Jurassic World - June 2015

One of the most iconic scenes in 1993’s Jurassic Park is the one where Sam Neill’s character and the two kids run through an open field, with loads of Gallimimus zipping past them. Jurassic World mimics this scene - putting a tour bus in the middle of the flock, filled with taeenagers looking at their iPhones, bored and jaded by how ‘normal’ living and breathing dinosaurs have become after over 20 years in the movie’s universe. It’s a profound statement Jurassic World tries to make a few times: the only way to get the audience’s attention is to go bigger and bolder, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Ironically, going big and bold is exactly the problem with this movie.

The original movie was about a small group of people getting their heads blown by the sight of real dinosaurs after 65 million years, and then getting those heads ripped off by the same giant lizards when everything went downhill. There were some subtle references about the ethics of genetic modification obviously but nothing too invasive. Fairly simple, logical stuff (except that's it's a movie about creating a themepark with lab created dinos, obviously).

On the contrary, this movie basically sounds like Stefon's tropical getaway – it has everything. A raptor whisperer, shady military contractors wanting to use dinosaurs as weapons, a made up dinosaur called ‘Indominus Rex’ which can change color and apparently body temperature, an oversized reptile version of Flipper and, most unbelievable of all, a billionaire with a sense of ethics.

Last week I wrote about my love for Jurassic Park, and I will gladly admit that I was weary going into the movie. After my childhood has been trampled over by the last installments of Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Transformers (Mad Max was the exception that made the rule, thank god) I had very little faith this would work out well for me. And it even sounded somewhat promising at first! For one, I really enjoyed director Colin Trevorrow’s quirky romantic comedy Safety Not Guaranteed. Secondly, I am completely on board with Chris Pratt’s rise to Hollywood’s number one leading man. Unfortunately, that didn’t really work out as expected.

Let’s get to the movie itself. To get this out of the way first – the dinosaurs look great. But they also looked great in Jurassic Park, and believe it or not, CGI was used in only 50 scenes in that one. You’re basically looking at an animated movie here, with some real people pasted in occasionally. Which is what it is, I can’t really complain about that one in 2015 I guess.

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Please No

The main problem is the characters. I thought the two kids in the original were already annoying, but HOLY T REX these new kids are excruciating. The youngest boy basically looks like he was as much genetically engineered as the dinos, just to be a successful child actor. His hair is so blond, full and luscious he basically looks like a yellow Dark Helmet. It might be entirely possible he is animatronic and they just needed some space to put his control center, because his acting is fairly robotic. In all honesty - the script isn’t doing him any favors either. There’s one scene where he is riding a bullet train looking out over fields of dinosaurs, but for some mysterious reason he starts crying about his parents’ divorce. We have seen those parents for about 30 seconds previously so I couldn’t bring myself to care too much about this, but weird enough this whole divorce is also NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN. This scene is actually the second time where someone starts crying for no apparent reason – the kids’ mother, in her brief screen time, breaks down sobbing earlier because her sister just wants to meet the kids for dinner or something? I have no clue.

As far as Chris Pratt goes – I hate to say it but he’s either just miscast or the part should have been rewritten to play to his strengths. The man has such a natural comedic timing (I strongly urge you to watch these Parks and Recreation outtakes) it’s just a waste to just use him looking into the distance and making an occasional terrible pun. He worked out great in Guardians of the Galaxy, so I know it’s possible in a huge blockbuster movie but it’s just a missed opportunity here.

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Chris Pratt's 'serious face'

Finally, there’s a scene where Jake Johnson makes fun of corporate sponsorships of the dinosaurs and attractions in the park. I get it – you need brands to put down money for your movie and all that to make a profit. But if you put out advertisements like THIS, you probably shouldn’t be making fun of these things in your own movie.

Anyhow, if this was all too long too read – I am old and bitter and everything used to be a lot better, and Jurassic World just made over 200 million dollars in it’s first weekend, making it the second biggest opening of any movie ever.

I’ll just go stand in the corner over there for a while.