Thursday, 18 June 2015


Jurassic park, as a theme park, hasn’t exactly got a good track record. Whilst the idea of real, live dinosaurs is nine shades of awesome, shit always happens. As Ian Malcolm put it in the first film: “Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that's how it always starts. Then later there's running and um, screaming”. It’s not exactly a spoiler to say that in this, the fourth instalment, there is plenty of running and screaming.

The science blokes, you see, have created a new dinosaur. After all, it’s been twenty years since the first ones were unveiled (and all the subsequent running and screaming) and the public is getting bored of dinosaurs. Basically, Jurassic World is all well and good but to the kids it’s just another zoo. So, they think, what we need is something bigger and nastier to bring the crowds, as everyone loves a good carnivore. They whip it up in the lab, chucking in DNA from all over the shop to help it stick together, then let it grow to full size for some reason before actually letting any experts take a look. This is a bit of a big plothole, to be honest, but who cares that much when you’re watching a daft fantasy adventure flick. 

So we have Indominus Rex (easy to pronounce is important, apparently), a massive murdering machine that would surely cause massive havoc if it ever got loose. Phew! Good job the people in the park would never let THAT happen. Cue running and, indeed, screaming. 

As far as characters are concerned, we mainly focus on Park bigwig Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), her nephews who naturally choose the worst week EVER to visit and hunky ex navy dinosaur whisperer Owen (Chris Pratt – the new Harrison Ford). Basically, shit hits the fan, kids wander off (like they do), so Claire and hunky monkey go off to find them before they are munched. Yeah, there’s more, including a nice turn from Vincent D’onofrio as an asshole who thinks we can weaponize dinosaurs, but essentially that’s the gist of it. 

Thing is, this is a big ass Summer blockbuster movie, and so it’s all about entertainment and not complex plots. I have to say that on that front ‘Jurassic World’ delivers pretty well. There’s more dinosaurs than you can shake a stick at, and the park set up is incredibly well realized. The new kid on the block is suitably terrifying, although my personal favourite is an enormous shark munching sea dino that is kept in a massive pool (warning: Front 100 rows will get wet). We even get a suitable return for Me T Rex and well structured nods to the original move that don’t seem forced. All in all, this does just about everything it sets out to do, with incredible effects, good performances and a solid story. Will there be another one? Well, there may not be another park, but you can bet the dinosaurs will pop up again somewhere.



Thursday, 11 June 2015

'REVENGE' - Graphic Novel review

Jonathan Ross is very well known in the UK as a radio and TV presenter, though not so well known as a massive comic fan and sometime author. His first effort, ‘Turf’ was a novel premise that mixed gangsters, vampires and aliens, but was too long winded for me. He hit pay dirt with his novel people with powers book ‘America’s Got Powers’, which read a lot like a book from his friend Mark Millar, aided be superb visuals from Bryan Hitch. For his latest, now collected in book form, he has gone in another direction – gross out violence

‘Revenge’ concerns aging action movie c-list star Griffin Franks, whose forty year old character ‘The Revenger’ gets a lucky relaunch and turns him into a star again. Convinced by his trophy wife to nip down to Mexico for an anti aging skin graft, he is betrayed and left with no face or fingertips, in constant agony. In the manner of his famous character, when he inevitably gets loose he and a dwarf with horns grafted to it’s head (don’t ask), pop back to the U.S.A for some bloody, violent revenge. As you would…

The scripting for ‘Revenge’ is decidedly wobbly and at times unconvincing, and it’s like Ross just wrote it whilst on the toilet over the course of a few days. It’s left up to artist Ian Churchill to breathe life into a twisted version of a standard premise, which he does so with gusto. This is a blood soaked tale, make no mistake, and thanks to the art it mostly succeeds in being readable and at times quite fun and entertaining. If it was a film, it would be straight to DVD, but there would be plenty of people enjoying it’s over the top bloodlust.

Three very different stories have come from Ross so far, each with their own pros and cons. ‘revenge’ is probably the weakest of them, substituting gore and tits for a solid script, but as I say it still has a charm that will please fans of over the top action, the ‘Crossed’ crowd especially. Worth checking out, but forewarned is forearmed.


I have to admit straight off the bat that I enjoy watching Melissa Mccarthy. At her best when allowed to insult people in creative ways, she is also a dab hand at injecting real pathos and soul into characters that otherwise could have been rather one dimensional. In ‘Spy’, she adds another string to her bow, perhaps an unlikely one – action star.

McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, who is the partner of super spy Bradley Fine (Jude Law). When I say partner… he goes out and does all the spy stuff and she sits in ‘The Bunker’ directing him and basically doing her best to keep him alive, something she does very well, and we are left in no doubt that Susan is a smart woman who secretly loves the pants off her distant partner. When he gets a bit dead, thanks to evil bitchbag Rayna (Rose Byrne), the agency are told in no uncertain terms that said bitchbag knows every one of their agents. The plan, then, is to send someone she could never know, and as Susan is actually a fully trained field agent (who has never been in the field) she should go on an important surveillance mission involving Rayna and a nuclear bomb. What could go wrong?

The best news about ‘Spy’ is that it’s written and directed by Paul Feig, who worked so well with McCathy in ‘Bridesmaids’ and ‘The Heat’. Her character this time round is more mousy than the ones played in those movies, but fans will be glad to know that about two thirds of the way in she is allowed to let the inner demon out to play and boy does it like to play. Profanity and very creative insults sparkle across the screen, as McCarthy also kicks some serious ass in one particularly well directed kitchen fight scene.

Although two hours long, ‘Spy’ is continuously entertaining. Jude Law is convincing as a super spy, Allison Janney works well as the CIA Director, Miranda Hart makes a decent Hollywood break as (shock horror) a clutzy big posh girl, and Rose Byrne looks spookily like Madonna, which makes her character even easier to loathe. The standout supporting cast member, however, is Jason Statham ad Rick Ford, a spy who has plenty of ludicrous tall stories that get sillier and sillier (‘See this arm? It was ripped off then sewn back o by the other arm’). Statham gets to play comedy, but plays it totally straight (without having to use his awful American accent, thankfully) and provides plenty of laughs.

In a nutshell, ‘Spy’ is a fine addition to Fieig and McCarthy’s joint CV, and if you liked their previous films you’ll love this one. It’s smart, has an actual plot and is sooooo funny all the way through. I look forward to what they come up with next.