5 OF MY FAVORITE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS

Originally published a version of this on my Moviepilot page. The site has closed down so enjoy this updated version of my article.

Last week summer arrived in all of its blazing glory and with it the arrival of more summer blockbusters (these type of films begin earlier and earlier each year).  While there are many notable blockbusters that come to mind, here are five of my favorite.

5. The Avengers

This was one of the few movies that I’ve returned to the theater to watch-in fact I visited the movies five more times to see earth’s mightiest heroes kicking Chitari butt. I love the film’s humor, camaraderie of our heroes, the villain Loki, and the action. Scenes such as the Hulk smashing Loki to the ground and the pan around scene showcasing the team as they take on the alien invasion are the most memorable. While some might disagree, The Avengers is way better than its sequel.

4.  Jurassic Park

While I love the sequels-even Jurassic World-they can’t capture everything that made the first film memorable. Every time I view this film, the nostalgia of watching it for the first time always returns. When I see the dinosaurs for the first time alongside Dr. Grant, Dr. Sattler and company, my breath is taken away. Of course according to Dr. Ian Malcolm “…that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and um, screaming.”

We get plenty of that, from the T-Rex, and of course the velociraptors who are the stars of the film. From the opening sequence where a park worker is killed, to Dr. Grant scaring a kid, to the disturbing cow feeding, moviegoers were already terrified of them before they were shown.Finally, the animatronics were astounding I mean the T-Rex alone was epic. God bless you Stan Winston Studio.

For more reasons on why I love Jurassic Park and its sequels, check out my previous post 5 Favorite Characters From The Jurassic Park Films.

3.  Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Out of all of the films in this franchise, this one is my favorite and in my opinion it’s the best one. We’ve got well developed characters, two dangerous robots, amazing visual effects for its time, and action; all coming together to make a great story. What I liked about this film was that whether or not  you saw the trailers you didn’t know which of the terminators was the bad guy. I loved the father-son relationship that John had with the Terminator and the film’s ending got me right here-*points to my heart.*

2. Independence Day

“Welcome to earth.”

This is one of my favorite lines from the movie. In addition to great lines, the filml has Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, aliens, action, and destruction all on the Fourth of July? Yes please. It’s tradition in my household to watch this film every July 4th. I’ve watched this movie so much that my VHS copy died (that’s right I still have films on VHS, hey if it still works why upgrade?) and I was forced to buy the DVD.

1. Jaws

I wasn’t born yet when this movie came out back in 1975 but I remember watching reruns of it on the TV and getting nightmares. I would imagine that big ole’ Bruce circling my bed and whenever we would go to the pool in the evenings I had to take a second look back at the deep end despite fully knowing that it was impossible for the shark to be in the pool (The Sharknado franchise disproved that right?). Now as a grownup every time I watch the movie, I cheer for the shark.

The opening scene where the young lady is killed by the shark is terrifying! You don’t see the shark until much later in the film. You get a  sense of Chief Brody’s dread as he watches beach goers play in the water, jumping at every noise because he knows that the shark’s still out there. You listen intently as actor Robert Shaw who plays shark hunter Quint give his monologue where he shares his story of surviving the sinking of the war ship the USS Indianapolis during the War in the Pacific in 1945 only to survive another horror that lurks in the deep blue sea and watch in terror a few scenes later as Quint is killed. I could go on, but it’s for these reasons and more that Jaws is one of my favorite all time films.

Now that I’ve given you five of my favorite all time summer blockbuster films… what are five of yours? Leave your list in the comment section below or on my Facebook page.

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5 Favorite Characters From The Jurassic Park Film Franchise

Today  the latest entry in the Jurassic Park film franchise, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom arrived in theaters. Whether or not you enjoy the sequels to the first film Jurrassic Park, they do draw a crowd who at first ooh and aah over the films and then later run and scream in either in delight or horror at what they’ve witness on the big screen.

While the sequels can’t capture what made the original a classic, it doesn’t mean I don’t have love (and professional criticism) for the later films.  So today’s post shows love to the sequels by showcasing my five favorite characters from the Jurassic Park film franchise.

Please keep in mind this list doesn’t include Fallen Kingdom since it just came out.

5. Dr. Ellie Sattler

Dr. Sattler’s a smart and outspoken person.  I’m glad that she has a more prominent role in the film than she does in the novel, for it makes her character even more interesting and developed. The following clip alone explains why Dr. Ellie Sattler’s featured on my list.

4. Dr. Ian Malcolm

In the first film, he’s the skeptic on the trip. Malcolm questions everything while also proposing alternative answers that the others are either ignoring, overlooking, or not thinking about.  In The Lost World  he’s the skeptic who despite repeated I told you so’s, reluctantly returns to rescue his partner and stop others from making a huge mistake.

3. Dr. Henry Wu

While in the first film his role was diminished from what it had been in the novel,  Dr. Henry Wu made his return in a big way in Jurassic World.  Dr. Wu is an unapologetic scientist who enjoys his work.  He tells it like it is to those who don’t want to hear the truth.  And those are the reasons why he’s one of my favorites.

2.  Kelly Curtis/Malcolm

Appearing in The Lost World, Kelly’s the daughter Dr. Ian Malcolm who stows away on one of the trailers heading Isla Sorna. She’s an extremely smart, nerdy, and athletic preteen. This was the first time I had ever heard anyone use the word  troglodyte.

Kelly’s the only character in the original film trilogy to kill a dinosaur on screen.The character’s portrayed by actress Vanessa Lee Chester. Did I mention that she’s  the first and only person to successfully kill a raptor without the use of any weapon? No? Oh well here let me show you:

I love this character. I was a teenager when this film came out and let me tell you it was great to see a cool kid character who happened to be an African-American onscreen.

1. The Dinosaurs

Let’s face it: Jurassic Park and its sequels wouldn’t be what they are without the dinosaurs. I mean they’re the main draw of the films and a huge part of why people go see these movies.  I mean who doesn’t remember the first time in Jurassic Park when the characters and the moviegoers witness the Brachiosaurus in all of its glory?

That moment on screen is definitely on the list of the best movie moments in history.  And what about before we get to that scene? Remember how the film starts with a handler being killed by a Velociraptor? We didn’t see the dinosaur but it did make its presence known with how cunning and dangerous a creature it is. And it starts the conversation about cloning dinosaurs.

And then there’s the T-Rex who’s defining scenes were both seared in our heads. The scene where she escapes from her enclosure and at the end of the film where she interrupts the raptors’ hunt and saves the humans were powerful movie moments.  I mean her giving a defiant roar as the banner that states “WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH” comes down sent shivers through my spine.

And that’s just the first film.

The dinos continue to shine in the sequels.  In the Lost World, it’s the parents of the baby T-Rex who give the human’s camp a good dressing down after being reunited with their infant. And what about the “Don’t go into the long grass!” moment from the film in which our raptors make their appearance?

In Jurassic Park 3 there’s even more moments. The short fight between the T-Rex and the Spinosaurus.  The raptors attempting to outsmart the humans-“They set a trap.” And much more. Share your favorite dinosaur moments in the comments.  Shot out to Blue!

And thus ends my list. From the novels to the films and in between, the Jurassic Park franchise is a franchise to be reckoned with.  The first film has often been hailed as one of the greatest movies of the action and thriller genres. To this day the film’s innovation and influence made a huge impact on not only filmmakers but generations of moviegoers.  While not as powerful as their predecessor, the Jurassic Park sequels have also left their mark for better or worse.

What are your favorite characters from the film franchise? Leave your list in the comments below or on my Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take the Road Less Traveled: My Picks For Summer Reading 2014

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Summer is winding down and August has arrived. Soon students will head back to their classrooms and learn new things while expanding upon the knowledge they already hold. Families around the country are taking their final road trips and vacations. Everywhere kids and grownups alike are settling down around the campfire, relaxing on the beach soaking up some sun, or reclining on their sofas at home or abroad, all with a good book in their hands. It’s the season of summer reading.

Whether it’s assigned or self-picked, summer reading is a yearly event that takes readers on exciting journeys through the various imaginary adventures located in the pages of books.  Growing up, I always enjoyed reading and this didn’t change during the summer.  Though the books were assigned, I found myself getting lost in the stories, some of which have become favorites of mine.

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Now that I’m an adult, my appetite for reading hasn’t diminished and I continue to immerse myself in the stories. This year I made a goal of reading 40 books for the year and recently I crossed the finish line. I know 40 books isn’t a big deal (On my bucket list I have the goal of reading at least 10,000 books) but it felt wonderful to challenge myself. Next year I’m going to attempt to read at least sixty books.  I’ve read some great works this season and in honor of summer reading, here are my picks for books you to read before the summer ends.

1. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

This is one of my favorite books. The first time I read it was in 7th grade. I reread it this summer and the excitement, thoughts, and feelings I had the first time came back again.

2. Kindred by Octavia Butler

This is a sci-fi book one that sees a young woman in the 70’s going back in time to meet her ancestors. One of which she has to protect and happens to be the son of a slave owner. She also gets to know what it was like to be enslaved firsthand.

3. Mindfulness by Gill Hasson

Previously due to an incident I had experienced, I met with a therapist who discussed mindfulness and last year for convocation at my job I took two classes on the subject.  So why not read a book about it? It’s a helpful book which gives you tips and exercises to bring about positive changes in your life.

4. The Deadly Seven by Kyoko M.

This is a short story collection written and self-published by this talented author who also happens to be my friend. Combine archangels, demons, and a seer mixing it up with the seven deadly sins you get an enjoyable read. Don’t believe me? Just read my review.

5. Parable of the Sower & Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler has become one of my favorite authors. I’ve read most of her books and enjoyed them all. These two make up a series about a young woman living in a dystopian future who sets out on a mission to create a new religion of her own: Earthseed.

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6. Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture by Ytasha L. Womack

What is afrofuturism? Read this book and find out. I guarantee that you’ll be amazed and inspired.

7. The Rose That Grew From The Concrete by Tupac Shakur

I’m a poet and I always get inspired when I read the works of others. Like so many talented artists, Tupac was taken from this world far too soon. Aside from his music, his poetry lives on and gives us an insightful glimpse of who this young man was.

8. Jurassic Park & The Lost World by Michael Crichton

In 1993, I had just finished six grade when Jurassic Park came to life on the big screen. It would be few years later when I would read these two books. My imagination ran wild with the descriptions of the dinosaurs moving and stalking about.

9.  The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway

Tenth grade English Honors was where I was introduced to Mr. Hemmingway. We read an excerpt from his novel in our big thick literature books. Only this summer I finally sat down to read the entire story about the old man and his battle with a giant and magnificent fish.

10. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Can you imagine living in a world where books are forbidden and if you’re caught with them they’re taken away and burnt? Throughout our history we’ve seen people burn books. Read the cautious and insightful tale about the fireman who decided to stop the burning.

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11 Blackest Night Series by Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi (writers)

A few years ago on Free Comic Book Day, I read a DC comic which had a preview of this story and I was intrigued. My sister had the entire series (consisting of seven volumes) and it was an amazing read.

12.  The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over The Hills by Charles Bukowski

Matt Dillon is a favorite actor (and celebrity crush) of mine and after watching him portray Charles Burkowski’s alter ego Henry Chinaski, in Factotum, I was curious to know more about the writer. I did a little bit of research and borrowed this book of poetry. Isn’t it interesting how a film can peak your interest in a book and vice versa?

13. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Speaking of movies, I saw the film before I read the book and I believe the film did its predecessor justice. As I read I visualized and remembered the action sequences from the film.  Fleming does a fantastic job writing about his creation 007 in the first of his many adventures.

14. Storykiller by Kelly Thompson

I got this book as a reward for being a backer in Thompson’s Kickstarter project to get this book published. It was an enjoyable read (see my review here) and an interesting take on characters such as the Big Bad Wolf, Robin Hood, and the Ice Queen. Fans have a lot to look forward to since Thompson’s first novel The Girl Who Would Be King has been optioned for a film!

There are many more books that I could recommend but these are my favorites from this year of summer reading. Take the road less traveled and pick up one or more of these books from your library, bookstore, comic book shop, or Amazon. Happy Summer Reading!

P. S.

What books would you recommend for the last month of summer? Post them in the comments below!