Jurassic World (2015) (PG-13)
I may be a bit biased when it comes to "Jurassic World" because "Jurassic Park" is one of my favorite movies of all time. The book as well. So when it comes to "Jurassic World" which was supposed to breathe new life into a franchise that petered out and died with each following movie in its trilogy, I find the result nothing but lacking. Sure, there's dino action, and it's highly enjoyable; but there's not enough to make up for a multiple of sins.
The movie's timeline doesn't completely discount the sequels to "Jurassic Park" but it is definitely more interested in ripping off its father, which reminds us of something to keep in mind: the innovation of the original. "Jurassic Park" is the moment in cinema history where you can see everything changing, because of CGI...and when the original still looks sleeker than its reboot some twenty-two years later, you might have a budgetary issue. All of "Jurassic World" lines up exactly—linearly, physically, and metaphorically—like "Jurassic Park" and it almost becomes reductive...well, scratch that. It is reductive.
At the center of the movie we have two young adolescents who come to the park because someone in their family works there. Sound familiar? These youngsters are Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) and they don't have last names but they do have a serious of stereotypical complexes. They are children of soon to be divorced parents (Judy Greer serves as a loving mother), Gray is the younger, more obsessed with dinos child *coughTimcough* and Zach is the older, more sexually minded boy. He has a girlfriend back home who he is sad to leave—his father joking calls out of the car while waiting for him "you're not going to war!"—but it seems like she doesn't matter because Zach (and the camera) ogles every sixteen year old girl with a thin body and a pretty face. It's pretty insulting to teenage boys, teenage girls, the writers, and the audience. C'mon. We know you can do better. I bet even Michael Bay was all like "wow, that's in poor taste!"
Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, it's not that bad.
Gray and Zach's aunt, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) works as a...er...um...a...like...dino expert/park manager person. We don't really get a clear title, but it seems like when the owner isn't present, she's in charge and she's a no-nonsense, practically fierce haircut kind of girl. Her calendar is so packed that she doesn't really have time for family which is why she isn't present to welcome the boys when they step off the ship.
The film treats Claire very poorly mainly because she's an unmarried, career woman with no children. Oops, I mean, your patriarchy is showing. Seriously, this doesn't escape the audience because as I was leaving the theater a group of people were saying "I didn't realize the gender issues were going to be that bad." That bad indeed. It's fairly insufferable...and even more obviously insulting is the all-white garb and slicked coif we have to see poor Claire in. It's only when she lets her sexuality in, her sweaty, lustful, survival side—that her blouse gets opened and her hair gets mussed. Ooh, sexy doctors.
If you think I'm being too PC or just picky, I beg of you to watch how the film deals with the character named Zara...please, just...it's...wow.
I think that's enough for my sexism talk, though it might show up again.
Enter bad-ass raptor trainer Owen (Chris Pratt) who is the alpha to the velociraptors and a sad substitute for both Alan Grant and Robert Muldoon. Owen is a certified good-looking, well-muscled, condescending, rough-tuff, fix a motorcycle and drink a product placement Coke kind of guy.
Then we find ourselves missing an Ian Malcolm and instead of Jeff Goldblum we get the movie's comedic relief in the control room—Jake Johnson of "New Girl" fame and Lauren Lapkus fresh off of "Orange Is the New Black". Both of them are comedic actors and neither do well in the quasi-tense environment the movie tries to create.
So where's the actual plot?
Okay, if you haven't seen the trailer let me sum it up for you: Jurassic World is opening twenty years after Jurassic Park and it's gotten bigger, scarier, and cooler. Now they are getting ready to introduce a new predator: a hybrid made in a test tube. But, aw shucks, maybe it's too smart and maybe we shouldn't have mixed Stephen Hawking's DNA into it, because it can outwit us all.
There you have it. That's it.
What we're missing from this is the chauvinism of changing male roles, like Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), the owner of the park. He lectures Claire about her professional demeanor and tells her she needs to "feel the animals" a little bit more....whatever the hell that means. He tells her that you can tell if the dinos are hurting by looking in their eyes; but Claire seems to see just dollar bill signs when she looks at the creatures. Then, randomly, Simon changes gears and when this hybrid starts creating issues, he tells people they can't kill it because it cost him $26M. Right...like...maybe you should look into its eyes and tell that it's hurting.
Celine Dion eat your heart out.
So of course Claire and Owen have to have to some of sexual chemistry that "Jurassic Park" lacked because Grant and Sattler never kissed. Of course they have to have stilted dialogue and obvious foreshadowing of a PG-13 kiss that might come later.
There's a wonderful moment in "Jurassic Park" where Sattler tells Hammond he can shove it because #girlpower! This would never fly in "Jurassic World" where we see Claire teeter on her heels all movie long—though to her credit, she can really work them—and be the absolute and complete inferior to Owen.
The comedy is unneeded and out of place, the romance is stiff and unnatural, and the Mercedes-Benz thing gets really old really quick. We get it, you like Mercedes, stop showing the hood of the car!
Claire has to learn her lesson in empathy and she does this with a mock-up SNL-like scene of the triceratops section of "Jurassic Park" where the new film makers flex their muscles and show that...well, the animatronics of the original were far better because poor Betsy the sick brachiosaurus looks more like a sock puppet than an actual dino. Better luck next time guys, good thing Howard proved she can cry on command on Conan...say that five times fast.
Besides the fact that "Jurassic World" has a terrible, unforgivable script that blunders and stumbles into cliche after cliche, the movie is actually short on dino action. If you take a clue from the last truly successful action flicks like "Mad Max: Fury Road" or "Godzilla" even, you'd know that the audience actually wants to see the action! But we don't really get that until the last twenty minutes, and those are fun, if overblown to exhaustion.
Yet, the movie is supposed to feel 20,000 times bigger because there's that much more human meat available. Sadly it doesn't. Never. Not even once.
I'd try to end with a dino pun, but nothing comes to mind.
Posted by Micah Jones