to translate what they are saying in English because some of the dialogue contains plot details that we the audience need to know. The film tries to have a mix of untranslated dialogue that we don’t hear (and yet convey the message visually so we still understand what’s going on) while having English exposition explaining everything to us and it didn’t quite work as well as I think it was intended to. I think it would’ve been better sticking with one way, whether that be all human dialogue in Japanese, Japanese dialogue with subtitles or all the dialogue in English, because it felt jarring when they kept changing their method of human dialogue. It’s not a major flaw with the movie, just something that stands out that is worth addressing.

On the whole, Isle of Dogs really worked well. It was entertaining, I could get invested in the story and I just enjoyed watching it from start to finish. If you’re a Wes Anderson fan, I think you’ll definitely dig this. If you haven’t seen any of his movies before, I’d say that Isle of Dogs is a good place to start with his movies. His films may not appeal to everyone but I recommend giving it a go at the very least.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) Review

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast
Chris Hemsworth as Thor Odinson
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Cate Blanchett as Hela
Idris Elba as Heimdall
Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster
Tessa Thompson as Scrapper 142/Valkyrie
Karl Urban as Skurge
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Anthony Hopkins as Odin
Taika Waititi as Korg
Director: Taika Waititi

Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), his former ally and fellow Avenger. Thor’s quest for survival leads him in a race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela (Cate Blanchett) from destroying his home world and the Asgardian civilization.

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Thor Ragnarok was one of my most anticipated films of 2017, it seemed to be a very unique entry into the MCU. The addition of actors like Cate Blanchett, Karl Urban, Jeff Goldblum had me interested. But the aspect that intrigued me most of all was that Taika Waititi of Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We do in the Shadows fame was directing, it was certainly an odd choice for presumably the final Thor movie. Ragnarok from everything that we’ve been seeing looked like a weird 80s action sci-fi comedy, it looked so bizarre and off from whatever we were expecting that I just had to know what it was like. Overall, Thor Ragnarok is a fun time, Taika’s direction and writing definitely made this a very unique film that is undoubtedly entertaining.

The first act has some pacing issues, it moves quite slow until Hela shows up for the first time, then the pacing starts sorting itself out. Most of the film is focussing on Thor on Sakaar, then occasionally it will cut back to Asgard with Hela (the main villain), almost out of obligation to show that she is still in this movie. The second half however was more consistently solid. Yes there is a lot of comedy but don’t just mistake it as being just Guardians of the Galaxy with Thor in it. If you’ve seen Taika’s other movies, you can tell that is definitely a Taika Watiti film. The comedy here is not the same as the comedy in the other Marvel movies, its self deprecating, it’s not afraid to make fun of itself, it goes full bonkers at times, so its not just something you usually see. This is actually the most funny of the MCU film, some of the jokes were quite simply hysterical. The question is, does Taika’s tone and direction work for the movie? For the most part.

First thing I want to get out of the way is that this is not a Thor movie, even Thor: The Dark World, arguably the worst Thor movie (as well as the worst MCU film) felt more like a Thor movie than Ragnarok. It feels like Taika Waititi doing this bizarre sci-fi action comedy, that just so happens to be starring Thor and featuring the potential threat of Asgard. To be honest, I’m not really sure those two aspects work well together, especially as the cutting back to Hela in Asgard felt out of place seemed (like I said) out of obligation to briefly show what was going on there. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the tone was misplaced. One thing I can praise Ragnarok for doing is that it separates the dramatic scenes from the comedic scenes, it doesn’t ruin an emotional scene with some misplaced joke (which has become a problem with many of the MCU films as of late). So its not that the comedy ruined the emotional scenes, its that I just didn’t feel that personally connected to the story. I just feel like I should really be caring much more about what’s going on than I actually end up doing, even most scenes that were meant to be emotional didn’t really hit. Aside from that, there’s nothing really here storywise that I have a major issue with. For what Taika was going for, he did a great job with it.

Chris Hemsworth looks like he’s having a blast playing Thor and Tom Hiddleston is once again great as Loki, they work off each other great. Mark Ruffalo was also good, we see the Hulk more than we see Bruce Banner, we actually have The Hulk speaking and interacting and it was an interesting angle to take on him. The supporting cast was also good with actors like Karl Urban and Anthony Hopkins. Idris Elba gets the most to do as Heimdall in any of the Thor movies. Jeff Goldblum is in this movie and this is the most Jeff Goldblum that Jeff Goldblum has ever been. It felt like Taika just wanted Jeff Goldblum to be all Jeff Goldblumy, he doesn’t play a very significant or threatening character. I didn’t mind that, he was undoubtedly fun to watch. Taika Waititi himself plays (motion captures/voices) a character named Korg, who was definitely one of the stand out characters. He was so hilarious and Taika’s voice performance played a big part in that. But the stand out character to me was Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, such a welcome addition to the MCU. I can’t wait to see more of her in future MCU films. Cate Blanchett is Hela, the main villain here. Is she great? Yes and no. She is undoubtedly one of the better MCU villains, and Blanchett’s performance is fantastic, making the character even better. However, to put it simply, we didn’t get enough of her. As I said, the first half of the movie mostly takes place where Thor is and every so often we get a brief scene with Hela. By the second half we start getting the appropriate number of scenes with her but we really didn’t get to see Hela doing a lot. She is great in the scenes that she’s in however, she feels like a threat, was acted very well and wasn’t as one dimensional as I thought she may end up being. She was also better than most MCU villains, so that’s always nice to see. There are also some hilarious cameos.

The action was generally well filmed. Most of the CGI looks fantastic and some of the shots are absolutely beautiful. Other times it looks really fake looking. When the film is set in practical locations it is great, a loft of the time the production design, costumes, makeup all work to give a unique look. It really does embrace the world of Sakaar and make it something truly different. However Asgard just looks okay, really Kenneth Branagh is the only director who has managed to make Asgard look like something special. The score by Mark Mothersbaugh is pretty good, slightly more memorable than most of the other MCU scores.

I had a fun time with Thor Ragnarok and it’s probably the best MCU film this year. With entertaining characters and most of all Taika’s writing, Thor Ragnarok was a very unique comic book movie. I’m not really sure if Thor was the best character or series for Taika to use for his crazy ideas, and some of the emotional scenes don’t hit as hard as they should’ve but for the most part Ragnarok gets it right. So I do recommend watching it, its at the very least entertaining.

Mortdecai (2015) Review

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Mortdecai

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, Sexual References and Offensive Language
Cast:
Johnny Depp as Charlie Mortdecai
Ewan McGregor as Inspector Alistair Martland
Gwyneth Paltrow as Johanna Mortdecai
Paul Bettany as Jock Strapp
Jonny Pasvolsky as Emil Strago
Olivia Munn as Georgina Krampf
Jeff Goldblum as Milton Krampf
Director: David Koepp

Juggling some angry Russians, the British Mi5, his impossibly leggy wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) and an international terrorist, debonair art dealer and part time rogue Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) must traverse the globe armed only with his good looks and special charm in a race to recover a stolen painting rumoured to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold.

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Mortdecai stars Johnny Depp as an eccentric character that looks nothing like Johnny Depp. Sound familiar? That’s because that’s what he’s been doing for the past decade, and as you probably predicted, this film is another failure and another nail into the coffin of Johnny Depp’s career. Mortdecai tries to be a funny and witty crime comedy but fails at it big time. This film does have a few funny moments and it is well directed but for the most part it fails as a comedy, it fails as a mystery and it overall fails as a movie.

The plot is a bit of a mystery and the problem is that it is so hard to follow. By the time I got to the halfway point, I honestly stopped caring about what was going on. After seeing the movie I honestly have a hard time remembering a lot of this movie, it was so forgettable. Also despite this movie being a comedy, it’s not very funny. The movie has many running jokes and most of them aren’t funny in the slightest (the most prominent one being about Mortdecai’s moustache for some reason). This movie does have a few funny moments, but the problem is that for one, there aren’t many of them and two, it reuses the jokes over and over again and aren’t funny the second time around. It fails to be smart, it fails to be funny and it fails to be riveting in the slightest. This movie pretty much fails at everything it sets out to do, except with a few good jokes.

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Johnny Depp was pretty much playing the British Jack Sparrow, only less likable and less funny. I think it’s a mixture between the acting and the character but at a point I actually started to feel annoyed at Mortdecai, there’s nothing likable about him, he’s not funny, he’s not smart, his voice was annoying and it’s we’ve seen this from Depp before so many times. Other stars like Ewan McGregor and Gwyenth Paltrow are wasted in this movie, but they are overall fine in their roles. Paul Bettany was probably the best part of the movie, he has the best lines and the funniest moments.

This movie is well directed, I can give the movie that. It does look good but unfortunately the movie isn’t really focussed on visuals, more on the writing and ‘comedy’ and since the movie fails at both it almost feels irrelevant to mention. No one going into Mortdecai is going to remember the look of the movie, I’m just trying to find as many positive things as possible, there is so few of them.

This movie is another low point in Johnny Depp’s career. While the film is directed well and there are some funny moments, for the most part it is an unfunny, uninteresting mess. I heard that Black Mass is Johnny Depp’s comeback, I want to see it and I hope it’s good because Johnny Depp has been playing slight variations of the same character for years. However Johnny Depp isn’t the main issue with Mortdecai, even without him the movie is still very flawed. It’s not like Jupiter Ascending where there are some enjoyably bad moments, Mortdecai is just boring and worst of all forgettable and I really don’t recommend that you watch it. It will be 110 Minutes of your life that you’ll never get back.