Air Force One – Do Not Get on That Plane week

This is Do Not Get on That Plane week. Air Force One is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Air Force One (1997) – Rated R for Violence.

“Harrison Ford stars in this high-stakes thriller set in the skies aboard Air Force One, in which Russian terrorists (led by Gary Oldman) conspire to hijack the aircraft with the president and his family on board. The commander in chief finds himself facing an impossible predicament: give in to the terrorists and sacrifice his family, or risk everything to uphold his principles — and the integrity of the nation. Glenn Close co-stars.”

Wolfgang Petersen is an excellent director. He made the classic Das Boot – a film that wonderfully detailed the harrowing and claustrophobic life of a U-Boat crew. He then came to Hollywood and then made the thrillers In the Line of Fire and Outbreak. While Das Boot is clearly his best, this film is probably his second best. Unfortunately he has had some misfires recently (Troy, Poseidon).

As with any good modern action movie, this one begins with an action setpiece. In this case, we have a rapid high-tech snatching of General Radek (Jurgen Prochnow, star of Das Boot).

It is quite difficult to discuss this film without mentioning the obvious influence of Tom Clancy. This thriller is exciting and full of action without being dumbed down. It features (then) state-of-the-art technology and its use by both heroes and villains. These are all Clancy hallmarks.

In addition the film is extremely jingoistic, another Clancy hallmark. Go America!

Harrison Ford is just right here. He is old enough to carry the gravity of the President of the United States while being young enough that his heroics are not outside the realm of possibility.

Gary Oldman chews up the scenery as the hijacker trying to trade for General Radek. He is quite fun to watch. I am quite glad that he learned to tone down his performances when he portrayed Gordon in the two most recent Batman movies.

Glenn Close plays our first female vice-president (Sorry Hilary!), Kathryn Bennett. I know, I know that is as unrealistic as the thought of our ever having a person of color in the White House (they do not call it the White House because of the paint job).

She and Dean Stockwell (as Defense Secretary Dean) have a fun time sparring both with each other and Gary Oldman.

Backing the President up on the plane are Paul Guilfoyle (Captain Brass from CSI) as Chief of Staff Shepherd and the always wonderful William H. Macy as Major Caldwell.

Air Force One was nominated for two Oscars. One was for sound (Con Air was also nominated) and the other for film editing. Titanic won both of them.

Unlike Con Air yesterday, I have no qualms about recommending this intelligent exciting thriller. For those of you watching this on set top boxes, Air Force One is in high definition.

People Watch: Look for Xander Berkeley (George Mason on 24) as Secret Service agent Gibbs. It is a little funny to see him in this as a fair amount of the plot here is recycled later in 24.

Jurassic Park III – Size Matters week

In honor of the wonderful present my wife gave me, I am featuring giant things this week. Jurassic Park III is cheating a little bit as these are not giant dinosaurs but dinosaurs are giant. Jurassic Park III is currently available on instant Netflix.

Jurassic Park III

WATCH: Jurassic Park III (2001) – Rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi terror and violence.

“In need of funds for research, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) accepts a large sum of money to accompany Paul and Amanda Kirby (William H. Macy and Tea Leoni) on an aerial tour of the infamous Isla Sorna. It is not long before all hell breaks loose and the stranded wayfarers must fight for survival as a host of new — and even more deadly — dinosaurs try to make snacks of them. Laura Dern, Michael Jeter, Alessandro Nivola and Trevor Morgan co-star.”

“Reverse Darwinism – Survival of the most idiotic.”

“This is how you make dinosaurs.” – “No this is how you play God.”

Okay I just want to put “WATCHDinosaurs eat people!” so this probably will not be a very objective review. I just love the Jurassic Park series.

The script is completely silly. The reasons for our cast to end up on Isla Sorna are not just ridiculous but actually mind-bogglingly stupid. Thankfully director Joe Johnston does not waste much time at all on this. It would have made far more sense to have simply had an airplane go off-course and crash on Isla Sorna.

Sam Neill is really the only returning cast member. He does a good job even considering the script has him doing things Dr. Grant would not do. Laura Dern has what amounts to a cameo role. William H. Macy seems largely wasted and out of place here as does Tea Leoni but their presence is welcome.

The cast is notable as much for who was not in it as who was. Jeff Goldblum was originally in it but hurt his leg shortly after filming began and dropped out. Three of my favorite character actors (Steve Buscemi, Stellan Skarsgard, and Tony Shalhoub) were all considered for roles.

So what does this Jurassic Park have that the two Spielberg ones do not? One word: Pteranodons! Spinosaurus! Oh wait that is two words.

Joe Johnston should be applauded for cramming everything into an hour and a half. It is not that I like a short movie but I am sure he was pressured to bring the time on this one down. It is just amazing how much he managed to squeeze in.

The first two films were epic in scope and length. Johnston wastes no time in getting straight to the action and after that it is one dinosaur attack after another. It seems almost like a rollercoaster ride.

If I did not love the dinosaur special effects so much, I would probably rate this a pass. As it is WATCH: Dinosaurs eat people!”

People Watch: Bruce A. Young (M.B. Nash) is also Captain Banks from the TV show, The Sentinel. Director Joe Johnston most recently completed The Wolfman which I have yet to see.