For better and for worse | Culture & Leisure

Summers seem ready for big blockbusters. Everyone wants to retreat to a cold theater for some grand, larger-than-life entertainment and share that experience with family and friends. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, movie theaters show screen after screen of sci-fi, horror (scary or funny) or superhero action films and animations laden with special effects. Unfortunately, it has become a tradition to release the latest sequel.

It’s easy to see why Hollywood relies on sequels to make box office money. They’re tried and true stories with a built-in audience, and fans are flocking to them. This summer we already had a Marvel movie: “Doctor Strange”, which I think is more of a continuation of a Marvel TV series”, a spin-off of the “Toy Story” franchise in “Lightyear”, and two tentpole movies that just came out.

A blockbuster movie is a big blockbuster that studios put a lot of money and marketing into in hopes that it will be the summer movie everyone needs to see. This year, there seemed to be two well-funded sequels: “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Jurassic World: Dominion.” Both films use the latest in cinematic technology to deliver thrilling experiences to audiences. “Top Gun” features breathtaking aerial footage of jets performing daring stunts and flying into battle. He is also currently performing at the Nugget Theater. “Jurassic Park” updated the immersive experience of dinosaurs living among us.

We imagine that the two directors – Colin Trevorrow, who made the fun “Safety Not Guaranteed” before the “Jurassic” movies and TV series; and Joseph Kosinski (‘Tron: Legacy’ sequel, ‘Top Gun’ sequel) – thought they had something special; something new to reveal in their sequel. The box office has already decided which movie will be considered a hit. One is the movie everyone wants to see, and indeed many audiences see it multiple times. And a movie is the sequel that didn’t sit well with many fans.

I had the chance to see “Top Gun: Maverick” in IMAX. It was a movie I knew would be so much better with huge surround sound, subwoofers that rattled the seats with every jet engine roar, and an overwhelmingly grateful audience. It was worth the extra $10. It was very smart for the marketing team and the studio, Paramount Pictures, to hold the film back until audiences were ready and willing to return to theaters. And to release it only in theaters to guarantee that they would have the blockbuster of the year.

I didn’t choose to see “Jurassic World: Dominion” in 3D, even though I knew it would make the dinosaurs look even more “realistic”. I don’t like scary jumps, nor do I want to feel like I could reach out and touch those big-toothed creatures (prehistoric or not). It was fun to see some of the cast favorites from the initial films, and there were some great new female characters. What didn’t work for me, and probably for most viewers, is that the movie is a full reshoot.

A sequel is only good if there is something new to offer. “Jurassic” is the sequel to the previous film but beyond a nice grasshopper whisper, it’s a huge rerun. There are even two dinosaur battles that look alike… in the same movie. It also feels like a rip off of other movies with its ‘Star Wars’ type market, a badass female pilot (Dewanda Wise) and a high tech corporate/cult HQ that could be in any sci-fi movie. . Even the villain constantly eats like Brad Pitt’s character in “Ocean’s Twelve.”

“Top Gun: Maverick” works because enough time has passed to make people curious to see what the writers and stars might come up with. The plot is basic good guy versus generic bad guys with a nod to “Star Wars” (fly through a valley, shoot a small, accurate target, dodge turrets). What has been updated is what makes it interesting to see. Yes, Tom Cruise is back and almost ageless, but now he must atone for his fallen comrade’s son. The young mission pilots are now multiracial and there is a female on the team.

There is a woman, Jennifer Connelly, who is also the love interest. She does a good job playing someone who has had a history with Cruise’s character and lets audiences see that he’s more than just a self-absorbed flyboy. The fact that she has a daughter who doesn’t like to see her mother get hurt again also gives the film an edge. Yes, you’ll see the film for the flight scenes, and they’re spectacular, but you’ll be encouraging the camaraderie of the crew, the sweetness of the romance, and Val Kilmer’s emotional cameo.

Both films are a fun summer watch. Time flies amidst the crash and roar of both soundtracks, and both films feature plenty of action scenes. You may have seen the first film before seeing both. Which movie will you find is the best sequel?

You can let “Top Gun” clap. You can leave “Jurassic World” by mocking.

Let’s just say, skip “Jurassic World: Dominion” and watch the first movie, “Jurassic Park,” instead.

Notes from Drinks with Films: 3 ½ shots of tequila out of 5, but don’t leave your cell phone on the bar for “Top Gun: Maverick.”

2 sips of water on the run, still on the run, out of 5 for female characters and Jeff Goldblum for “Jurassic World: Dominion”.


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