— Guest post by Wolff —
Ok so, week two! I wasn’t planning on doing three films this week, but then a friend invited me to see Jurassic World and I figured I would take the target of opportunity. Directed by Colin Trevorrow, this is the fourth installment in the Jurassic Park series initially based on Michael Crichton’s novel. It has broken several box office records, including first to make more than 500 million dollars opening weekend, and has dethroned Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 as the largest world wide opening. As a caveat, I have not seen the original trilogy; I tried to watch the first one when I was younger and it scared me too much so I couldn’t finish it (suspense really does it for me, I can’t do horror for that reason). That being said I have tried to do due-diligence and have looked up the first three, and glanced at some posts by people who have seen all four. So I will try my best. Per usual, spoilers in the first two paragraphs.
It is twenty years after the failed attempt to open Jurassic Park, and Jurassic World is a successfully running dinosaur-themed park. Manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) has everything under tight control and is attempting to balance a new upcoming “attraction” and the visit of her nephews, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins). She foists her nephews off on her assistant Zara (Katie McGrath) so that she can meet with the owner of the park, Simon Masrani (Irffan Khan) and show him the newest “dinosaur” created in the lab, bred specifically to “up the ‘wow’ factor”. He approves, but tells Claire to bring in Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a Velociraptor expert, to examine the exhibit conditions.
Claire finds Owen (after a scene which introduces him a badass raptor trainer, think lion trainer but more hardcore ‘cus the raptors are still very much okay with eating him) and with some reluctance (they have history) brings him to see the “Indominus Rex” (who for the sake of ease I will refer to as Indy; she does not have a name as far as I know). But something is wrong, as the thermal sensors in the cage tell them there is no dinosaur there. Owen and two employees go into the enclosure to check out new claw marks on the wall and Claire frantically drives off to headquarters while on the phone getting them to pick up Indy’s tracker, which tells them that she is still in the cage. Indy bursts from the foliage, eats the two employees (Owen narrowly avoids the same fate), and escapes from her enclosure. Elsewhere in the park, Claire’s nephews ditch Zara and get into a “gyrosphere” to explore one of the park’s attractions. Despite being told to return to the park, the boys find a gap in the fence and decide to “go off-road”. With the first attempt to contain Indy ending in massive failure, Claire must now find her nephews with Owen’s help, bring them safely back to the park, and find a way to put Indy down.
Like I said, I have barely any experience with the previous films, but I have heard that this one does a nice job integrating old and new. There are definitely some easter-eggs in there for fans of the older movies, and some that you really don’t even have to look too hard for. The graphics and cinematography are quite frankly amazing; though not everything is CG, there is some use of animatronics for some of the more direct interactions. I thought the music was wonderful too, the score was done by Michael Giacchino who incorporated John William’s iconic theme into the soundtrack skillfully.
That being said, the dialogue was at times truly cringe-worthy. I did not have a problem with any of the actors, but some of the lines were so awkward that the cast just couldn’t carry it off. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great lines too, and most of the film was alright, but I definitely face-palmed a few times. During the scene where Claire fetches Owen my friend and I literally burst out laughing because there might as well have been flashing neon signs around Chris Pratt saying “ruggedly masculine male love interest”.
There were also a lot of themes that I felt were only halfway carried through to their potential, or were kindof addressed but then also negated. Like the whole film is a statement on corporate greed and being careful what you wish for, and there are a few lines that address that. There’s a line about product placement and selling out to companies, which was funny, but there’s also very blatant product placement throughout the beginning of the film. While I understand the necessity, it was a little awkward in a way that, to me, undercut the line that tried to comment on it. And the character of Gray is referred to several times as being “some kind of genius” and displays a high level of knowledge about dinosaurs, but this is never really a plot point. So why was it there at all? I read somewhere that Gray was supposed to be slightly autistic, which would make sense, but this is never addressed. Some kind of follow-through on that would have been nice.
Despite all of this, I really liked Owen’s relationship with the raptors, and his viewpoint on all of the dinosaurs. In the previous films my understanding is that it’s basically humans vs. dinosaurs. In this one we are actually made to feel connections with some of the dinosaurs, and the carnivores too, not just the poor herbivores who get killed off. I felt that the whole “we must respect that these animals are highly intelligent and dangerous beings, and the only reason I’m still alive is because they have chosen not to kill me” was really cool, and probably the best handled, most consistent theme in the whole movie.
Overall this is a fun movie for fans of the series, but it’s also understandable from the viewpoint of a newcomer. Obviously there is some violence, this is a Jurassic movie people, somebody is gonna get eaten. The dialogue is not the best and there is definitely some awkwardness, but as far as summer blockbusters go it’s a treat.
“Monster is a relative term. To a canary, a cat is a monster. We’re just used to being the cat.”
— Guest post by Wolff —