I’ve been meaning to write on the film for the past week, but I’ve been…well…distracted, to say the least. The writing rejections and further querying. The mentoring my summer term students (I’ve figured there are only 37 of them now, so it can’t be so bad, emailing each of them individually about their ongoing progress, right? STRESSSSSS!). The de-bugging of my shitty house. The roiling, roasting heat outside.
Anyway, yes, I saw Jurassic World, as I’ve said to several students over the past several days. And as I’ve responded, meh.
MEH, I say. Just… meh.
I think the awe-factor is utterly gone. Spielberg spoiled the hell out of Generation X. He is our Hitchcock when it comes to suspense. The man brought Benchley’s Jaws to the big screen, for pete’s sake, and it was the most frightening monster movie out there. Did we seriously think for a second he couldn’t handle Crichton’s dinosaurs and keep that same gnawing tension burning in our innards? I saw Jurassic Park at the Leicester Square Odeon in London. The whole 3D, IMAX experience wasn’t hip yet, but it didn’t have to be. I mean, think about that: It Didn’t Have To Be. The scene with the kids trapped in the Jeep, the condensation on the window from the T Rex’s breath, that EYE…Jesus Christ, we didn’t need the 3D thrills with that. Thanks to the second Terminator film, CGI was growing into a thing, morphing into all that was possible. Spielberg and his massive crew blended CGI and practical effects almost seamlessly, and now, the technology is even better. The creatures’ clunkiness is virtually no longer.
Like Jaws, however, the Jurassic Park film franchise has had its day already. I think the kids now are, perhaps, just in need of fresh faces to go with old stories and regurgitated tropes and character arcs. To me though, that’s what killed the experience with Jurassic World. Granted, the dinos were pretty nifty, especially the liopleurodon, the toothy monstrosity in the water that EATS Jaws, among other things. However, everything else…
Same game, different movie. Like the third film in the franchise, no Spielberg at the helm.
First, we have the wisecracking, tough as nails, sharp as a tack hero, Owen, the Jurassic World theme park’s Dino Whisperer. Owen is so cool and controlled, he has figured out how to work side by side with velociraptors. That is probably the only thing remotely interesting about Owen. Well, that and Chris Pratt plays Owen like a serious version of Chris Pratt, so Owen is just above average in my book. Chris Pratt as Owen makes Owen kinda sorta adorable.
(Owen hunting with his raptors.)
With every Owen, there has to be an “Owenette,” correct? In Jurassic World, the love interest is a character I loathed on sight and continued to despise all the way to the very end. It took four screenwriters to come up with this broad, Claire. Claire is basically the theme park’s CEO. She is, essentially, the typical high-strung, I-can-do-anything-in-my-Manolos, emotionally aloof twit. The kind of woman who neglects to keep an eye out on her nephews who’ve come to visit the park simply because she’s too focused on her pet project, an absurdly dangerous hybrid dinosaur she thinks will bring the thrill-hungry masses in. After all, happy crowds mean happy investors.
(She wears those goddamned stupid shoes during the entirety of the movie.)
Bryce Dallas Howard has a sparkle about her with her bright eyes and sunny demeanor. That said, she played Claire, and I STILL didn’t like Claire. Poorly written Claire with her all-too-overdone character arc. Claire who cannot identify with kids or motherhood but who becomes all heart and steel in order to save the kiddos.
(Claire saving the day…and, yes, still in those stupid fucking shoes)
Claire who simply has no time for love but plenty of time for Owen…I mean, Chris Pratt…I mean, Owen, of course.
I mentioned nephews. It’s another trope that drove me batty: kiddos in trouble. There’s Claire’s perpetually disgusted teenaged nephew, Zach, and his wide-eyed, dino-happy little brother, Gray. Silly, little buggers take an improvised detour in a giant, automated hamster ball right when, unbeknownst to them of course, the hybrid had escaped.
(Kids in peril. Where is Spielberg when you need him?)
And then there are the other secondary characters, a virtual checklist of adventure movie tropes…
Eccentric billionaire who wants everyone to be entertained and happy as his predecessor had, check:
(Like any clueless billionaire stock character, he doesn’t know what Claire and company have created.)
Macho prick who really wants the military to garner some dino superweapons, check:
(Wilson Fisk seriously impressed by Starlord’s raptors)
Shady scientist creating Frankendinos with top secret DNA, check:
(I liked him better as the SVU shrink.)
Cute tech geeks in the control room as comic relief, check and check:
(Yes, they are too cute for words, really, but we know this already.)
Instantly disposable soldiers, check and run:
Oh, and there’s Claire’s snotty personal assistant in charge of the nephews simply because Claire has no time for the little monsters. Snotty personal assistant apparently has no time either because she loses the kids, as self-involved assistants often do:
(Naturally, she’s as disposable as the rest of the unlikeable stock secondaries.)
As Devin Faraci noted in his essay in Birth. Movies. Death., the death of the personal assistant was probably the most violently affecting moment in the entire film, and it’s odd in that happened to her rather than one of the more significant secondary characters.
Still, tropes upon tropes. Been there. Done that shit.
Sigh. I wanted to like the movie. I did, really. It just didn’t though. It didn’t do it for me.
Still, I’d rather sit through a number of summer blockbusters like Jurassic World than suffer through anything remotely Fifty Shades of Poop-related.