Hey there every peoples!
Jurassic World roared into theaters a few weeks ago. It completely wrecked the box office, raking in over half a billion dollars on its opening weekend. The movie itself has proved polarizing, with people either liking it or hating it. Some even hate it with an inhuman passion. But before we get into that (the later the better), let’s talk about the film itself. There are probably going to be spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie abort now (though at this point you should have seen it).
I enjoyed it. I think it’s the worthy sequel to Jurassic Park the film makers wanted it to be. Sure it has its weak spots, but what movie doesn’t? It’s just a lot of fun to watch. I do understand some of the criticisms. Like the kids fixing up a jeep. We all know that just sitting around for 20 years would render that car utterly useless: The tires would be flat and rotten, the batteries would be dead, the tubes in the engine would be cracked and deteriorated, and everything would be rusted up. Or Bryce Dallas Howard running around in high heels. It looked like she split her skirt to facilitate running, so why not re-purpose hers shoes as well (ala Romancing the Stone)?
I have seen people call this movie sexist. Yeah, I’m not seeing it. Watching internet reviews for that last few years, I thought the stereotype was that all women want is to find that special man, get married, and squeeze out some kids. So now we have a woman who chooses to focus on her career instead of a social life but now that’s sexist too? Make up your minds! And the bit where her sister tells her “when” in reference to having kids? It’s just something people say. Whenever I despair (you know, cause of the depression) about how I’ll never meet anyone, people always tell me “you never know”. My sister used to say she was never having kids, my mom would tell here “never say never” or “you say that now”. These are just things we say to people to help them stay optimistic. Clair does just fine. She manages a park of 20,000 people every day. And she isn’t just some damsel in distress. She slams and tranqs a pterosaur, she drives the truck with the boys (and manages to dodge the raptors), and she’s the one who goes and gets the T. rex. She gets shit done. Look, I know there is sexism in the world. I see real world examples of it all the time over at Crooks and Liars. But I feel like sometimes people do make claims of sexism where none exists. Like in this movie. Of course, as good ol’ Hement Mehta says “If you are looking for something to be offended at, you’ll eventually find it”. I feel like this sexism business is just people who hate the movie reaching for straws so they can have another reason to hate it.
I rather enjoyed the meta plot running through the movie. I think they did a good job mirroring the real world evolution of dinosaurs in cinema. In the movie, they create a new dinosaur because people have gotten bored with their current stock. So the geneticists get to work designing a beast that is bigger, scarier, more teeth, and more claws. This is like the story of the franchise itself. In 1993 Jurassic Park wowed audiences with its special effects. But flash forward to today and CGI dinosaurs are “been there, done that”. So what are film makers supposed to do? Genetic engineering has always been at the heart of the franchise. So why not create a genetic monstrosity to run rough shod over the island?
I also liked the subtle jabs at real theme parks. Like the bit about the Indominus rex having a corporate sponsor. Theme parks do that all the time. The Enchanted Tiki Room, for example, is “brought to you by Dole”. And then there was the video in the gyrosphere, featuring Jimmy Falon. The Tram Tour tour at Universal Studios does the same thing.
But another reason I enjoyed Jurassic World was seeing the functioning park come true. The original film was set before the park was finished. Many years I contemplated what a fully operational dinosaur amusement park would look like. And I think they delivered. The gift shops, the restaurants, the rides… they all feel real, like that would be something a real life theme park with dinosaurs would be like.
A lot of people describe this movie as dumb fun. They praise the action but lament the lack of character development and plot. But it is more to me. I can appreciate those things, but for me a movie is about escape. I watch movies to be transported to another world. I like watching how the characters and creatures interactive with that world and others within it. Its why I love movies like Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Planet of the Apes (reboot anyway), and even Avatar (god I get so much shit for that last one). They are impressive bouts of world building that are just as much about exploring the world as it is about storytelling. It’s why I even enjoy watching the Jurassic Park sequels. I love the clash of raw wild jungle with the cold, industrial look of InGen’s infrastructure. I love seeing the dinosaurs chase and crash through the modern buildings (new or in ruins). I mean, even movies that are well known for characters and plot have to have some kind of element not of our present world to keep me interested. Like Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan, which both take place in historical settings. Firefly (and its feature film Serenity), greatly renowned for its characters and storytelling, still takes place in space and in the future. It may seem shallow and “low brow” of me to put spectacle above story and characters. But for me, movies give us an ability, an opportunity, to create whole new worlds limited only by our imagination. Two people talking and walking around is so easy to do. It is also over done, with little to actually draw me in. In a way this is why I’m so tired of zombies, vampires, and humanoid aliens, but that’s a discussion for another time. I like paleontology because it is about going to other worlds that were actually our own at one point or another. I think that is why I prefer movies that go outside the reality of our world and into something fantastic.
The movie has been the subject of hyper critical review, though. And to that I ask: why? It’s a summer blockbuster. It’s supposed to be fun. Look, nothing is going to top the first movie in the minds of the people. But who says that’s what the filmmakers were trying to do? They didn’t say they were trying to top the first one. They said they were trying to create a worthy sequel. Let’s face facts here. The plot of Jurassic Park was a one film premise. So after that why not just go full b-movie? Have fun with it. But how about I let Movie Bob (about the only movie reviewer I can take seriously) tell you about it:
Of course, one has to wonder how much of the hate directed at the film has to do with nostalgia for the first one.
So that’s what I think of Jurassic World. It’s a flawed but fun summer blockbuster. And a worthy sequel to the first. But the divide over this movie isn’t just about how it measures to its nostalgic predecessor. There is another debate over this movie. One that on its face is entirely silly and unwarranted, but nonetheless exists because of the worship of the original. Join me next time when I tackle the question everyone is tired of: do movies have to adhere to scientific accuracy?
Till next time!