Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Jurassic World

Have we reached the point where we can all agree that Jurassic World is - at best - mediocre? It's reigned over the box office for weeks, now, and shows no sign of slowing down in spite of the fact that most conversations about it seem to be exactly the same:

Person A: "I saw Jurassic World."
Person B: "Yeah? I liked the raptors..."
A: "The raptors were good. They should have just called it Raptor Squad."
B: "Why was Bryce Dallas-Howard in heels the entire time?"
A: "Because whoever made this movie isn't familiar that the frigid, immaculately-dressed, lady control freak is an archetype that should be as extinct as the dinosaurs..."
B: "I mean, they also used Chris Pratt all wrong, so that's not surprising. Why would you hire Chris Pratt to be the straight man?"
A: "I have no idea, but did you see Inside Out? That shit was great..."

End scene. That about sums it up.

The return to the Jurassic Park franchise seems to have been the result of drummed-up online nostalgia. Outposts like Buzzfeed seem custom made for an endless recycling of a generation's childhood obsessions, and the first film - though beloved enough - has hurtled into the cult stratosphere in the last couple years.  I'm the right age to fall victim to it. I was a kid when Jurassic Park came out, and I remember the news making a big fuss about whether or not it was really appropriate for young audiences.  As a result, some kids were allowed to see it, and others weren't because the media had successfully launched a parental whisper campaign that said, "hey, look, we know kids love dinosaurs...but dinosaurs are terrifying."

I saw it. Not in the theaters, but as soon as it came to home video.  There was a level of playground cache to seeing Jurassic Park: if you were allowed to, you seemed to love it defacto because 1. you were allowed to watch it and needed to remind everyone of that fact, and 2. dinosaurs.  There are no children who do not - at least - like dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are fascinating to all children.

Still, though I certainly watched Jurassic Park a handful of times growing up, I never really took to it.  After a couple years, it seemed to disappear.  The Lost World was not treated with nearly the same amount of fanfare, and Jurassic Park III?  Did anyone see it? When the films were spoken about it was usually either to rehash a memory (the ripples caused by the approach of the T-rex) or to hail it as a significant turning point in special effects.  The massive nostalgia trip is relatively recent, and, while certainly inevitable, seems misguided and a little rushed.  What the filmmakers have identified with Jurassic World is a desire to return to an adventure world like this, what they have failed to do is figure out what made that trip fun in the first place.
Jurassic World is fun at points, and entertaining enough, but it feels like a prematurely exhausted retread so chock-full of continuity errors that it's hard to suspend one's disbelief.  For all the sweeping plot points that the film seems to understand (audiences like raptors, it's a good idea to have kids play an active role in a dinosaur movie, etc), it seems to be completely clueless on just about everything else.  It doesn't get that we don't want to see a genetic mutation as a monster when we came for dinosaurs,  just like it doesn't get that no one's going to believe someone who refuses to take off their heels could provoke and outrun a T-Rex (and in doing so fundamentally cancel out the whole fear factor of the earlier films), or that there's no reason to cast Chris Pratt if you don't have any real jokes. Problems arise and are resolved too easily, and where the first film seemed completely willing to sacrifice any of its leading characters if necessary, the stakes in Jurassic World feel low.  And so I started to wonder: why does this movie exist? Would I want to see more? What's the point of an adventure film that feels resolved before it even begins?

In other news: I like Chris Pratt well enough, but please don't cast him as Indiana Jones.  Just let the man go and forge some more of his own path...

1 comment:

  1. YES! Absolutely agree with everything you've said 100% I also didn't really care for it and caused a little uproar when I posted my disdain for the reboot. What a waste of time, honestly. It's just not a good movie. Period.


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