Sunday, April 2, 2017

Jurassic World

Jurassic World (2015)

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Two kids (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson) are on vacation at Jurassic World - a theme park featuring cloned dinosaurs, you know, the thing they were trying to make in Jurassic Park but ended up abandoning coz the dinosaurs escaped their pens and a bunch of people got killed - which is managed by their frigid, career-motivated aunt (Bryce Dallas Howard). Everything seems like it's going great but then, in a totally unforseeable event, the dinosaurs escape and a bunch of people get killed. Seriously, nobody thought that that could happen.

One of the things I liked about this movie is that it presented a world in which dinosaur cloning was no longer novel - the park attendees (and the audience, duh) have already seen the most ferocious and impressive dinosaurs brought to life, so the scientists in-movie turned to making genetically modified, novel dinosaurs. The main dinosaur, Indominus rex, is one such dinosaur, and it looks pretty cool. It has a show down with the good old-fashioned T. rex at the end of the movie which I'm sure is symbolic of something.

The other cool thing is that B.D. Wong, who was one of the scientists in the first movie, comes back as the same character in this movie. That was a nice touch.

And those are all the nice things I have to say about this movie.

Jurassic World (the park and the movie) took Jurassic Park and turned it into a bloated tourist nightmare. The Jurassic Park theme blares early on in the movie as we get a loving aerial shot of all of the stores and non-dinosaur attractions of Jurassic World, letting us know that at the end of the day, merchandising is the most important part of the franchise. Which is, of course, true, but the fact that this movie grossed a shitload of money and that it seems likely that it will spawn a fresh slew of franchise entries makes whatever edgy statement the filmmakers were trying to make about consumerism sound painfully full of shit.

The biggest issue at the core of this movie is that the characters are all super unlikable. Granted, the characters weren't really the strong point in any of the Jurassic Park movies - the kids in the first one were okay, Dr. Sattler was underveloped, the attempt at making Dr. Malcolm into a human being in Lost World was awkward and weird, really the only characters I liked in any of the movies were Dr. Grant (sort of) and John Hammond because he was batshit insane - but the characters in this movie are so unpleasant that it felt like the writers were trying to punish me for watching it.

In no particular order, we've got the two kids. The oldest one is just super horny, the other one is just super concerned that their parents are going to get a divorce. That's it, those are their characters. You've got Chris Pratt playing the cocky Velociraptor trainer who is charming because he's Chris Pratt but his whole character revolves around to being a dick to his ex-lover, Bryce Dallas Howard. Her character is by far the worst offender. She is literally the physical manifestation of fears about women in management. She's rude, she callous, she wears impractical shoes, she's out of touch with her employees, she's aggressively stupid, and, worst of all, she is more interested in her career than rearing children. How. Fucking. Dare she. Throughout the movie, of course, her repeated brushes with death correct her of this behaviour, thank god.

Vincent D'Onofrio plays the Wayne Knight character in this movie although he doesn't actually orchestrate the downfall of the park (that happens because again, business-aunt is a fucking idiot), he takes advantage of the chaos to steal I. rex embryos and sell them to the highest bidder. Like Wayne Knight's character in the first movie, he's so recognizably slimy from the first moment he appears on screen its impossible to take him seriously throughout the movie.

The only likable character in the whole movie was Irrfan Khan as the dude who actually owns Jurassic World, he's the only person in the whole movie who seems to have any kind of sense, and he seemed like a decent guy, but he gets killed pretty early on so we're left with a bunch of assholes and fuckwits.

Did I mention how stupid the characters in this movie are? There's one scene in particular that's going to bug me if I don't talk about it. So, they've got this super dinosaur all up in its pen, and it's really dangerous and scary, and then one day, they can't see it in its pen. Bryce Dallas Howard sends Chris Pratt into the pen to go see if he can find the dinosaur, and then drives away to alert the control centre that this thing probably escaped. TURNS OUT the dinosaur was INSIDE THE GODDAMN PEN THE WHOLE TIME but it was hiding, so now that Chris Pratt has the door open it can just stroll right out and kill everybody.

There's so much wrong with that scene. Like... first and foremost, from a safety and practical perspective, why isn't there a man-door for the pen? You know, a human sized door that humans can get in and out of but dinosaurs can't? Which would be really handy for, say, cleaning the enclosure, or, I dunno, checking to make sure the dinosaur is still in there. Secondly, and here's where the glaring stupidity of the two main characters comes into play, if you've got an enclosure housing a super smart, super dangerous dinosaur (or any animal, actually), and you think that maybe its escaped, you want to make damn well fucking sure that it's not in there before you just wander into its cage and start looking around. Seriously, who the fuck would think that was a good idea? People who have no idea what their talking about, that's who.

Okay, enough about that. On to other topics. Why did this whole movie feel like a sneaky indictment of the GMO industry? Yeah, the rest of the series had the whole "this is what happens when you try to play God" thing, a staple of the science-fiction/horror genre, but this one went particularly above and beyond to hammer home the "don't put genes from one thing in another thing" message. Why, you ask? Because we don't know what could happen. Well, fuck. If you don't understand how genes work, maybe molecular biology is not for you.

Also, there's a pterosaur with the head of a T. rex*. I am willing to accept that filmmakers are not going to spend a whole lot of time researching genetic modification in order to make a movie about dinosaurs eating people. I'm willing to accept that they ignored all of the new discoveries about dinosaurs that have happened in the last 22 years in order to maintain the aesthetic established in the first movie (although I don't have to be happy about it). But a pterosaur with the head of a T. rex. WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT. You just went from genetic tampering to just fuckin Dr. Moreau-ing things together. If it had been consistent throughout the movie, then I might have considered it, like if there was a Triceratops with the tail of an Ankylosaurus, or a Deinonychus with the eyes of a man, but nope, just this one fucking thing. Nothing else in this movie pissed me off as much as that. That's the first thing that I mention to people when talking about this movie. "Oh, yeah, Jurassic World, don't fuck with that movie, there's a pterosaur with the head of a T. rex" and guess what, they laugh with me. Get your shit together, Hollywood.

*UPDATE: my dude Rob, who knows his dinosaurs, informed me that this is actually a Dimorphodon, which is a totally legit dinosaur. Somebody did not do their research and that somebody was me. Ultimately though I still think that this movie is a stinky turd.

Directed by: Colin Trevorrow.  Written by: Derek Conolly, Colin Trevorrow, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver.  Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Vincent D'Onofrio, B.D. Wong, Irrfan Khan, Katie McGrath.

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