Jurassic World – It’s Not Shit
God, and I tried so hard to put a full year between It’s Not Shit posts.
I think I need to seek out better movies.
TL;DR While not a touch on the original, any fourth entry in a series coming out twenty-two years after the original would be glad to be as fantastic as Jurassic World. Yes, it’s a CGI-spewing, overstuffed, overplotted whirlwind, but damn, it works. Mostly. 4 out of 5 stars.
It’s also not sexist. So froth on up, White Knights.
The plot takes place in real-world time following the events of the first Jurassic Park: a successful dinosaur theme park has been built and is operating on Isla Nublar, having apparently conquered the failings of Hammond’s attempt. But with attendance dropping now that the novelty is dying, Jurassic World has cooked up a new super dinosaur to wow the crowds. So it promptly escapes and starts a murder spree. True to form. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), Jurassic World’s manager, musters an ineffective response and so turns to Owen (Chris Pratt), Velociraptor tamer and love interest, for help in quelling the Indominus Rex, and saving Claire’s two nephews. Things get unnecessarily complicated when it’s revealed that the park is secretly being used to develop dinosaurs for military use, but the end result is the same: Claire and Owen need to save some nephews and run away from some dinosaurs, baby. In the end, our heroes come out alive, but the park is ruined. In spectacular fashion, of course.
Spared no expense.
I will fully disclose that the original Jurassic Park is one of the Sacred Three: my favourite movies of all time (the others being Scream and Jawbreaker). And my experience with Jurassic World is tainted by nostalgia.
But I’m not so blind and obtuse as some other 90s kids I know to write off Jurassic World just because “it’s not as good as the first one.”
Of course it’s not as good as the first one. It’s been twenty-two years, Stephen Spielberg isn’t behind the camera, and rampant CGI is an unavoidable hazard of the present-day.
As a distant fourth instalment in a beloved series, though, and simply as an entertaining movie in its own right, Jurassic World is excellent.
And it doesn’t even have to hide behind the “reboots are supposed to be bad” irony that Scream 4 shielded itself with.
Good work, all.
Why I DON’T hate this movie:
Jurassic World combines the base plot of the first movie with the CGI-enabled action that 1993 couldn’t muster. As a mostly “running away from dinosaurs” action movie, it’s much better than Jurassic Park 3 (not hard, I know). And although it doesn’t have the original cast cred of Ian Malcolm (or future Oscar winner, the radiant Julianne Moore), it manages to deliver a more action packed film than The Lost World, without the inconsequentiality of introducing a convenient second island. Shame about the no Spielberg as director, though.
Speaking of the other movies, our nephew characters end up taking a short detour through the ruins of the Visitors’ Centre from Jurassic Park. It includes that sombre, piano reprise of the Jurassic Park theme, and is gleeful fanservice. The night vision goggles are a bit superfluous, but the sequence is put to use by giving the boys access to a vintage jeep that they need. Claire and Owen later mosey in, but are quickly shoved out by a rampaging Indominus.
As for The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3, they are not directly mentioned, which is likely because they took place on Isla Sorna. But Jurassic World is already full-up on plot and references, so it’s not a hindrance.
Unlike some any-excuse-to-be-offended misers, I didn’t find Jurassic World sexist. Out of the two adult leads, Claire comes out closer to being the main character of the movie. We meet her before Owen, she actually gets a small character arc with her nephews (Owen doesn’t get one at all), and she’s the one who brings out the big guns of the T-Rex to seal Indominus’ defeat in the finale.
And as for her shoes, Jesus Christ, they’re not some twelve inch, platform stripper heels. They’re, like two inches, so settle down. Yes, we could have used a thirty second scene showing her change into boots or something, but the heels also serve the purpose of showing that Claire’s character isn’t ready to be out in the field of the park. She is a corporate shill who wouldn’t expect to have to go traipsing through the mud. Give her a fucking break.
Seeing an at-capacity park go into meltdown when the flying dinosaurs attack is pure thrill.
Oh, and my greatest concern after seeing the trailers was that the “Chris Pratt has trained raptor dogs” thing would be a big and ugly part of the movie. But it isn’t. Almost immediately after they break out the motorbike to go pack hunt the Indominus Rex, the raptors are recruited by Indominus and it all goes to shit. Owen barely manages to bring them back to his side during the finale, which is a necessary weasel.
But it’s not all good:
Still, the Velociraptors have gone from being the true menace in all three previous movies to not a lot more than trained lions. I don’t care how shortlived it was, it was still insulting to watch Owen bro out on his motorbike with his raptor buddies. Good God.
There is way too much CGI. More practical effects, please.
The biggest problem with Jurassic World is the bonkers decision to include the military subplot. InGen is kind of biblically evil, but they’re not the fucking Umbrella Corporation. Who the hell could think that militarising Velociraptors, let alone the super killing machine Indominus, could work in the real world? It’s pathetic. And this subplot takes over the second half of the movie.
This subplot also feeds Jurassic World’s other big problem: too many characters. Vincent D’Onofrio’s character becomes the de facto antagonist, as he’s leading the push for the militarisation program. It’s just really fucking dumb, and he didn’t need to be there. BD Wong, the only returning cast member from Jurassic Park, also gets too much screentime as the mad scientist behind Indominus.
To keep any credibility at all, the sequel will need some of the original Jurassic Park holy trinity back. But I don’t know if Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, or Laura Dern will feel much like running from dinosaurs after all these years.
Claire’s assistant’s death is unusually cruel for a movie otherwise aimed at all ages. It’s prolonged, violent, and embarrassing. I know dinosaurs aren’t karmic arbiters, but the other movies saved their kills for more appropriate moments, and did them more tastefully. Take the first movie, for example: the gatekeeper is an employee who knows the dangers of the park; Gennaro is a mild antagonist, and he ditches the kids; Mr Arnold is prickly, and is afforded the dignity of an off-screen death; Muldoon is a raptor hunter who underestimates the raptors (and, again, dies mostly offscreen); Dennis is the major antagonist, and, again, his death is hidden inside a track cab. Poor Zara is just a somewhat inattentive PA who is genuinely concerned when the boys ditch her (yes, ditch her. She doesn’t lose them. They actively ditch her), doesn’t conceal her mistake from her boss, and is relieved to find them. Her death is mean-spirited, which is not good form for a Jurassic Park movie.
The boys’ decision to happily go through a smashed fence on their Gyrosphere tour is retarded. The whole Gyrosphere idea is retarded. You’re telling me that a bump or a stomp from one of the herbivores in its intended range wouldn’t damage the glass? Ever? And they’re not on rails or otherwise restricted? What if, like the boys, the riders refuse to return to keep the line moving? Also, they’re a horrifying example of unnecessary CGI.
Some of the music cues during the T-Rex’s battle with the Indominus are too emphatic. You don’t have to Christopher Nolan us.
The romance between Claire and Owen is threadbare. They couldn’t just be friends?
Oh, and the control room was boring as fuck. The Jurassic Park control room scenes were fabulous. So much else was borrowed for this iteration, so why not that?
My gripes are many, but Jurassic Park is one of the Sacred Three, and, as much as it pains me to say something so inane, it was my childhood. But I had a blast with Jurassic World. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, I felt sincere tension, and it’s an undeniable spectacle. It’s not shit. 4 out of 5 stars.