#237 / 365 – ‘Jurassic Park’ – 127 mins
Cinema Challenge #95 / 115
The film follows two dinosaur experts — Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler Laura Dern) — as they are invited by eccentric millionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) to preview his new amusement park on an island off Costa Rica. By cloning DNA harvested from pre-historic insects, Hammond has been able to create living dinosaurs for his new Jurassic Park, an immense animal preserve housing real brachiosaurs, dilophosaurs, triceratops, velociraptors, and a Tyrannosaur Rex. Accompanied by cynical scientist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), who is obsessed with chaos theory, and Hammond’s two grandchildren (Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello), they are sent on a tour through Hammond’s new resort in computer controlled touring cars. But as a tropical storm hits the island, knocking out the power supply, and an unscrupulous employee (Wayne Knight) sabotages the system so that he can smuggle dinosaur embryos out of the park, the dinosaurs start to rage out of control. Grant then has to bring Hammond’s grandchildren back to safety as the group is pursued by the gigantic man-eating beasts.
I remember watching ‘Jurassic Park’ in a packed out cinema when it was first released in 1993 and being totally in awe of this spectacle that behold me from one of the gods of filmmaking. So fast forward eighteen years after its original release, as Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park gets a cinematic re-release, did I get the same experience as I did back then – it’s a pure and simple YES.
From your very first encounter with a Brachiosaurus using the ‘game changing’ special effects which still look as fresh as they did back in ’93, this cinematic masterpiece grabs a hold of you and doesn’t let go until the end credits. It’s just literally set piece after set piece, the T-Rex attack, electric fence climb, the Raptor hunt.
Acting wise, well Jurassic Park comes up trumps in every department. With the most notable being Richard Attenborough who is brilliant as the excitable and a little eccentric John Hammond, and a scene-stealing Jeff Goldblum is fantastic as the world’s coolest mathematician.
#238 / 365 – ‘Warrior’ – 140 mins
Cinema Challenge #96 / 115
When marine Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) returns home after 14 years away, there’s a lot of family history to deal with. He needs the help of his father Paddy (Nick Nolte) to train for SPARTA – the biggest winner-takes-all fight in Mixed Martial Arts history. Tommy’s brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is now a married schoolteacher. An ex-fighter himself, he finds the only way to save his family from financial ruin is to step back into the ring. With the underdog Brendan and unstoppable Tommy on a collision course, they’re forced to confront the past as well as each other in an emotional, high-stakes showdown.
From the trailers, you’d be forgiven for thinking you have seen it all before ‘Rocky’, ‘Raging Bull’ and yes for the majority of its 140 minute runtime Warrior does follow the same clichéd, shot at the title, sporting movie formula that has been employed by Hollywood for many a year and its one that works – so “if it isn’t broke why fix it”. In fact Warrior shares more of its DNA with that of Oscar-winner ‘The Fighter’ released earlier in the year. Both films at their core deal with the story of broken families at war, The only thing different in Warrior from director Gavin O’Connor is the sport has been swapped from Boxing to that of Mixed Martial Arts.
In the one corner you have brother Tommy (Tom Hardy), who has a fractured and tortured soul and whose angrily unable to forgive his fathers past mistakes. Tom Hardy in this role is just phenomenal, and he’s now beginning to look like a method chameleon actor of the highest order, his physical built like a brick shithouse presence is astounding and his powerful frame complete with a punch that could literally knock out an elephant jumps out of the screen at you. In the other corner brother Brendan, the civilised family man, but he’s a fighter in every sense of the word and fiercely determined. Joel Edgerton navigates this role well and in many scenes matches the performance of Hardy. Lastly Nick Nolte deserves praise for putting in a resonating performance as the former alcoholic whose desperate to salvage a connection with his sons.
Gavin O’Connor’s direction is phenomenal and he gives the film a gritty aesthetic look which is a good choice given Warrior as so many rolling emotions, and the drama between the bouts is far more compelling than you might expect. Inside the ring the fights are shot incredibly well with frenetic and intense brutality that at time at me wincing in my seat.
Warrior a testosterone-filled ride that packs a knockout punch as heavy as Raging Bull and the emotional depth of Rocky, and come the final bell your loyalties are so split that you don’t know who to route for.
#239 / 365 – ‘The Sting’ – (1973) 129 mins
IMDb Challenge #140 / 250 – Ranked #98 – iTunes
Robert Redford plays Depression-era confidence trickster Johnny Hooker, whose friend and mentor Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones) is murdered by racketeer/gambler Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw). Hoping to avenge Luther’s death, Johnny begins planning a “sting” — an elaborate scam — to destroy Lonnegan. He enlists the aid of “the greatest con artist of them all,” Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman), who pulls himself out of a drunken stupor and rises to the occasion. Hooker and Gondorff gather together an impressive array of con men, all of whom despise Lonnegan and wish to settle accounts on behalf of Luther.
The Sting reunited Paul Newman and Robert Redford with their ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ director George Roy Hill.
I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but for all the ‘con’ plot intricacies in The Sting, I found them all bit too straightforward, with it being an easy affair to see who was conning who, and it didn’t really create the tension that it should have done.
The Sting, is a fun crime caper with some great style in its ’30s period and Newman and Redford emit that same ‘buddy’ charisma that was on display in an abundance four years early in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It still baffles me why it won the 7 Oscars (including Best Picture) it did, I guess the Academy were making up for not awarding it to Butch Cassidy.