Jurassic World

jurassicworldTime to relearn all the lessons we forgot the first time.

It’s been 20 years since the first Jurassic Park disaster but finally humanity has triumphed and opened up a dinosaur theme park. As new Hammond, Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) says, it’s not about making money — it’s about making people feel humble. Of course, he also says it’s about making genetic hybrid monsters that give both kids and their parents nightmares so it’s hard to tell where his heart lies on this subject. That’s eccentric billionaires for you. Masrani has opened the park because it was John Hammond’s dying wish to him, telling him to “spare no expense.” I can only assume that poor Hammond suffered from dementia in his final years, forgetting about the time he almost got his grandchildren eaten  and causing him to return to his old catch phrase. What is Masrani’s relationship to Hammond? We don’t know. Presumably they met at eccentric rich guy club and spa.

Keeping the investor’s happy and over seeing the boring day to day operations of the park is Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire Dearing. She is a cold, anal, perfectionist, but don’t worry she’ll warm up by the end of the movie. Nothing like watching your life’s work go up in flames to teach a lady how to let down her hair and fun. Working in close proximity to sexy Chris Pratt doesn’t hurt either am I right? Speaking of Owen Grady, he might be the most fully realized character in the film. All the characters in this movie are thinly drawn but Chris Pratt brings Owen to life through sheer force of charisma. If you are seeing this movie only because you’ve come down with Pratt fever you should leave mostly satisfied. Owen and his raptor posse are the most fun parts of the movie but sadly there is not enough of them on screen. Why hangout with raptors when you can hangout with two kids and their family drama? If you left the first Jurassic Park wondering where Lex and Tim’s parents were and what they were doing, don’t worry — these boys definitely have parents and they are getting divorced. Aw sad face. I bet you wanted to cut away from the dinosaur action to see a scene of the divorce proceedings. Of course that scene is really there for Karen (Judy Greer) to call her sister Claire to check up on her kids and also to tell Claire that she will have kids one day cause she has a uterus and uterus’s are for making babies. Mind your business Karen.

There was some controversy when the scene of Owen telling Claire that dinosaur’s only want to eat, hunt, and screw was released. Most notably Joss Whedon called out it’s out dated gender politics. Say what you will about Joss Whedon, but he wasn’t wrong. Even the movie’s director Colin Trevorror agreed.  He also said the movie would challenge and deconstruct the archetypes the characters start out as. The movie absolutely does not do this. Owen remains the capable cool guy and while Claire does learn to loosen up that’s par for the course for the cold professional female character. Everyone falls in line with traditional gender roles. Owen tinkers with his motor cycle and is the alpha of the raptor pack. The boys escape a tricky situation by fixing up an old jeep they find. I’m sure there are modern suburban teenage and preteen boys who can fix cars without the help of google but I haven’t met any. Why should we care about whether or not Claire has kids one day? At one point when things start going to hell Claire is seen wistfully watching a mother and her daughter on the security cam, and then she hilariously remembers she has nephews and they are in the park. Yes for awhile there she forgot they existed. The child talk adds nothing to her character arc, and her character arc is nothing more than going from stuck up ice queen to the laid back cool girl who can shoot dinosaurs in the face while wearing magic beige stilettos.

We have to talk about those shoes. Her shoes distracted me for the entire movie. She never takes off her pair of beige stilettos. Spotting them became a game for me. By the end of the movie she had worn them for 24 hours. Her poor feet. Now perhaps Claire is one of those women who don’t have an extra pair of flats around even though part of her job is going out in the field. Fine but at one point she should have ended up bare foot. She is seen running around in the jungle, in the mud. Her ability to run in those things was impressive but those shoes would have got stuck in the mud. She would have run right out of them or fallen on her face. Plus she had a John McClane in a skirt look going on by the end so might as well complete it by getting her out of those shoes. I can suspend my disbelief to accept that they can bring dinosaurs back to life but those shoes were a step too far.

After meeting a bunch of characters we don’t really care about eventually we get to the reason why we came. Dinosaurs! Yes the park is up and running and apparently has been open so long that kids are no longer enchanted by dinosaurs. Claire tells us that 20 years ago dinosaurs were magic and a T-Rex was good enough but not today. The park is just like any other zoo to kids these days. Yes creating a murderosaurus is the only way to compete in today’s over-saturated dinosaur market place. This plays as meta-commentary on special effects and the movie industry but in universe this park could have only been open for 10 years, 15 at most, and is the only place on earth to see live dinosaurs. I would say that all those wiener kids deserve to be eaten but the park is packed and everyone seems really excited to be around dinosaurs so maybe Claire is just crazy.

The dinosaurs look okay. They are clearly computer generated. Some shots are better than others. The weirdest part was most of the dinosaurs eyes looked super fake. There was one shot of a raptor smiling that made me think, wow that almost looks as good as the original. I do not think the effects will hold up in 20 years as well as the original has. The effects aren’t mind blowing but seeing dinosaurs on screen hasn’t grown old for me. Finally getting to see my favourite the triceratops up and walking around was a treat. If you are seeing this movie because you love dinosaurs I hope you also love seeing them die. Our new dinosaur Indominus Rex is a killing machine and the humans, who are there just to die for our entertainment, are armed with giant stun guns, machine guns and at one point a bazooka. The body count is high on both sides. This isn’t your grandma’s Jurassic Park…except that is.

This is a paint by numbers reboot. It follows the exact same beats as Park. Scenes are either lifted wholesale or are met to evoke scenes from the original. Props and callbacks from Jurassic Park abound. If you took a shot every time Jurassic Park was mentioned or alluded to you’d be dead. The first attack by the Indominus Rex on the kids is similar to the first T-Rex attack in Park except in lacks all of the tension. I don’t know whether it was the fact that it took place in broad daylight or the fact that Indominus looked like a giant cat playing with a hamster ball but I was laughing out loud during this sequence. Poor Indominus is the Poochie of genetically engineered dinosaurs. He’s newer and hipper but you don’t really care bout him. The movie may claim that we’re all too cool for the T-Rex but when the T-Rex finally shows up in a big way he burst onto screen like the second coming of Jesus. It’s an effective moment too. I may or may not have yelled out “T-Rex comin!”

Jurassic World doesn’t have the breathless fun of the original but it’s a fine way to spend two air conditioned hours. You know exactly what you’re getting and it delivers no more than that. The 3D added nothing to the experience, if you can find a 2D screening save your money.

Random Thoughts:

-Dr. Wu how did you get hired back? You are a world class geneticist go cure cancer or something.

-Vincent D’Onofrio shows up as a guy who wants to sell raptors to the US military in order to create a raptor army because that will save lives. It makes Kingpin’s destroy Hell’s Kitchen to save Hell’s Kitchen plan seem logical.

-At one point a great white shark is fed to the giant marine dinosaur. Obviously a nod to Steven Spielberg, but great white’s are edging ever closer to the endangered species list so a jerk move by park’s staff. Unless it’s a clone shark. If they can genetically engineer dinosaurs surely they can clone a shark. Are they allowed to introduce clone sharks into the wild? What exactly is the government policy on cloning in this universe?

-Dr. Wu says they have always played fast and loose with genetics. They had to use other animal DNA to clone dinosaurs. Real dinosaurs wouldn’t look like their dinosaurs. (so suck it Jurassic Park critics)

-The romance between Claire and Owen is basically nonexistent but eventually they get together and kiss. Probably because they are both good looking people, fair enough.

-“You never had control, that’s the illusion!” Maybe this time that lesson will stick?

-Keep your eyes open for the true hero of the film. The man in the crowd scene who before running for cover grabs his margaritas. EDIT: Our hero is Margaritaville’s own Jimmy Buffett. That is legitimately the most entertaining aspect of this movie.


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