I saw the original Jurassic Park three times in the theater and was unable to sleep without imagining raptors creeping through the house for months afterwards. The film, while being terrifying, also had an utter sense of majesty and joy to it. And while as an adult I have my own issues with the Frankenstein message underlying the plot, that sense of wonder has stayed with me.
Jurassic World has none of that. It has the soaring music over and over and over and over and over and over and over … and fucking over again but never manages to evoke anything approaching that original wonder.
I saw the film in 3D IMAX, because what the hell, it’s dinosaurs and I’m a cheap date if you’re bringing them to the table. It is the worst 3D that I have ever seen. Not because it is flat or dark, but because it makes everything look incredibly fake. I don’t know anything technically about 3D, but I do know that every single time the camera is following a helicopter in this movie (which is several times at decent length), it looks like a meter-long remote control helicopter. When the park itself is panned over (with soaring music because nothing says awe like concrete and giftshops) it looks like a miniature model.
Ok, but 3D weirdness aside, do we at least get gorgeous looks at dinosaurs? Of course not. It’s all CGI crap from start to finish, with a billion pixels of perfectly rendered creatures that nevertheless move with no weight or substance. I have no qualms about CGI. Use the tool that works, whether virtual or not. But this is one of those films where however photo-realistic the renderings, they feel completely cartoonish in their movement. The camera is constantly zoomed in too close, it is impossible to have any feel for what’s going on, and it’s just a constant parade of violence from a boring button-masher of a video game.
Matters do not improve with the plot. Where the original told a simple story with well-developed themes and characters who acted like rational human beings, this one has all the intelligence and logic of that enormous pile of dinosaur shit in the original movie.
Shall we count the ways?
The military division of InGen is happy that the park gets wasted because it lets them see if they can use raptors as weapons … and I don’t know, I think that maybe they’re kind of sort of underwritten by the billion dollar theme park so they kinda might not want mass casualties there. Vincent D’Onofrio’s entire master plan is to use raptors as soldiers. “Imagine if we had these in Tora Bora” he giggles at one point. I just, what, no, fuck, my brain is goddamn melting. I can imagine it Vinnie me boy. It involves the raptors running off to hunt cows while bin Laden keeps watching porn. Or even if you shove them down the tunnels like a Gere-gerbil, I’d kind of imagine they’d get shot in the face and that would be that.
Seriously you fucking screenwriter morons, if someone suggested to the Pentagon that the secret weapon to winning a war is to air drop grizzly bears into Afghanistan they wouldn’t even shoot the drooling idiot for trespassing. They’d quarantine him and study his brain because he is clearly working on so little brain power that he shouldn’t even physically be able to maintain consciousness.
Characters? Oh we’ve got some characters for you to hate in addition to good old Raptor Vinnie. Well, we’ve got Bryce Dallas Howard playing an uptight career focused person whose only character elements are that she’s a workaholic, that she’s kind of bad at her job given the events of the movie, and that the fact that she’s a workaholic means she’s a terrible woman who just needs to meet a couple of moppets and get snogged by Chris Pratt in order to have her ovaries grow three sizes and realize that what she really wants out of life is to squirt out some little buggers, preferably ones smarter than the two lobotomized nephews that her shrew of a sister sends her way.
I’m pretty sure that “shrew” is not particularly kosher to call a woman, but I’m sorry Judy Greer, when your character’s sole character trait is bitching at your sister that she needs to have kids and then bitching her out more when she’s too busy running a fucking dinosaur park to babysit your brats until tomorrow on their expenses-paid dream vacation, I think the noun is appropriate. Quit throwing your ovary fruit at your sister and then complaining she isn’t ripening her own crop.
And the crotch fruit themselves! Remember the original Jurassic Park when we fell in love with Lex and her Unix skills and all kind of hoped that Tim would get eaten? Let’s cut Lex and instead add a brooding cranky asshole of a sixteen year old older brother and create an even more annoying Tim. Look at these pictures:
Fuck the dinosaurs, these motherfuckers cloned Tim! And they made his smug little asshole hair even worse somehow. He runs ahead of everyone, he yells excitedly, he spouts off endless facts about everything, and then he mopes suddenly whenever his big brother isn’t paying attention to everything he says right away. By all means, movie, instead of showing us something to be in awe of, show us a moron who is in awe of everything, we totally won’t root for his agonizing death.
And these are the stupidest children to ever grace the screen. Hey, let’s hang up on our aunt when she’s sobbing and telling us we have to come back because Biggus Dickus Rex is loose. And hey, let’s roll our hamster ball into the restricted area even though the entire rest of the tour disappeared, gosh what could go wrong in a park filled with fifty foot tall predators? Their survival of the film’s events is the greatest argument to ever be leveled against the theory of evolution.
Honestly I don’t know how these particular children could have jumpstarted Howard’s ovaries. A woman with her education more likely would have tied her own tubes with a box cutter and a blow torch first.
The sole redeeming element of the film was Chris Pratt and his wolf pack of raptors. It was cheesy, dumb, and I loved every part of it. Pratt has got something special as an actor, something that is extraordinarily rare, something that reminds me of Harrison Ford back in the day. He has the perfect fun movie attitude, with which it’s not that he exactly elevates the material, but that he has an instinct for what sounds idiotic and tweaks the dialogue with a verbal wink at just how dumb it is. He somehow through sheer charm and a professional feel for how exactly to apply it, makes cheesy work for him without being self-conscious or mocking.
I would also like to point out that in the first film our heroes are two paleontologists (a man and a woman who are both highly capable and have no romantic subplot), a brilliantly insane mathematician, and a smart computer programmer girl. (Let’s ignore Tim). This film has not a single scientist of any kind as a protagonist. They’re all shady villains. Instead we have a jock who shoots stuff, an incompetent manager, and the Hardly Boys. Oh and Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus are on the control room staff I suppose, but since all they do is relay things over the radio, I just don’t think of them in the same vein as “Unix! I know Unix!”.
So we have Jurassic Park with none of the wonder, a bunch of idiots, and the villainization of both science and women who don’t want kids. Thumbs up, Trevorrow!
I’ll conclude with noting that while my local theater has such low attendance that I constantly note my amazement that it stays in business, this showing of Jurassic World was completely sold out, and the audience applauded as the credits rolled. I’m not even surprised anymore.
Steven Lloyd Wilson is a hopeless romantic and the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods. His novel, ramblings, and assorted fictions coalesce at www.burningviolin.com. You can email him here.