Jurassic World

Is it Groundhog Day for the Film Industry?

Dotty Jottings

All it takes is a brief glace at this year’s summer blockbusters for a recurring pattern to emerge. Films topping the list included Jurassic World, Terminator: Genisys and Mad Max: Fury Road. So what do these films have in common? They have all, in one way or another, been done before; perhaps a remake or a sequel, but essentially just a different spin on another movie. This is becoming an increasingly common occurrence in today’s film industry. Now it seems that a film created from a truly original idea is rare.

Of course, every concept for a film has had to come from somewhere. A large number are adapted from books, plays, and even video games. Even if it are not a direct remake, every movie contains borrowed elements, and it could be argued that there is no such thing as a completely unique film. However, now cinemas appear…

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Jurassic World Review

We have waited so long for a sequel to our beloved franchise. It has been in the making for so many years I’ve lost count. There have been so many scripts and so much playing around with what might and what will be, that if I am being honest I went into this movie excited yet grounded, as I didn’t expect more than a half decent film, and that would have been enough.

Half way through the movie I found myself bored out of my mind, thinking to myself this is so bad. There was nothing interesting nor engaging just a regular day in a theme park, and after a long wait of what we all knew was coming, we did get a gripping final arc lasting almost 30 minutes. Is that enough? No.
Let’s get into it:

Firstly the good. Bryce Dallas Howard is amazing, although her character starts off a bit emotionless, she grows as the story unfolds. She gives a scintillating, diverse performance and she does the best job imaginable to carry all the pieces of the movie. Chris Pratt is really good as well, he oozes coolness and personality and he pulls the role off better than most could. However starting off in the shadow of Dr. Alan Grant (main character portrayed by Sam Neil in the original) his character doesn’t have what it takes to overcome it, he is missing the gravitas that made his counterpart so awesome.

The dinosaurs, which is after all what the movie is about, are just spectacular. Nonetheless they are not involved in the way they ode to be, roaming the park on their own, as they should if we are going to see some jaw dropping scenes. They are shackled, both by the script and literally in the movie.
The narrative is weak, the way it develops becomes clear early on. There are no surprises and the film doesn’t pretend to be something that is not. It tries to stay true to the formula of kids in danger but there doesn’t seem to be any need or place for them. It is just unnecessary and probably could do better without them.

Now to the more technical stuff. The score was the one thing I was most excited about in this movie, John Williams’ soundtrack is one my all-time favorites, embodying everything the Jurassic Park world resembles and it’s still the best part of the film and no disrespect to Michael Giacchinio who is a great composer but the new soundtrack is below par. I do have sympathy for him though, as it is the definition of a tough act to follow. Furthermore there are some great practical effects used in the movie and some amazing CGI. Nevertheless with over-reliance on the CGI, there are times where it doesn’t look too realistic, both from VFX perspective and the actors looking a bit out of place near them.

To conclude, one cannot skip this movie no matter how mediocre it is. With a feeling of nostalgia kicking in when the music theme begins to play, fans of the franchise should probably take the trip to the Island as there seem to be more sequels coming soon. Do not expect the same magic we experienced in the first movie, dinosaurs are still fascinating but ideas are running a bit dry.


ARK: Survival Evolved Review

As the title suggests, ARK is a survival game with dinosaurs.  One can easily draw the similarities with Rust and Minecraft which as it is, has been the inspiration for all of this kind of games.  The way I have described it to my friends is Rust with dinosaurs, but it is so much more than that and although it is only out as early access on steam, the game has quite an epic scope and only some of it has been realized as of yet.

Everyone who has played survival games would know that frustration and anger are bound to take over after you die and lose all of the goods in your inventory or a few of the dinosaurs you tamed are killed by some carnivorous creature or worse by some other people (cannibals really) that want a piece of the pie.  However that only enhances the joy you get when your dino-pet manages to stay alive for more than a couple of hours and you start piling up the stats (more likely health so that it can withstand the killer-jaw of raptors and the mighty Rex).

Taming is a simple yet painful task, firstly you need to drop the dinosaur unconscious by throwing punches, rocks with a slingshot or more efficiently tranquilizer arrows with a bow.  After that it takes from 5 minutes (a dino-duck called dodo) up to more than 3 hours for a T-Rex or a Brontosaurus and all the other huge and intimidating creatures of feeding it meat or berries (depending on its diet) and narcoberries (type of berries) which keep the creature unconscious until it’s fully tamed.  Furthermore they require your complete attention during that time, because if you leave them alone, as I learned the hard way (taming a Stegosaurus for 1h 30min) raptors or any other carnivorous dinosaur might jump at the opportunity to eat an easy meal of an unconscious animal.

We all know what is better than one dinosaur pet, 2.  Nevertheless like most games, it is most fun when some friend/s join you in your efforts to survive the weather, animals, cannibals (PVP) and of course try not forgetting to eat or drink.  Your pets will help you survive but you need to use your wits because whatever you say about the game and its features, the AI of your tamed friends is not really what you would call state of the art yet (let’s not forget this is still early access), and the same holds for commanding them and going berserk and aggroing every dinosaur in the neighborhood when you just want them to sit still.

On the negative side of things, there are still a lot of problems with the game as it is early access.  The worst of them is the GPU optimization, they have already tackled the issue but it’s still far off from what it should be, since the game is still causing problems and stressing graphic cards all over.  Some people are even struggling to get consistent 30+ FPS with great GPUs.  Moreover as I already pointed out, the AI needs to be improved, the UI hasn’t been finalized yet and it shows.  However those are not deal breakers, they are expected at this early phase, and the game still has a lot to offer beside that, making it more than enjoyable to play.

They might be riding the Jurassic World hype train, but I am not sure there is anyone out there who wouldn’t want to ride a few dinosaurs themselves and the 400k early access sales on steam less than 10 days after release (as of 11/06/2015) tell the story by themselves.  One can only gaze at the possibilities and potential of the game and with the fact that it is planned for a full release in June 2016 and with the blood already pumping and the adrenaline high we can only be hopeful that it will fulfill that potential and we will have the game we longed for since we watched Jurassic Park for the first time.