So. With more than a little trepidation, I went to see Jurassic World this morning. I had seen some of the trailers and was less than impressed. I had heard that the most recent trailer basically gave the entire plot away, so I deliberately steered clear and while it does say a lot . . . it really doesn’t tell you *everything*.
Some perspective. I loved Jurassic Park. Jurassic Park 2 was largely forgettable. Despite having a scene in it that genuinely upsets me every time I see it* , it lacked any real emotional punch and seemed like a ‘sequel by numbers’. Jurassic Park 3? Weirdly, even though it had a lot of shortcomings, I rather enjoyed it. It was a fun ride and I certainly enjoyed it more than I enjoyed 2.
So where, in the Great Jurassic Pantheon, does Jurassic World sit?
Joint first, I reckon.
It’s bloody marvellous fun!
Yes, it contains a lot of silliness and several threads are dropped once they’ve fulfilled their “Wow” potential – I’m thinking specifically of the pterosaurs escaping here. There were an awful lot of them in that aviary; hundreds and no more than 30 were offed in the course of that amazing section. What happened to the others?
Other things that were a bit silly included such things as that GPS chip in the Indominus Rex. Okay, I get that it’s intelligent and can accept that it remembered where the chip was inserted but . . . how did it know what the chips purpose was, leading it to tear a chunk out of itself? And why – and this was quite funny – was the ‘chip’ made from a large flashing bulb? Why would it need to flash when it was embedded under 20cm of flesh??
But these are pretty niggly points. What we are here for is the spectacle, right? Well yes, but there’s more to it than that. The spectacular aspect was exactly that; we can still beleive these are living breathing animals and empathise with their poor treatment via InGen and their parent Company, but where this scores over the recent Mad Max lamefest is that we actually give a damn about the people. While the characterizations may be perfunctory in most cases, the characters come out – those who come out at all – changed and those changes allude to growth.
The silliness of training raptors works within the context of the movie and this, I think, is the biggest surprise. Having read a script for a proposed JP sequel some years ago that featured cybernetically and genetically enhanced raptors behaving like puppy dogs, this was the aspect that worried me most, so it was nice to see it handled with . . . well I’m loathed to say “subtlety”, but subtlety relative to the unmade script.
Chris Pratt is not an actor I like. I found him to be merely acceptable in “Guardians of the Galaxy”, where he paled against the more outlandish members of the team. And I have to be honest, I don’t get the Cult of Pratt that has sprung up in recent years. So, much to my astonishment, he puts in a very good performance and is believable in every aspect of his character.
So the main conceit here is that the Park’s visitor numbers swell when a new ‘asset’ is introduced. Sponsorship allows for new genetically modified beasts to be created pretty much at the whim of the companies sponsoring. Assuming that the public wants dinosaurs that are bigger, faster and with more teeth, the Indominus Rex is created. However, in splicing the T.Rex and a ‘mystery’ dinosaur (not really a mystery) together, there are some unexpected traits that have appeared from the spliced in dna. And to be fair, they are pretty cool.
True, it’s not an amazingly original movie. Apart from a few nods to the previous franchise and a few comments about recent research that explains why the dinosaurs aren’t feathered, it’s not exactly miles away from the original, there’s little difference in terms of plot.
Escape. Mayhem. Comeuppance. You know the score.
And that was the weird thing. It didn’t really feel like a sequel so much as a reboot. There were threads left dangling, tantalising, promising a sequel; an old character from the original movie whose morality, questionable at best, is tested. He refuses to take any responsibility for the disaster and is whisked away by the military; a sub plot about weaponisation and yet more evidence that you just cannot trust InGen suggests there is more on the horizon.
Michael Crichton would have loved the ending. I’ve long since been critical of Crichton’s writing skills. He tends to write himself into a corner and then have some convenient ‘deus ex machina’ take place and save the day. That happens here with the return of a familiar face, followed by a cloud pleasing coup de grâce.
Like I say, not the most original of movies, but there are enough new additions, tweaks and thrills to make it work with incredible chutzpah!
Favourite scenes? Indominus Rex emerging from the trees; “White? You didn’t tell me she was white”; the aviary escape; canoeing with stegosauruses and the genuinely affecting ‘dinosaur’s last moments’ scene where the stiff, uptight park official learns what life really is…. ahem. Hunting the I.Rex with a pack of raptors was exuberant fun and there is also a fight scene that is basically a Willis O’Brien/Ray Harryhausen wank fantasy and all the better for it.
The only scene, in a movie of blood death and squishing, that made me go ‘eyouw’ and feel slightly uncomfortable, was the appalling death of the woman who had been asked to look after the kids and then lost them. That was pretty unpleasant and brutal.
The troublesome moral and ethical dilemmas highlighted by Dr Ian Malcolm aren’t exactly glossed over, but they don’t have the same prevalence here. However, those who question it die, those who embrace it die. And that might be the point. You fuck with nature, it fucks you right back. Respect will see you right.
But that still doesn’t explain where Henry Wu has gone and why he’s so amoral as to think that what he is doing in this movie, the previous three and… the obvious sequel, is okay. Questions that demand answers.
If there was one thing that detracted, it was the staggeringly obvious product placement. It was relentless. Bearing in mind the haw-hawing about corporate sponsorship earlier in the movie, this struck me as a *teensy* bit hypocritical, but . . .
In short . . . Great fun. A worthy successor to Jurassic Park. Go see it and take a LOT of popcorn!
And it beats the shit out of Slightly Miffed Max.
*ask me. I dare you.