Film of the week: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Cert: 12A; Now showing
Can it really be 25 years since Steven Spielberg mopped-up on a gargantuan scale by way of a Michael Crichton sci-fi novel and cutting-edge CGI dinosaurs?
Jurassic Park made stupid amounts of money (not least in the merchandise stores) and in doing so extinguished any thoughts of the brand and its warmed-up fossils ever succumbing to a studio-boss meteor strike.
As we come to this fifth outing in the long-exhausted franchise, we see firmly established formula tropes also dodging extinction; tampering humans asking for trouble; huge lizards going out of their way to chomp man, woman and child; T-Rex having the last laugh.
This, however, is no longer enough for the bloated expectations of today's juvenile popcorn-guzzler, thus the writing team of Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow once again tack on a yawnsome new variable to this second Jurassic World instalment - a GM dinosaur!
Yes, it is with a heavy heart we report that your average tyrannosaur no longer cuts it when it comes to watching do-gooders Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt flee in terror.
They're up against dastardly Rafe Spall who is out to weaponise the beasts through genetic tweaking and auction them off to a room of oligarchs along with other dinosaurs poached from volcano-wrought Isla Nublar.
Fresh from the test tube is the "Indoraptor", a suped-up velociraptor on display in a predictably flimsy cage.
Director J.A. Bayona (whose previous credits include The Impossible, A Monster Calls) improves on the gaudy 2015 outing with smidges of subtlety and a darker horror tone at odds with Spielberg's original funfair ride. Jeff Goldblum and Toby Jones turn up in the cast, which is never a bad thing.
And yet, the pervading sensation is unfortunately one of a film brand trapped within its own blueprint and unable to evolve. ★★★ Hilary A White
All The Wild Horses
Club Cert; Now showing, IFI
When Ivo Darloh first heard about the Mongol Derby he wanted to participate and, having ridden horses since childhood, he was a good candidate for the world's longest horse race, 1,000km across the Mongolian Steppe.
He passed the rigorous entry requirements, paid the $13,000 fee and took part in both 2013 and 2014, where his idea to do a video diary of the event expanded to become a feature-length documentary. Shot as both participant and observer, it gives a unique overview of an extraordinary feat and among the prizes the film has won is Best International Feature at the Galway Film Fleadh.
It's a visually striking film, and although footage was shot over several years the feel is of one race and one set of participants. It opens with a good explanation of the background to the race, how it works and why. It's based on Genghis Khan's postal delivery service, a set of stages, 25 urtuus (horse stations) where the horses are changed every 40km. The riders' race position is determined not only by where they come in, but by the health of their horse. An overworked horse will incur a time penalty.
Different personalities and motivations emerge, with some competitors almost exclusively goal-based, others more interested in the experience. Among the riders Darloh follows are Irish jockeys Donie Fahy and Richie Killoran, there on a plan hatched while Donie was recovering from a broken back just a year earlier. Via the riders too there is a great sense of how difficult the race is both in terms of the environment and in terms of the health risks - from heat and the essentially wild horses' penchant for bucking the riders.
Even the most determined riders can't always beat the odds and along the way some succumb to ailments - from a punctured lung to fractured vertebrae.
It's always fascinating to see people who actually do instead of dream. ★★★★ Aine O'Connor
Sunday Indo Living