Tag Archives: Chris Pratt

A short review of Episode 1 of “The Passage” (2019)

I’m all for a good vampire story.  But this isn’t a particularly good vampire story.

Or, at least not yet, it isn’t.  Don’t get me wrong — the premiere of “The Passage” wasn’t the worst hour of television I’ve ever seen.  I’d rate it a 5 out of 10 for being somewhat average.  It has two good leads in Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Saniyya Sidney.  Gosselaar is no Laurence Olivier, but he’s good enough, and he looks and fits the part.  He seems like an excellent physical actor in the premiere’s brief action sequences, which weren’t altogether bad.  Sidney is downright terrific — and she’s an adorable kid too.

The show also has a great plot setup going for it, which I won’t spoil here.  It’s based on a trilogy of dystopian horror novels by Justin Cronin, which actually sound like some quite interesting books.  There are even a couple of sly references to well known horror films like “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992) and “28 Days Later” (2002).

Regrettably, however, “The Passage” suffers a lot from rushed and clumsy storytelling.  The script is a poor one, with a lot of awkward exposition and forced emotion.  (It shares a weakness with this year’s vastly superior “Bird Box,” in that it tries to fit too much of its source material into too little screen time.)  It falls well short of being scary, too, which is probably what will alienate modern horror fans, unless it improves.  (This is a primetime network TV show, and isn’t any more frightening than the average episode of “Star Trek.”)

Weird world — Gosselar is none other than the Zack from “Saved By the Bell” (1989-1993).  And am I the only one that thinks he is the spitting image of Chris Pratt in a lot of shots.  I almost thought it was Pratt from the ads.

 

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A very short review of “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014)

I had fun with “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014).  I’d rate it an 8 out of 10, if a little grudgingly.  For me, it started quite strong with its introduction of Chris Pratt’s roguish space antihero; I actually had no idea he could be this funny.  (I’ve only seen him once before, weighed down by the failed comedic scripting of 2015’s “Jurassic World.”)

I’m sorry to say that my interest in “Guardians of the Galaxy” waned just a bit as it subsequently unfolded as a cartoonish, relatively tame, family-friendly adventure — complete with a heartwarming value-of-friendship lesson.  That’s fine, I guess — it’s cool and it makes sense that the Marvel Cinematic Universe should offer films more appropriate for younger viewers.  Can you imagine, however, how hilarious this movie would be if it truly deserved its (befuddling) PG-13 rating, and really pressed the envelope?  Between Pratt’s wit and these offbeat character concepts, it would be amazing.

I still had fun with this, though, thanks mainly to the action and the impressive special effects.  I’d recommend it, and I’m planning on seeing the sequel.

Postscript — people are saying that this is the MCU’s answer to “Star Wars,” and I suppose it could be.  But I had a lot more fun thinking that the movie was channeling Harry Harrison’s priceless science fiction book series featuring criminal-antiheroes — the “Stainless Steel Rat” adventures.

 

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My review of “Jurassic World” (2015), with Bryce Dallas HowAreYaDarling

“Jurassic World” (2015) was raptortastic and T-Rexific.  It was also fun in another way, but I can’t think of a pun for “Indominus Rex.”  I’d give it an 8 out of 10.

Seriously — this was a fun monster movie.  (I, for one, maintain that these are horror-sci-fi movies at heart, and not the family adventure films that others seem to take them for.  Even the theme music for this entire franchise seems to insist that a zippity good time was had by all, after dinosaurs devour adults and traumatize lost children.)

The kid in me thrilled to this movie’s great special effects and abundance of monsters.  Those raptors are the coolest movie monsters since Aliens and Predators.

The action sequences were good.  Did anyone else think the initial attack/ambush was an homage to the initial attack/ambush in “Aliens” (1986)?  They have the heart rate monitors and helmet-cams and everything.  I kept waiting for Corporal Hicks to yell, “DRAKE, WE ARE LEAVING!!!”

The aerial attack by the winged dinosaurs was outstanding.  (I don’t know the difference between pterodactyls and pteranodons.  Besides, one of them looked like it had a T-Rex head, and I’m not sure that was even was a thing.)  The plight of one plucked victim was pretty damn creative and horrifying — I think that entire sequence was an example of some pretty inspired horror filmmaking.

And all of those things are good, because I honestly don’t think this film has much going for it without them.  This really is … pretty much the same story as “Jurassic Park” (1993).

Smart people do stupid things.  I got a “C” in biology freshman year, but even a guy like me immediately doubts the wisdom of the Raptor Recruiting Plan.  I also have no military experience, but I know what “cover” is, and I know what a “kill zone” is, and I wouldn’t rush from the former to stand stationary in the latter.

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas HowAboutADrinkLater are both very good actors; this movie’s script has them rattling off humorous lines that are typical of a mediocre sitcom.  The character concept for Pratt’s hunky-extreme-sportsman-naturalist raptor-whisperer is kind of silly.  Bryce Dallas HowDoYouJustKeepGettingPrettier plays another stock character — the uptight corporate princess who needs to be taken down a notch.  Their banter is like the dialogue of a lackluster episode of “Friends,” and it insults the viewers’ intelligence.

The movie’s two most interesting characters are the two young brothers.  Their dialogue was actually touching — this movie would be far better it had focused almost entirely on them.  (And, yes, that is young Ty Simpkins from “Insidious.”)

I keep seeing articles on the Internet alleging that the technology depicted by these movies will soon be possible, but I pretty much don’t believe anything I read on the net anymore.  Because I totally bought into that Mars One fiasco, and now I feel like an idjit.

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