Here there be spoilers. Tread softly.
I, apparently like most of America, went to see Jurassic World over the weekend. I love the original film and feel it is the rare 90’s movie that still holds up .There are a few moments of CGI that are a bit iffy, but when the majority of the dinosaurs look real, I’ll take it. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when Jurassic World wanted upped the ante in every department. Or at least they tried. It seems the creators were paralleling their own movie; by wanting to create something bigger and more bad-ass, they forgot the basics and when discovered, everything just falls apart.
The internet is well versed in the Joss Whedon tweet saying the early released scene of Jurassic World was “70’s era sexist”. Agreeing with him was, the director, Colin Trevorrow, who replied that this one scene “shows an isolated situation within a movie that has an internal logic.” Unfortunately, that was one big fat lie. That scene showed us exactly what the movie was going to be. Stereotypes, clichés, and a film that ultimately came out feeling like the human aspect was the most unrealistic.
My biggest problem in a science fiction film like this is if you are going to have an aspect that is not part of our current life (aliens, magic, dinosaurs) in modern time period, then you must treat the “normal” aspects with as much realism as possible.
The movie almost entirely takes place on an island with a theme/amusement park centered around the dinosaurs. It is the most popular theme park in the world. So let’s compare how it functions to an actual park from our lives. Any Disney park lays out a great frame work for how to run a good theme park safely and in a controlled manner (and if Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is anything, it’s a control freak, so a controlled park would be right up her alley). Unfortunately, Jurassic World didn’t seem to take that realism into account. Yes, they had good moments like dinosaur balloons and a main street with corporate shops. But how utterly stupid and impossible it is to allow attendees to drive their own hamster balls among the dinosaurs. First, super dangerous to both the dinosaurs and the people. Imagine some asshole ramming their ball into some dinosaur over and over just for fun, cause let’s face it, people would do that. Second, there isn’t even the ability to call the balls back to home base or have cameras inside to see what the riders are seeing. How would a ride function if there is no time limit on how long you spend out there or where to go? The ball literally went off-roading, out into a restricted area without a problem!
And I understand why they wanted to use the idea: 360 view of the dinosaurs, a great CGI film moment, and obviously the opportunity for the kids to get lost and attacked. But come on! There is no frakking way a park would allow attendees to drive themselves around without at least a track to be limited to, or to not have the driving power. And hello, the park would never get insurance coverage for such a ride. So every moment of those scenes had me rolling my eyes. And what is most frustrating is it is a simple fix! Have the balls be on a track, going out hanging around the dinosaurs and the riders can still control the speed. And when they wanted to up the action, have the ball be accidentally kicked off the track and far away, so the kids can’t get back to the track without getting out of the ball. Boom, done.
Let’s talk about the Park’s emergency/evacuation mode. When Indominus escapes, the call goes out to all staff to corral the park goers into the Main Street, essentially packing them in like sardines until the boats can arrive (in what I believe was over 6 hours?!). Of course, this doesn’t happen until after the entire crowd is attacked by pterodactyls, causing several deaths and numerous injuries. Titanic spells it out pretty clear: have an escape route for all passengers from the beginning. Having over 20,000 attendees (not even including staff) on an island literally without a way off is incredibly illegal and just asking for a few thousand lawsuits. Even if the park permanently closed after the dinosaur escape, the company would be more than broke after paying out all the settlements.
Another moment in the climax of the film that was so close to good, but derailed in details is when Claire finally grows an independent thought and races to the T-Rex cage, luring it out with a flair (nice throw back to the original, I must say) to fight Indominus. Did I think it was one of the more creative solutions and lead to one of my two favorite scenes in the movie? Yes. But before I felt all happy about two big dinosaurs tearing each other apart, I had to ask… who would build the paddock access point LITERALLY 20 feet from the main street where the public walked? I sure the purpose of was to cut down on the distance Miss Heels needed to run. But I immediately flashed to a recent trip to Disney at the Animal Kingdom Park. All those animals out and about in the safari area had paddocks waaaaaaay way out of the way. Like the back end of the park. No one is supposed to be able to see it. No one should be able to get that close to the door (look at what happened with Indominus… one stupid scared security guy opened the door and let it straight out, no backup door or anything.) I think the only part they did right was to not have the door access key pad right there; Claire had to call up to the control room to open it. Just imagine some stupid kid pounding away on the keys only to accidentally open the door and there Rexy stands, staring down.
Also, little point, but worth making. Claire doesn’t start running to have T-Rex chase her until she was less than 12 feet away. Waaaaaay too close there. All Rex would have to do is stoop down and Claire would be dinner.
And of course, enough has been said on Claire and her running thru the jungle in high heels. Until you actually watch the movie, you can’t understand just how much running she does. THROUGH A JUNGLE. Normal people trip and fall wearing hiking boots in that kind of environment. Most women in heels need to flip them off after walking a dozen blocks. And it still doesn’t come off as a yay women, look at this business woman who can kick ass and look good doing it moment. Instead it comes off as “TAKE OFF THE FUCKING HEELS YOU IDIOT SO YOU CAN RUN AWAY FROM THE MURDERING ANIMALS!” One of the supposedly “feminist” moments came in when Owen tells Claire she can’t go into the jungle dressed like she is. Her response is to tie her shirt tails around her hips, roll up her sleeves and (I wish I was making this up) pops her hip. Owen’s response of “what does that mean?” perfectly sums it up. She might want to run into the jungle to help, but the only help she ends up being is dialing a phone to the control room multiple times. Honey, rolling up your sleeves and striking a pose doesn’t hold a candle to Dr. Ellie’s “We can discuss sexism in survival situations when I get back.”
I have also noticed as the CGI usage has blown up, as have the lack of physics, which is quickly becoming a pet peeve of mine. Cracked had a great article on this subject. Basically, using CGI has made filmmakers ignore the normal restraints that gravity and physics give us in lieu of making something look really cool. But instead, it just look like a cartoon and immediately pulls the viewers out of the film. For me, that moment happened toward the end, but I see this happen in so many films I feel bad picking on this movie in particular. Blue, the leader raptor in Owen’s pack, is fighting the Indominus Rex in part one of the big showdown. Suddenly, BAM, she is slammed against a building pillar. The building shudders, her body flops over, the assumption is she’s dead. As well she should be; that throw easily would snap a neck or cause internal bleeding. But wouldn’t you know it, a few minutes before Indominus is about to chow down on our main characters, Blue surprises us with an encore appearance, sporting a protective instinct and zero injuries. I don’t care what animal you are; getting full body slammed into a stone wall that hard should cause some sort of hurt: a broken leg, a collapsed lung, most likely death. But animals and people alike are being thrown around against walls and vehicles like they are made of rubber. (The worst offender in my recent memory: Fast and Furious 6 wherein Vin Diesel propelling himself through the air, catching his girlfriend and landing on a car windshield, back first. Injuries: 0 Eye rolls: Infinite) Was it as bad as that? No. But in real life, bones break if we slip on the curb. So I’m getting pretty tired of seeing inconsequential fighting.
I admit, these two points are pretty specific to the individual moments in the film, so let’s go a bit broader. The script had the dinosaurs and they had to start populating it with people, the ones responsible for exposition. And of course they would take every stereotype and cliché they could. The stiff upper management woman who only finds her worth through caring for children, whose character’s is ultimately fulfilled once she embraces her ovaries’ cry and runs to the hero to make babies (who she might have hated due to a bad date only 48 hours previous). The grounded, I can talk to nature, hero who somehow is the only animal behaviorist employed in the park and is incredibly knowledgeable on these animals, despite only having at most 10 years to study them. The bratty kids, one obsessed with the dinos, who fill the rescue needing innocents slot 1. The foreign business owner with delusions of grandeur. The nerdy tech guy/girl, and finally the military based and slightly crazy villain. Sprinkle in a few minor characters, usually people of color or other nationalities, and there’s your cast. Seriously, it’s like I’m looking at the generic line of movie casting. And do any of these characters grow or improve or even make you care? Well, no one wants to see Chris Pratt die, so we care about him a little. But otherwise, the tech girl has two lines that make her infinitely more interesting than anyone else (arguably the most feminist moment of the film). Nerd Boy tells her he’ll stay behind while everyone else escapes and he goes in for the kiss, as he thinks he is supposed to. Stopping him, Nerd Girl explains she has a boyfriend and didn’t mention it cause this is work and she wanted to keep it professional. You go, girl. But peppered amongst these dry as toast characters is camera movement and directing that have been used and over used in movie after movie. The quick zoom in on our hero’s face as he delivers a scene ending line. The slow motion run as the animals fight in the background. An elevator door closing on a serious moment. And don’t be surprised by the completely predictable scenes. The dinosaur shouldn’t be able to do that (it does it). Be careful kids (they aren’t careful). We are testing the raptors intelligence, not using them for warfare (you know where this is going).
Hoskins, the military villain, briefly illuminates an aspect to the dinosaurs with the line “Extinct animals have no rights” that, if expanded upon, could have been a nice improvement, or at least would have grounded the Park idea more. In today’s world, any animal based entertainment is open to attacks from animal rights groups, ala SeaWorld. Imagine seeing a ship of protestors or some demonstrators invade the park, intent on allowing the animals roam free and apart from humans. It would at least lend a bit of gravity to the dinosaurs situation. In Jurassic Park they at least had a lengthy discussion over if they should be doing this. The most Jurassic World lends to the question is how tacky corporate sponsored dinosaurs will be (a “Pepsisaurus” was mentioned) And what about the little fact from Jurassic Park that the dinosaurs were changing sexes so they could breed? That was either intentionally ignored or conveniently forgotten. Could a little line of “oh, we learned how to control that” been thrown in there? They are playing with genetics, the science has improved by two decades, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for that hiccup to be fixed.
But just in case you think I’m a total ball buster who sat like a grump thru a two hour film, there were two scenes in particular that I actually enjoyed. Funny enough, they were both completely without words, so the script wouldn’t be able to mess it up too much.
First was the emotional tearjerker scene, intended to give Claire some up-close perspective into the dinosaurs. It also tells us, the viewers, why Indominus can’t just be left alone to roam in the park, as apparently she has started killing for sport and mowed down a herd of Apatosaurus. Claire and Owen come across the field of dead beasts and end up comforting one as she dies. The scene is one of the more realistic and painful in the film, in my opinion mostly due to the usage of puppeteer. It is an obvious callback to the first film where they find a sick Triceratops and spend a few minutes marveling at her up close. And yet, watching the dinosaur laboriously breathe with pain-filled eyes, you can’t help but actually care. Anyone who has had a family pet or even a relative in pain, slowly fading away, knows that heartbreak.
My second favorite scene is the polar opposite. Whereas the death scene was quiet and introspective, the final battle scene was loud, fast, and violent. Visually, having the Velociraptors and T-Rex join forces to tear Indominus a new one was stunning. It teetered on the edge of Transformers fast, but still had that raw animalistic feel and still be able to see what the hell was happening. Picture a fight between dogs, going for the neck and a whole lot of claw marks appearing. The only thing missing was the spraying blood (as all the blood stayed tidily inside the torn flesh holes). Despite the fact that T-Rex wasn’t the end to Indominus, she did stand victorious, although that did leave the audience with a “wait, she kills people too oh never mind” moment before Rex and Blue running off into the park/wilderness. That way, the film writers didn’t actually have to deal with the hero dinosaur still being a man eater and there were a few tasty treats right there. It also seemed that this one dinosaur out break would be enough to sink the park, as everyone evacuated the island and T-Rex was left roaring ownership over the helicopter landing pad, despite the fact that the majority of the dinosaurs were still caged and safe.
So in conclusion, I did not feel this film deserves the “highest opening weekend in history” placement. The film as a whole was too weak with blaring plot holes, boring characters, and a director who feels “… there’s no need for a female character that does things like a male character, that’s not what makes interesting female characters.” Overall rating: C+/B-
Post Note: All the Easter Egg throwbacks to 1993’s Jurassic Park kept me smiling, despite it being a reminder that they already did a dinosaur movie better than the one I was currently watching. Meta tee-shirts always work. The original park still existing on the island. Loving it. Walking thru the atrium and seeing the banner sent chills down my spine. Having the teenage kid magically get a 22 year old jeep running after dropping the explanation “Hey, remember fixing up that car with blah blah blah last year?” Yeah, I don’t think so. Way to kill a good thing.
Post Post Note: Want more details on just how lazy and stupidly written the script is? Go HERE.
Notes [ + ]
|1.||↵||who have the WEIRDEST moment talking about their parents getting a divorce. Seriously, it comes out of left field, has zero relevance, and the sobbing child is absolutely fine 10 minutes later.|