Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios

Directed by Peyton Reed

Produced by Kevin Feige

Screenplay by Edgar Wright/Joe Cornish/Adam McKay/Paul Rudd

Story by Edgar Wright/Joe Cornish

You guys know that I’ve never held myself up to be any kind of expert on film. I’ve never been to film school or taken any formal courses so when I lay out my idea to you on why I think the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are so successful, it’s just me rattling on. Trust me, I don’t have the formula for how to make a successful motion picture and if I did I would be right now in my Beverly Hills mansion floating in a Tony Montana-sized platinum bathtub filled with champagne.

But here’s what I think. The Marvel movies are so good and so successful because they’re not just superhero movies. The “Iron Man” movies are not just superhero movies but techno-thrillers as well. The first “Captain America” was a war movie as well as a superhero movie while the second doubled as a political thriller. The “Thor” movies successfully blend heroic fantasy with the superheroics while “Guardians of The Galaxy” works as a straight space opera. I think you see where I’m going with this. ANT-MAN isn’t just a superhero movie; it’s also a pretty nifty heist flick. It also gives us a bonus in that it’s the first Marvel movie where we see one superhero pass on his name, powers and legacy to another. I’m a sucker for that kind of ‘passing the torch’ generational thing and it’s one of the more enjoyable aspects of ANT-MAN

Cat burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is released from prison and the first thing he informs his old cellmate/new roommate Luis (Michael Pena) is that he’s going straight. After all, he’s got a degree in electrical engineering so getting a good paying job should be a snap, right? Wrong. And without a job and apartment of his own, Scott’s ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) won’t allow visitation rights so that Scott can spend time with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) who worships her father. Maggie’s police detective boyfriend Paxton (Bobby Cannavale) is just itching for the chance to throw Scott back in jail.

And he may get his chance when Scott, disgusted with his failed efforts to hold down a job, agrees to hook up with Luis and his crew (Tip “T.I.” Harris and David Dastmalchian) for what Luis swears is a lucrative burglary that will make them all rich. The burglary is indeed an easy one but all Scott comes away with what he thinks is a funky looking old motorcycle suit.

Marvel's Ant-Man..Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd)..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..? Marvel 2014

Intrigued by the circuitry and hi-tech elements of the helmet and suit, Scott tries it on, fools around with the controls and shrinks himself down to size of an insect. Scott is contacted by the owner of the suit, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) the Original Ant-Man who now needs Scott to become the new Ant-Man in order to keep his shrinking technology from being used by Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) his former protégé. Cross has taken over Hank’s company and weaponized the Ant-Man technology, creating The Yellowjacket, a military battle suit. With the help of Hank’s daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) who is a senior board member of Pym Technologies and trusted by Cross, Hank wants Scott to sabotage The Yellowjacket.


I won’t keep you in suspense: I loved ANT-MAN. I’ve been a big fan of the character of Dr. Hank Pym ever since I was a kid. You can keep your super-strength and flight and magic spells. If I had my choice of superpowers, size changing is in my top five. It’s a delight to see Hank Pym brought to life by Michael Douglas who anchors this whole thing and give it gravitas. I defy any other actor to deliver a line like “I want you to be the new Ant-Man” the way Douglas does. He’s having fun at the same time he’s being totally serious. It’s a fine line to walk and he does it exquisitely. He has terrific chemistry with Evangeline Lilly and it’s really nice to see the movie’s script gives them time to work through their issues during the mayhem.


Paul Rudd did a far better job than I thought he was going to do and by the time we get to that to wonderfully badass scene of Ant-Man leading his squadron of flying ants into battle, he had me. Like the other MCU movies, ANT-MAN isn’t afraid to embrace the goofy ridiculousness of the situation and it doesn’t shy away from recognizing how silly the notion is of a guy whose superpower is being able to shrink to insect size and talk to ants. But at the same time, in highly imaginative ways it’s demonstrated how dangerous and powerful such abilities can be.

The only problem I have with ANT-MAN? The plot borrows heavily from the first “Iron Man” movie what with Corey Stoll playing an Obadiah Stane Lite. But Stoll is such a good actor and like everybody else here, he’s obviously having a good time I let it go. Marvel continues its winning streak of superhero movies that are pure undiluted FUN and keeps on giving me what I want: astonishing tales of superheroes who relish being superheroes and get a kick out of having amazing adventures. If you haven’t seen ANT-MAN yet, stop waiting and go.

117 Minutes





Focus Features/Gramercy Pictures

Directed by Tarsem Singh

Produced by Ram Bergman/Peter Schlessel/James D. Stern

Written by David Pastor/Alex Pastor

Generally when I go to the movies I plan it out what I’m going to see the day before. My wife and I usually go on a Tuesday because it’s Bargain Day at our favorite film emporium and we get away with paying $7. We also make a shopping/errand day out of it, treating ourselves to a bit of fun after taking care of business. But this Tuesday we didn’t plan on seeing anything as there was nothing in the theater either of us particularly cared to see (and “Ant-Man” doesn’t come out until Friday, dammit) so we were just going to call it an early day and head on home.

That’s before a series of truly torrential thunderstorms began coming down. We were in Long Island, a good 30 miles or so from our house and I didn’t feel like driving all the way back to Brooklyn in a thunderstorm so Patricia and I said “what the hell” and elected to kill a couple of hours going to see SELF/LESS. Neither one of us had heard much good about it but we figured; “How bad could it be?”

I shoulda took my chances with the thunderstorm.

Billionaire real estate titan Damian Hayes (Ben Kingsley) is dying from cancer. He leaves behind immense wealth and a broken relationship with his only child, his daughter Claire (Michelle Dockery). As he approaches death the only thing he truly wants is more time to heal the wound between him and Claire. Salvation arrives in the form of the mysterious Professor Albright (Matthew Goode) who claims that through a process he calls “shedding” he can place Damien’s consciousness into a young, healthy body that he says he’s grown in his laboratory.


Damien is skeptical. He didn’t get to be a billionaire by letting people make a fool out of him, after all. But after a trip to Albright’s lab and seeing the multiple bodies he’s grown, “vessels waiting to be filled” as Albright phrases it, he’s ready to sign on the dotted line. And pretty soon he wakes up in a fine, firm new body with a new name: Edward Mark Hale (Ryan Reynolds)


Damien/Edward moves to New Orleans, makes a new friend, Anton (Derek Luke) and pretty soon he’s playing pickup games of basketball, jet skiing, clubbing, partying like a rock star and banging supermodels. Life is pretty sweet until the visions start. Visions of a wife and child. Of a house and a life that is not his. Could it be that he’s remembering the life of Edward Hale? Damien sets out to find if the visions have any truth behind them and in the process finds out that Professor Albright and his “shedding” process is far more frightening than he was led to believe.

Now, by the time I got to this part of the movie I was 75% convinced that I was watching an uncredited remake of “Seconds” the classic John Frankenheimer directed suspense thriller which stars Rock Hudson in what many (including me) think is the finest dramatic work he’s ever done on film. In “Seconds” a middle-aged business man fed up and unhappy with his life (John Randolph) gets a chance to live a new life in a new body thanks to a mysterious organization run by an equally mysterious Old Man played by Will Geer. Randolph wakes up in Rock Hudson’s body and I will say no more about “Seconds” other than if you have not seen it, then consider it your homework assignment for the weekend to do so.

So the first 20 minutes or so of SELF/LESS point in that direction and actually isn’t bad at all. It’s once Ryan Reynolds takes over that the movie winds down, replacing what started out as a story about dealing with mortality with a By The Numbers action plot. Once Damien starts remembering Hale’s life and gets himself involved with Hale’s wife (Natalie Martinez) and child (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen) Albright marks them all for death and they have to take it on the lam.

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Y’know, even if director Tarsem Singh had indulged his extraordinary talent for eye-popping visuals, cinematography and costuming then we would at least have a movie worth looking at. Movies of his such as “The Fall” “The Cell” and “Immortals” are dazzling visual feasts if nothing else. I myself don’t understand the point of hiring a director who is renowned for his visual style and then have him not use that visual style to punch up such a plodding, dull story.

Or maybe Tarsem wanted to show he could direct a B-level actioner like everybody else without falling back on the visuals. Bad choice. I will say that there are a couple of hand-to-hand fight scenes and gun battles that he directs with snap, crackle and pop. But then again, there are half a dozen other action directors that could have done those scenes with just as much skill and energy.


Ryan Reynolds gives it his all here and I appreciate that he does his job to the best of his ability. He’s not phoning in his performance here and while he can’t carry a whole movie on his back, it’s not for lack of trying. Bradley Cooper, Chris Evans or Chris Pratt would have stuck this movie in their back pocket and walked away with it but Ryan ain’t them. But the fault of the movie doesn’t fall on him or any the supporting cast. Tarsem and his writers David and Alex Pastor iceberged this particular Titanic

Bottom line is this: wait for it to show up on Netflix if you’re at all interested in seeing it. An intriguing premise with talented actors and a phenomenal director is completely wasted and thrown away for the sake of a few car crashes, explosions and fights. What a shame.

116 Minutes

Rated PG-13

The Terminator



Hemdale Pacific Western/Orion Pictures

Directed by James Cameron

Produced by Gale Anne Hurd

Written by James Cameron/Gale Anne Hurd

Y’know how long it’s been since I last saw THE TERMINATOR? Long enough that I completely and totally forgot that Paul Winfield and Lance Henriksen are in the movie. And no cameos, either. They both have substantial roles to play in the story. And I say substantial because even though they don’t have a lot of screen time they definitely use whatever time they have well. Thanks to the script and their acting, the characters of Lieutenant Traxler (Paul Winfield) and Sergeant Vukovich (Lance Henriksen) are living people and not just plot devices to move the story along.

So why did I watch THE TERMINATOR again after all this time? Well, I’d seen “Terminator Genisys” and in that movie there are scenes recreated from the original movie. And they do a good job of it, right down to Jai Courtney wearing the same Nike Vandal high-top sneakers with the Velcro ankle straps that Michael Biehn wears. So I got a hankerin’ to watch the original. And thanks to Netflix I did. And ten minutes into the movie I was just as engrossed as I was the first time I saw it way back in ’84 at the Metropolitan Theater in downtown Brooklyn.

The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a cybernetic assassin. His metal endoskeleton is covered in living, organic tissue so that it can pass for human to get close to its target: Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). In the future, an AI called Skynet will achieve sentience and declare war on mankind by firing all of America’s nuclear missiles all over the world. The human race is saved by a man named John Connor who leads the resistance to victory. But Skynet sends The Terminator back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor before she can give birth to John. John Connor uses the same time machine The Terminator used to send his best soldier, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) to protect his mother. Neither The Terminator nor Kyle Reese can return to their future time and will never know how the future turns out. But their final battle in 1984 will decide a war being fought in 2029.


Watching THE TERMINATOR after such a long time the one thing that struck me and what I really appreciated in the lean, economical storytelling. There’s not a thing in the screenplay that slows up the plot or is in there just to pad out the running time. The last three movies in the “Terminator” suffered from serious bloating of the plot and stopping the story cold to have the characters sit around tell each other stuff they already know.

Don’t get me wrong…I like and appreciate characterization in my movies as much as you. But James Cameron as a script writer and a director understands that in an Action Movie you can reveal characterization through action. Even in scenes where Sarah and Kyle get a few minutes to stop and catch their breath, they’re not just sitting there relating to each other. They’re always doing something that never lets us forget that these are two people on the run. Even the sex scene between Sarah and Kyle isn’t just thrown in there for titillation. It’s important to the plot.

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I honestly don’t think this movie would be as well remembered and as highly regarded as it is (The Library of Congress has deemed THE TERMINATOR to be “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant) if Arnold Schwarzenegger hadn’t played the role. Do you honestly think we’d still be talking about The Terminator if O.J. Simpson had played it? He was the studio’s choice but Cameron wouldn’t have it.  Arnold had made about a dozen movies before THE TERMINATOR but this role as well as Conan seemed to be tailor made for him. I even think his Austrian accent works very well in this movie as it did in his Conan movies because it sounds strange as if The Terminator is still working out the kinks in how to speak like a human being.

Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton are excellent here. Fifteen minutes into the movie and you buy their characters totally. Watching it today I was struck by the energy of their action. Biehn in particular is electric every time he’s on the screen and I couldn’t help but compare his turbo charged performance to Jai Courtney who walks through “Terminator Genisys” as if he’s half asleep.

THE TERMINATOR is one of those movies that I think every director and screenwriter who wants to do an Action Movie should be required to watch. It’s got a full-tilt boogie plot that never seems rushed. The only things in the story/plot is what needs to be there and no more. But that doesn’t mean that Cameron skimps, either. There’s a nice little motif of machines betraying humans dropped here and there. Sarah’s roommate is killed because she’s listening to her Walkman with the sound cranked all the way up and can’t hear her boyfriend getting his ass kicked by The Terminator in the next room. TV’s are constantly giving away information that they shouldn’t. Despite the fact that he had a limited budget, James Cameron made it work for him with imagination, compelling characters and a helluva good story that has mature ideas and themes. If you haven’t seen it in a while, go ahead and revisit it. THE TERMINATOR still holds up very well.


107 Minutes

Rated R

Terminator Genisys



Skydance Productions/Paramount Pictures

Directed by Alan Taylor

Produced by David Ellison/Dana Goldberg

Written by Laeta Kalogridis/Patrick Lussier

Based on characters created by James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd.

I’ve got nobody to blame but myself. After the dismal “Terminal Salvation” and the utterly boring television series “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” I swore off any and all “Terminator” movies. After the extraordinarily disappointing “A Good Day To Die Hard” I resolved to never again pay money to see Jai Courtney in another movie. I’m sure he’s a fine gentleman and we’d probably have a great conversation over beers. But to date I’ve never seen the man give a performance I’ve liked. He’s got zero chemistry on screen with everybody I’ve seen him act with.

But the lure of Arnold Schwarzenegger proved to be too strong. And to give him his credit, Arnold is a lot of fun to watch in TERMINATOR GENISYS. I think it’s a testament to his growth as an actor that he makes a robot the most human character in the movie. Arnold’s been doing this for so long that he knows how to make us root for The Terminator and how to use the character to get all the laughs in the movie without turning The Terminator into a buffoon or an object of ridicule. I just wish he’d been able to impart some of his acting experience to his co-stars.

Director Alan Taylor and his writers Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier appear to have drunk 40 ounce sized bottles of J.J. Abrams brand Kool-Aid since the whole premise of TERMINATOR GENISYS is that an entirely new timeline has been created due to a Terminator having been sent back in time to 1973 to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) from a T-1000. When Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) arrives in 1984 via time machine he expects to find a Sarah Connor who’s unaware of Terminators or that she’s the mother of mankind’s savior.


Instead, he finds a battle-hardened warrior who is just as proficient with weapons and hand-to-hand combat as he is. She knows all about Judgment Day and the future war with Skynet and its machine army. In addition, her backup is The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who has raised Sarah as if she were its daughter. She even affectionately calls The Terminator “Pops”


Pops has built a time machine himself and Sarah intends to use it to go to 1997 and prevent Judgment Day, the day when Skynet attacked humanity. Due to him remembering the timeline that no longer exists, Kyle insists that they have to go to the year 2017 instead. But when they get there they find a new Terminator. The most advanced Terminator yet since this one is based on nanotechnology. But that isn’t even the worst because this Terminator has a very personal tie to both Sarah and Kyle as it’s their son, John Connor. And before you start foaming at the mouth and screaming; “Spoilers!” let me point out that this very important plot twist is spoiled in the trailers for the movie. It’s a plot twist that definitely should have been kept as the biggest secret in the movie. Just like Schwarzenegger’s iconic “I’ll be back” should have been kept out of the trailers. When we hear him say it in the movie, it should have been a stand-up and cheer moment. But since we’ve seen that scene umpteen times in the trailer we’ve been watching since last year, it’s as dead as yesterday’s fried chicken. There’s no heat behind it. No emotion. And movies run on emotion.

I broke down the plot to its simplest elements because if I took time to adequately explain it in detail, this review could easily run somewhere between three and five thousand words. But if you decide to see this movie the characters will explain it to you over and over and over again. It is amusing to see scenes from the first “Terminator” movie replayed in TERMINATOR GENISYS and there’s some laughs to be had when Kyle meets up with a Sarah Connor who knows more than he does but it quickly goes flat as Jai Courtney and Emilia Clarke have no chemistry at all. But as I said earlier, he doesn’t have it with anybody. And it really suffers that the actor playing John Connor (Jason Clarke) also has zero chemistry as well. Given what we know about the relationship between Kyle Reese and John Connor you think that the casting director would have picked a couple of actors who can convince us that they like each other.

Emilia Clarke is no Linda Hamilton, plain and simple. She goes through the movie looking like a little girl playing grown-up and she’s got none of the inner toughness that Linda Hamilton had and was able to project so well. J.K. Simmons shows up late in the movie to provide some much needed humor and it’s too bad that there wasn’t a way his character could have been introduced into the story earlier.

Left to right: Jai Courtney plays Kyle Reese, JK Simmons plays Detective O’Brien, and Emilia Clarke plays Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

As usual, it’s up to Arnold Schwarzenegger to save the day. He’s become a master at the art of deadpan humor and as such, he supplies most of the funny in the movie. The running gag here is that even after all the time he’s spent taking care of Sarah, he’s still learning how to fit in with humanity. And while he’s been presented as a killing machine in past movies, this Terminator has an IQ that would put Reed Richards to shame. He builds time machines. He formulates elaborate plans in 1984 that won’t come to fruition until 2017. He rattles off quantum mechanics and the theory of mutable timelines as if he invented them. Quite a change from the original “Terminator” where Schwarzenegger only has 100 words. In TERMINATOR GENISYS he talks so much that at one point Kyle asks Sarah if he has an off switch.

And by the time I got to the after credits scene it occurred to me that by now, Skynet is the technological equivalent of Michael Myers and Jason Voohees. No matter how many times it seems like its beaten or defeated, it always manages to find a way to come back in the next movie. Which makes me even less inclined to see the two sequels set in this new timeline.

So should you see TERMINATOR GENISYS? Only if you have nothing else to do and just want to get out of the house for a couple of hours. It’s not that it’s a bad movie. Just a completely unnecessary one and it serves no other purpose than to be chewing gum for your brain. If that’s all you want, go see it with my blessing.


Rated PG-13

Sometimes Salvation



Global View Productions

Written and Directed by Thor Moreno

Produced by Annette Duffy/Chris McAninch

It says somewhere in The Gospel of Matthew that God causes rain to fall on the righteous and unrighteous. And that’s a pretty good way to describe the Film Noir genre because in Film Noir movies really bad things happen to good people and bad people alike. With no rhyme or reason. It matters not your station in life or your rationalizations for why you do what you do. One day you’re walking along minding your business and life gives you a knockout punch like Muhammad Ali on his best day.

Now, I say that to say this; Thor Moreno’s latest film, SOMETIMES SALVATION is very much a Film Noir in that the characters inhabiting the movie have some pretty rotten things happen to them. Some of them they bring on themselves. Some they don’t. It’s a movie that on the surface is constructed like a crime thriller because we’ve got cops, gangsters, drug dealing, murder and domestic abuse in the mix but that’s only to hook us. Underneath there’s a really interesting character study about people in serious emotional and psychological pain and the lengths that they’re willing to go through to alleviate that pain. It’s about the decisions they make to achieve that alleviation. And since this is a movie taking place in a Film Noir universe, none of those decisions are good ones.

Kelsey (Preshia Paulding) is a woman who due to the strain of losing her husband to a debilitating disease is a walking exposed nerve end. To maintain the illusion of keeping it together she’s taking narcotics she buys from Mandy (Annette Duffy) a nurse who steals drugs from the hospital where she works and sells them to people under the guise that she’s doing it to help them get through their grief. Hah.


Mandy is one of the links that ties Kelsey to Dusty (Shawn McAninch) a cop with a truly terrifying temper that manifests itself in alcohol fueled abuse of his girlfriend (Lyndsy Darland) and her son Evan (Ian Harrison) And to be very blunt about it, Evan is sick of Dusty’s shit and has a plan to take care of him for good. Evan is the other link tying Kelsey to Dusty as she is one of Evan’s teachers and can’t help but want to know why he’s coming to school with black eyes. The situation worsens with Kelsey’s realization that Dusty is tied into a possible murder that he can pin on her. And when Kelsey becomes privy to Evan’s plan for Dusty it comes down to one really major decision she has to make. Maybe it’s too late for her soul and it damn well sure is far too late for Dusty’s but if she makes the right decision, then Evan’s can be saved.

There’s an awful lot of plot and story in the 65 minutes it takes to tell but Thor Moreno doesn’t waste a minute of it. Wonderful actors who are really committed to their characters assist him. Preshia Paulding is outstanding. Even in the quiet scenes she has she communicates the wretched agony her character his going through. Kelsey is a woman two steps away from losing it for good and Preshia Paulding never lets us forget it. Shawn McAninch steals the movie though. Dusty is an intriguing character due to his anger issues and his alcoholism but yet, Dusty has an unshakable moral code when it comes to his job. He reacts with disgust when he’s asked to do something illegal on two occasions but he can make his domestic abuse sit right in his belly. He takes the character through a truly fascinating arc during the course of the movie, ranging from psychotic rage to the blackest of humor when he’s forced to negotiate with a legbreaker looking for money Dusty owes his boss. I couldn’t help but laugh during that scene and the one that immediately followed as McAninch looks like he could be Louis C.K.’s older, meaner brother. Paulding and McAninch have one totally riveting scene together that really messed with my head as I didn’t know if it was going to end in a seduction, a rape or a murder.


So should you see SOMETIMES SALVATION? I certainly recommend that you do so. On the strength of the three movies he’s written and directed I’ve seen, Thor Moreno has become one of my favorites.

Jurassic World



Amblin Entertainment/Legendary Pictures/Universal Pictures

Directed by Colin Trevorrow

Produced by Frank Marshall/Patrick Crowley

Screenplay by Rick Jaffa/Amanda Silver/ Derek Connolly/Colin Trevorrow

Story by Rick Jaffa/Amanda Silver

Based on characters created by Michael Crichton

I’m going to step up on my soapbox here for just two minutes to give my $1.25 worth on some of the BMW I’ve heard/read about JURASSIC WORLD. If you’re not interested in me pontificating then please feel free to drop on down three paragraphs and read the review. I won’t be offended, I assure you.

Here’s the first thing: I’ve read reviews complaining about the lack of characterization and the predictable plot. You don’t go to a movie like JURASSIC WORLD looking for deep and meaningful characterizations. If they are there then that’s a bonus, sure. But if you pay your money and go in specifically for that then you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment and got nobody to blame but yourself. And as for the predictable plot….I mean, really? Aren’t all four of the movies in the “Jurassic Park” series basically the same movie?  They play out like this: People go to island full of dinosaurs. Dinosaurs break loose. People lose their minds and run around screaming. Dinosaurs chase people. People get et. Predictable? Sure is. Half a billion bucks worth of predictable at the box office, baby. And that ain’t dinosaur poop.

And here’s the second thing: the complaints about the lack of scientific accuracy. Sigh. Really? JURASSIC WORLD is a monster movie, plain and simple. It aspires to do nothing more than be an entertaining summer spectacular that gives you a thrill ride for two hours. It is not supposed to be a documentary.

But at the same time, it’s not entirely brain dead. If you pay attention I think you’ll see that JURASSIC WORLD, while itself being a summer blockbuster movie makes a statement about summer blockbuster movies and how audiences are constantly demanding for summer movies to be bigger and louder with more stunts and even more explosions. I have no idea if the writers and director directly intended for that to be in there and if they did, it’s a wonderfully subversive element to add in there. Okay, time for me to step off my soapbox and get to the review.

Brothers Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins) are packed off to stay with their aunt Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) while their parents work out some marital problems. It’s not as much of a bad deal at this may seem seeing as how Aunt Claire is the Operations Manager of Jurassic World, a dinosaur theme park located on Isla Nublar (cue the John Williams theme song) Claire is much too busy trying to woo potential investors with the lure of bigger and better dinosaur attractions. Dinosaurs genetically modified by the park’s Chief Geneticist, Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong) And his latest one is a doozy. He calls it Indominus Rex and it’s a biological killing machine as he used the DNA of half a dozen predatory dinosaurs to create the thing.


The Indominus Rex proves to be a lot more intelligent than anyone ever thought it could be as it manages to escape it’s enclosure and begins slaughtering its way across the island, killing humans and other dinosaurs alike as it makes its way straight to the park where the real feast awaits.  It up to Velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and his hunting pack of Velociraptors to track down the Indominus Rex and stop it before it busts into the park.


We’re not talking about a plot that you have to burn up brain cells thinking about. We’ve got Vincent D’Onofrio as Hoskins, the head of Security Operations who has some nebulous hair-brained idea that he can weaponize the Velociraptors for military use but he’s not the real bad guy here. He’s more of an annoyance. It’s Indominus Rex that is the true villain as it demonstrates a scary feral intelligence that gives it an unpredictability factor that goes off the charts.

Chris Pratt really impressed me here as he didn’t just fall back on doing a version of his Star-Lord/Peter Quill character from “Guardians of The Galaxy” Owen Grady is his own character in his own right and a lot of that had to do with the character’s body language. Since Grady’s hand signals, his stance and arm gestures are his way of communicating with the raptors he tends to stand absolutely still when talking with humans, not using his hands to emphasize his speech at all as most of us do. But when he’s with the raptors, his gestures and movements are very animated. It’s a small thing, I know. But to me it said a lot about the character and how he sees the raptors and his relationship to them.

I honestly don’t know if I liked Bryce Dallas Howard’s performance or not. She doesn’t have much chemistry with Pratt and she seemed to be going back and forth as if she herself wasn’t sure if her character was supposed to be the movie’s comedy relief or not. But she’s right there in the middle of the action along with Pratt and she has some pretty good lines in the scenes where Claire and Owen are in the jungle looking for her lost nephews.


I would never have guessed that Colin Trevorrow had this kind of action movie in him based on “Safety Not Guaranteed” which is a completely different type of science fiction movie and one I heartily recommend. He does an absolutely terrific job of channeling Steven Spielberg here, swiping shots from the first two “Jurassic Park” movies left and right. It’s an impressive directing job. He knows how to keep the plot moving and how to invest us in his characters and care about what happens to them.

The bottom line is this: you want to go to see JURASSIC WORLD because in the words of Dr. Ian Malcolm: “Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and um, screaming.”

And that’s all it is. Enjoy.

124 Minutes


Nora Prentiss

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Warner Bros. 

Directed by Vincent Sherman

Produced by William Jacobs

Screenplay by N. Richard Nash

Story by Paul Webster/Jack Sobell

“A type of crime film featuring cynical malevolent characters in a sleazy setting and an ominous atmosphere that is conveyed by shadowy photography, dark shadows and lighting to show the complicated moral nature of the subject and foreboding background music.”

Now that’s the Merriam-Webster definition of Film Noir. I’ve got a simpler definition: some Poor Slob gets into a situation way over his head involving murder and or/theft. Mainly through and because of his relationship with a Dame and/or Femme Fatale that he had no business messing around with in the first place. By the time he realizes he’s up to his neck in You Know What, our Poor Slob is either dead, dying, soon to be dead or wishing he was dead.

The Poor Slob in NORA PRENTISS is Dr. Richard Talbot (Kent Smith) He’s an extremely successful and highly respected physician. He’s got a great house in the suburbs, a lovely wife (Rosemary DeCamp) and two marvelous children that love and respect him. But Talbot is a profoundly unhappy man, bored with the predictable dull routine of his life.


That all changes when he meets The Dame. Nightclub singer Nora Prentiss (Ann Sheridan) is struck a glancing blow by a speeding truck and since Talbot’s office is closer than a hospital, she’s taken there for treatment. Turns out she’s just bruised a little. But Talbot is quite taken with the charm and beauty of this woman and it isn’t long before he’s spending his nights in the nightclub, listening to Nora sing. The relationship progresses as you may well figure that it does as Talbot’s infatuation with Nora develops into love.

Annex - Sheridan, Ann (Nora Prentiss)_NRFPT_01

Talbot just can’t bring himself to ask his wife for a divorce and when one of his patients drops dead right in his office, Talbot sees a way out. He puts his wedding ring on the man’s finger and identification in the man’s pockets. He changes clothes with the dead man and places the body in his car, sending it over a cliff. Talbot tells Nora he’s getting a divorce and they move from San Francisco to New York. Seems like Our Poor Slob has gotten away with it and will live happily ever after, right?

Don’t you believe it. Talbot starts drinking heavily and becomes increasingly more and more paranoid as he finds out his death is being investigated. He’s in a constant state of terror that isn’t helped by Nora’s old boss from San Francisco (Alan Alda’s dad Robert Alda) showing up in New York. Talbot is convinced Nora is cheating on him and that thought makes him even crazier. And like any good Film Noir, just when it looks like things couldn’t get any worse; it does in a plot twist worthy of Alfred Hitchcock.

First of all, let’s talk about the look of the film. The cinematographer on NORA PRENTISS is the master of cinematography himself; James Wong Howe and as a result NORA PRENTISS looks absolutely marvelous. The acting is equally magnificent. I have to admit that I never paid much attention to Ann Sheridan before and that’s my loss because she owns this movie from start to finish. I especially liked how Nora is the one with the common sense and brains in the relationship. She tells Talbot this is an old and well-traveled road that they’re on and it’s not going to end well for either one of them. But there’s something about this man that is irresistible. Maybe it’s because he really listens to her when she talks. Maybe it’s because he took the time to be her friend before he became her lover. Whatever it is, it’s got her bad.


Kent Smith I’ve seen in a few movies and he always struck me as a pretty bland actor. It’s a quality that actually works for him in this movie as Talbot is a bland, boring man until he falls in love with Nora. It awakens emotions in him that he hasn’t felt in years. And it’s his inability to handle these emotions that dooms him. And the final scene Smith has with Sheridan is quietly devastating as Talbot explains with a terrifying calmness to Nora exactly why he has chosen the fate he has and why she must go along with it and never, ever tell the truth.

NORA PRENTISS was one of the movies that kicked off Turner Classic Movies “Summer of Darkness” on June 5th in which they’ll be showing Film Noir movies every Friday during the month of June and July. You’ve still got plenty of time to jump on board and here’s a link to the schedule so that you can catch your Film Noir favorites or make plans to catch one you’ve never seen before. And make a note to watch NORA PRENTISS the next time it’s shown on TCM. You won’t regret it.

111 Minutes