Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jurassic World Review

Who ever thought making another island of dinosaurs was a good idea???

I have a confession to make. I have never seen a Jurassic Park movie in my life. I've seen clips from the first movie, but I have never sat down and watched a single movie in the series all the way through. I know the major characters and the technical achievements of the series, but that's about it. And honestly, I don't have a good reason as to why I didn't see them. I grew up in the late 90's and the early 2000's. I wasn't that interested in dinosaurs. I was more interested in cartoons and animation than I was in big scary dinosaurs. Even now, I don't really care that much about dinosaurs. I don't find them awesome, especially now that people are saying they look more birdlike. Godzilla is cool. Kaiju are cool. Dinosaurs just aren't to me.

I wanted to bring this right up front to let people know about my history with this franchise. In an industry that capitalizes on sequels, reboots, and remakes, it's becoming increasingly difficult to separate the opinion of one movie over the other. Just because it has associations with a previous property somehow affects the viewers relationship with the film. It's one thing to have opinions skewed by sequels to established properties, but when people's opinions and critiques are skewed because of adaptations (see Watchmen and The Hunger Games), or because of reboots (see this movie and the upcoming Terminator: Genisys), it becomes harder to give a truly unbiased opinion. How can you separate a movie, video game, or what have you from its predecessors? How can you judge a valuable property now that it's in new hands? Do you judge it for what it's worth, or do you try and compare it to previous entries in the franchise? There's no true answer to these questions, but they don't really matter in the end because wow Jurassic World is dumb.

I mean it, this might be the dumbest movie I've seen all year, and while that might not be the weightiest of statements as of right now, that still doesn't excuse just how idiotic this movie is. Keep in mind, just because the movie is moronic doe snot mean it's bad. In actuality, Jurassic World is tipping on the scale of okay. Despite it's adequateness, this movie is as dumb as a sack of bricks.

Jurassic World centers around numerous piles of meat that decide to go to the island. They don't have much personality besides their one obnoxious character trait, and pretty much exist to may or may not be dino chow. There are the two children who are there for a vacation, their aunt that runs the park, the eccentric billionaire that funded the park, a control operator that though that the original Jurassic Park was better, a gung-ho military adviser, a geneticist, and Christ Pratt. Chris Pratt plays the only character who actually has some intelligence behind him, but it's mostly at the expense of the plot and because he's Christ Pratt, so he gets a free pass. The rest of the movie is a game to see which of these characters will die next to the genetic monstrosity they created, the Indominus Rex.

The Indominus Rex is a completely new, genetically engineered dinosaur that was made the be "the scariest, coolest, dinosaur in the world" to boost tourism for Jurassic World. However, it breaks free, and because it was genetically spliced with all sorts of crazy animals and DNA, it's nearly impossible to kill. It can hide its body temperature, has enhanced memory and intelligence, can camouflage itself, and a whole bunch of other neat tricks. One might wonder why anyone would ever need these features in a dinosaur, but it doesn't matter. The Indominus was made so that there could be a scary new enemy that's worse than a T-Rex, but doesn't look as cool. It just looks underwhelming to me. It's a big grey dinosaur. There's no wow factor like seeing a T-Rex, or the size of a Brontosaurus, it just physically looks like a large raptor.

You know, there's an old saying about how convinced you can be when watching a show/movie/whatever. You're as immersed as you can be, but once you see the strings you're immediately taken out of the experience. That's the biggest problem with Jurassic World; the movie tries to manipulate situations and their characters so much that it becomes unbelievable and you, the audience member, start to feel manipulated. I was being told to like this character a lot, only to see them die a few minutes later. I'm told that the Indominus Rex is scary because it kills dinosaurs for fun (which doesn't even begin to make sense). I'm told that Chris Pratt is super awesome at talking to dinosaurs and knows what to do in any situation, except he really doesn't do anything in the movie except say "I told you so" to every other character when they don't listen to him. The movie wants me to feel a certain way, but my suspension of disbelief is stretched to the point where it just don't make any sense.

 You see, suspension of disbelief is a funny thing. People tend to use that as a way to explain how something is possible in a world where these events should not be possible. For example, superheroes are a perfect example of suspension of disbelief. Obviously people can'y fly and shoot lasers from their eyes, but comic books allow us to believe that it could possibly happen. Likewise, suspension of disbelief allows me to believe that we can bring dinosaurs back to life. That's all well and good. However, once the dinosaurs get super special powers and that only one man can stop the super-awesome dinosaur because he understands how it thinks, that's not suspension of disbelief. That's bad writing.

"BUT WAIT!" I hear some of you cry. "What about the action? Surely all of the action in Jurassic World has to make up for the plot holes." To an extent, they're right. the action shown in the movie is fairly good... if it wasn't separated by half hour intervals. The only action scenes in the movie are when the Indominus Rex first escapes, when the tourists are attacked, and the final fight scene. Sure, those three scenes are fun to watch, but to me, they don't justify waiting for over an hour to get there. This movie tries to set up every character and a whole bunch of plot points, but at the end of the day, we're not here for military machinations of two kids that are struggling with their parents going through a divorce. We want to see dinosaurs! Big scary dinosaurs! So pardon me for not fully sympathizing with the squishy humans and their petty concerns.

All of the set up is irrelevant when the end goal is either the character in question dies, or they're not the main focus. In the original Jurassic Park, was the focus on Dr. Quinn and John Hammond and their different ideologies clashing together with their own personal issues, or watching dinosaurs come to live and escaping from said dinosaurs? Sure, character is still important, but there needs to be an equal balance between character and spectacle in Jurassic World. There is very little spectacle in Jurassic World, just character. Also, Chris Pratt training veloceraptors is just stupid.

Jurassic World is stupid. It's a stupid action movie that puts the focus on all of the wrong places. Instead of great dinosaur action scenes, minus the last ten minutes, we get characters bickering and arguing with each other. I don't know if it's because I'm not biased, but this movie just was not able to hook me at all. It might be tipping on the scale of okay, but tipping is a funny word to use. It's close, but not close enough. As of right now, it's just misguided. More action would have made it okay, but we don't live in that world. We live in a world where Jurassic World put more focus on its characters than the dinosaurs, and that is inexcusable.


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