Sunday, June 28, 2015

Last Day Of Summer

Yes, I know the first day of summer was last weekend, but in this post I want to write about the last day. 

No, I'm not talking about the day the in late September when the seasons change. The last day of summer I want to write about recently happened on TV.  

This post is a tribute to one of my all time favorite animated series, Disney's Phineas and Ferb. The series finale aired on the Disney XD channel on Friday, June 12.

The show premiered on August 7, 2007. Over the next 8 years there would be 222 episodes (including a Marvel and Star Wars crossover specials) and a theatrical movie. 

I got on the Phineas & Ferb band wagon a little late. I didn't watch my first episode until 2012. 

After many years of hearing about the show's popularity on Walt Disney World podcasts, I decided to check it out. 

From the moment I heard the theme song I was hooked. Here's a You Tube link to a video of the song. Be careful, you could end up with it playing in your head the rest of the day. 
Today's Gonna Be A Great Day

In addition to the theme, the unique characters, humor, stories, and musical production numbers, and catch phrases quickly made me a big fan. 

The show is set in within the "tristate area" city of Danville. The unique premise of the show is that all the episodes revolve around the adventures and inventions of Phineas & Ferb Flynn. They take place during a "104 days of summer vacation." It took creators, Dan Povenmeir and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh a long time to get the show on the air. You can read all about that on the show's Wikipedia page. Phineas & Ferb Wikipedia Page

Each episode also has two main story lines. Candice, the boy's teenage sister, strives to "bust" her brothers by showing their outrageous inventions to their mom. Of course, that never happens. 

There's also the adventures of, Perry the platypus, the family pet and #1 secret agent. 

He is an operative in a spy agency, OWCA (Organization Without a Cool Acronym)  made up of anthropomorphic animals. 

Each episode Perry is summoned to his secret lair OWCA chief, Major Monogram and or his intern assistant, Carl. 

He is briefed on the latest antics of his arch enemy, Dr. Heinz Doofenshmertz, an evil scientist who resides in his less than hidden skyscraper headquarters in the middle of downtown Danville. Perry's mission is always the same: foil Doofenshmertz's evil plan.       

 I can't even begin to mention everything I like about the many characters. Here is a picture of just a few of them.

The core cast, starting with the entire Flynn family are all funny and very likable. Many of them would make the short list of my all-time favorite cartoon characters. Dr. Heinz Doofenshmertz, voiced by Dan Povenmeir, would without a doubt sit at the top of that list. 

"Dr. Doof's" desire to "take over control of the entire tristate area" is what keeps him inventing outrageous contraptions known a "inators." All of which never quite do what the are supposed to do.  

I really like the unique aspects of some of the show's stock animation as well. From the unusual geometric shapes of Phineas & Ferb's heads, to the strange way all the character's eyes are animated.

It might just be the way I look at them but all the P&F character's eyes remind me of eggs with different colored yolks. 

Original songs in the style of  nearly every genre imaginable are a key to the series for me as well. There's at least one song in each episode except for 3. 

The writers and directors use music very effectively in their storytelling. Whether it's the background theme of "The Quirky Worky Song", the transitional stingers about the Doofenshmirtz building or Perry the Platypus, or those about a Backyard Hodge Podge" or an aglet (the plastic on the end of a shoelace); the wit and entertainment value of the songs helps to enhance the program's emphasis on artistic creativity and humor.  

I found the show at a time when I was focusing on the value of creativity in my own life. That's something that each and every episode of Phineas & Ferb encourages. 

It was one of the first programs I binge watched on Netflix thru both my TV and my Kindle Fire tablet. 

I have collected various bits of P&F memorabilia over the years; but just a few. I have a t-shirt the the color of Perry the Platypus with is face on the front, a lunch bag from Subway, and PEZ candy dispensers featuring 5 of the main characters. 

The fact that I had caught up on all the episodes about a year ago, then watched each of them again several times each, and the long time between the airing of new episodes, had caused me to push Phineas & Ferb to the back of the room of my TV viewing habits. 

Last month I found out that the show was ending with a special episode on June 14. In addition, Disney XD channel was showing the entire series in chronological order, starting the Tuesday before. 

During that week, I tuned in from time to time catching some of my favorite episodes but I set my DVR to record the series finale. 

If you really want a complete conclusion to the series you should also watch the next to last episode entitled "Act Your Age" as well. It shows the main characters as teenagers and wraps up one of the show's most popular continuous story lines.  

The last episode was a good ending. At the conclusion the producers decided to give a musical shout out to the loyal audience with one last song. It was sung and performed by a band made up of many of the key characters.  
Phineas & Ferb: Thanks For Coming Along

Although it will be available on video subscription services, digital formats, and bluray or DVD, in the future, I probably will only watch Phineas & Ferb occasionally on reruns on the Disney channels. Not that I am no longer an avid fan I always will be. But...well, summer's over. 

But I will always consider it my all-time favorite animated TV series. The era of Saturday morning cartoons I grew up watching disappeared a long time ago but thanks to Phineas & Ferb, for a few years, a little bit of it came back. 

Thanks Dan Povenmeir and Swampy Marsh for allowing me to be part of a great summer. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pixar's "Inside Out" Review

The following review is what I consider to be "spoiler free"; others may not. If you have not seen this movie and don't want to know anything about it come back after you've been to the theater. 

As part of my special Father's Day afternoon courtesy of my son and daughter-in-law, Michael & Heather, I went to see Pixar's first release in 2 years, "Inside Out". 

I was kind of "Meh"about this movie initally and had as much of an open mind about it as I could after seeing the trailer. But after all, it is a Pixar film and have enjoyed most of them over the last 20 years. ("Ratatouille", "Brave" and "Monster's University" being the only exceptions). Although I liked "Cars 2", I wasn't crazy about it. That means I haven't really been a fan of a Pixar movie since "Toy Story 3" in 2010. 

I was looking forward to one of my favorite comics, Lewis Black, doing the voice of one of the main characters. 

I like Black's stand up humor and "angry man" persona but have always been put off by his vulgarity. His being in "Inside Out" meant I'd most likely get his sharp humor but without the off color language. 

One of the things I look forward to with every Pixar release is the short attached to it. This time it was a cute story called "Lava". 

It's about a lonely volcano on a tropical island, who pines for love over several eons through music. I liked this short because the song was played on the ukulele. It also had a very genuine "legend of the earth"type feel to it as well. 

I couldn't help but think that the short was a bit of Disney subliminal advertising. After all, Disney's newest resort outside of their theme park areas is Aulani on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Perhaps some who are influenced by "Lava" will look to this resort for a romantic getaway. 

Most of "Inside Out" takes place in the mind Riley, an 11 year old girl who lives in Minnesota. She loves playing hockey and spending time with her parents.

Shortly after the story begins, Riley's life takes a turn that puts her in a place she never wanted to be. 

We are witnesses to her plight by way of what goes on inside her head. Her mind is set up like a NASA mission control center and is managed by characters representing several personality traits: Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and, my favorite, Anger. 

The presentation of abstract things like: "core beliefs" and both long and short term memories is very imaginative. There are other elements of the mind and soul that are cleverly utilized as well but I'm going to let them be a surprise. 

As a delightful bonus, the audience gets a peek inside the minds of other characters as well as Riley. Each have the same staff of personified emotions but with some very entertaining varieties. Whoever was responsible for getting this aspect of the film on screen is a genius. The movie would not have been the same without it. 

Director Pete Docter managed to take the spirit of other Pixar and Disney animated films and create the brand new universe of the human mind. 

Throughout the movie I could see the influence of "Monsters Inc", "Wreck It Ralph" and the "Toy Story" films. 

Speaking of "Toy Story" there is a moment during the 3rd act that is very reminiscent of the furnace scene in Toy Story 3. But don't worry, it's no where near as emotional. 

It was an unexpected pleasure to hear Richard Kind's voice as one of the most important supporting characters. 

I have always found Kind's portrayal of "Molt" (Hopper's brother in "A Bug's Life") very funny and likable. He is very likable here too.  

There are some things about the movie I didn't like. It presents all memories as visual; some of which are from Riley's POV and others that are seen as if shot with a camera. I may be wrong but I don't think memories based on any of the other senses are even mentioned.

There are a few places in the 2nd act where the plot kind of drags. There are some scenes that could have been deleted to move the story along a bit as well. However a lot of those have a comedic element to them; most of which are meant to appeal to younger audience members.  

As far as my recommendation as to who should see this movie let me say this. I would recommend it for kids no younger than 7 or 8 years old. The concepts discussed, world that's explored, and plot twists could be respectively be too complicated, confusing, and upsetting to younger children. There's just not enough there to keep their attention for the entire film.  

Without giving away too much, I must warn you that there are some moments near the end of the 2nd act that a child (no matter what age) who has issues with clowns may find disturbing. I like clowns and even found this part of the movie a bit unnerving.   

"Inside Out" has what all good animated features have; a good story and humor that appeals to both kids and adults. Some of it is specifically aimed at older viewers. 

Paula laughed out loud more than I have heard her laugh at a movie in a long time. I found myself laughing right along with her and the rest of the crowded theater. 

"Inside Out" is another Pixar hit that's highly entertaining and imaginative. It is a good family outing for those with kids above the age I've already mentioned. It's also a great date movie. On the RH Factor scale of 1-10  I give it a 7.5 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Best Ride Of My Life

Life is full of twists and turns. Some are good; some are bad. Some of them you never see coming. One of those surprise turns happened to me last Tuesday. 

For the first time in almost 16 years I was involved in a traffic accident. It happened on Louisville road near Porter Pike in Bowling Green. Although it was considered a "fender bender" involving 3 vehicles (my car and 2 pick up trucks) damage to my vehicle was extensive. The good news is that no one was injured at all, thank God. 

As of this writing I'm not sure that all the issues with the other drivers and insurance companies have been settled so I'm not going to discuss the accident details.

One thing I can say about that afternoon is this. Just moments after the accident I realized from looking at the damage that my insurance company wouldn't pay to repair it. I knew I would never drive my silver Saturn Vue again. 

There's no way I can truly express how much I am going to miss this car. It has taken me almost everywhere for over a decade. 

I bought it back in March 2005. It had only 346 miles on the odometer. It was my first brand new car ever. 

For 15 years my Vue took me so many places I can never name them all in one post. Many of the longer trips were vacations with Paula. 

Some of the cities we traveled to together in the Vue  include: Easton and Philadelphia, PA; Nashville (too many times to even count), Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Chattanooga, TN; Huntsville, AL; Orlando, FL; Chicago, IL; and Washington, DC; Lexington and Louisville; just to name a few. 

It was the Vue that took us to all the road games we went to the 6 years James played football in school. 

It also took us to Columbus, GA twice to visit James during his National Guard basic training at Fort Benning. 

In 2009 the Vue transported the decorations and food Paula needed for James and Brandi's wedding reception to the cabins in the hills of the Great Smoky Mountains just above Pigeon Forge.  

A conversation between my then future daughter-in-law, Brandi, and I in the Vue on the way back from taking James to the Nashville airport on his way back from leave changed our relationship and set the foundation for becoming family a few years later. 

The Vue took me to Holiday World theme park in Santa Claus, IN 3 times. I went twice with my daughter-in-law Heather (Michael went with us on one of those trips) and once by myself.  

I made plenty of solo trips to other cities in the Vue as well. Some of them were to places or events that changed my life. 

In 2006 I drove the Vue to Fort Mitchell, Kentucky to attend the Vent Haven Museum ventriloquist convention. The next Sunday, I performed as a "vent" for the first time in my church. 

In 2006 & 2010 I drove the Vue to Burbonais, Illinois to attend the Creative Ministry puppet festival. During that first trip I drove an hour north to Chicago for the first time to visit both Wrigley and U.S. Cellular Field. 

Of the great years of reliable transportation that the Vue provided for me, 2010, the year I turned 50, was probably the single best. 

In June of that year, Paula and I went to Washington, DC and then continued on to Pennsylvania to see my family. In September we made the trip of my life, so far, to Walt Disney World in Florida. 

In August 2010, I made a two cities-two games-in-two days baseball trip in my Vue. I drove 8 hours to Milwaukee to see the Brewers play a night game against the Giants. The next day I drove back down to Chicago to see the White Sox play the California Angels in a day game. 

It was during that trip that I had the most memorable solo driving experience I ever had in my Vue. 

As I was leaving Chicago area, driving north on interstate route 294 toward Milwaukee, it began to rain. Not a slow even rain, it was a sustained mid-summer cloud-burst type thunderstorm.  
Instead of the downpour passing through and the skies subsequently clearing, its thunderheads followed me as I drove directly north, parallel with the coast of Lake Michigan. For a little over 2 hours, I cautiously crawled along with the flow of traffic in the downpour. 

My windshield wipers labored at slapping away the sheets of water obscuring my view of the only things I could see ahead of me, tail lights. 

I marveled at the amazing streak lightening around me, mostly in the distance, but at times, a bit too close for comfort. 

Listening to a Milwaukee AM sports talk radio station for entertainment I did my best to keep the Vue on the road. 

My immediate goal was to avoid the water build-up that threatened to hydroplane my silver vessel into a guardrail. It was the most nerve wracking but at the same time exciting time I ever had driving that car.   

I drove to a lot of other baseball games in the Vue. I went to MLB games in Cincinnati (about half a dozen times), Pittsburgh, and Atlanta. I went to minor league games in Louisville & Nashville a couple of times as well. 

In August 2010, my Saturn reached a milestone; 6 figures on it's odometer. 

Other than the engine and heater/air conditioning the most important part of a car to me is the entertainment system. 

When I bought the Vue it had the standard AM/FM stereo with a CD player. But what I listened to in the Vue changed when Paula got me an XM Radio for Christmas in 2007. 

With a short range FM frequency adapter XM provided me with the ability to enjoy major league baseball games (mostly the Yankees), a channel of clean comedy, and repeats of Casey Kasem Top 40 countdown shows from the 1970s. 

In 2010 I added my Ipod to the in-car entertainment menu. My entire music collection (over 10,000 songs), podcasts and audiobooks became my listening options as well. 

Two years later a new JVC stereo system with a direct auxiliary and USB inputs improved the quality and convenience of what I what I listened to while I was on the road.

I could literally write a book about the decade I drove the 2005 Saturn Vue. The miles I put on it is equal to driving 3/4 of the way to the moon. 

If I had to choose my all-time favorite memorable moment that happened in my Vue I think it would be one that happened in July 2012. 

I had picked up my 3 month old granddaughter at her babysitter's house to take her to meet Brandi when she got off of work. It was my first time alone with Aria. I was nervous, excited, and proud all at the same time.  

Having arrived early I parked in the lot behind Sheldon's pharmacy to wait for Brandi. 

While waiting Aria got a little fussy and started crying a bit. So to give her proper attention I got in the back seat. I tried to give her a pacifier but she wanted nothing to do with it. I gave her one of her toys and started talking to her. 

Her fussing eased a bit but I would tell she was on the verge of starting to cry again.  

I did what came naturally to me, I started singing to her. I sang "Everybody loves a baby that's why I'm in love with you pretty baby." That's was the first time my granddaughter ever smiled at me.   

The last picture of the Vue's odometer was taken on the day after Christmas last December. 

Now I know this looks picture looks different than the others but take my word for it, this was taken in the Vue. 

In September 2011 Paula got a new car, a Chevy Impala with 19,000 mile on it. Because it was more comfortable and in order to save putting miles on the Vue, we started taking it on our trips together. 

The last two memorable solo trips I made with the Vue were in 2014. They were day trips to major cities to the north and the south of Smiths Grove, respectively. 

On March 8 I drove 200 miles north to Indianapolis. I went to the Brick World Lego Expo. It was the first non-retail Lego event I'd ever been there. It was a lot of fun and I saw a lot of great exhibits and models.  

Two months later I drove 300 miles south to Atlanta. My reason for going there was to meet and have lunch with the host of the WDW Radio Podcast, Lou Mongello. While the weather and circumstances didn't work out exactly as I wanted them to, it was still a great day. 

Although I'm sad that they were the last long road trips in the Vue that only makes them extra special.

As I end this post I want to give a good review to the Geico insurance company. They provide coverage for both our vehicles and our house. 

Their local adjuster, Alan Tange, was extremely professional, friendly, fast, and efficient in processing my claim for the Vue. 

My accident was on Tueday afternoon. By Wednesday afternoon he had inspected the car and processed the claim. As I expected the Vue was a "total loss"

Because I had to get some last minute paperwork to finish the claim it wasn't until Friday morning that we were ablt to complete the settlement and get the check. 

I've had two other car insurance experiences like this one but they took a lot longer. Without a doubt that was quickest turn around time by an insurance company I've ever experienced. 

Last Wednesday afternoon I went to the salvage yard in Bowling Green and took everything out of the car. It was a very sad and difficult moment for me.

Because it happened so suddenly it was kind of hard to accept that after 178,500 miles, by far the most miles I've ever put on a car, I'd made my last trip in my 2005 Saturn Vue. Here are some of the last pictures I took. 

I loved that car. I could write a book about all the things that happened in my life while I owned the Vue. While that may never actually happen. I'm sure I'll be telling the stories for years to come.

I can't believe that I will never get behind that wheel again. Change isn't easy for me sometimes. 

Now I've got to turn the corner and go find me another car. It's a process that is both exciting and very stressful at the same time. 

The way I figure it I'll probably buy maybe 3 more cars over the remainder of my life. But there is no doubt that I will always consider my Silver Saturn Vue the Best Ride of My Life.  


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tribute To Jim Ed

It's taken me a week to get around to it, but I want to dedicate this post to honoring the memory of one of my favorite country music singers: Jim Ed Brown. 

The 2015 Country music Hall of Fame inductee, was a part of my life even before I was born. Now that may seem impossible but its true in that my parents enjoyed his music while I was still just a gleam in my daddy's eye.   

In early September 1959, a month before my parents got married, Jim Ed Brown, as part of a harmonizing trio with his sisters, Maxine and Bonnie, had the #1 hits song on the pop charts. Here's a link to a You Tube video of that song. The Three Bells By The Browns

Because he was a big fan of 1950s pop music and it reminded him of his days as a newlywed, my dad played that song on his tape recorder a lot while I was growing up.  I heard it so often that I knew the words before I even started going to school. 

In 1967, I was 6 and my dad had switched from being a pop music fan to liking country music. Jim Ed Brown had started his solo career as a country singer two years earlier. 

That summer he released what would be his signature song. Again, here's a link to a video of that song. Pop A Top

In 1971 while listening to my parents 45 record collection on the record player in my room, I discovered a song by Jim Ed Brown I liked a lot. I shared it with my best friend, my cousin, Gary. We wore that record out. It is still one of our favorite country songs to this day. Here's a You Tube link. 
Angel Sunday

By the late 70s and into the 80s, Jim Ed Brown came into our house on Saturday nights by way of television. He hosted  "The Grand Ole Opry", "Nashville On The Road" and "You Can Be A Star" programs on The Nashville Network. They were part of the block of shows my parents watched faithfully every weekend; just after Hee Haw. 

Intermingled with his stint as a TNN cable channel host was recording success with his "Nashville On The Road" co-host, Helen Cornelius. Among their hits were: If The World Ran Out Of Love Tonight, You Don't Bring Me Flowers  (both covers of pop songs) and "Let's Take The Long Way Around The World." 

After Jim Ed Brown stopped hosting in the mid 80s, I didn't see or hear much from him except for listening to his catalog of hits whenever my dad played them. 

Once I started collecting music for myself Jim Ed Brown's greatest hits album was part of it. 

I didn't see him again until 2001 after I had moved to Kentucky. On a get-away weekend to Nashville in July of that year, Paula and I went to see the Grand Ole Opry show. 

Much to my surprise Jim Ed Brown was the host of one of the half hour segments. I was so thrilled to see him sing in person. I can still remember hism making jokes about the show's sponsor, a health drink called, "Jogging In A Jug."

The combination of being at the Opry and seeing Jim Ed Brown, both things my dad always dreamed of doing, made it a very emotional and memorable evening for me. 

Jim Ed Brown continued to be part of the Grand Ole Opry family. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in September 2014. Last Thursday at the age of 81 Jim Ed Brown died from lung cancer. 

As I mentioned at the start of this post, earlier this year, Jim Ed, was recognized as a 2015 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee. The induction ceremony will not be held until this October. 

However, I read on a Nashville news website that while Jim Ed was in the hospital a couple of HOF officials and HOF member, Bill Anderson went to see him. They presented him with his Hall Of Fame medal. What a great thing that was to do. It just goes to show you how loved and respected Mr. Brown was in the world of country music.  

Another example of that admiration and respect can be seen in this You Tube video. This was taped the night after Jim Ed Brown passed away. Check it out. 
Bluebird Cafe Tribute to Jim Ed Brown

I will always associated Jim Ed Brown with my dad. Earlier this year I learned to play my dad's favorite Jim Ed Brown song on the ukulele. It was a hit he recorded with his sisters back in the late 50s. 

As a final tribute to Jim Ed Brown and to honor and remember my dad during Father's Day week, here's a link to a You Tube video of me playing and singing "The Old Lamplighter".

Please keep in mind that I'm still very much a beginner ukulele player and not the best of singers. But it is a heartfelt effort. With that said here's the link to the video. 
The Old Lamplighter: RHFactors Edition 

Jim Ed Brown, thanks for all the great songs. You really have given me a lifetime of memories.   

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Jurassic World Review

SPOILER ALERT: The following post contains multiple spoilers for the movie "Jurassic World." It will not be a "scene by scene" review. But instead it will include some of my views and opinions about the characters, story, plot devices, and the film over all. If you have not yet seen it and don't wish to know any of the details or plot, read this post only after seeing the movie. Remember you've been warned. 

This past Thursday night, Paula and I went to see the premier showing of "Jurassic World." Other than the Avengers sequel, this is the movie I've been waiting for this summer. That's why I went to see it on the first night.

Ever since my dad and I saw it in the theater in 1992, I've been a big fan of the first JP movie and have watched it countless number of times. I also like the second film. 

It's your typical sequel. Although it does have the single best movie shot I've ever seen (ask me about it some time). It's enjoyable. The third film was such a mess that I don't even consider it "Jurassic Park cannon." 

With all the advancement in film making and special effects over the last two decades my expectations for this new dinosaur movie were high. Having the "hottest" action-adventure star, Chris Pratt, in the lead role was very promising as well. 

The movie starts off with a tight shot of baby dinosaur hatching from an egg. Not the "attention grabber" that I expected. I'm pretty sure it's the hatching of the dinosaur that will be the cause of all the chaos I was about to see. But that's just an assumption and was never confirmed during the movies.  

Instead of a "oh this is going to be so cool" reaction at the initial shots. All I thought was, "wait we've seen this before." That was something I'd say to myself a lot over the next 2 hours. 

The story starts with Jurassic World already established as a world wide tourist destination. Neither at the beginning or throughout the movie is there much explanation as to why or how it got to it's current state. 

This omission hatched a mind full  of questions for me. The cacophony of them inside my head distracted me from what was happening on screen for a few minutes. 

It is established quickly that Jurassic World can draw up to 20,000 guests on it's busiest days. The shuttle boats full of arriving tourists quickly communicates that its the "peak season. 

The audience is quickly told that the appeal of dinosaurs has faded over the years but they are never allowed to discover exactly tourists still went there. You get glimpses of some of the attractions, mostly as set ups for plot devices. 

Seen the most is the "Main Street" area and, what I would refer to as the park's "Welcome Center". Located at the end of the main street the center is at the hub of the park. But it's more of a museum or education center than an attraction. 

The characters are introduced but I was only initially impressed by one of them. That would be Owen played by Chris Pratt. Most of the rest of them are stereotypical characters found in any "monster" movie of the past.  

I'm not going to write about all of the characters but here's my opinion of some of the major ones. 

The young boys, Gray & Zach, don't come across as believable at all. There's something a little "off" about them from the beginning. They lacked personality and seemed very passive, emotionally immature and naive for kids their age.  

John Hammond's grandchildren from the first movie were more edgy, adventurous and smarter than these two.

I would have enjoyed them a lot more if they were more like the brothers, Adam and Barry, from the ABC comedy "The Goldbergs" 

Here's an example of what I mean. There's a sequence where while riding around the open fields in a gyrosphere, the brothers discover a hole in the security fence. Zach, doing the driving, decides to do a little exploring into the unknown much to Gray's opposition. 

They end up jumping from the top of a giant water fall to avoid being eaten by the most dangerous dinosaur in the park. 

After making their way to the shore of the pool below the falls the brothers have a sentimental moment revolving around sibling loyalty. They put their arms around each other. It's a blob of over sentimentality that's completely out of place.

Any real little brother would have made some sarcastic remark reminding his older brother that the danger they just escaped was the consequence of his stupid decision to break the rules.

 The other blatant unbelievable moment in the film involves the brothers as well. After stumbling onto the welcome center of the original Jurassic Park, the boys find an old gas powered park Jeep. With just limited automotive experience based on helping their dad restore a car the brothers revive the engine of the Jeep that's been dormant for over 20 years. They drive away.  Yeah, right!

How's that possible? When there are times I can't even get my 2 cycle lawn mower engine started after sitting in my garage for less than a week.   

Now let's get back to some more of the characters. 

Gray and Nash's aunt, Claire, is the head administrator of Jurassic World, but from the beginning she seems to be extremely overwhelmed by, and at times completely clueless about, her responsibilities. I didn't for one moment believe that she was the head of a major theme park.  

When she has to deal with a situation that could quickly become a catastrophic and deadly disaster she attempts to do what she thinks is right. When that doesn't work out she allows her authority to be circumvented by not one but two others.    

However, later in the film, Claire transforms into someone who is up to the challenges she faces and even acts in a brave and heroic manner. She saves Owen's life at one point and risks her own to save the island. 

The character of Simon Masrani, the CEO of the corporation that owns Jurassic World, is an inconsistent at best. 

Initially, he appears to be a Middle Eastern Richard Branson type billionaire who never stays on the sidelines. The fact that he's flying a helicopter the first time he's on screen conveys that. 

Next we learn that he's the one who has placed a demand on the Jurassic World management, creative, and lab staff to come up with bigger, better and more dangerous dinosaurs and attractions to keep up the public interest. He does this for no other reason than improving the company's bottom line. This results in the creation of Indominus Rex, the dinosaur that reeks havoc when it escapes. 

Then he expresses a loyalty toward the park and welfare and protection of the animals. He openly talks of the respect he has for the legacy handed him by Hammond (how exactly that happened we never learn) and his example of "sparing no expense" in making it a success. 

When made aware of the danger associated with the parks newest biological exhibit, Masrani cautions Claire. He sights lessons learned from John Hammond's mistakes regarding the park's design and security  As a character, he's all over the place. 

The final peculiarity for this character is his decision to lead a mission to kill the genetically engineered dinosaur he pressured into being created. This guy is not a trained security officer and is just barely a pilot. He ends up dying in that mission. That's perhaps the most senseless death in the film. 

But Masrani's death is one of the things that makes way for the 3rd act.  Which brings us to the villain at least the human one.

Hoskins, played by Vincent D'Onofrio, is an employee of the In-Gen corporation. In-Gen is the company that was the main investors in John Hammond's Jurassic Park. Apparently (although we are never told how or why) despite Hammond's failure In-Gen continues an association with the dinosaur theme park more than 2 decades later. However it is one with a hidden agenda. 

Hoskins is overseeing a behind-the-scenes R&D project involving the training of velociraptors. 

The progress he observes in the trainer's ability to control the dinosaurs, brings him to reveal his plan to use trained raptors in military situations. 

Once the theme park is thrown into a volatile state of emergency because of the Indomius Rex; Hodgins becomes stranger and stranger. 

Upon Masrani's demise, he takes over the security aspect of the park. In a "my way or the highway" manner he brings in the raptors to go after Indominus as a "field test" for his ultimate plan. 

He turns the tables on a "secret deal" with the head of the genetics lab, Dr. Henry Wu, played by BD Wong who reprises his role from the original movie.

By the 3rd act, Hodgins turns into such an over-the-top character, over committed to the outrageous idea of militarizing dinosaurs that he reminded me of a villain from a 1960s James Bond movie. Eventually, he faces a poetic demise. 

I've saved the best characters for last. 

Owen, played by Chris Pratt is by far the most interesting and passionate character in the entire movie. He seems to be the only one on the entire Jurassic World island that understands, cares for and respects dinosaurs. 

As a trainer of velociraptors, he has a connection with them that proves to be one of the key elements in the climax of the story. 

One once during the entire film did I question something Owen did. That was his reaction after Claire saves his life. It just seemed spontaneous and out of character given the situation. 

There is no doubt that Owen is the smartest man on the screen throughout Jurassic World. He always has at least one foot in the reality of the situation. 

This performance by Pratt gets me on board to the rumored possibility of him being the next Indiana Jones. He could absolutely do it. 

Of course you can't have a movie about a dinosaur theme park without dinosaurs. There are plenty of them in this film but only 3 are really featured: Mosasaurus, Velociraptors, and of course the dino star of the picture, Indominus Rex. T-Rex makes a brief but significant appearance as well. 

There are dinosaurs featured in a petting zoo, roaming free on a savanna where guests can get close to them in a touring vehicle and in the previously mentioned gyrosphere. Also there's a shot of dinos roaming free along a river bank while guest canoe and kayak right past them.  

The theme park is also a character but it is not used very efficiently. I'll repeat the director needed to show more about what made this a successful and fun destination. If there had been more the audience, most of whom have been to a theme park or knows someone who has, could have identified better with the situation. 

Some of the area's of the park that get the most screen time are the water tank arena and the main street. The Mosasaurus is the "killer whale" of Jurassic World. It's featured in a Sea World like show. 

Main Street is common area that leads from the entrance to the hub of the park. It is also unintentionally becomes an open buffet for the flying dinosaurs set free when Indominus Rex breeches the parks aviary. 

From my point of view the park patrons are treated as cattle. They are herded from the attractions throughout the island into the main street area. When the pterodactyls escape and there is a serious and immediate threat that they will be carried off that's when they are urged to seek shelter. 

There is no backlash from any of the patrons for what's happened to them. Eventually they are harbored in the boarding area for the aquatic shuttles and their injuries tended to.   

I think it would have been interesting to have a guest insert his or herself into the situation as an advocate for the other 20,000 guests involved with what was going on at the park. Going so far as to having something to offer the effort to quell the threat the park was facing; even getting involved in the actual pursuit.   

There you have my opinions on most of the key characters in the movie. Are you still with me? 

Now let me expound on my personal interpretation of the story. The whole "arrogance of man/animal rights thing has never worked for me. Like in the first three films, this theme is present in this one as well. 

What really struck a chord with me was the idea that to continue to be successful a theme park has to cater to a very fickle public. The pressure to stay on the cutting edge of creating attractions or exhibits that drive guests to the park is the only means of survival in the modern theme park entertainment business. As a fan of Disney and other theme parks that is premise draws me in.

I think the story telling was rushed. There was no mystery or suspense about Indominus Rex. Well there was some mystery. I mean her genetic make up was kept secret as part of the third act twist. But other than that she was seen almost immediately. Every fan of monster movies (and this is to some extent is one) knows you don't see the monster right away. She should have escaped at the beginning with minimum reveal until some time halfway through the 2nd act.

I liked that they turned the velociraptors into heroes despite Hodgins intentions.

 The element of humor in the movie happens mainly in two places. There's some humor in the early relationship between Claire & Owen. Most of the jokes come in the park's command center and revolve around an employee named "Lowery". Most of them involve jabs at his "nerdiness."

Overall the story and the characters were underwhelming until the major twist involving the Indominus Rex and the raptors. 

The action and suspense that happened from then on kept me interested. I think the other element was wanting to see what Owen would do after he was backed into a corner; forced to do what he didn't want to do. 

The 3rd act of the film is what kept it from being a total disappointment. 

I know I've gone on way to long but I still have some other points I need to make before wrapping up this interminable review. Most of these are just personal preferences and observations. 

First of all, based on the lack of containment or security measures seen over the course of the film the park owners and management did not learn from the mistakes of the past. Guests riding around in open vehicles and canoeing down rivers with dinosaurs large enough to crush them right next to them. 

Also the gyrosphere that the brothers use to wander off into restricted territory were driven by the guests themselves. The park had no control over where they went or when they returned. That was a recipe for disaster. 

At the beginning of this review I mentioned that there was a lot of "we've seen this before" in this film. The attack of the gyrospher by Indomius Rex was just like the T-Rex and the car in the first film. 

The very presence of the brothers on the island is a "seen it" for this franchise. I mean a pair of kids sent to visit a relative on a distant island? Remember Tim & Lex, Hammond's grandkids?

There were many other examples that I'm not going to mention here. 

Now I know there are certain things that would be common in stories in the same setting. But the director should have found ways to show them in a different way. That's what a good director does. Look at the way Spielberg shot the Jurassic Park and Lost World. They may be connected by subject but they are definitely different films.    

Another mistake director Colin Trevorrow made was over use of foreshadowing. Specifically when it comes to the Mosasaurus. 

One of the most attention grabbing clips in the Jurassic World trailer was the scene with the Mosasaurus jumping out of his tank and swallowing a shark dangling from a hook. It was the one most talked about by the public. That scene takes place relatively early in the film. 

The creature makes another out-of-the-water appearance during the scenes where the flying dinosaurs are attacking main street. It was the director's way of reminding the audience that the aquatic dinosaur was there and just how quick and menacing it could be. But it was a bit too much of a reminder.  

It took a bit of the "Wow factor" out of the climax of the final battle. I was in a full theater watching this film. During its fight with the T-Rex and the raptors, the Indominus Rex meets its final doom in a quick and menacing way. But I don't remember hearing or feeling any reaction of surprise from the audience. It was cool but not really wasn't that much of a surprise. 

The director "watered down" his own ending.

I think this story and the way it was made was not the right way for the franchise to come back. This script and story would have made a very good 5th film. I would not be so bold as to submit that I have any idea what the 4th film should have been about but as I mentioned at the beginning of this review some type of history or origin story would have been appropriate. 

So there you have my personal review of the new Jurassic World movie released this weekend. 

Despite my disappointment, the film has gotten positive reviews and reactions. The website Rotten Tomatoes it's got a 70% positive rating from critics and 86% rating from movie goers. Also from what I've seen on the internet the film has had the 2nd highest opening weekend of all time at the box office.   
Chance are I will be adding this movie to my list of summer movies I want to see again to give another chance. It hasn't been a bad summer movie season so far but it has been disappointing. Maybe a second look will change my perspective. 

I waited for over a year to see the first Jurassic Park movie in over 20 years. But as it turns out for now it fell way short of my expectations.  Now I know how Star Wars Fans felt after seeing the Phantom Menace. 

This is my first movie review on this blog in a long time. I am planning on writing more in the future. So I am now going to set up my personal ratings system. It will be the RHFactor scale. It will range from 1-10 with 10 being the best, 1 being the worst. 

Jurassic World gets an RHFactor of 5.