Archive for September, 2018

06
Sep
18

Jur-ASS-ic World: Fallen Kingdom, Night of the Hunter

Jur-ASS-ic World: Fallen Kingdom
The second (or fifth, depending on how you count) entry in the Jurassic World series is just as dumb as the trailer would make you think. The island where the Jurassic World theme park is situated is about to experience a volcanic eruption so powerful it will decimate all life on the island, including the dinosaurs. Bryce Dallas Howard wants to rescue the dinosaurs, which seems like a pretty dumb fucking idea since every time the humans and the dinosaurs get together, it results in the dinosaurs eating the people. Chris Pratt thinks its a terrible idea, but since he needs a paycheck real bad, he goes along with her. What transpires next is a continuous chase sequence of humans outrunning dinosaurs, and then dinosaurs outrunning an unconvincing CGI volcanic explosion. Everyone survives, naturally.
The second half of the movie takes place in an isolated mansion where the rescued dinosaurs are auctioned off to people for various purposes, such as weaponizing them. The big attraction is a new dinosaur (every Jurassic Park movie tries to up the ante by introducing a new, scarier dinosaur) that is a genetic combination of a Velociraptor and the Indominus rex. Of course, in the previous movie, we learned that the Indominus rex was a genetic combination of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Velociraptor, so the new new dinosaur is basically the same fucking thing except smaller and stupider looking. Howard and Pratt run away from the dinosaurs some more, and shout some insipid lines. The bad guys all get eaten. The end of the movie is supposed to be a shocking twist, but it’s pretty lame: the dinosaurs get free in southern California. Except they already did that in Jurassic Park 2. So, nothing is new in this franchise anymore. I think the worst part is that this movie serves no purpose except as an extended trailer for Jurassic World 3: Dinosaurs Up Your Ass in California. What a waste.
Verdict: Shitty
Night of the Hunter
It’s a shame that director Charles Laughton only got to direct a single film, Night of the Hunter, while so many idiots like Michael Bay and M. Night Shyamalan get chance after chance to churn out dreck. Laughton’s single attempt at film-making turned out a now-legendary film. Night of the Hunter is an interesting study of sociopathy and religious preoccupation, stemming primarily from the titular character as played by Robert Mitchum. The story is brilliant in its simplicity: a con-man is jailed in the same cell as a bank robber. Before his execution, the robber lets slip to the con-man that someone in his family knows the location of the money he stole and hid. Upon the con-man’s release, he goes to the town to win his way into the family’s graces so he can acquire the money.
Mitchum’s con-man is rather likeable on the surface, but has only the charming superficiality seen in sociopaths. Beneath the surface, he is a terrible misogynist, a serial killer, and will do anything to get what he wants without any remorse. He quickly earns everyone’s trust (except the children), so no one believes the children when they claim he is a murderer. The character study is enough to write an entire book about, and yet is only one aspect of what makes this film great. However, compared to Mitchum’s power-house performance, none of the other actors hold a candle to him. He acts circles around everyone else, and perhaps this was intended by Laughton, but I doubt it. Mitchum is just too good, and his excellence makes everyone else’s mediocrity more apparent. The only other actor who acquits herself is Lillian Gish, a former silent film star who managed to successfully transition to talkies. The child stars carry the weight of the film, and while their acting is about as good as I would expect from a 12 year-old and a 7 year-old, they perform nicely, and successfully form the emotional core of the film.
The only major gripe I have is the relative anti-climax of the film. The children escape from Mitchum in a harrowing scene, and of course he tracks them down sometime thereafter. It is at this second encounter that the movie just sort of stops. Mitchum easily gives up without much of a fight, whereas the scene could have very effectively been played for terror.
Night of the Hunter is expertly directed, and has no right to be this good being directed by a first-timer. It uses bold, contrasting shadows. It uses religious hymns to haunting effect. It uses unique shots and angles I have never seen in any other film. Laughton was a borderline genius director, but we’ll never know if he could have channeled that genius into further films, or if he just had beginner’s luck. Regardless, this is a really amazing film, and one that deserves to be watched by everyone. Regardless of a few shortcomings, Night of the Hunter is a classic of American cinema.
Verdict: Awesome



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