Can you even believe it’s been 25 years since the original Jurassic Park (Universal, 1993) hit the big screen for the first time?
The Steven Spielberg-directed film, based on the 1990 novel by Michael Crichton (Crichton also co-wrote the screenplay with David Koepp), was a huge hit in 1993 and for good reason. With a compelling story, its marvelous use of both practical and digital special effects, a great cast, a brilliant soundtrack by John Williams, and an amazing crew, Jurassic Park was a movie thrill ride of the first order.
The film has spurred multiple sequels, but none of them can match the creativity, craftsmanship, terror, and excitement of this first outing.
Universal Pictures recently screened Jurassic Park again in theaters across the U.S.A. to celebrate its 25th anniversary. It was such a blast to revisit this film on the big screen. I enjoyed it just as much as I did back in the day. Wish you all were there, too.
The studio also held a contest for fans to send recreations of the film. Here’s a compilation of the best fan films, courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Do yourself a favor and skip the lousy sequels and watch the original and still best–1993’s Jurassic Park.
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Marvel Studios is showing all 20 of its films in select IMAX theaters from August 30 to September 6, 2018.
Megaplex Theatres in Utah (where I live) offered a pass for all 20 movies for $75 + tax which provides a reserved seat in the IMAX theater for each of the films. They are also offering single tickets for each screening (which I wished I would have done since my schedule hasn’t permitted me to see as many films as I would have liked; more on that below).
Here’s the schedule of films that are being shown in the IMAX theater at my local Megaplex Theatres location, the Megaplex 17 at Jordan Commons.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 30 Iron Man – 2:15 p.m. The Incredible Hulk – 4:45 p.m. Iron Man 2 – 7:00 p.m Thor – 9:25 p.m.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 31 Captain America: The First Avenger – 2:15 p.m. Avengers – 4:40 p.m. Iron Man 3 – 7:25 p.m. Thor: The Dark World – 9:55 p.m.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1 Captain America: The Winter Soldier – 2:15 pm. Guardians of the Galaxy – 4:55 p.m. Avengers: Age of Ultron – 7:20 p.m. Ant-Man – 10:05 p.m.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2 Captain America: Civil War – 2:15 p.m. Doctor Strange – 5:05 p.m. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – 7:20 p.m. Spider-Man: Homecoming – 10:00 p.m.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 3 Thor: Ragnarok – 2:15 p.m. Black Panther – 4:55 p.m. Avengers: Infinity War – 7:30 p.m. Ant-Man and the Wasp – 10:20 p.m.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4 Iron Man – 2:15 p.m. Spider-Man: Homecoming – 4:45 p.m. Black Panther – 7:20 p.m. Doctor Strange – 9:55 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5 Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 – 2:15 p.m. Captain America: Civil War – 4:45 p.m. Avengers – 7:45 p.m. Avengers: Infinity War – 10:30 p.m.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 Iron Man – 2:15 p.m. Avengers – 4:45 p.m.
We’re at the midway point in the festival and while it’s been fun, the schedule has been a bit of a challenge for me, particularly since I have a day job along with a lot of extra commitments over the next few days (which isn’t Marvel’s fault). Probably my only complaint is that the screening schedule is a bit too condensed and it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to see all of the films. Even though they are showing some of the titles twice or more, I wish they could have spread it out over a couple of weeks to make it possible for us working folks to see more of these movies that we love. (At least they included Labor Day in the mix, so that helps.)
Still, the Marvel Studios 10th Anniversary Film Festival is a really fun idea and I will enjoy what I can. Check out this video about it from the IMAX YouTube channel.
Tickets are now available on the D23 website. Discount (aka “Early Bird”) pricing is available for D23 Gold and Gold Family members through November 20.
If you’ve never been before, the D23 Expo is the “largest Disney fan event in the world” (according to the Disney press materials). It is basically a “comic con” style of event solely for Disney intellectual property. It celebrates all “the wonderful worlds of The Walt Disney Company under one roof, including the best of Disney, Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars across film, television, theme parks, products, online, music, live entertainment, and more.”
More from the press materials: “Once again, the Expo will celebrate the past, present, and future of Disney with signature entertainment, celebrity appearances, panels, presentations, sneak peeks, and immersive experiences. A massive show floor will feature exhibits, shopping, and photo opportunities from all across Disney and its partners. D23 Expo 2019 marks the return of fan favorites, including the Disney Legends Awards Ceremony, honoring the talented men and women who have made indelible contributions to the Disney legacy; an all-new exhibit from the Walt Disney Archives; Talent Central, where fans can meet their favorite Disney stars; and a daily parade on the show floor.”
For 2019, the D23 Expo will be celebrating, among other things I’m sure, the 50th anniversary of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion attraction, which opened to the general public on August 9, 1969. There will be an art show, a cosplay contest, special merchandise, etc., related to this venerable, macabre favorite.
D23 Expo 2019 will be the sixth biennial D23 Expo held in Anaheim, California. I’ve been to four of the five D23 Expos that have been held and have had a blast—mostly. It’s an extremely well-attended event and the D23 folks don’t often do a good job with crowd control and with communications to attendees during the con. So, inevitably during the weekend, things just become an overcrowded mess with a bunch of frustrated Disney fans. I can tell that the D23 team is trying to improve things with their early communications about the Expo; let’s hope it continues through the Expo itself.
Speaking of, here’s a video from D23 to get us all excited about the D23 Expo 2019 (and, what I believe, is an attempt to show us that they are trying to plan ahead and improve the guest experience).
I’ve purchased a three-day “Early Bird” ticket and am hoping for the best! I’m also hoping to go to Disneyland at some point during the trip, but given that the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area will have recently opened (or is scheduled to open) in Disneyland park, we’ll just have to wait until Disney makes some announcements about how ticketing and access are going to work for the area before any concrete plans are made.
For the latest information about the D23 Expo 2019 and D23 in general, visit D23.com.
We at the Movies Past and Present blog are huge fans of the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) network. Not only does TCM curate wonderful classic film programming 24/7 on their cable network, TCM also puts on one of the best classic movie festivals in the country with their annual TCM Classic Film Festival. Both the network and festival are celebrating major milestones in 2019—TCM turns 25 and the TCM Classic Film Festival turns 10.
The 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival will be held on April 11-14, 2019 in Hollywood, California. The theme for this year’s film festival is “Follow Your Heart: Love at the Movies.” Tickets will go on sale in November 2018 (specific date TBA). Here’s an official statement from the TCM Classic Film Festival website:
“Whether it’s in the afternoon, at first sight or in the air, the TCM Classic Film Festival will celebrate love in all of its forms. As we come together for the 10th Annual Festival, and the 25th anniversary of TCM, there will be many-splendored moments to revel in romance and obsessions, delight in faithful friendships and surrender to the enduring allure of the silver screen with fellow classic movie lovers.”
We can’t wait! For all of the latest information on the upcoming TCM Classic Film Festival, visit http://filmfestival.tcm.com. See you in Hollywood in April 2019!
The Megaplex Theatres movie theater chain in Utah (where I live) is running their excellent “Silver Screen Classics” film series again this fall. Starting today (September 3), select Megaplex Theatres will be screening a classic film every Monday and Wednesday for the next 10 weeks. Screenings are at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
The cost is an unbelievable $10 (yes, that’s $10) for all 10 classic films. Passes are available at participating Megaplex Theatres (I bought my pass at the Megaplex 17 at Jordan Commons box office). Check the Megaplex Theatres website (www.megaplextheatres.com) to see if your local Megaplex Theatres location is participating. (I had to go to the specific theater on the website and look through the movie times on each specific date. The experience was, to say the least, a bit clunky. Hopefully, Megaplex Theatres will put some additional content about the Silver Screen Classics on their website soon.)
Here’s the list of films along with a link to each film’s page on Rotten Tomatoes. Hope to see you at one of these screenings!
Christopher Robin grows up but still has some important lessons to learn in the charming Christopher Robin (Disney; 2018).
Disney has reinvented its venerable Winnie the Pooh franchise once again, this time turning the stuffed animals from the A.A. Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood into 3D computer generated characters that (somehow) co-exist in the human world. The film answers a couple of interesting questions in the process—what happens to Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, et al, when Christopher Robin grows up, and what if Christopher Robin loses his way as an adult?
Set in England, Christopher Robin is now a hardworking war veteran employed by a luggage company in London. His job is demanding and stressful and it pulls him away from spending more time with his wife and daughter. Adhering to narrative rules that would be home in any Narnia book, Winnie the Pooh is able to find his way to London and quietly and gently begins to set things straight.
Ewan McGregor does a great job playing the war-torn and world-weary adult Christopher Robin. The lovely and talented (and underused in this film) Hayley Atwell plays his wife Evelyn, and Bronte Carmichael plays their daughter Madeline, who is the character suffering the most in the film with her dad lost in the business world and emotionally MIA at home. Voice actor Jim Cummings is back in the role as both Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. Brad Garrett expertly steps into the role of Eeyore. The rest of the cast is excellent, too.
This gentle, deliberate film never takes itself too seriously or delivers its message with a heavy hand or a zany punch. Instead, director Marc Forester uses a more old fashioned tone which some might view as slow, but I found it be refreshing and endearing. So much so, that this film will probably appeal more to adults than children. Basically, it just made me want to hug all of these photo-realistic CG stuffed animals and return to the innocence of childhood—a place full of clarity, goodness, and wonder.
Disney fans should also be happy with the new songs written by Richard Sherman, the surviving member of the great Sherman Brothers songwriting duo who wrote the classic songs for Disney’s original Winnie the Pooh shorts. Make sure to stay through the end credits.
Christopher Robin has been rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for “some action.”
My score: 4 out of 5 stars
As an added bonus, here’s the cute one-sheet poster from the U.S. release of the film.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Paramount; 2018) is a terrifically entertaining chapter in this spy series with all of the twists, turns, drops, and masks (!) that you could hope for.
Tom Cruise is back again for the sixth installment of the series (based on the popular TV series of the same name which ran from 1966 to 1973 on the CBS television network) as IMF (Impossible Missions Force) agent Ethan Hunt. Our hero has chosen to accept another dangerous mission fighting international terrorists and the big question, as with most espionage-themed films, is who are all of the players and where do their loyalties lie.
Of course, the story has lots of Tom Cruise running, climbing, jumping, flying, and other dangerous pastimes in pursuit of the bad guys. But a pleasant surprise to my eyes was that Cruise seemed to share the screen more with his fellow stars than in other films in the series. And the supporting cast are worthy of sharing film time with–Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Alec Baldwin, Rebecca Ferguson, and even Michelle Monaghan are back for more action, along with Henry Cavill, Angela Basset, and Vanessa Kirby joining the cast.
For me, the real star of the film is writer and director Christopher McQuarrie. Returning again to the director’s chair for this latest installment of the Mission: Impossible series (he also directed the series’ fifth and previous film, 2015’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation), McQuarrie has such an excellent eye for stunning and compelling action scenes as well as for beautifully composed shots for drama and dialogue. I was particularly impressed with the location shots in Paris and London in this film and loved seeing these cities and landmarks beautifully filmed and wonderfully integrated into the storytelling.
Go see Mission: Impossible – Fallout and have a blast–literally and figuratively. (Also, I loved seeing this film in IMAX and would highly recommend seeing it in this super-sized format if at all possible.)
TCM showed West Side Story (1961) on the big screen a few days ago as part of their ongoing Big Screen Classics series and I can’t stop thinking about it. From the brilliant direction by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, to the masterful music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, to the electric performances by the entire cast, it’s no wonder this film is so beloved.
Here’s one of my favorite musical numbers from the movie, the “Tonight” quintet and chorus.
I’m also very excited about the news that director Steven Spielberg is set to remake the musical. We need its message now more than ever.
Many thanks to TCM and Fathom Events for bringing these classic films to the big screen for us film lovers to learn from and enjoy.
Size-shifting antics and side-splitting laughter abound in Marvel Studios’ new comedy action film Ant-Man and the Wasp.
A sequel to 2015’s fun and funny Ant-Man, this new film picks up after the super hero showdown in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War where we last saw Scott Lang/Ant-Man (again played by Paul Rudd). Lang, who is now on house arrest after his Civil War stint using the height-altering Ant-Man suit, reunites with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) after certain events lead them to believe that Pym’s wife and Hope’s mother Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) is still alive somewhere in the sub-atomic “Quantum Realm” where she’s been missing for decades. Pym works on a new way to get into the Quantum Realm and, as teased at the end of the first Ant-Man film, creates an updated super suit for Hope (with wings!), making her The Wasp just like her mother was all those years ago.
It turns out that other people (shockingly) are also interested in the tech that Hank Pym, Hope, and Scott are working on. Pym’s former S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburn) and a spooky personage known as “Ghost” (Hannah John-Kamen) have some mysterious and questionable motives. Also to the disadvantage of our heroes is an overzealous Federal agent (Randall Park) who is determined to bust Scott Lang at violating his house arrest.
The film is like candy–really fun to watch and easy to digest, even if it perhaps lacks much substance. The cast, most of which were in the original film, are back along for the ride and are all great, particularly scene stealers Michael Peña as Lang’s ex-con buddy Luis and Abby Ryder Fortson as Lang’s adorable daughter Cassie. The special effects are also silly fun as buildings, people, and different objects galore–everything from cars to buildings to a PEZ dispenser–change size to accommodate the needs of our heroes.
Peyton Reed is back in the director’s seat and he does another terrific job with this sequel. And even though we’d still all love to see Edgar Wright’s version of Ant-Man (Wright left the first film after creative differences with the Marvel Studios team), Reed delivers a film that is again so quick, clever, and wacky, that I think it holds up on its own (and Reed’s own) merits.
It goes without saying, but make sure to stay through the end credits, too.
Hopefully, you’ve all had the chance to see Pixar Animation Studios‘ latest animated wonderment Incredibles 2. And, hopefully, you’ve had a chance to see that it’s absolutely killing it at the U.S. box office, too. I had the chance to see both the original film, The Incredibles (2004) and its newly released sequel at a special IMAX and Pixar sponsored screening last week and it was movie-going bliss for this animation fan.
Writer and director Brad Bird and his talented team at Pixar created a total home run when The Incredibles hit theaters in the summer of 2004. Witty, thought-provoking, action-packed, and beautifully animated, the film about a family with superpowers delivered in a big way.
Now, 14 years later, the Parr family is back right literally where the first film left off with the family taking on the super villain the Underminer, who is attacking their city of Municiberg. After the fight with the Underminer doesn’t go exactly as planned and the superheroes (aka “supers”) have to go back into their undercover mode again, Bob Parr (aka Mr. Incredible, voiced again by Craig T. Nelson), his wife Helen Parr (aka Elastigirl/Mrs. Incredible, voiced again by Holly Hunter), and their superhero buddy Lucius Best (aka Frozone, and also voiced again by Samuel “F-ing” L. Jackson) meet up with billionaire businessman Winston Deavor (voiced by Bob Odenkirk) and his inventor sister Evelyn Deavor (voiced by Catherine Keener) who have an interesting proposal to bring the supers back into the limelight.
Family dynamics are front and center as Elastigirl/Mrs. Incredible goes back to work, leaving Mr. Incredible home to take care of the kids. Terrific humor and incredible action scenes abound as Elastigirl uncovers a dastardly plot while Mr. Incredible has to deal with his kids’ relationships, homework, and superpowers. Nothing is stupid here and no gender is better than the other–it’s really just a great story about a family figuring things out and working together.
While the sequel can’t capture the perfection of the first film (what can?), writer/director Brad Bird and team still deliver a wonderfully solid film with a compelling storyline, brilliant animation, and emotions and situations that ring, well, incredibly true. Watch The Incredibles again on Blu-ray or streaming and then go see Incredibles 2 in theaters and have a great time at the movies.
P.S. There’s a scene with absolutely knock-out animation that uses lighting effects that mimic a strobe light. This warning was prominently placed at multiple places throughout the multiplex where I saw Incredibles 2 again over the weekend. The animation in that sequence is stunning and it’s unfortunate if it’s causing problems for anyone.