‘Fallen Kingdom’ falls hilariously on its face

For such a terrible film, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has a lot of really striking imagery. This was the keynote shot of the first trailer. Images courtesy Universal Pictures.

2/10 The unabashed joy of watching Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is like watching a bitter rival trip over his own shoelaces. You’re laughing at the movie, not with it, but you’re laughing hard, and isn’t that the point?

Several years after the disaster that closed Jurassic World, a catastrophic volcanic eruption is imminent on Isla Nublar. Animal rights activists, partially led by former park employees such as Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), urge the government to save at least a few of the dinosaurs that now roam the island freely, to no avail. Their prayers are answered by Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), a billionaire connected to the original park’s founder, who underwrites a rescue operation dependent on the park’s old tracing system, which only Dearing has access to. There’s also another catch — the deal is conditional on bringing in the raptor, Blue, who is too smart to be hunted and can only be brought in by her old handler, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt).

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‘Tag,’ somehow, is a fun and thoughtful movie

Image courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures.

8/10 Tag is proof that you can make a rich, interesting movie out of just about anything.

Based on the true story of a group of Spokane, Washington friends who had been playing the same game of tag for 23 years, Tag follows a much smaller group of friends in Hoagie Malloy (Ed Helms), Bob Callahan (Jon Hamm), Randy “Chilli” Cilliano (Jake Johnson), Kevin Sable (Hannibal Buress) and Jerry Pierce (Jeremy Renner). The film is framed loosely through the eyes of Wall Street Journal reporter Rebecca Crosby (Annabelle Wallis) who discovers the story while interviewing Callahan, though Malloy is much more the central character. He’s rallying the group to finally catch Pierce, who across the decades the game has run has never been tagged once.

Tag is highly entertaining. It’s got a spectacular cast, and they’re all 100 percent down to clown.

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Was that really a sequel to ‘The Incredibles?’

Images courtesy Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

4/10 In 2004, after almost a full 10 years of redefining children’s media in the shadow of the Disney Renaissance, Disney Pixar released its magnum opus, The Incredibles.

Pixar had been making waves for years with media that struck a balance between approachability for young viewers and complex conflict for adults, but this movie was clearly on another level. It examined the tension created by exceptionalism within a group dynamic by examining superheroes through a cost/benefit lens and through Syndrome, one of the most recognizable and well-crafted villains ever put to film, all while sharply satirizing the superhero and super-spy movies of previous decades.

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‘Soldado’ is… hoo boy…

IT”S ALL FUCKING BLUE! Images courtesy Columbia Pictures.

Soldado kicks off with a mass suicide bombing in Kansas after the cartels send Islamic terrorists across the Mexican-American border, a scenario that’s sometimes used to justify harsh immigration laws even though it’s literally never happened. CIA advisor Matt Graver’s (Josh Brolin) solution to this problem is to kidnap a child.

Wow. Wow, this is going to go there whether we wanted to or not. OK.

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‘Hereditary’ an audacious mixed bag

Hereditary’s absolutely spectacular set design contributes mightily to its atmosphere. Everything about the purpose-built set feels off-kilter and out of place. The shadows always seem longer than they should be, and you can never really see as much as you think you should. Images courtesy A24.

9/10 And now for Hereditary, this year’s “scariest movie ever made.”

The film begins with the funeral of the Graham family matriarch, Ellen, after which her daughter Annie (Toni Collette) begins to see strange things around the house. The family soon falls victim to a terrifying inheritance the grandmother left behind.

Hereditary is a baffling movie from a technical perspective and a difficult movie to recommend based simply on the broad array of responses. I’ve seen people walk out halfway through as the film fails to hit any really exciting notes until its climax, I’ve seen people laugh out loud at that climax, I’ve seen people – like me – completely gripped in terror by the entire movie, and all reactions are correct.

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