Yeah that’s right, these developments are so monumental that they’re one step more advanced than the obvious ‘Jurassic’ developments joke I could have made to attract attention from Spielberg fans.
Unfortunately the dinosaur conceit is also just clickbait.
Sorry y’all, but the promise of this neat-o dinosaur ice cream waffle was too much of an enticing image not to use! I found the window graphic while wandering Del Amo Mall for lunch with Mom and Aly and fell in love.
Especially after my friend Mitchell suggested their potential ultimate marketing strategy of the Green Tea-Rex.
I have no idea if they actually capitalized on that idea because I never tried the Waffle-saurus Rex.
Gotta use one of the best gifs of all time to punctuate a self-deprecating joke.
Going further down the school-related rabbit hole, I also got an email today letting me know that CSUF Commencement tickets are officially available. As much as graduation-related stuff stresses me out, that is an important step in the process.
Or at least… It would be.
If the website worked.
For some reason the link to buy graduation tickets leads to an endless loop of security verification.
I wager the traffic of people going after tickets at once isn’t doing so great on the school’s website.
You’d think the network would be better prepared, but there must be too much energy going toward the development of more parking space. Another thing I got an email about.
The extra spaces are needed, even if it’s unfortunate that permit prices are hiking up $50 or so to facilitate the construction.
Luckily I’ll be a graduate who doesn’t need parking permits by then!
So hey, it’s not all intimidating and bad.
With those major Cal State Fullerton developments, the only other thing I can think to tease is a fairly big interview I scheduled for Gladeo Wednesday. Not sure I want to give it away because I’ve been pushed off once already, but let’s just say it’s a nice, recognizable name.
That’s about all I have for the night. My first day back to school tomorrow is going to be punctuated by a Cognitive Psychology exam, so I wanted to write-up something quick before I get back to studying.
Here’s hoping my lethargy in that department somehow pays off.
While taking a break from doing my homework, reading chapters from Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” ironically enough, my family finally watched Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Honestly? I wasn’t very impressed.
As the middle in the trilogy rebooting Spielberg’s classic Jurassic Park movies, Fallen Kingdom kicks off three years after the first Jurassic World. The park that was established in that film has been abandoned, and all of the freed dinosaurs are at risk when the island is set to explode in a cataclysmic volcanic event.
When Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) are brought back to help rescue a number of species for a philanthropic conservationist, they discover more sinister motivations under the surface and must take on both greedy human beings and powerful, ancient beasts.
While there’s a decent set-up here, it isn’t executed very well. At all.
I’ll be spoiling bits and pieces of this movie here, though not in too much detail (in my opinion). If that’s a concern of yours, here’s your warning.
Fallen Kingdom falls apart almost immediately with the introduction of some weak tertiary characters. In the time since Howard’s character left the theme park she once led, she became a dinosaur rights activist.
Which yes, is about as overt a metaphor as it sounds.
Two of her assistants, Franklin (Justice Smith) and Zia (Daniella Pineda), come along on the rescue mission. Their status as bigger players in the film are indicated with as cliché an introduction as it gets. They’re the only members of what looks to be a semi-large staff who have speaking roles, and those roles are mostly playing off of each other as bickering friends.
Then as they start to fly to the old park, their archetypes are immediately stated. Smith is a scaredy-cat technical nerd and Pineda is a dinosaur veterinarian (yeah) who takes no nonsense from anyone.
Neither changes over the course of the movie and only appear enough to help move the plot along, so they feel like one-note comic relief.
Perhaps that’s harsh, as they play their roles well. But they get a lot more screen time during the early part of the movie — which is kind of the worst part. So that might have colored my perception.
Pratt does a good job as a leading man, though his performance isn’t exactly inspired. Meanwhile, Howard’s character seems to take a complete 180 from her original role and seemed like a totally different character.
Granted, it has been a whole since I saw the first Jurassic World, so maybe I’m just not remembering her quite that well. But with that in mind, her performance seemed a bit jarringly out-of-character.
However the biggest problem with the film is the fact it’s hard to even begin suspending one’s disbelief while watching it.
For instance, at one point Pratt’s character is partially paralyzed and literally rolling out-of-the-way of a pool of magma slowly encroaching him.
The movie has next to no tension up until the finale because of things like this.
Things like this make other silly bits stand out in a bad way. At one point a character was watching footage of Pratt’s character training the main raptor from Jurassic World, Blue, while it was young.
The scene itself was obviously meant to help emphasize the larger moment, his character completing an arc from being willing to abandon the dinosaur at the start of the film to remembering how much he loves it, I was so generally disinterested that I couldn’t help but think about other strange details.
Like the fact that the footage was expertly edited together as of from a reality TV show with a confessional booth.
Instead of being engrossed in a story about dinosaurs walking the Earth again and nearly going extinct, I was too busy wondering who decided to edit together Pratt’s training footage so that someone could one day watch it as an exposition dump.
There are lots of little moments like this throughout the movie, where I was left wondering why certain things were happening.
Another issue with Fallen Kingdom is that it had a bit of a tone problem.
At one point, there are action-adventure scenes with characters escaping from an exploding volcano. Then there are times where the film seems almost unreasonably dark, with one character getting pretty graphically ripped apart on-screen. Then there were also moments of loss and other sad parts that seemed in-place only to push an environmental message.
Then there are scenes with characters evading one another that feel eerily like Looney Toons. Notably one with one character following closely behind another without noticing them.
It’s almost too silly for a movie that’s trying as hard as it is to be darker and edgier than the first. Because I’ll be blunt, the villain in Fallen Kingdom is kind of an unforgivable monster of a human being, almost cartoonishly so.
His plan is equally as cartoonishly evil, playing with themes of illegal animal trapping, trafficking and using genetics for unethical purposes.
Yet the filmmakers don’t seem to fully commit to the dark tone that otherwise could have made for a stellar overall package — even if it could scare away a certain sect of audience members.
While this review is mostly negative thus far, I will say the end of the movie is actually far better than the first two-thirds. Most of the darker stuff comes in here, and discounting a ridiculous twist in the last few minutes, everything is more engaging and tense.
On top of that, I would argue that the movie’s CGI and a lot of its cinematography is actually really well done.
There were no moments I can recall where seeing a dinosaur on-screen took me out of a moment because it looked fake. In fact, the Indoraptor creates to serve as a more environmental antagonist, is used really well in a number of scenes with lighting contrast.
Yet for as pretty and clearly well-made as the movie is, the tonal issues and a general inability to suspend my disbelief unfortunately took me out of most scenes.
Fallen Kingdom is a hard movie to place.
I wouldn’t say it’s a kid’s film because a lot of it is dark and violent.
Yet it doesn’t fully commit to that dark tone until the very end, which makes it hard to recommend as a serious take on the Jurassic Park formula — probably the darkest since the original.
It’s a confused film that seems to be trying harder to push some kind of deeper message about either scientific caution or the importance of family than it is being a fun dinosaur flick. A lot of it is actually kind of unpleasant.
But it is a pretty film, and fits into an overall story we’ve been following for a long time now. So I suppose if those kinds of things catch your interest, you can watch it on those merits.
Otherwise, it might not be worth the time. I certainly don’t think I’d go back and rewatch it anytime soon.
Also, don’t be fooled by its advertising. Jeff Goldblum barely has a role in the movie.
If I haven’t made it totally obvious around here, I like movies.
I like movies a lot. A good chunk of that love comes from my dad, who was a pretty serious actor for a while and continues to work in the movie industry, currently for Fandango as I’ve discussed in the past. Thanks to him I’ve seen all kinds of flicks from throughout cinema history.
As time has progressed, seeing movies with him (and the rest of my family by extension) has essentially become a fun exercise in script doctoring. While a ‘script doctor’ may be an actual industry term for someone who consults on a script before it is put into production, I mean it more in a post-viewing thought experiment sense. Being able to walk away from a movie and discuss what could have been done to improve upon it.
Granted there are elements of hindsight involved knowing everything that happens as a finished product rather than seeing it in its fledgling development. A development that may be plagued with other problems that lead to less than stellar end products.
But we discuss things with those points aside. We have no real qualms given that none of us have any intent to create our own movie anytime soon. It’s just fun talking about how we might have improved certain things.
Superhero movies have been an excellent source of that internal debate for the last few years. Especially thanks to the Marvel and DC cinematic universes attempting to create larger, cohesive universes. That kind of large-scale project opens up tons of opportunities to pull from previously established canon in both the comics and movies to determine what might be better ways of moving in the direction those studios are going toward.
DC movies are the obvious ‘easy target.’ You’ve probably heard all of the comments: They ruin a bunch of popular characters. They’re doing everything to catch up to Marvel in too much of a compressed timeline. The dark, gritty approach to superhero storytelling isn’t utilized well.
For the most part I can’t say I’d argue. There are plenty of recent DC movies that I thought I would love just based off trailers which wound up being disappointing. Suicide Squad and Batman V. Superman come to mind immediately.
However, there’s plenty of good things going on in the DC cinematic universe. Things that we all want to work out better in an overall context because of how iconic the characters are.
The Batman and Justice League animated series’ from the 90s/00s were huge parts of my childhood. I knew Batman and Superman and all of those characters growing up because of how iconic those shows were, given the fact that I was never much of a comic book reader.
Outside of the big characters like Spiderman or Hulk, I wouldn’t know anything about Marvel until they began their own cinematic universe. Though, to be fair, as amazing as that universe is there still are flaws. It just happens that the flaws are less noticeable due to how much is going well around them.
I would also say that the MCU has been a big thing to me because of how amazing an example it is of creating an extensive universe. Of crafting stories that all tie in together and create one giant experience.
For someone who wound up becoming a writer, it’s amazing to see.
But all of that aside, I feel like I’m getting too tangent-y with what should otherwise be a simple post. Basically, I love discussing the flaws and successes of each superhero movie with my family because of their merits as good cinema and because of the engaging universes they create.
That post-movie critique is frankly as important to me as the movies themselves.
This summer, I’ve taken those interests in post-critiques to a whole new level. My realm of consistent YouTube views has expanded into more analytical channels, rather than simply let’s plays and other video game stuff.
Some notable examples, because I’m honestly using this post as an excuse to promote these people include:
NerdSync — A channel focused on looking at not just obscure bits of comic book stories and trivia, but looking at them through the lens of the real world history that led to in-universe decisions. Great 10-minute watches which have taught me so much more about comics themselves that also often promote other comic book-related creators on YouTube.
Captain Midnight — More or less the same idea as NerdSync, examining decisions in comic books (primarily their movies) through the lens of real world decisions and general tropes surrounding them. Includes interludes on every video showing commercials and media properties from earlier decades related to modern-day cinematic counterparts that are very recognizably stylized and pretty cool.
Mother’s Basement — Kind of does for anime what channels like NerdSync do for comic books. Examining the problematic or successful underlying writing tropes and such which go into beloved shows. Loves to bash on Sword Art Online, which I find hilarious having never watched the show but knowing just how hated it is by anime fans.
Just Write — If you want to be a writer like I do, this channel is a good place to spend some time. They look at popular media (be it books, television, movies or some combination of the three) to pick apart specific traditional writing clichés or innovations. Some really notable pieces on shows like Westworld or the modern-day Star Wars trilogy that I love and have been able to use as some writing inspiration for my own novel.
These guys join a pantheon of other more analytic-focused channels that I now enjoy the catalogs of, amongst mainstays like Game Theory, Cinema Sins and Wisecrack.
None of these creators are the reason I decided to write this post in the first place, however. I found a brand new addition to this list today that really pushed me over the edge.
Nando v Movies is a channel that looks at all different movie genres (though primarily superhero flicks) through an analytical realm similar to the others I listed. Picking apart tropes and clichés to see what works and what doesn’t.
But Nando does something a little different to stand apart from the crowd.
He is, essentially, a very well-researched script doctor.
What my dad and I might do just based off knowledge of the cinematic universes we’re observing after watching a new DC movie, he does using a full breadth of comic book history to draw upon.
He quite literally acts out brand new scripts for scenes that either minutely or majorly change a film in a way that drastically changes things. I don’t think I’ve seen any videos of his that misses the mark in making both good and bad films better in some way, shape or form.
He doesn’t just look at the major cinematic universes too, though his work on lackluster DC flicks are pretty amazing. He also looks at the Marvel Netflix shows and other major blockbusters. Star Wars, Ready Player One, Jurassic World. All of which are given minor adjustments with so much heart that they feel like they could be easily canonical.
Even if he too acknowledges in part one of his Justice League rewrite that he has the benefit of hindsight and no movie-making pressure. That’s sort of where I stole my own earlier disclaimer from, as a disclaimer.
Side note, investigations and fan theories for the current Star Wars films have become some of my favorite things. Because I enjoyed the Last Jedi, but I’d almost say I enjoy fan-generated ideas for the Last Jedi better than what we got in theaters.
Now with all this said, I don’t always agree with the content of the creators I’ve mentioned here today. But I feel like that’s just as big a part of the magic behind watching them as the amazing theories and insight they’ve been able to cobble together for mediums I haven’t paid too much attention to.
The Internet, for as divisive as it can be, is an excellent place to pose ideas and invite civil debate. I love having the opportunity to compare my own ideas and headcanons to their own.
So that’s essentially my pitch for the day as I finish this post seeing I’ve somehow almost hit 1,500 words. Go out and find some analytical content for your favorite things.
It’s not only an excellent way to kill time, but an excellent way to kill it with engaging, thoughtful material.
Okay so it’s not actually Take your Child to Work Day… As far as I’m aware… But for my dad it was.
Since I’m off on summer break, he decided to take me along to the office today so I could get a change of scenery and tour the office — something that my sister has been able to do, but I haven’t considering I’m off in Fullerton 99 percent of the time right now.
Obviously I can’t bury the lede too deep considering the big reveal is spoiled in the featured image.
If it even is a spoiler? I’ve probably talked about this before.
My dad is a Senior Director at Fandango, the movie ticket and streaming media site owned by NBC Universal. It’s a pretty perfect place for him in the way it blends movie stuff and technology stuff.
But to be fair, it’s also a pretty awesome place in general.
Just in the last week he got moved into a different office, so I got to be an early observer.
Fun fact, apparently the desks are all mechanized to allow people to adjust them into standing desks if desired. That’s neat, in my opinion.
Not just my dad’s office is cool, though. This place is chock full of movie posters, memorabilia and all sorts of other neat modern spaces.
The more casual parts of the office extend to the outdoors as well.
But of course there were other benefits to coming in on a Tuesday than just a nice couple of spaces to work in.
Fandango apparently does catering for its employees a couple days a week, and someone had enough foresight to bring me in on one of them. On the menu was a pretty good Mediterranean spread:
We had lunch with one of dad’s co-workers from the NBC side, which actually was one of the nice things of coming to work with him. Getting to watch him in his element, talking with friends and colleagues.
Even if I felt like I was kind of just off to the side doing my own thing, possibly even in the way during such exchanges, it was still a good time.
Oh, but let’s not forget. The other cool perks of the job.
We were able to watch The Last Jedi on the big, fancy curved TV that was apparently a Korean prototype left over from the previous inhabitant of the office.
That was pretty sweet. Especially when some of his co-workers came in and sat around for a while to shoot the shit about movie stuff.
While I make it sounds like the whole day was just fun-and-games, there was plenty of downtime for me where I sat around doing some work as dad went off for meetings. Plus, many of the visitors to his office were there for official work business before getting distracted by fun movie stuff.
So if anyone else from Fandango winds up reading this, don’t take it as me saying my dad just did nothing all day. I assure you that isn’t so.
However, it still was a fun day overall. A full day with my dad, going all the way back to our early morning stop at the voting booth for the California primary election today.
Gotta do your civic duty, folks. Especially since this midterm for us means a Gubernatorial and Congressional seats race alongside a whole bunch else.
But hey, this isn’t a political post or anything. So I won’t dwell on that for too long.
It all just plays into the overall message, that I went out, had a fun day with my dad and got to see him in his natural element. Plus I got some work done in the process, so I can’t say I have too many complaints.
Ever since my dad shifted careers to start working for the movie ticket broker Fandango, we’ve had the chance to enjoy a number of benefits.
Up to this point those benefits have been rather specifically movie ticket related (for obvious reasons). However, today we got to take advantage of benefits related to the company’s attachment with NBC Universal:
That’s right, we went to Universal Studios, y’all.
I had a blast spending the day with my family — pictured above in the featured image if it wasn’t clear to everyone — and just wanted to take a little bit of time to debrief myself from the trip and publish a couple of the pictures. Who knows, maybe that can serve an auxiliary purpose of showing some people the theme park/studio lot who can’t get there.
He says as if there aren’t plenty of outlets for that already.
But I digress. The day began, funnily enough, with work. I still work with the Gladeo League, and every two weeks (more or less) we have meetings over Google Hangouts. Naturally I forgot that today was the day I had a meeting at the same time as we needed to drive up.
Luckily it took plenty of time to get up to Universal.
Check out that fancy map
I would like to take this chance to apologize to Michelle and everyone else again for having to deal with my jostling around in the car during our meeting. If any of you happen to be reading this.
That said, even if you guys are reading this, I’m sure neither you nor the rest of the audience is interested in the logistics of driving to a theme park.
It’s all about the parking, after all.
Yeah we parked in the Frankenstein Lot. Also yeah, I got my sister to pose like everyone’s favorite amalgamate Universal monster. Also also yeah, my dad photobombed the picture.
But do I care?
Nah. It’s a great shot.
But hey, let’s jump into the park shall we?
Just kidding, got you! First I wanted to talk about this.
Look at these trees with me. These are trees outfitted with mist sprinklers. Sprinkler trees. I don’t know who came up with this idea or where they are now, but wherever they may be they should be happy I’m not there. Because I’m not sure whether to smack them for being so silly or hug them for being a genius.
It’s just so perfectly weird in all the best ways. I’m still trying to sort through my thoughts and we caught these walking into the park at 10 a.m. or so.
Okay. Now let’s get into the park. Seriously this time.
The first thing we did was wander the length of the main level to check out the different facets made available to us. Eventually we settled on the Studio Tour as our first stop.
Not included in my photo slideshow above is the interactive portions of the Tour, most notably.
The ‘ride,’ if you’re interested in calling it such, features two 3D virtual experiences. They both took place inside dark rooms with imposingly large screens surrounding the trams, which sat on rocking bases to simulate motion. One was based on King Kong and the other was based on Fast and the Furious.
There were also a number of examples of soundstage tricks throughout the time strolling around the studio lot, all capped off with a fun, snarky tour guide. Who started off the journey making fake airhorn noises.
Also in case you were curious, the Fast and the Furious portion of the Tour was just as ridiculous as the movies. Somehow they managed to pack two-and-a-half hours worth of insanity into about five minutes. Great stuff, honestly.
After finishing the Studio Tour, we moved over to check out the Simpsons region of the park.
Welcome to Springfield, population… A lot.
“Closed until Disco comes back.”
Playing carnival games!
Winning three-eyed fish off of carnival games! Also a blue monkey.
The wait for the Simpson’s Ride was a little rich for our blood, so we decided to go straight from there to the Lower Lot.
I didn’t get a picture of the escalators down, but there were seriously at least seven. The lot is built into a crazy steep mountain.
At the bottom there are a few rides, but Aly and I did not tackle the Jurassic Park ride specifically. A few years ago I took the literal plunge with my dad when we weren’t expecting what it entailed, and the picture that was taken of us that day still graces out living room.
But that’s a story for another day.
Today our time in the Lower Lot consisted of two rides: Transformers and the Mummy.
The Transformers ride was okay, though I frankly don’t have much to say about it. It was a 3D experience similar to the two portions of the Studio Tour I described, except moving around rather than being stuck on a single panel.
It did manage to be just as ridiculous as the Fast and the Furious portion of that Tour, however. Though that is a given considering it was based on a Michael Bay experience.
I think my tweet from that time sums up my thoughts pretty succinctly.
Somehow the ride incorporated that mentality while also containing an arc where Optimus Prime died, then came back to help save the day. All within the span of about five minutes. Good stuff.
From there we moved into the Mummy, where a lot of the fun came from the lead-in. Mostly watching Aly freak out as we got closer to the front.
Here she is stealing a book.
Gotta love the magic of subtitles.
The ride itself actually wound up being way more intense than either of us expected. It accelerated ridiculously quickly — but of course the park planned things specifically to take photos right when those G-forces hit.
As a result, we got this gem.
I thought very hard about using this for the featured image.
But if I did, I wouldn’t be able to zoom in like this:
Talk about 100 percent pure magic.
After finishing in the Lower Lot, we moved up into the place my family was looking forward to most:
I jest of course, but we really were excited for the Harry Potter stuff.
There were a couple of awesome things about this part of the park specifically. First and foremost, Butterbeer:
That stuff is real good. Enough said.
Then of course, the wands:
My dad’s job includes a discount at all the stores in the park, so we were all able to get wands of our own. Personally, I snagged a Luna Lovegood wand because of how beautiful a shape it takes:
It looks like a broom or an arrow, and it’s great. I also managed to get the last Snitch keychain on the rack and it’s just as beautiful. I’ll have to figure out what to do with it, since I’m not sure I want to actually stick it on my keys. Looks fragile, man.
My dad also got one of the special wands that interacted with parts of the park and he looked real cute walking around waving it at things.
But anyway, the other great thing about Harry Potter was the fact that my friend Tiana just so happened to be coming to the park today as well, so we met up there and jumped on the big attraction.
Honestly the line going into the ride was the best part. It had so many amazing facets to explore that were all recognizable rooms from the movie.
The ride itself was just okay, though. Fun but a little overwhelming when it rolls you totally upside down as your feet hang free.
I tapered off on photos around this part of the day. My phone had trickled down into single-digit percentages so I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my abilities to keep it alive. Basically we ate at Mel’s Diner, I had an obscenely complicated trip around the park attempting to find a bathroom and we wound up over at the Minion’s Ride. Based, of course, on Illumination’s Despicable Me.
I’ll be honest, that ride was probably the worst part of the day. It was cute, but very impersonal compared to the way a lot of the other rides were presented.
Also it reminded me a little too much of the mobile game my sister messed around with a few years back, honestly.
On the way out we hit a couple of stores.
Welcome… To the photo I forgot earlier.
Aly being her dorky 50’s obsessed self.
The globe store.
Aly being a dork x2.
Also here’s something we found in one of the stores that will stare into your soul for the next few nights.
From there we left the park, took that neat-o picture I used for my post’s featured image out by the big globe and went over to City Walk so Aly could drag us to Voodoo Donuts.
That, in a not-so-concise nutshell, was my day at Universal Studios. From there we drove home, where I got in some more Don’t Starve on the oh-so-convenient Nintendo Switch:
Don’t think I have too much more to say without things getting weirdly meta and self-contemplative, so I’m going to leave off where I started. I had a great day with my family and I can’t wait to see where we wind up next.