We’re into June and the summer blockbusters keep rolling. This week, which includes the latest installment in the Jurassic franchise. Below is my take on that and the other new movies I saw this week. If you’d like to see more of my scores for films and thoughts, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd here.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Queen Latifah, and Juancho Hernangomez
Synopsis: The new feature for Netflix stars Sandler as an NBA Scout, but this is no comedy. While many of Sandler’s films for the streamer have been comedies, this is a more serious take. This one finds Sandler as Stanley, a former player and long-time scout with ambitions for more. He works for the Philadelphia 76ers and the team’s owner, Rex Merrick (Robert Duvall), takes his opinion seriously. When Rex dies, his son, Vince (Ben Foster), takes the reigns. Instead of putting Stanley on the bench, he sends him out to scout again, telling him he’s got to find the next big thing. Stanley finds Bo Cruz (Hernangomez) in Spain, but Vince isn’t sold. With the encouragement of his wife (Latifah), Stanley decides to train Bo and prove the doubters wrong, earning himself a new place in the game in the process. This is an interesting film, but one that feels like it follows the standard sports movie formular. Despite that, Sandler is strong in the lead role and has a great chemistry with Hernangomez, a real NBA player, as they work together to achieve their dreams. You buy into Stanley’s journey, and that makes the film work. It’s not perfect or particularly original, but it’s a solid film led by a great performance from Sandler in a more serious role. This is a win for Netflix.
Rating: Rated R for language.
I’m Charlie Walker (Limited)
Starring: Mike Colter, Dylan Baker, and Mark Leslie Ford
Synopsis: The latest film from writer/director Patrick Giles is based on the true story of Charlie Walker (Colter), an African American truck driver who built an empire in the 1970s in San Francisco. When a major oil spill led to huge cleanup efforts, Walker used his guile and ingenuity to get a position cleaning up a section of beach. In the process, he made a fortune and made a name for himself. Colter takes the lead here with a supporting cast that features Baker as the chief oil executive who ends up as Walker’s rival. The film seeks to share some about the culture and the times in addition to telling this story. Colter is great in the lead role and the only thing that helps keep the film from descending into something of a parody. It’s an interesting story about a man I didn’t know much about the cinematic style is a choice. Still, it’s an interesting enough story buoyed by a great performance to be an easy watch.
Jurassic World: Dominion (Theaters)
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, BD Wong, Isabella Sermon, and Campbell Scott
Synopsis: When the original Jurassic Park debuted 19 years ago, I was a 12-year-old sitting in the theater amazed at the world come to life. It sparked me to pick up Michael Crichton’s novel, and I soon read his entire collection. I became a fan of the story and the world, and have seen every subsequent film in the franchise, which launched its sixth installment with Dominion on Friday. They haven’t all been incredible, but the films have captured a world that tackled a central question: what happens when we think we can control nature; when we try to play God? That was a question that sat at the forefront of Crichton’s work and has been a foundational piece of the best of the Jurassic franchise. In the original film, Ian Malcolm (Goldblum) says, “Genetic power is the most awesome force the planet’s ever seen, but you wield it like a kid that’s found his dad’s gun.” Colin Trevorrow understands the central question posed by the story. He also understands that people come to these films for the characters and to be entertained. In what is being hailed as the final film of the Jurassic era, Trevorrow fuses those two ideas together beautifully. We get Pratt and Howard, but also the stars of the original film—Dern, Neill and Goldblum—all coming together. There are fun nods and references to all the films, and we get the fan service moments in the endings that pull it all together. It’s also a rich exploration of what it means to be a parent. There is humor, pathos and plenty of fun action sequences. This is a great summer season film that offers something for audiences of all ages, while also throwing in some nice nods to book readers. It doesn’t reach the heights of the original film or Jurassic World, but it’s a solid adventure that delivers on some weighty expectations. I enjoyed it a lot.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action, some violence and language.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.