Friday, June 10, 2022

Final 'Jurassic' parks all over the place; 'Hustle' hits some three-pointers

What words can possibly describe yet another theme park sequel, "Jurassic World Dominion"?

Long? Check. Lame? Yep (especially since its returning dinosaurs are now too plentiful to inspire much awe). And seriously tame? You betcha (and that's not even considering the endless number of times that Chris Pratt, back as courageous dino trainer Owen Grady, reaches out his left hand as if to pet one of his favorite beasts).

The mixed bag of "B"-movie dynamics might remind some of westerns (lassos and horses), jungle adventures (poachers), creature features (giant bugs) and huge-monster flicks, complete with ancient '50s-era tropes to allow the sizable "Dominion" cast to either run from danger or, perhaps, keep posing en masse for photo opps. 

By the way, even with the return of Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum, all as environment friendly scientists from early franchise films, the only real human scene-stealer becomes genuine star-in-the-making DeWanda Wise ("The Harder They Fall"), as a mercenary pilot with a conscience.

Meanwhile, dino protector Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), back again to double as action heroine and Grady's love interest, gets one of the few truly memorable moments by going underwater to elude a giant predator. On the other end of the congested proceedings, the corporate villain of the piece  -- or, at least, an oddly cast Campbell Scott portraying the closest thing to one -- has liittle to do but look like the poster boy for bewilderment.

Truth be told, despite the huge and well-deserving success of Steven Spielberg's triple Oscar-winning original a full 30 summers ago, "Jurassic Park" has been slowly melting in the dark ever since. Maybe this alleged "epic conclusion" finally -- and thankfully -- really will put a lid on it. 

Rated "PG-13" by MPAA: intense sequences of some violence and language; 2:26; $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

Adam Sandler remains on his game as producer and star of "Hustle," a by-the-book basketball story that hoopsters will embrace and others may simply tolerate.

Actually, it's the comic-turned actor still doing his thing of busting chops, all the while playing a hard-working, ever-traveling pro scout trying to achieve a coaching dream and, thus, spend more time with his family. The husband-wife partnership offered by Sandler and Queen Latifah forms a surprisingly strong element here in the midst of the former's keen desire to make a star out of a young man he discovers during a pick-up game in Spain.

The performance from current Utah Jazz power forward Juancho Hernangomez, as Sandler's pet project, is a pivotally fine one, and Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards stands out, too, as a trash-talking hotshot competing for first-round draft glory. 

Otherwise, an assortment of NBA stars, legends and connections make mostly quick appearances. A few among many range from current Slovenia homeboy Luka Doncic, to all-timer Allen Iverson still "talkin' 'bout practice," to Kenny "the Jet" Smith (swell as a friendly sports agent), and even wealthy superfan James Goldstein showing up to watch a secret game only a handful of insiders know about. (And, I still say that guy looks a lot like late, great rocker Tom Petty.)

("Hustle" remains in a few select theaters and is streaming now exclusively on Netflix.)

Rated "R" by MPAA: for language; 1:58; $ $ $ out of $5

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