For movie watchers, few things can be more frustrating than films that begin with a sequence of immense promise, only to show over the remainder that the emperor truly wears no clothes. Two new examples come from the horror realm.
Until now, Ethan Hawke was having a wonderful year. Before Midnight, the third leg of his trilogy with director Richard Linklater and actress Julie Delpy, brought waves of critical acclaim and talk of another Oscar nomination for their collaborative screenplay, while The Purge turned a meager investment into a highly profitable box-office take.
Neither a chain of spice stores nor a Food Network program, The Seasoning House is a bleak-as-nuclear-winter thriller set during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. A deaf girl named Angel (Brit teen Rosie Day) is taken from her home by soldiers who shoot her mother dead.
Paul Schrader’s The Canyons opens and closes with a montage of abandoned movie theaters. For this film in particular, that choice strikes one as symbolic in several ways: not only as a comment on the state of the industry, but on the state of The Canyons itself. You’re unlikely to find many 2013 films this empty.
What's a director of classic musicals doing in science fiction? Making Saturn 3, one of the worst of the genre Hollywood made in the immediate post-Star Wars / Alien era. Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) takes to it about as well as you'd expect; he's in over his head.
To celebrate 20 years, Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park returns to theaters starting today, this time with a conversion to 3-D.
Does the 3-D add anything? No. Does the movie still work? Yes.
So ubiquitous in our current pop culture is the 1993 blockbuster that there’s no need for me to rehash its plot beyond “man clones dinosaurs.” (For kids, all one has to say is “dinosaurs,” and they’re onboard.) It’s been ages — 19 years, I’m guessing — since I last saw it before this week, and it was a pleasure to revisit its big set pieces, which have stood the test of time.
What hasn’t aged well is the film’s opening — basically, everything before chaos reigns on the theme-park island. It takes too long to get to the goods, and this chunk of time stands as Park’s weakest portion. The 3-D is not only an unnecessary addition, but actually proves problematic by spatially disorienting viewers during scenes of action. Spielberg’s frames wow enough because of how realistic the dinosaurs look (and still do); they’re not in need of the View-Master treatment.
It didn’t bother my 8-year-old, however, and I suspect he’s the real reason Universal Pictures has reopened Jurassic Park’s gates: Now, a whole generation exists that wasn’t around to see the movie when it first broke ground ... or to see 2001’s Jurassic Park III, for that matter. Certainly the studio wishes to prime this batch of youngsters so they’ll be in line for Jurassic Park IV (reportedly with Safety Not Guaranteed director Colin Trevorrow at the helm), and just judging from my son’s case, it’s safe to say they’ve wildly succeeded. —Rod Lott