JURASSIC WORLD 3D
This cinematic funfair ride comes with a 12A certificate, though under-twelves will probably enjoy it more than older kids. Lots of jumpy moments but we are spared the more grisly stuff: people are snatched and killed but 'chew and splatter' is mostly kept off-screen.
Jurassic World is a mixture of 'same-old' and 'same-new' as the island theme-park re-opens its doors with a hot fresh attraction: a genetically-modified new breed of dinosaur which very soon (you guessed it!) escapes from its cage and goes on the rampage.
Two young brothers are the focus of the storyline, plus their aunt (Bryce Dallas Howard) and a hunky park ranger (Chris Pratt). They just happen to be trapped out in the park with the killing-machine monster; and Aunt Claire just happens to be the park's CEO. Although the rest of the plot (actually all of the plot) is very predictable - Claire and Owen rescuing the kids from a series of perils - the sheer pace of it largely obliterates any sense of over-familiarity. And the CGI is - no other way to say it - simply "awesome": the interaction between actors and creatures is seamless. This 'reboot' of the Jurassic theme really is a thrill-a-minute - visually it's a thrill-a-second!
The last time Ian McKellen starred in a movie directed by Bill Condon was 1998's Gods and Monsters, a little 'gem' of a story about James Whale, the director of the early Frankenstein films, who in retirement develops a crush on his hunky new gardener (Brendan Fraser). Condon and Sir Ian's new collaboration looks at the retirement of Sherlock Holmes on the Sussex coast to a quiet life centred on bee-keeping. The great detective has a widowed housekeeper (Laura Linney, with an accent that veers from Kent to Devon and back again) whose studious young son Roger (Milo Parker) finds a father-figure in Sherlock.
His health declining and sliding into forgetfulness if not dementia, Holmes struggles to remember the details of a case he misjudged at the end of his career involving a beautiful young woman and a poisoning. This, together with the boy and the bees, is all the story there is. Gods and Monsters didn't have a huge plot either, but Mr. Holmes is a little too slow and insubstantial. It's good to be reminded what a fine actor McKellen is: the Tolkien and X-Men movies rely too much on CGI, and the bitchy-old-queen ITV sitcom Vicious is tired and dated and does neither Sir Ian nor Sir Derek Jakobi any favours.
This is meant to be Sherlock's swansong. Hopefully it won't be McKellen's or Condon's. Next time they will need a stronger script.
Let's be honest, people. What we want from a disaster movie is to see lots of buildings collapsing, dams bursting, a tsunami pouring through city streets and (let's not deny it) casualties in the high thousands. Well, if that's what we want, that's what San Andreas delivers. And how!
After a nerve-shredding helicopter rescue of a woman whose car is halfway down a sheer canyon wall, we are rushed to the Hoover Dam just before it breaks up (though, oddly, we don't get to see where all that water goes). For the rest of the movie we follow Ray, the copter pilot (Dwayne Johnson) from Los Angeles to San Francisco, as he rescues first his wife and then his daughter from crumbling skyscrapers as the entire San Andreas fault-line tears apart and reduces both cities to rubble. And, yes, there's a tsunami too!
Okay, the family-in-peril is the grandmother of all disaster-movie storylines, and Dwayne Johnson is not the most charismatic actor onscreen (and just how charismatic was Charlton Heston in Earthquake or Sylvester Stallone in Daylight?), but San Andreas wisely centres on this one family and a likeable pair of brothers the daughter teams up with and one don't-say-I-didn't-warn-you earthquake expert (Paul Giamatti). Earthquake had far too many back stories and, wonderful as Sensurround was in its day, we became very impatient for the next tremor. San Andreas does not test our patience: the 'quake goes on and on and on. The CGI must have cost zillions: building after building crumbling onto street after street; and 3D goes a long way to making up for the lack of Sensurround.
A good horror movie makes you jump out of your seat. A good disaster movie makes you fear for the safety of the cinema (and, of course) the survival of the main characters. San Andreas shamelessly borrows from a whole bunch of previous disaster movies, but the sheer pace and the stunning CGI make this as thrilling a movie as we are likely to see until ... well, here it is: Jurassic World!