Movie Review: Lightyear

The logical reason why just about all Pixar movies are great is because so much time and money is spent creating amazing computer graphics it would make no sense to not also create a great story and screenplay to make sure that all the money spent is not wasted.

The overall ratings for the new movie “Lightyear”, the first spinoff of the great Toy Story movies, are average to bad because even though the computer graphics are once again spectacular, the story and the screenplay are not good enough. This is most likely the first Pixar movie that has not gotten the highest ratings, because this time around the ball was dropped for the most important part of any movie – the screenplay.

The story of Lightyear is about one of the main characters from the Toy Story movies – Buzz Lightyear repeatedly attempting the same mission to reach hyperspace (the speed of light), to ultimately correct a mistake and return the people on a remote planet back home. Due to Einstein’s theory of time and the speed of light as Buzz attempts mission after mission, he never gets much older and all of this friends on this planet age normally, as many as 60 years as this story unfolds. This part of the film gets tired very quickly, with a haphazard ending that seemed thrown together and did not make much sense.

The character that steals this movie is Sox the robot cat, who has the best lines and best scenes through these 2 hours. There were not many people in the theater I was in on this opening weekend, so this is one Pixar movie that might not be another expected big hit.

I agree with the 77% ratings on IMDB, with the very low 5.2 rating probably too low, considering so much work accomplished with the amazing computer graphics. This mostly disappointing Pixar movie is only for the most die hard Toy Story fans and I give only a very mild recommendation.

Movie Review: Jurassic World Dominion

There had to be important multi-million dollar discussions about the future of the Jurassic franchise that started in 1993 with some of the most impressive special effects involving living Dinosaurs ever created in movie history. The discussions had to address the main problem with the entire Jurassic franchise. All of these movies are essentially the same. “There is a Dinosaur resort or reserve of some kind, where someone is a criminal or makes a mistake, and Dinosaurs that are supposed to be secured in high-tech cages, escape. Then people run for their lives”. The upside of the new Jurassic movie “Jurassic World Dominion”, is that in the real world, Dinosaurs are move commonplace, mostly not in cages and not released because someone made a mistake or is a criminal. So while admiring the attempt to at least change the constant-same-story-with-people-running-for-their-lives, unfortunately the story and screenplay here is convoluted, mostly boring and way too long.

In this story, there is a major corporation that creates giant grasshopper insects that threaten to destroy the food chain of the entire world. Why this was done, is not fully explained, which is typical of big budget movies I have seen lately. Why explain what we are doing – just show the special effects because nobody will care anyway. This film reunites the original cast, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neil from the first (and best movie in the series) Jurassic Park, released in 1993 and the latest cast that includes Chris Prat and Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays Claire Dearing. Towards the end of this story they all reunite while trying to find Dearing’s daughter played by Isabella Sermon. The reunion of all these actors seems to signify some kind of a symbolic end of this series, even though that we all know that Jurassic will be back in some form in the future. There is just too much money to be made from showing lifelike Dinosaurs trying to kill people.

I thought that the first 3 quarters of this film did not show nearly enough Dinosaurs and Jeff Goldblum’s part was too small, considering he has been the most interesting character in the entire movie series. The two side stories about the major corporation trying to cause world famine for reasons unknown and the kidnapping of Claire Dearing’s daughter for the most part did not work. Once again, the producers of this movie knew that because of the built-in audience, coming up with a great story was not really necessary. The thinking is, all people want to see are the incredible Dinosaurs and people getting killed and running for their lives. The screenplay is always just an afterthought. This is unfortunate, especially when you consider the huge amount of money involved in a movie franchise this important.

The Rotten Tomatoes for this film are an extremely low 33% and due to the bad story and too long convoluted screenplay I mostly agree with this rating and cannot recommend this movie.

Netflix Movie Review: Hustle

Some years ago, Actor/Producer Adam Sandler signed a huge deal with Netflix to produce a series of movies. Of the films I have seen so far, the new film “Hustle” is a very solid sports movie and by far the best that Sandler has created for Netflix.

Sandler plays a talent scout, Stanley Sugerman for the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA and this movie does a very good job showing how difficult this job is, including traveling the world, staying in bad and mostly depressing Hotels, in an attempt to find the next new NBA superstar. Finding a great NBA prospect requires a great deal of knowledge of love of the game of basketball and I thought that Sandler did a great job displaying all of this within these 2 hours.

Most impressive here is the basketball prospect that Sander finds in Spain, Bo Cruz – played by actual NBA player Juancho Hernangomez. What I found most amazing about Hernangomez was that despite his awesome athletic and basketball skills he showed in this movie, he is only a minor low scoring player in the NBA. Proving to all of us, how extremally difficult it is to excel in the unbelievably challenging sport of NBA basketball. The relationship between Sugarman and Hernangomez, during the training and the advice and help that Sugarman gave to Hernangomez was very well told within this story.

I liked the relationship between NBA Scout Sandler and his very abusive boss, Vince Merrick, played very well by Ben Foster. It one thing to be very good at your job, its quite another thing to get the support of your boss, in this case the son of the owner played by the great Robert Duval. The workouts as Sandler tries to turn Bo Cruz into a great NBA prospect was very well done throughout this film. During the many NBA tryouts I thought that the trash talking of the other NBA prospect trying to get under the skin of Bo Cruz was also outstanding and more importantly, very believable.

Queen Latifa plays Sandler’s wife Teresa Sugerman, and one can argue that her casting as Sandler’s wife is an example of miscasting, but overall I thought this relationship was well depicted throughout this film.

I was surprised at how good a sports movie Hustle is and I agree with the very high 89% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and highly recommend this film. Sandler once again has proved that when he makes a serious movie he can be an extremely good actor.