Another victory for our sterile, whitewashed culture: Terminator: Genisys will be rated PG-13. The series, which started with a gritty, low budget 80s film that may be one of the greatest Sci-fi action movies of all time, has graduated over four movies to become just another bloated series designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

The 70s and 80s were a golden age for adult movies. The cultural revolution of the 1960s finally paid dividends in the form of unapologetic action, science fiction, thriller and horror flicks. Mainstream film emerged out of an era defined by (relatively) clean entertainment and began to invoke darker themes. Some of my favorite movies were made in these two decades. Even movies that aren’t necessarily my thing seem to hold more emotional weight than what we get today.

The Terminator is a masterpiece. It has excitement and tension. It raises interesting science fiction and horror themes. It sets the era perfectly. There are stakes. The movie feels both 80s and timeless simultaneously. It never shies away from portraying violence, language and nudity as needed. Unless you’re a young child with virgin senses, the adult-ness of the movie never distracts from the conflicts the main characters face.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day, like its predecessor, also had an R rating. Despite this, it became the most successful box office of 1991. A peculiarity of that time saw children’s toys being sold for several R movies, including T-2. Both Terminator films were favorites of mine when I was young. One year (most likely when i was five), I even went as a terminator for Halloween. I wasn’t any more inclined towards violence or swearing as result of these movies, or the Alien franchise or any other child inappropriate media I may have watched. It was entertainment and I understood it as such.

Some time between the tail end of that time and now, we’ve experienced a systemic trend towards curbing movies at PG-13. There are two culprits. The first is overbearing helicopter parents looking to shelter their children from all of life’s horrors. These are usually superliberals and hyperconservatives united in their quest for the most boring world imaginable. The second is greedy studio heads who want to maximize their audiences at the expense of artistic integrity. They’ve decided that every year we need to see another box office record fall instead of producing top quality films. But they get as many hits as they do misses. These are the numbskulls who thought The Lone Ranger movie was a sure thing.

Let’s take a look at RoboCop (2014). Or what would’ve been more aptly named “Robot Police Officer Movie.” The original RoboCop was a dark satire about a dystopian American future. The movie was originally given an X rating for its extreme violence and was trimmed to get it down to R. The gratuitous elements served to drive its points home. Flash forward 27 years and we have another generic action movie, rated PG-13, devoid of any of the traits that made the original successful. I don’t think the people who made that movie even understand why the original was good. It’s about trading on the brand name with a half-assed script and dazzling special effects.

Thankfully, there are still some directors who create the movies they want and the hell with suits and censors. Quentin Tarantino’s movies, for example, use violence and language to great effect. But too many modern filmmakers seem so eager to work that they don’t have their own visions. Those at the top decree and they kowtow. The result is a culture of boring reboots, remakes and unnecessary sequels that shame their predecessor’s legacies.

The world can be happy. It can be hopeful. Experiences can be uplifting and positive. That doesn’t mean the journey can’t still be harsh and brutal. There will always be a place for very good G, PG and PG-13 movies (though I will argue that the PG of Indiana Jones is a lot grittier than that of today), but when a movie needs an R rating, let it breathe. Fuck general audiences, fuck families and fuck kids. Let them either grow up or continue to watch crap like Pudsey the Dog: The Movie. Give us back our quality adult entertainment.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic World is in theaters June 12, 2015. The newest Dino action movie starring Chris Pratt will revive a franchise dormant since 2001. With a little over two months to the big day, a review of all four movies seems a good way to examine the highs and lows of the franchise.

Jurassic Park (1993)

Steven Spielberg’s special effects masterpiece, based on the Michael Crichton novel, takes viewers on an adventure through a theme park of cloned dinosaurs. When the dinosaurs escape, a small band of people must navigate their way to safety. The movie is part action, part adventure, part horror/thriller and can be summed up in one word: Perfection. Jurassic Park is the best film ever made.

Now that opinion can be argued against a million different ways. People may point to a mediocre script and flat characters as points against the movie. Jurassic Park shares a wavelength with Jaws, another Spielberg film, and you can certainly argue the “human” element of that movie shines through more effectively. However, I will methodically explain how excellence across the wide spectrum of filmmaking endows Jurassic Park with all it needs to compete for the top spot.

Directing – Few can dispute Steven Spielberg’s competence as a director. While his movies often lack the style and depth of a Quentin Tarantino, a Martin Scorsese or a Stanley Kubrick, the man knows how to shoot a film. Jurassic Park’s subject matter is the perfect vessel for Spielberg to bring his vision to life. Tackling a world where dinosaurs and man coexist, and making it believable to a mass audience, is no small task. Spielberg manages it beautifully.

Writing – Michael Crichton was an accomplished author and screenwriter. In addition to Jurassic Park, he created ER, The Andromeda Strain, Congo and other stories that exist in multiple mediums. Ask anyone who has read the novel Jurassic Park and they will tell you it’s even better than the film. Widespread popularity doesn’t always mean critical success, and vice versa, but he achieved both during his career.

Script – While the script rises to serviceable, it is by no means the driving force behind the movie’s success. The plot works for the genre but characters can sometimes seem stockish and one dimensional. Movies are often superficial versions of their source material, which is the case here. However, the excitement and thrills of the adventure outweigh any philosophical issues that may be lost in translation.

Score – John Williams composed the music for Jurassic Park. It is an iconic, epic score I’ve seen included on the playlists of people with varying musical tastes. That’s to say nothing of John Williams’ reputation as one of the best movie composers of all time.

Acting/Characters – As stated earlier, the characters can sometimes seem flat. However, the actors also provide some of the most memorable parts of the movie. Richard Attenborough’s interaction with a pre-recorded version of himself, Jeff Goldblum’s “One big pile of shit” line, and Sam Neill detailing to a bratty kid how a pack of Velociraptors would devour him are just a few of many wonderful moments in this film. The characters all have their “thing” and it works given the focus on the fallout of the events. Alan Grant has an arc, John Hammond has an arc, Newman gets eaten by a Dilophosaurus. These are positive things.

I’d also like to note that Laura Dern, who plays Dr. Ellie Sattler, was 26 when Jurassic Park was released. I am now older than she was back then. Craziness.

Quotability – This relates to both characters and script, but the movie is extremely quotable. A few of my favorites:

  • “Some of them smell. Babies smell.” – Alan Grant on kids.
  • “We have a T-Rex.” – John Hammond, to an incredulous Dr. Grant.
  • “Shoooooot her. Shoooooot her.” – Robert Muldoon, while a raptor attempts to tear a fellow worker apart.
  • “Dodgson, Dodgson, we’ve got Dodgson here! See nobody cares.” – Dennis Nedry.

The total list is about a hundred times more expansive. Basically, I can quote the script.

Special Effects – The impossible element to overlook. Jurassic Park set a standard for the time it was made and put most of its contemporaries to shame. While dated compared to the best CGI today, Jurassic Park’s computer generated effects still hold up. When you look at the dinosaurs and compare them to the cartoonish depictions of wolves or goblins in today’s crap, you realize that great care was given to breathing life into this fictional world.

The movie embodies the wonder of the filmgoing experience that’s so lacking in today’s big budget epics. A focus on bigger and better has superseded the need for any kind of realism or emotion (looking at you, Star Wars prequels). I twice saw Jurassic Park at a drive in movie theater, surrounded by trees and tall grass. The prospect of a raptor climbing out of the landscape scared the bejesus out of me. The film uses its effects effectively.

Critical Reception – Jurassic Park is 93% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Box Office Success – Jurassic Park’s $50.1 million dollar opening weekend was record breaking for the time. The film made $914 worldwide in it’s initial run and combined with a 2013 re-release in 3D, has grossed over a billion dollars, which ranks 15th all time.

Watchability – One of the biggest elements working in Jurassic Park’s favor is its watchability. Films like Citizen Kane or Casablanca, both of which I love, the latter of which I consider my second favorite film, are often near the top of best movie lists. The truth is, though, that while these movies are classics and set the standard for countless others, they aren’t necessarily appealing to wide audiences. Critical acclaim (which Jurassic Park attained) can be seen as a measure of snobbery when more accessible movies are released to mediocre reviews. Jurassic Park toes the line between these two worlds.

Recap – While many movies may have some of the criteria listed above, few have all. Jurassic Park is a culturally recognizable icon that is still well regarded 22 years later. It remains my favorite movie of all time for the reasons listed above and because of the nostalgia factor. I used to create my own park with toys and actions figures based on the movie. My cousins and I used to trade off playing raptors and humans during our summers in Upstate NY. There was a magic about it all, which I still experience with every viewing.

Watch it now.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

Steven Spielberg was partially responsible for coaxing a novel sequel out of Michael Crichton, which this movie was based on. It has a lot of the surface elements that made the first movie so good. Spielberg directs, John Williams composes, Jeff Goldblum is in it. Dinosaurs.

This movie is a turd. The lead child’s gymnastics skills are set up early on so the payoff can be her kicking a raptor through a window using uneven bars. Just no.

Also Vince Vaughn is in it.


Jurassic Park III (2001)

Spielberg is gone, as is Jeff Goldblum. Sam Neill is back and Lauren Dern makes an appearance. Joe Johnston directs. He also directed The Rocketeer, October Sky, Jumanji, and Captain America: The First Avenger. These are all facts.

Another fact: The movie blows.


Jurassic World (2015)

How does one review a movie that isn’t out you ask? This image is my review:


This movie is going to suck so hard.

Please skip it, so they stop making this garbage.