This weekend had the distinct feel of a throwback celebration with a Reboot-make, a re-release and a sequel to an 80’s iconic franchise inhabiting three of the top four positions.
Coming in at number one, with $26 Million, was the incredibly well advertised Evil Dead which played very strongly for an extreme horror film aimed squarely at a specific niche. Due, in part, to that specific audience target, the film’s reviews have been mixed and the word of mouth has been less than stellar on the whole. Still, the film plays very well to its target audience and with a big weekend under its belt will go into the books as a big win for all involved.
The next two spots ended up being an estimated tie between last weekend’s top two films. G.I. Joe: Retaliation and The Croods. Both brought in an estimated $21.1 Million, with the tie break going to last weeks number 1 because the Rock is in that one and the main event at Wrestlemania this weekend.
It’s Jurassic Park.
I still have my toy T-Rex from 1993 — and it still roars! I know pretty much all of Jeff Goldblum’s lines by heart and am working my way through memorizing Wayne Knight’s. I, like many others, am still pissed that Muldoon gets treated the way he does.
Jurassic Park was the first “big” movie (well, outside of Tim Burton’s Batman) that I saw in theaters. I was too young for Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones, and I remember being at summer camp, talking to my parents on the one phone in the whole place, outside the administration center, hearing my mom and dad describe how amazing it was. Those damn three weeks couldn’t be over soon enough for me to get to the theater.
So it’s a personal, nostalgic favorite.
Unless you’ve been living in a bathtub eating spaghetti for the last 20 years, you already know the plot: eccentric billionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) has discovered a way to clone dinosaurs. There’s an accident, and his investors are concerned about the safety of the park, so Hammond invites paleontologists Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Satler (Laura Dern), as well as even-more eccentric chaotician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) for a weekend stay. They discuss the philosophy of creating such a place, some kids show up, the dinos get loose and so does all hell.
Now it’s been converted to 3D, and pretty damn well.
It’ll be interesting to see how audiences who haven’t read Life of Pi, Yann Martel’s 2001 novel respond to director Ang Lee’s vision of the colorful tale. Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel is a twice-strangely-monikered, religiously insatiable 16-year-old Indian boy immigrating by freighter from Pondicherry to Canada with his parents, brother and the animal inhabitants of their family zoo who finds himself the sole human survivor of a shipwreck at sea.
The book is a rare hybrid: gripping survival thriller crossed with metaphysics and theology. That hybrid paid off in spades: it was both a runaway best-selling and massive award winner, starting with the Man Booker Prize in the UK. The story is bold and fantastical, yet as I remember it also dwelled for long, engaging stretches on the tedium and loneliness of sole survival at sea, with the world narrowed to Pi’s all-consuming counting of the cans of potable water and the packets of sea biscuits.
Sure, I like to make a buck or two as much as the next guy (or girl). But this, much like The Hobbit being split into three movies, smacks as nothing more than a cheap stunt and a grab for cash. Sorry Universal, I love you, but really?
Yes, I’m talking about the re-release of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park in 3D. And yes, I don’t think much of this tactic. An yes, it’s kinda lame.
Still, it will be cool to see Jurassic Park on the big sheen again. And nobody does crazy, surprised googly eyes better than Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum almost manages to make me love math (almost), so there’s that. However, if there’s a non-3D screening, look for me at that one.
Look for this version of Jurassic Park to arrive in theaters on April 5, 2013. Check out the trailer (which you will just have to imagine is in 3D) after the break.
I’d seen Finding Nemo only once before, when it was originally released, in the spring of 2003. Children were just a gleam in my eye, as they say, and at the time I enjoyed the film simply as a highly entertaining romp, with stunning visuals and a thoroughly engaging storyline. The film went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature and was second in grosses only to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. According to Wikipedia it’s also the best-selling DVD of all time and was the highest grossing G-rated film ever, until it was eclipsed by Toy Story 3, another Pixar triumph.
That’s a good place to start this review, because like Finding Nemo, the Toy Story films were also conceived, written and directed by Andrew Stanton, and like Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo is a story kids immediately adore, while being completely unaware of the incredibly poignancy and emotional power it has for the parents sitting next to them. But of course I didn’t understand that back then, being callow and young.
I enjoyed Marlin, Nemo’s father, as a fine comedic character, but my appreciation went only fin deep. I didn’t understand how amazingly inspired Albert Brooks is in the role, how his comedy—being from the very beginning of his career always driven by pathos and humiliation and self-awareness and self-delusion and conflicting impulses—encapsulates the complexity and fallibility in every moment of parenting.