Jurassic World (2015)

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“No one’s impressed with a dinosaur anymore.”

This is the kind of world I want to go to, that I wish I could visit. I’d like to get there first, stand on the dock, and as the masses are shipped in on boats packed as tight as sardines, I would turn them away and wave them around. Because Jurassic World sucks. It isn’t fun. It’s rarely exciting. The entire premise is laughable. We’re supposed to believe people aren’t wowed and astonished by a dinosaur anymore. Really? REALLY?! Who would pay airfare to Costa Rica and insane park ticket fees to come through those legendary entry doors, see a dino and think, “Yeah, that’s alright.” That’s not even just dumb, it’s moronic, because it paints the masses and its audience members as seat filling idiots. Jurassic World looks good on the surface. Yet once the dinosaurs scratch it, you realize its paper-thin and gives way to a bad script, directed by an unseasoned filmmaker, filled with stiff performers saying stiff dialogue. Jurassic Park should not have been spun into a film series, and I’ll proceed to tell you why.

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Brothers Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) are whisked away by their filing for divorce parents to spend time with their Aunt. She happens to be Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the eyes and ears of the operations at Jurassic World, the planet’s preeminent prehistoric theme park. Gray’s the younger of the two, in love with dinosaurs and listing fact after fact like Encyclopedia Brown. Zach is the big brother, and he’s also an angsty asshole. He’d rather look at his girlfriend’s selfies or smolder at young women around him than a dinosaur who snacks on great white sharks. They get lost, Aunt Claire gets flustered, and a big ol’ new “asset” (the lab rat Indominus Rex) gets out of containment. Jurassic World tries to borrow thematic elements from the original, mostly the importance of family, and fails to connect us with the human characters. They feel as alive as the park’s instructional hologram dinos.

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The once extinct dinosaurs no longer rock parkgoer’s socks off, and as a result genetically modified hybrids are created to lure us in. Things go wrong, as you might have guessed, because without intelligent people making dumb mistakes this movie would not exist. The Indominus Rex wrecks havoc, kills for sport, and destroys the paleo dreamed playground that is Jurassic World. As a result, raptor trainer Owen (Chris Pratt) is asked to clean up the mess. He’s a former Navy man and strikes up a relationship with the dinosaurs (by holding his hands up, whispering sweet nothings, and thumb-smashing a clicker like a physiologist executing Pavlov’s experiment.) Pratt is America’s new leading man, and his grizzly-man chops bring a sense of lightheartedness to a literal monstrosity of a film. It’s a welcome addition, but he’s pretty unremarkable in a one-note role (watch this video, even he admits how little he had to do.)

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Vincent D’Onofrio plays Hoskins, who besides the hybrid Rex is the apparent villain of the film. He wants to militarize raptors and dinosaurs for warfare. His motives are as unbelievable as they sound, and his character adds about 15 minutes of unnecessary filler which takes away from our core group’s development and backstory. As a result we do not know these people. We feel the tension when they enter into peril, but not once did I find myself caring about their well-beings. Instead, Jurassic World –in its most successful aspect – makes us root for the resurrected dinosaurs. It has a lot to say on nature versus nurture, our co-dependant relationship with animals, and the matter in which we either care for or exploit them. The plain stupid plot is never streamlined and the real weighty issues are masked by a failed central romance and as much CGI chaos as we can handle.

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People will judge Jurassic World because, almost unanimously, audiences connected so deeply to the original. Jurassic Park was groundbreaking in its use of computer graphics and literally ushered in a new era of filmmaking. But it was also more compact. It’s a perfect movie, and the reason being that every part matters. If Jurassic Park was a person it would be an extreme and elite athlete with 0.1% body fat. On the other hand, Colin Trevorrow’s second feature film is a lot more like the sideline athlete donning all the fancy athletic gear and pumping up the guys out there actually competing. Trevorrow’s first film Safety Not Guaranteed is a fun, quirky watch, but why they gifted him with such an enormous tentpole of a movie is beyond me. His directing is not necessarily as bad as the film itself, and he has a few brief glimpses of the geeky charm he seems to have as a filmmaker. He’s also working off of an extremely poor script (7 people are credited for writing, which is never a good sign.) I assume Spielberg gave the film his graces because he knows he’s the elite athlete, and Trevorrow is the 6th man congratulating him during a timeout.

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Jurassic World is not a movie as much as it is an eyesore of an homage to the original. It’s overflowing with copied shots, repurposed blurbs of dialogue, and actual set pieces. There’s so much: the DNA animation, Dr. Henry Wu, the flare, the night vision goggles, the jeep, the same T-Rex, John Williams’ famous score. It all claws its way into this story and feels inorganic to the fully realized world of John Hammond’s dreams that he previously saw torn limb from limb, piece by piece. To say the nostalgic vibes are overdone is an understatement. Jurassic World had the potential to be as magical and transformative as the park itself. There’s a lot of wonder and awe to be found here. But I sat there, wanting to leave, to go home and find the original on TV somewhere, because Jurassic World is the little annoying brother to Spielberg’s 1993 gem of a film.

“That first park was legit.”

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

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