Director: Joe Alves
There are plenty of terrible movies in the sea, and then there’s Jaws 3, the worst movie ever and you don’t even have to go out in the ocean to find it, it just swims up into a Sea World near you and bites you directly in the ass. Jaws is legendary, perfection, clinical, and even Jaws 2 isn’t all that bad; at least it’s entertaining horror. But Jaws 3 is a travesty, a sham, and a mockery; it’s a traveshamockery! It’s literally one of the dumbest movies ever made, and the fact that it was in 3-D makes it even worse somehow. The legend dies with a whimper, not a bang, and we are reminded that sequels, remakes, and re-dos simply suck.
The Brody Bros are all grown up and have lives of their own now; Mike engineers underwater apparatus for a local water park, Sean is a student majoring in girls, girls, and more girls. Neither has completely moved on from the deadly attack by either great white when they were kids, but they try to make the best of things, and it’s actually going well; Mike has a serious girlfriend, Kathryn, who works at the park with the animals, and when Sean comes to visit he immediately falls hard for Kelly Anne, a pretty little water skier. But the dangers of the past have found them in their idyllic state; a shark comes into the lagoon just as the attractions open, and begins its reign of terror among the fish and the guests, bringing back all those bad memories and killing all those innocent people.
If Jaws was a horror/adventure and Jaws 2 was straight, bludgeoning horror, Jaws 3 is an amalgam of every bad idea anyone ever conceived as it relates to action, adventure, horror, the ocean, dolphins, engineering, romance, or humanity. It’s bad on par with the worst ever, and that’s despite its stars: Dennis Quaid, Louis Gossett Jr, Lea Thompson. You can tell there were ideas here, they just happen all to work terribly, combined with visuals that make you want to rip out your own eyeballs. The 3-D gimmick is dumb, the story makes no sense, the effects are laughable, and nothing can save this film from itself, it only rolls blindly in the mud and eventually, mercifully, falls off a cliff of its own making,
Director: Jeannot Szwarc
One great thing that can easily be said about Jaws 2 is that it isn’t Jaws 3. It shouldn’t be required to see a future film in order to appreciate a present one, but that’s just how it is; this movie is in no way Jaws, but at least, thank ygod, it isn’t Numero Tres. Obviously, when you lose a director like Spielberg you’re in for a drop off, and nothing could have compared with the classic anyway, it was a film that couldn’t be topped, let alone matched. But they did …fine …with what they had, made a shark flick for our entertainment, and that’s something, if not much.
Chief Brody’s kids have grown up, the town has moved on, but he’ll never forget the monster that terrorized his town, and now dominates his dreams. He finds himself panicking on the beach, overreacting to fish, and losing control; that shark really did a number on him. And now, when a few mysterious events take place on Amity, Brody begins to feel certain that another great white has come to the island, although no one believes him. When his own children become prey to this natural killer, it’s up to him to step up, go out on the water, and face his fears head on.
So, Jaws is partially a horror film, but it’s also so much more, which is what makes it so brilliant. Jaws 2 makes one big mistake, and that’s only focusing on horror, turning the shark into a slasher, and forgetting the rest. The result is a horror movie, sure, fun, but the shark is not a knife-wielding psycho, it’s an animal, something the movie forgot and faltered because of. It turns silly how much the creature is overblown, and it doesn’t allow us to fear it in the same way, resulting in a weird vibe. Also, the film features far too many 70s teen actors, with no support from more-talented adults, and that creates a beach party/sex romp/camp slasher mood that simply isn’t good. Scheider does his best, the music still haunts, I guess you can’t blame the cash grab, but there’s just no following such a huge act.
Benson & Moordead created The Endless, another time-warping drama, but this time around, with Synchronic, they were well-known enough to earn themselves a real budget, so they were able to cast real actors as the leads, not just themselves because they couldn’t pay anyone else. That extra talent went a long way, and made this film more professional, more smooth, and ultimately better. Synchronic is time travel sci-fi, a dark look at family, and a sobering experience with death, all wrapped into one surprisingly strong piece of craftsmanship that works wonderfully on a ton of different levels.
Steve & Dennis are a pair of best friends who went to school together, and now are paramedics on the same team, rolling around New Orleans after dark, saving lives and rewarding themselves by partying too hard. But what they haven’t tried is a new synthetic “designer drug” called Synchronic, which supposedly trips you so hard that you sustain insane injuries or disappear completely. When both men are faced with separate personal tragedies, their lives become interwoven with the drug, and Steve must step outside himself into a world he doesn’t understand in order to save his best friend’s family before it’s destroyed beyond repair.
I’m gonna give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you know that Mackie & Dornan are much better actors than their famous roles, that they have a lot to offer, and they showcase that here immediately, just in case you didn’t. The acting in this film is spot on; it’s deep, it’s dark, it’s multi-leveled, it’s boldly blunt and suddenly soft. These men throw themselves into these roles, and when the story starts to get wacky (because it is sci-fi, after all), they have the ability to move us through the muck to the other side where the plot is cleaner. Family, friends, death, the purpose of life; it’s all laid on the table here, with a “gimmick” to make it fun, to keep our attention, but with true purpose to drive the action when other features would have failed. Hats off to all involved; I think this filmmaking team has a bright future.
Director: Joe Johnston
In some ways Jurassic Park III is better than the disaster that was The Lost World, and in some ways it’s so, so, so much worse. Regardless, these movies should not have been made, neither this trilogy or the following trilogy; money isn’t everything. Some films are simply so good, so enjoyable, so iconic, so important to us, that they need to be left alone. Not franchised, not copied, not rebooted; just let us love what we want to love and stop force feeding us crap. The Jurassic Park series is among the worst film groups ever crafted, and that makes me so very sad.
After the failure of Jurassic Park, after the dinosaur that got loose in San Diego, Dr. Alan Grant is constantly asked about his adventures, but he would just as soon forget about them. He says he wouldn’t go to either island no matter the reason …that is until a wealthy couple write him a blank check to go with them for a flyover so they can mark that off their bucket list. But that’s not their real reason for going, and it’s not going to be a simple flyover; instead we’re back in the jungle, baby, back running for dinos, digging though poop, and trying to stay alive.
So, there really are positives here. Grant is back, he’s fun to watch, the cast is pared down, which was a good idea, there are a ton of throwbacks to the original, good choice, and the whole film feels more like a homage or a nod or a play off the books, whereas #2 was simply stupid. But there are bonehead moves too, holy cow, so many of them. The dinosaurs, both when they are animatronic and CGI, look terrible, and the actors during the action sequences look like puppets. And then there’s the screaming and the running, especially from Tea Leoni, who just might be the worst actress in history. It’s still insane, this isn’t a good movie, there hasn’t been one since the first, and I wish they had never played with fire because we all got burned.
Director: Steven Spielberg
I remember now why I don’t like Julianne Moore. I’ve often wondered, because she can be a very good actress, I’ve enjoyed her many times over, she’s quite talented, and yet I simply don’t like her. And now I’ve remember why; Jurassic Park II. Or, rather, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which I guess is a nod to the classic novel about a lost land of dinosaurs, but it’s a stupid title, especially since the next one is really called Jurassic Park III. Anyway, I digress; Julianna Moore. It’s her character and performance here that has always thrown me, because, however bad the film is (and it’s awful), she is worse, and makes the stinking pile around her smell that much sweeter. Still, this is one of the worst action movies you will ever see, definitely one of the worst Spielberg flicks, and it craps out enough on its own without any red-headed help.
Dr. Ian Malcolm has been trying to tell the public all about Jurassic Park; the disasters, the deaths, and the truth. But Hammond and InGen have been denying the story, until now, when another island is reported to have dinosaur life, and a little girl has been attacked. A research team in needed to get to the island, understand these creatures, and harness their power; at least, that’s what Hammond wants. His board of directors want something else; live specimens to bring back to the States, to create an agttraction that will rival the San Diego Zoo and amaze the world. Problem is, as we already know, nature doesn’t follow man’s rules, and our attempts to conquer a previously-extinct species will fall into ruin once more.
One of the “problems” (and I love the movie, it’s a classic, don’t get me wrong) of Jurassic Park is that it doesn’t feature Goldblum enough. He & Attenborough & Samuel L are the real stars, because Neill & Dern & the kids aren’t really that good, but the film works anyway because, well, it’s awesome, and Spielberg is a genius. The famed director decides to lean heavily on Goldblum here in the sequel, which is a great idea; unfortunately the entire rest of the movie blows. It’s bad, like real bad, with terror around every corner that has nothing to do with the dinos. I think rock bottom was when the little girl does gymnastics, calls for a raptor’s attention, and then kicks him out a window. That was the end for me, but, really, nothing had been good up to that point, so what did it matter. The actors were abysmal, the plot was insane, the ending is insulting, and I hated every minute of this piece of trash. I remember it not-fondly from the theatre in the 90s, but I really think it’s far worst that I had thought; sometimes sequels suck.
Director: Jonathan Frakes
If you didn’t know better, you could convince yourself that, while watching Star Trek: Insurrection, you were just watching a two-part episode on TV; there is no difference between this film and the standard, silly, entertaining plots of the beloved television show. That’s both a good and a bad thing, because these movies have been worse, like the totally ridiculous Generations, and they have been better, like the theatrical First Contact. Insurrection falls somewhere in the middle, but it’s definitely an enjoyable experience, if what you were looking for was more TNG action and less of a movie-going experience.
The crew of the Enterprise are surprised to hear that Commander Data has lost control of his impulses while on a mission on a far planet; he blew the Federation’s cover in their attempt to watch a civilization covertly, he attacks the observation team, and the result is that they are taken “prisoner” by the peaceful people there, Data acting as a feral watchdog who won’t let anyone come or go. Why has he malfunctioned, what secrets does this civilization possess, and why is the Federation so interested? Captain Picard and his team will attempt to uncover all mysteries while rescuing their friend from danger and keeping the political landscape of the galaxy in its delicate balance.
Frakes scores again, and he really could be considered the savior of the film franchise, because things were going very badly at first, and by all accounts they go very badly when he steps away at the last as well. But these two movies in the middle are so much fun, so Star Trek, give fans everything they want to see, and he deserves a ton of credit for righting the ship. This story really is no better or worse than a two-part episode of the show, with the exact same dilemmas and outcomes, the same dynamics and adventures. It’s so silly, of course, but if you love the show you’ll love this film; it’s just an extension, not a theatrical experiment. Data returns to form by leaving his “emotion chip” behind and that’s a great choice; Data is one of the best characters just the way he is. And Picard has all the answers, everyone pitches in, there’s a lovely ending; it’s all I could have asked for in a very safe, comfortable, in-no-way-groundbreaking sort of format.
Director: Martin Campbell
I didn’t think Green Lantern was going to be as bad as I had heard, and then the helicopter-on-the-ramp scene happened, and I regretted that I didn’t turn the movie off sooner. And it was all going so well; Ryan was funny, Blake was sexy, the backstory was neat, the story was interesting, I was in. But it takes a talented director to keep a runaway train of a film on its cinematic rails once it gets its full head of steam, and Campbell simply wasn’t up to the task. He let this movie steamroll him, he let it turn goofy, he never harnessed its power, and I guess that’s why everyone makes fun of it.
Hal Jordan is a ballsy test pilot who’s one mistake away from pseudo-suicide; he’s constantly battling the memories of his deceased father and almost welcoming death. His ex flies beside him, but she’s growing tired of his bullshit, and he’s running out of chances. But fate has plans other than his death, Hal is destined to be a great hero, he just doesn’t understand that yet. An intergalactic team of protectors called the Green Lantern Corps need help battling an omnipotent foe, and the power of the Green Lantern chooses Jordon to take up the mantle of Defender of the Sector, whether he wants the responsibility or not.
There are pieces that worked for a time and could have worked all the way to the end, had the writers and the director not flubbed it all up. Reynolds was fun in an early version of Deadpool, Lively was hot in an otherwise throwaway role, the villains were supremely evil, there was set up for a second film featuring Sinestro, this character could have been a good edition to the Justice League films; we just needed someone talented who could hold the project together when it started to get shaky. You know who would have been perfect? Taika Waititi, who is a brilliant director, would go on to helm Thor: Ragnarok, but was, instead, a really stupid & unnesseccary side character for some inane reason. Campbell can do better, has done better, he just let the comic book lunacy run amok, the effects were awful, the film took on a goof that it couldn’t support, and the project ultimately failed. I’m almost more mad at this film because I can see something cool underneath the crap; it’s better than Thor 1 or Thor 2 for a time, only to turn disastrous halfway through, and it, sadly, really didn’t have to go down as one of Hollywood’s biggest flops.