Never underestimate the power of nostalgia, I guess.
Somehow, Jurassic World managed to have the biggest opening weekend of all time, raking in a staggering $500 million worldwide. In most cases I would be happy about this. I love movies, and I’m happy when lots of people go see them. Unless we’re talking about an abomination like 50 Shades of Grey, but that’s another discussion.
So maybe it’s hypocritical of me to say that I wish it had been for another movie. I thought Jurassic World was mediocre at best, and here’s why.
First, the premise. In the film, John Hammond’s dream from the first movie has become a reality, and Jurassic World the theme park is now open. Unfortunately, attendance is down, so the park’s scientists have created a new, genetically-modified dinosaur in an attempt to draw more visitors.
Okay, a few things here. First off, I really like that the Jurassic theme park Hammond envisioned in the first film is now a reality. That’s really cool, and Jurassic World feels like a real place. It lives and breathes. The filmmakers did a great job of making it feel like an actual theme park that thousands of people would visit. I’m pretty sure I saw a Starbucks in there somewhere, which may be product placement but makes the park seem pretty genuine, since if this place were real you can bet that there would be Starbucks or three nestled in there someplace. Maybe you could get a Jurassic frappuccino.
Ahem, anyway, the problem is that I just can’t buy that the people who run the park would be all that worried when attendance dips a bit. Claire Dearing, the park’s operations manager who is played by Bryce Dallas Howard, gives a long speech to potential investors about how people are bored with plain old dinosaurs, so they fiddled around with various species’ DNA to create the new dinosaur, called Indominus Rex, a name so stupid that even the characters in the film make fun of it.
But, wait, hang on a second. People are bored with dinosaurs? Are you kidding me? Disneyland has been open since 1955 and still draws huge crowds, and people are already bored with freaking dinosaurs??? Mickey Mouse is fine and all, but when it comes to creatures that have been dead for 65 million years you need to think outside the box a little? WTF? Man, people really do have the attention spans of goldfish these days, I guess.
And, I dunno, you couldn’t have made a peaceful dinosaur or something? You had to make an incredibly dangerous super-predator, that I like to refer to as Deathzilla the Murdersaurus? And as it turns out, Deathzilla also has (spoiler alert) the ability to camouflage?? Why are scientists in movies always so stupid?! What do you people think is going to happen?!
This. This is what’s going to happen.
And then to add to the stupidity, you’ve got an oily bureaucrat who wants to weaponize the freaking velociraptors for military use, because there’s absolutely no way that could possibly backfire. Admittedly, I would totally watch a movie where raptors hunt down terrorists, that would be awesome, but in this movie it just comes off as really half-assed.
And later, the slimy bureaucrat (who is exactly the same as every corporate douchebag you’ve ever seen in any other movie) has the unbelievably brilliant idea of releasing the raptors to hunt down Deathzilla, which (spoiler alert, although I really shouldn’t have to say that because anyone with half a brain [which is still at least two-thirds more of a brain than anyone in this movie has] knows what is coming next) GOES HORRIBLY WRONG.
“What have we learned from 65 million years of evolution?” the douchey corporate guy asks at one point. NOT VERY MUCH, as it turns out.
Just, ugh. Jurassic World is a movie that leaves no cliché unused. The movie has four (credited) screenwriters, and not one of them has an original bone in their body.
Case in point: the kids. Remember Lex and Tim, the extremely irritating kids from the original Jurassic Park? Well, meet Jurassic World’s obligatory kids-in-peril, Zack and Gray.
Zack and Gray are Claire the park manager’s nephews, and I did not care about them at all. They’re at the park because their parents are having some marital problems (which I also did not care about) and sent them to Jurassic World under the pretense of reconnecting with their aunt Claire, who hasn’t seen them in years and clearly has no idea how to interact with them.
To their credit, Zack and Gray are nowhere near as obnoxious as Lex and Tim from the original movie. They’re just…kinda boring. I didn’t care about their parents’ marital problems. I didn’t care about them reconnecting with their aunt. I didn’t care when they were in danger.
And this leads in to the biggest problem with the movie as a whole: I just. Didn’t. Care.
I didn’t care about the kids.
I didn’t care about Claire.
I didn’t care about the 20,000 visitors at the park.
And, although I’m a bit shocked to find myself saying this, I didn’t even care very much about Chris Pratt’s character. Pratt plays Owen Grady, who works with the velociraptors. Every review that I read of the movie called him the dino-whisperer, so I am going to go out of my way to not refer to him as the dino-whisperer here.
Anyway, Pratt is his usual likable and engaging self, but he’s let down by a lackluster script that gives his character very little personality. It’s stated that he and Claire had some sort of relationship in the past, but surprise surprise, I did not care.
He and Claire spend a fair amount of time together looking for Zack and Gray after the fit hits the shan, and Pratt and Howard have decent chemistry, but it’s just not enough to get me to care. It’s also not helped by the fact that Claire ridiculously spends half the movie running through the dino-infested jungle in high heels. Why not just ditch the damn heels and go barefoot, seriously. I think scraped feet would be the least of your worries when you’re trying not to get eaten by a Murdersaurus.
God, this movie is sloppily written. Subplots are introduced and dropped without going anywhere. None of the characters have any personality. And half the characters are morons. Here’s something that bugged the hell out of me: before they go to Jurassic World, one of the kids (the older one, I already forget which one he was) says some long, drawn-out goodbye to his girlfriend, and then proceeds to completely ignore all the dinosaurs at the park and make eyes at literally every single teenage girl he sees. Seriously, what a shithead.
And there are at least three or four separate occasions where people are like, “Hey, look how cool [Chris Pratt’s character] is!!” Seriously, Jurassic World screenwriters, I don’t need to be told multiple times how cool someone is supposed to be! Show, don’t tell! Screenwriting 101! Sheesh.
I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m bashing on this movie unnecessarily. Despite all of its (many) flaws, I didn’t hate it. I guess I can’t really hate any movie that has dinosaurs, since my inner eight-year-old still loves dinosaurs. If I saw this movie when I was eight, I probably would have loved it.
To be honest, I don’t really like the original Jurassic Park movies all that much either. I appreciate them, I just don’t like them very much. They strike me now as being really pretentious and they seem like they’re trying too hard to make a point or something.
This isn’t helped by the fact that I HATE the Jurassic Park theme music. You know how it goes. Even if you can’t come up with it off the top of your head, you’d recognize it if you heard it. I just freaking HATE that music. Don’t get me wrong, John Williams’ music for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Superman etc. are brilliant. Iconic. But I HATE Williams’ score for Jurassic Park. It’s so smarmy and overwrought, and it draws so much attention to itself. Music in films is supposed to blend seamlessly with the movie, but to me, the Jurassic Park theme sticks out like a sore thumb. Admittedly, all of this isn’t a problem with Jurassic World specifically, but I think it bears mentioning anyway.
I don’t know, guys. This movie just didn’t do much for me. I didn’t hate it, but I certainly didn’t like it very much. At least it’s not overlong. The movie runs at just about two hours, so at least it doesn’t overstay its welcome too much. And it does look pretty good, and has a couple of fun sequences. But overall, I really can’t recommend it. Not that it matters, since half the damn universe has already seen this movie, and the other half of the universe has it on their to-do list.