Jurassic World loses much of the terror and wonder of the original in favor of fun, summer blockbuster entertainment, and while that type of movie is by no means inherently bad, it doesn’t make for a particularly interesting installment to the franchise brought to life by Steven Spielberg 20 years ago. You can replace the dinosaurs with generic action movie villains and the humans with puppets, and nothing changes except for the fact that it might actually be a funnier movie this way. Well, maybe not. Dinosaurs eating puppets would be hilarious.
Anyway, I won’t pretend like this is supposed to be an in-depth character study or a deep thematic well–it’s a dinosaur movie, after all–but there’s no denying that when a large portion of a movie is still devoted to its characters and themes, it’s not too much to ask for something at least partially engaging. Pratt and Howard have the chemistry of Jurassic Park with its sequels, the two brothers spend the entire movie being dumbasses until their requisite heart-to-heart brotherly talk, and the various theme park workers we come across seem to operate on a plane of stupidity in which communication is nonexistent. As for Howard’s character arc in particular, the common criticisms I’ve seen have been about its cliche and sexist nature, but I think the bigger problem is that it’s just blatantly lazy. Her arc is about the job vs. personal relationships, but that manifests itself in cringeworthy images like those damn high heels. No matter how many times the movie tries to wink at its audience about the character, it doesn’t change the fact that Claire–along with pretty much everyone else–brings down the rest of the movie by simply existing. A dinosaur movie it is, but that doesn’t shield all other aspects from criticism.
And speaking of winking at the audience, “no one’s impressed by a dinosaur anymore” is pretty much the driving point of both the theme park in the movie and the movie itself. It’s all about the excess, all about corporate influence and ramping things up to be bigger and better. The interesting thing here, though, is that some of the movie’s action scenes are by no means better than those from the original; sure, the dinosaurs are bigger, but 20 years’ worth of technology still can’t capture the sheer intensity of something like the kitchen raptor sequence in Jurassic Park. I realize it can be annoying to see people constantly compare the two movies, but the filmmakers asked for it when they decided to make a new movie for the franchise.
It can be fun to turn off your brain for a few hours to enjoy dinosaurs eating things and wreaking havoc, but the tone of this movie is just bizarre. It’s all over the place, at some points attempting to make serious situations avenues for one-liners and at other points being needlessly mean-spirited. It never quite captures what would make a movie like this special, and it’s perfectly fine with settling for “average”. And when you settle for average, I guess it should come as no surprise when people say that yes, they’re not impressed by dinosaurs anymore.
-Claire not remembering the ages of Zach and Gray is not something to get angry about. It is fairly difficult–and honestly, not that important–to remember the exact ages of all your relatives, I assure you.
-Nice to hear that original theme music again.
-The dinosaurs in this movie are so damn smart that I expected them to sit down and talk about their backstories at some points. The final battle is the most egregious example of this, but hey, at least it’s fairly entertaining to watch.
-Bryce Dallas Howard always reminds me of how much I love Jessica Chastain.
-In the next movie, the brothers restart a 1910 Ford Model T.
-DID YOU KNOW teenage boys are attracted to girls? Thanks for letting us know, movie.
-There’s a pretty funny scene between Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus near the end. It’s obviously far from the funniest joke in the world, but it’s much more enjoyable than everyone else’s attempts at bland one-liners.
-There’s an assistant plot in this that’s just plain cruel. Did Trevorrow’s assistant kick him in the balls one time?
-Deleted scene: “And we also gave the Indominus Rex x-ray vision, and shapeshifting capabilities, and the power to shoot syphilis out of its mouth.”
-Considering the box office pull, prepare for 10 more of these movies.
Photo credit: Jurassic World, Legendary Pictures, Amblin Entertainment