A veteran photojournalist on the Toronto arts and entertainment scene, Julian Bynoe is a Toronto-based cartoonist, artist and arts blogger. From 1996 to 2014, he was the arts/entertainment editor for the street publication The Outreach Connection, and has had articles featured in Realms Magazine, among others.

EDITION #47 - WEEK OF JUNE 15-21, 2015

Resurrected Raptors Redeemed

Jurassic World (Universal)

Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Irrfran Khan, Vincent D’Onofiro

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Producers: Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley

Screenplay: Rick Jaffra, Amanda Silver, Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly; story by Rick Jaffra and Amanda Silver, based on the characters created by Michael Crichton

Film Review

Development hell is no fun for any project, especially when it puts on hold of one of the most profitable film franchises for about a good fifteen years like the Jurassic Park series that now comes back with a mighty roar with Jurassic World and a much better improvement over that limp 2001 third entry that left a blandish taste in most fans’ mouths by redeeming itself in going back to its roots of sorts.

Twenty-two years after its visionary founder John Hammond planted the first seed, Jurassic World becomes a reality as a prime destination on Costa Rica’s Isla Nublar with tourists flocking to see the genetically-resurrected dinosaurs by the hundreds. Now owned by Richard Branson-like billionaire CEO Simon Masrani (Khan), he looks to up the revenue stream on an already-successful venture with a new attraction and instead of waiting for a new dino species to be discovered and/or replicated, he gets his top geneticist Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong) to create a hybrid, the Indominus rex, to be bigger and scarier to reel in the crowds.

Some people never learn to be careful what they wish for…

At the same time, park operations manager Claire Dearing (Howard) has her nephews Zach (Nick Robinson) and dino-crazy Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins) over at the place for the Christmas season, but is numbers-crunching workaholic inexperienced with kids and letting her assistant (Katie McGrath) babysit them as she prepares for the park’s new breakout star for her boss who has its own ideas of breaking out – literally.

Bringing onboard to figure out the nature of the Indominus rex is Owen Grady (Pratt) who’s a bit of a “dinosaur whisperer” after successfully training a herd of velociraptors – with old army buddy and InGen security operations man Vic Hoskins (D’Onoforio) smacking his military-industrial complex lips over the potential of turning them into effective bioweapons – to his commands as a surrogate alpha figure, learns that it’s a highly intelligent and dangerous predator who goes amok in the park. With her nephews now in danger, the two loggerheads race around in search of them before this Frankensaur causes some serious problems.

Infusing some new DNA with a couple of winks to the original classic, Jurassic World recaptures some of those dark old-school chills and thrills with still-impressive special effects the film pioneered decades ago with under director Colin Trevorrow to make this much a film of his own and pay respectful tribute to it, as it was with Steven Spielberg, who directed the first two Jurassic Parks but sits in again as an executive producer.

Keeping this flow going weighs squarely on the shoulders of its human stars Pratt, still riding high from his Guardians of the Galaxy and The LEGO Movie stints; as the maverick who understands and respects the nature of these malevolent reptiles, in counter to Howard’s numbers-cruncher who doesn’t seem to have much of a life beyond work but learns fast to see them as more than just exploited creatures and develop a feral side she’s long repressed when it comes to rescuing her nephews plus, courtesy of the screenwriters, throw in a standoffish screwball romance between them which doesn’t feel all that hokey (except for her managing to run through a tropics environment in high heels, which is highly improbable).

The filmmakers do keep the formula grounded in having the basic characters ranging from the vulnerable if resourceful kids in Robinson and Simpkins as brothers who squabble and face their personal fears to sticking together in times of crisis; Andy Buckley providing a bit of comical relief as a control room operator; D’Onoforio playing the residential dirty ol’ capitalist and the debate continues of meddling with nature to suit humanity’s whims, as demonstrated by Wong’s reprisal of the role he (very briefly) originated in the first film and is given an fair and extended one as a moral-free scientist more interested in expanding his life work rather than give introspection over the consequences of playing god with a test tube.

Michael Giacchino’s incidental score compliments parts of John Williams’ original themes to give Jurassic World the excitement and intensity of the series’ thrill-ride modus operandi all packed in a superb script by Rick Jaffra, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly and Trevorrow. The terror that is Jurassic Park is back and gives this series a new lease on life, or afterlife in the case for its prehistoric stars.

Busiest...Summer...Ever...

Left-right: A remount of The Journey – A Living History of the Regent Park Revitalization musical; VideoCabaret’s Trudeau and the FLQ and Persian dance troupe Vancouver Pars National Ballet at Harbourfront's Tirgan Festival make part of this summer’s event around Toronto..

Summer Events 2015 Listings

With the annual behemoths of the Toronto Jazz Festival and Luminato Festival both opening up this very week (June 18) plus next month’s Pan-Am/Parapan Games’ PANAMANIA (July 10-August 15), this city faces its busiest summer in living memory of all things artistic with music, visual arts, dance, theatre and more that’s enough to make one’s head spin on what to do and where to go. So here are some events to choose and so much for looking forward to those lazy, hazy, (but certainly) crazy days of this particular summer…

For all things theatrical, Soulpepper Theatre at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane) prepares to make way for their PANAMANIA schedule by closing out their cavalcade of plays all before June 27 with dramatic chestnuts of Anton Piatigorsky’s The Dybbuk, or Between Two Worlds, W. Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage and Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice to the comedies of Alan Ayckbourn’s Bedroom Farce and VideoCabaret’s continuing history of Canadiana The History of the Village of the Small Huts saga with back-to-back Trudeau and the FLQ (1963-1970) and Trudeau and Lévesque (1971-1982).

It’s the summer of the parks starting with the musical remount of The Journey – A Living History of the Regent Park Revitalization as told through young and old individuals about the history of the eastern lower downtown community from its hard, rundown times to its current revitalization featuring soulful blueswoman Jackie Richardson, pianist Thompson Egbo-Egbo, gospel songstress Lisa Henry and actor Jeremiah Sparks at Daniels Spectrum’s Ada Slaight Hall (585 Dundas Street East) running for two nights June 19 and 20; and Canadian Stage’s Shakespeare in High Park (1873 Bloor Street West) goes for another double-bill in its 33rd season with the historical tragedy Julius Caesar and twin switcheroo comedy The Comedy of Errors both July 2 to September 6.

Not enough of Shakespeare? The Driftwood Theatre Group hits the road again all over Ontario in 27 locations in 39 days from July 9 to August 16 with their The Bard’s Bus Tour of the royal revenge-thriller of all thrillers Hamlet to outdoor locations of pay-what-you-can performances, as adapted by Toby Malone and directed by D. Jeremy Smith, making a stop at Toronto’s Withrow Park (725 Logan Avenue) July 21 to 26; plus the residential Shakespeare in the Ruff company will stage Macbeth: Walking Shadows (August 13-30) there with a twist: completed done with puppets, also a pay-what-you-can event.

For the musicologists, Soulpepper Theatre’s Cabaret Series has An Evening with Kevin Fox (June 20) for a night of cello-driven pop tunes, world music virtuosos Dylan and Suba's FreePlay Duo: Inspired Eclecticism (June 27) and Denzel Sinclaire and friends reinterpret classic songs for Look What They’ve Done To My Song! Volume 5: Rock On! (July 5); The Toronto Summer Music Festival gets caught up with Pan-Am fever with free Shuffle Concerts at Yorkville’s Heliconian Hall (35 Hazelton Avenue) with Bernie Senensky Trio: Tribute to Moe Koffman (July 21), New Orleans Brass Band with the Heavyweight Brass Quintet (July 22), Pilar and the Sicilian Jazz Project of Mediterranean jazz (July 23), the jazz violin of the Shane Cook Trio (July 28), Sinal Alberto featuring Luanda Jones Quartet of Brazilian bossa nova (July 29), Trinidad steel pan with the Joy Lapps Project (July 30), Hilario Durán Trio (August 4), Lorne Lofsky and Keiran Overs doing a tribute to Lenny Breau (August 5) and Robi Botos Trio saluting Oscar Peterson (August 6).

Yonge-Dundas Square (1 Dundas Street East) announces a new summertime partnership with Massey Hall to feature a series of free events from May 18 to October 12 featuring Monday afternoon acts from taiko ensemble Nagata Shachu to First Nations cellist Cris Derkson for Lunchtime Live!; cult music classics get screened every Tuesday for But Can They Act? series June 16 to September 1 featuring Eminem’s 8 Mile, Elvis Presley’s Viva Las Vegas, Beyoncé’s Dreamgirls to Michael Jackson’s This Is It and Indie Fridays June 26 to September 4 with acts like Buck 65, Grand Analog, Kandle & The Krooks to Zaki Ibrahim.

For that other jazz festival survivor, the 27th Beaches International Jazz Festival July 10 to 26 goes free for all, including a farmers’ market (Danforth Avenue between West Lynn/East Lynn Avenues), a special Pan-Am tribute (July 10-12), a charity fun run for Rotary International, Toronto East General Hospital and the Canadian Running Series Foundation (July 12) and mini-fests at Woodbine Park (Northern Dancer Boulevard/Lakeshore Boulevard East) and Kew Beach (Wineva Avenue/Queen Street East).

Hard to ignore Harbourfront Centre (235 Queen’s Quay West) for weekender festivals of free and ticketed affairs starting with the Canada Day Eve Fireworks (June 30) and Canada Day: The Next Generation (July 1), the dance-centric Kick Up Your Heels (July 3-5), block party culture invades Party on the Block (July 10-12), Ritmo Y Color (July 17-19) celebrating a decade of everything Latino, the vaudevillian/circus fest FLAUNT (July 24-26), the pan-Caribbean Island Soul (July 31-August 3), the biennial return of the native Planet IndigenUS (July 31-August 9), Habari Africa (August 14-16) comes back for a second year and a new date and favourite ethnic standbys from the Persian culture spotlights in Tirgan (August 20-23), TAIWANfest (August 28-30) to the gastronomically Hot & Spicy Food Festival (September 4-7) and Vegetarian Food Festival (September 11-13).

And for the out-of-towners, the Earth & Sky Film Nights and Music Markets at Niagara-On-The-Lake’s Château des Charmes (1025 York Road) will show a mini-film festival of musical greats featuring François Girard’s Boychoir (June 30), the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis (July 31) and Ethan Hawke’s Seymour: An Introduction (September 4) and its music components psychedelic-blues band The LIFTS (July 1), The Juliets (August 3) and pop/rockers Jane’s Party (September 7).

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Tickets are now on sale, some events are FREE; for information, call 416-973-4000 or harbourfrontcentre.com (Harbourfront events), 416-368-3110/canadianstage.com (Shakespeare in High Park); 416-703-2773x246/driftwoodtheatre.com (Hamlet); 416-698-2152/beachesjazz.com (Beaches Jazz Festival); ydsquare.ca (Yonge-Dundas Square events); 416-866-8666/soulpepper.ca (Soulpepper Theatre and Showcase series), 416-408-0208/torontosummermusic.com (Shuffle Concerts), shakespeareintheruff.com (Macbeth: Walking Shadows); 905-262-4219/fromtheboscfamily.com (Earth & Sky Film Nights and Music Markets) and journeyregentpark.ca (The Journey).