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Recent Movies: Inside Out; Jurassic World; Avengers: Age of Ultron

July 26, 2015

Recent Movies

Inside Out

In this animated film, the mind of an eleven-year old American girl is a universe unto itself.  Five characters represent primary emotions occasionally battling for dominance.  The world that surrounds them includes a mega-factory like setting that represents long-term memory.

To call “Inside Out” clever is a great understatement.  It shows the same great creativity and imagination that made the “Toy Story” movies such a pleasure to watch.  While the girl’s outer world has difficult challenges, the inner world (as depicted on screen) is even more chaotic while appearing as an adventure.

The film succeeds in its unusual use of psychology as the device to drive its plot.  It even manages to create genuine sadness when some of the girl’s early childhood memories disappear.  And speaking of psychology, the story has a gentle jab against what could be called “the tyranny of positive thinking”.

The good humour in this movie adds to its entertainment value while its intelligence shines through as well thanks to a clever story by Pete Docter (the director), Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley.

RATING (out of four stars):   * * * 1/2

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Jurassic World

In the fourth installment in the science-fiction Jurassic Park series: a tourist dinosaur park runs into trouble when a genetically modified creature breaks out of her confined area.

This is one of those big-budget Hollywood blockbusters that’s really worth seeing.  The set design of the park is breathtaking as are the special effects.  Director Colin Trevorrow has done a great job with mega-crowd scenes and multiple thrills.

The buildup to the action/adventure is also surprisingly fascinating.  The story takes a shot against the radical bigger-is-better greed and its corresponding interference with nature:  something that is rampant in our modern corporate world.  (This is ironic as the movie is coming from one of the biggest forms of this mindset: big-budget Hollywood movie-making.)

Once the action takes place, this theme disappointingly dissipates.  While character development almost always takes the back seat in such movies, there could have at least been a confrontation against one of the characters (or even the showing of remorse) on the trouble she helped create.  In addition, some of the performances are also disappointing.

However, “Jurassic World” is big-budget Hollywood at its best.  Overall, it sets out to entertain and it does so quite well.

RATING:   * * *

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENTS:   Special Effects,  Set Design

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Avengers: Age of Ultron

The gang of superheroes from “The Avengers” (2012) return in this big-budget futuristic sequel to fight off another set of bad guys hell-bent on destroying the world.

The technical aspects of this film make it an enjoyable experience especially in the action sequences.  The special effects are at their best when Mark Ruffalo’s character turns into The Hulk.  While the movie has a lot of heart, its dialogue is weak and far less engaging than the action scenes.  Also, attempts at wit rarely succeed.

It can still be a fun outing as long as one doesn’t expect too much.

RATING:   * * 1/2

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Dennis Bowman

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