A Film Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The concepts of reboots, sequels, and prequels hold some promise but in the current day and age that promise is seen as the faintest of lights amidst a darkened horizon. That dimming of promise hasn’t happened without significant failures in the execution of those very concepts, to the point of where nearly every movie that falls within those three categories is greeted with some trepidation, some disdain. That isn’t to say sequels and otherwise were always splendid before the current day and age (any fan of the Jurassic Park franchise knows that feeling really well). But the general feeling amongst the audience of being bombarded with material that simply feels regurgitated and unoriginal has largely been earned. Jurassic World, despite the impending gargantuan box office numbers, is likely to stoke nostalgia but not do anything to mitigate those morbid feelings. It does, as needs to be pointed out, fulfill nearly all of the criteria the unnecessary installment requires. The leads are absolutely charmless, in spite of the casting. The script is for all intents and purposes nonexistent, only filling in the thinnest of ideas while hoping the thrills fill the gaps it left. The thrills themselves are energetic at times but reek of emptiness. The visual effects are more polished yet more chaotic. The logic of the story’s continuation is left on the hinges of its financial reaping. When the climax arrives, there’s no cathartic, jugular excitement pulsating through your veins. It feels at most like an exercise in futility.
There’s no necessity that requires the latest installment of the Jurassic Park franchise to feel like a chore, but that’s what it becomes. Off the bat, there’s an illogical construct to the whole idea of the movie, without addressing any of its numerous contextual problems throughout. Considering even just the original film and not its forgettable two sequels, it simply doesn’t make sense to open another park with genetically engineered dinosaurs twenty-two years later. The movie is naturally preoccupied with the whole “getting to the dinosaurs chasing people” bit, but jumping off on an illogical foundation doesn’t help. The inevitable bells begin to ring when expert Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) tells Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) the fairly obvious: the new genetically modified dinosaur created in part to lure new corporate sponsors for the park is potentially dangerous. Sure enough, Indominus rex escapes and mayhem ensues. The mayhem was expected, and expectedly so since a plethora of the advertisements were centered around fun and nostalgia, but outside of a few exciting sequences there was little legitimate thrill to be found.
Having garnered a reputation as being somewhat of a snob when it comes to films, I feel compelled to note that no one in particular went into Jurassic World with the expectation of watching the next BAFTA nominee for Best Picture. Nor did anyone expect scientific accuracy on par with the original film that even had paleontologists lauding it for that effort. Yet the expectation of an accurate, thematically mature, and thought-provoking film on relevant topics isn’t too much. Accomplishing such a fear throughout the narrative while not decreasing the film’s overall intelligence is not a particularly difficult task. Director Colin Trevorrow made a note that the film’s central theme was connected with the presentation of Indominus as a symbol of corporate greed and the modern mentality of always going bigger, faster, stronger, etc. It’s certainly presented in such a fashion, but to the extreme detriment of the story involved, especially the characters. Claire pursuing corporate donors for her park makes sense from a logical, modern-day business standpoint, but her pursing those donors using a genetically engineered dinosaur is absurd. Not only does it make her character insanely vapid, it has the added effect of making the scientists in the film look like the most incompetent folks to ever enter into their field – in service of a “don’t play God” narrative that is imbued with little to no ingenuity, no less. At this juncture, every variation of “Oh my God, I can’t believe this extremely stupid and dangerous experiment with no scientific value whatsoever did exactly what I thought it would do!” should be met with as much condescension as humanly possible to muster.
The baseline assumption about a film about dinosaurs running rampant and chewing up humans is that ought to be entertaining enough for your brain gears to switch off momentarily. To be fair here, certain sequences with the dinosaurs in the forest were quite fun and even managed to muster some suspense. But the pervading sense throughout the film was a dull familiarity bombarded with boredom. Chris Pratt, who might be the most charming of the superhero Chrises, is somehow zapped of all of his charm, relegated to being a thinly drawn smart-ass while Claire’s character is trapped within the confines of the ideas of maternity and for whatever reason, running from dinosaurs in heels. HEELS. Supposedly that was Howard’s idea, but the stupidity of such a character choice remains withstanding. It’s another draw from the original film with Laura Dern, but that was handled with a deft touch, making that her choice. Here, Claire is constantly put down by the film and the characters around her for being the cold, corporate sort and not maternal enough. News flash: not every woman wants to be a mother. I know, shocking. As if to draw even further notes on this misogyny, the film constantly compares her to her sister Kelly, the warm mother whom Claire ought to aspire to be. It’s perhaps a note of irony that in that sense, the 2015 Jurassic World is more regressive than the original in almost every respect, only adding further fuel to the fire that questions its very existence to begin with.
Title: Jurassic World
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Produced by: Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley
Screenplay by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Story by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Based on: Characters by Michael Crichton
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, B. D. Wong, Irrfan Khan
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Cinematography: John Schwartzman
Edited by: Kevin Stitt
Production Company: Amblin Entertainment, Legendary Pictures
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Running Time: 124 minutes
Release Dates: June 12, 2015 (United States)
Image Courtesy: Forbes