Print Edition: June 17, 2015
Since its launch, the Jurassic Park series has been about adventure, as the original slogan tells us, one “65 million years in the making.” While Jurassic World tries once again to re-capture the wonder and majesty of the first film by bringing it to a modern setting, it mostly just rehashes the original idea of a park and ups the ante by making it functional, complete with thousands of guests.
This film, in my mind, is the inevitable completion of InGen’s dream, pushing the limits of a fully functional park and genetic manipulation. As a summer action movie, it works fine; it has action, it has monsters. As Ian Malcolm would say, it always starts with “Oooh” and “Aah,” but later there’s running and, uh, screaming. Where things fall apart is Jurassic World’s script, written by Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, which is dumb from the premise on down.
This film strays from being a smart, scientific Jurassic Park — one that questions environmental ethics, scientific responsibility, the philosophy of creation — and reverts it into just another monster movie. Sure, it does a better job than the third Jurassic Park film did, but it still lacks depth. Even when it nods toward the militarization of dinosaurs as a plausible threat and the treatment of animals as owned property, it seems to develop these problems peripherally, shallowly addressing the issue in a comic-bookish way. It seems Trevorrow, before he even knew what he had, patented it, packaged it, slapped it on a plastic lunch box, and started selling it.
A large portion of this film’s problems comes from the poor writing of the main antagonist and movie monster, the Indominus rex: a seemingly super-intelligent genetic hybrid dinosaur of unknown origin (inexplicably classified) that can lay unbelievably elaborate traps and trick even the smartest of humans, when convenient for the plot. It seems that at some point in its life the Indominus rex studied how to have a flair for dramatics, while also acquiring technical expertise with thermal imaging software. I seriously don’t understand how a dinosaur can hide its heat signature so that the thermal detection in its pen wouldn’t detect it anymore. Big ol’ smarty Rex would have to know that thermal tech was there in the first place, ultimately making the scenario implausible. But, I suppose, to quote Malcolm again, “Life, uh, finds a way.”
There’s also the small problem of the safety and emergency procedures of this operational park, which seems to have travelled backward from the Jurassic Park launch in ’93. When Rexy 4.0 disappears on a thermal scan, panic ensues. Bryce Dallas Howard’s character apparently needs to drive to control headquarters when she could clearly call them on her phone. Chris Pratt’s character goes ahead and opens the paddock without first confirming its location (using the tracking bug in the dinosaur), an easily avoidable fatal mistake. This is only the first of many issues surrounding the park’s inability to handle inevitable emergencies.
From the moment of disaster on, the movie flies from one action sequence to another, giving very little in the way of respite or time to think about these plot questions.
The sequence in the old, derelict visitor centre from the original movie was a nice touch, but many scenes are just long and nonsensical. I don’t see why it was necessary to spend nearly a full minute killing off one of the female support characters. It was overly elaborate and somewhat voyeuristic. It reminded me of a rather gross scene from Carnosaur 2. Much of the action felt like a dinosaur fighting game like Warpath: Jurassic Park for Playstation One. Velociraptors vs. Indominus rex, T-rex vs. Indominus rex, mosasaurus vs. Indominus rex, mosasaurus vs. pteranadons, and so on. Round one, fight!
All in all, Jurassic World relies heavily on an audience not thinking about the events proceeding in front of them, which feels cheap (and that’s not including the sub-par CGI). Instead of relying on good story, science, and anticipation of the “monster,” this film brings everything out: explosions, car chases, screaming citizens, and so on, reminding us how big studio summer action films have changed since 1993. It’s the same as it ever was: Hollywood scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.