dir: Colin Trevorrow
Look, I realise that a flick this big hardly requires a review. It’s like reviewing the moon, or an ocean, or nitrogen. Jurassic World is one of the biggest movies ever, with billions of dollars earned thus far.
In that case, why not? Why not? Surely it means everyone and their dog’s fleas saw the flick, and so it’ll be common parlance / water cooler fodder for months and years to come?
Or will it be forgotten just as swiftly as last week’s outrages / blockbusters / fish and chips?
Some of that contemporary mentality, of instant gratification and immediate dissatisfaction, is part of the fabric of the flick. This, the fourth in the series, is the first sequel to really mirror the events of the first film. The first direct sequel, in that the second and third flicks could effectively not exist at all and it would impact not one whit.
Quite often, with science fiction flicks, the point or moral of the story is that people shouldn’t play God, and that they never learn from other people’s mistakes or their own. This amnesia and hubris underlines almost every cautionary sci-fi tale of the last 100 years. What makes Jurassic World additionally galling is that you have people fully aware of what disaster occurred in the first place, who go ahead anyway and replicate the circumstances of the first flick just on a grander scale.
So, in the first flick, things went totally skewiff because of a) clever people not being able to grapple with the concept of unintended consequences, and b) human greed making things worse. So now, there’s even more greed, and even more unintended consequences, and an even grander level of carnage and disaster. If this is your first rodeo, maybe that’s an acceptable oversight.
We have to believe, in this case, though, since some of these characters (those played by BD Wong and the great Irrfan Khan) knew and worked with John Hammond (the avuncular creator role played by Sir Richard Attenborough in the first flick), you would have thought they realised what a bad idea it was to do this all over again, just on a grander scale. But they’re blithely, innocently confused, as if “Fuck me, I never could have guessed this could all have gone wrong AGAIN?”
There’s even the spectacle of scientists arguing “well, sure we played God the first time bringing back species of creatures from hundreds of millions of years ago and inserting them into a biome and world they can’t be suited to, but this time you’ve played God too much!” when their hubris creates some dinosaur supermutant called Indomitus Rex. Uh, okay, sure. The first time is now okay, but with this latest outrage, you’ve just gone too far.
As a not-so-subtle or sly comment on summer blockbusters themselves and their dumb audiences, and the deep American love of consumerism and theme parks, the scale of Jurassic World (the place, not the film, though maybe the film too) is a hundred times bigger and louder than what the story’s original creator envisaged. The new development, like a cross between a resort and Sea World, is literally built upon the bones not only of the original Park, but of those that died along the way.
Since there hasn’t been that many people dying lately, the people running the park are getting complacent. Nothing’s gone wrong for a while, so nothing’s going to go wrong, as long as we keep on top of things. The park is run by a hyper-competent mannequin redhead (Bryce Dallas Howard) who is cold and robotic to everyone, especially the employees she micromanages. It’s such a thankless role that she appears almost as a right-wing conservative argument as to why women shouldn’t work outside of having babies and bringing their husbands their slippers in the evening.
Contrast her with the salt-of-the-earth raptor wrangler (Chris Pratt), who sneeringly dresses her down when he’s not sexually harassing her. He even mocks her for the ‘ridiculous’ high heels she’s always in, as if the character selected them, rather than the people making this dribble.
Throughout the flick, he’s an arsehole to her, and she’s constantly been shown up as a fool for thinking she knows anything about anything. She knows about profit margins and customer satisfaction surveys and marginal returns and keeping investors happy, but she doesn’t know anything about what REALLY matters: ie. putting up with her subordinate’s bullshit or that Dinosaurs are like the shark from Jaws except on land or sky and with even bigger teeth!
Speaking of Jaws, what this dumb but enjoyable film (with gender politics straight out of the 1970s) most reminded me of was not Jaws, but Deep Blue Sea, that even dumber shark flick about super-intelligent predators chowing down on their brilliant-but-stupid creators. Deep Blue Sea is an entirely farcical movie where genetically engineered sharks take advantage of Samuel L. Jackson’s overacting to kill a whole bunch of people since they’re smart enough to know virtually everything about physics and engineering and how to play ‘Chopsticks’ on the piano.
Here, for reasons they claim have to do with ‘audiences’, as in, the average punter is now so jaded and so easily bored that they have to entice them back by creating super-dinosaurs with cocktails of DNA intended to produce genetic effects their creators can’t even guess at, because they just want to give people what they want. So it’s our fault, then?
This catastrophically backfires when they create a dinosaur that’s bigger and nastier than a T Rex, that can camouflage itself, set traps, eat lots of people, kills for fun and can probably solve the Sunday paper’s Sudoku and cryptic crossword puzzle quicker than you can. I know that’s not saying much, but before, I guess, we were just meant to think that these dinosaurs were dumb but toothy, like any big dumb carnivorous animals that already exist in this, our imperfect current world.
No, now they’re something that actively wants to kill us all. Um, even more than before.
There’s action, of course, oodles of action, not a lot of humour, and there are, unfortunately, these two kids (nephews of the redheaded mannequin). They spend most of the flick away from her (which probably increased their chances of survival), but really they’re there solely to be something for her to act ‘maternal’ over.
Jesus Christ, it’s just so regressive and conservative. I’ve liked Chris Pratt in other stuff, but here, while he’s competent enough as a take-charge kind of arsehole, I didn’t buy the character for a second. It was such a transparently naked attempt at constructing a macho-bonehead ‘he even works on motorbikes in his spare time’ character hero-by-numbers that he was like the living embodiment of a Budweiser commercial rather than a person.
Basically, as awful as the human characters were, at least we get to watch many of them die. When things go bad, they really go bad, which is what made this flick more like a classic monster flick than any of the other ones. There’s a tremendous scene where a whole glass aviary is blown apart, and a whole bunch of pterodactyls start attacking the tourists in the touristy areas with their merchandising and showbags and such, and finally it seemed like the dinosaur shit was going to hit the prehistoric fan.
As they start dying, and people are running around like headless chickens, perhaps because their heads are being ripped off, an image stuck out for me where one chap among the screaming throng has these big margarita-like glasses filled to the brim with alcohol and umbrellas and probably some other stuff too. Instead of dropping them, or, if he’s too polite, just setting them down somewhere upon a coaster that’s on top of a doily, he’s slowly trying to get to safety without spilling the drinks.
That made me laugh. That was funny. I’m not sure it made sense, but it was funny. Perhaps it was part of the satire of people so concerned with their own consumerism that they’ll put themselves in danger just to get value for the money they’ve spent, but maybe that’s putting more thought into it than they did.
Is it a dumb action flick pretending to be smart, or a smart flick pretending to be dumb? It’s hard to say, because in theory there’s a difference, but in practice they can look exactly alike. I like to think of it as the skin of a dumb flick with some sly intelligence underneath, but then I think of the clumsy, horrible, no-good gender stereotype bullshit and just think “fuck these jerks”.
The ending, the kids in danger, the moral / ethical questions? None of it really matters. They will definitely make another flick, which means they have to have the same people or the same types of people make the same mistakes in order to generate the plot of dinosaurs killing people, so yeah, expect more of the same in two years time.
Maybe they can genetically code up some more intelligent audiences by then, so they’ll no longer use us as an excuse for the persistent endumbening of the average blockbuster.
6 times this was like a Transformers movie with dinosaurs instead of Wahlbergs out of 10
“She is learning where she fits on the food chain and I'm not sure you want her to figure that out.” – uh, not sure there’s much for her to figure out; she knows she’s the Beyoncè of this food chain, no question – Jurassic World.