I’m not the biggest Jurassic Park fan; didn’t even bother with 2 or 3. But in the middle of a 3D kick, I did just buy the first on Blu-ray, so, for better or worse, it was pretty fresh in my mind for a 22-year-old movie.
I’m not going to be coy; it’s for worse. Because Jurassic World seemed like they decided to take all the successful elements of the first, including most of the character descriptions, water them down, and jazz everything else up with CGI so no one would notice how much they cannibalized that superior-in-every-way film.
I mean, there are a few unique changes: the park has been up and running for awhile now, long enough that people are bored with dinosaurs so they’re forced to start genetically modifying them to come up with new and more exciting models. And when I say “they,” I mean BD Wong, the only alumnus from the original. He’s still running the lab, so I say, shame BD. You were there at the beginning, you saw chaos theory at work in the worst, most spectacularly disastrous scenario. So how did you think that randomly throwing DNA together to make bigger, more powerful dinosaurs (with the added ability to camouflage themselves; what could go wrong?) was an even better idea?
This is “Indominus Rex,” a hybrid made of a T. Rex and…the other contributors are “classified.” The errors made by the first crew could be somewhat forgiven by no one really knowing the can of worms they were opening. These people either have extremely short memories or simply don’t care as long as the profits keep rolling in (from what I’ve seen in the real world, I’m going with door #2).
Enter Chris Pratt and his velociraptor herd.
They’re kind of domesticated by him, but not really, as their first scene demonstrates. Yet Vincent D’Onofrio wants to weaponize them to fight ISIS, so in this movie the part of the greedy consequences-be-damned corporation will be played by the greedy consequences-be-damned military.
I won’t go into the whole plot. It’s just a paper thin excuse to get the humans close to the dinosaurs. It’s unashamedly similar to the first movie, except lacking any attempts at suspenseful build-up, childlike awe at seeing dinosaurs, or even one sympathetic character (Chris wins for being the only likable one, but that has more to do with his built-in charisma than anything this movie does with him. In fact, aside from Chris, the hunting expert from the first film (“clever girl”) easily outshines everyone in this one in characterization, and he had five minutes of screen time).
When it isn’t derivative of Park, it steals blatantly from others. Like watching Marines’ vital signs flatline remotely as they get killed by Indominus (Aliens). And one scene that I can’t place specifically, where a bloody handprint is smacked onto a truck window unexpectedly (Titanic?)
There are also plenty of knowing winks to the first film, which start off amusing but quickly cross the threshold into mild desperation, like it’s the only trick they have.
I will discuss the climactic battle, however, so SPOILERS. I won’t deny the scene of Chris on a motorcycle barreling through dark jungle surrounded by his raptor minions was pretty bad ass.
Then they meet Indominus, who exchanges a few barks with them (the minions) and they instantly turn on the humans. Well, that seems like a pretty inconvenient fickleness to have in an army. Chris says ruefully, “Now I know why they kept Indominus’ DNA secret. He’s part raptor.” Oh my God, DUHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I almost threw out my back, I DUHHHHHHHHHHHHHH’ed so hard (and brings us back to the questionable decision-making abilities of BD et.al., mixing together the two most dangerous species we’ve seen. T. Rex’s might plus a raptor’s cunning. What could go wrong?)
EXCEPT he’s still (and, one would argue, predominantly) T. Rex, which we learned in the first movie is certainly no friend of raptors. But this movie hasn’t worried its pretty head with logic from the opening credits, why start now?
They have to pull poor, passe, boring T. Rex out of retirement, dust off his cobwebs and thrust him into battle. The raptors switch BACK to team up with him (flip-floppers). The humans win, the end. HERE ENDETH THE SPOILERS.
I’ve read the justification that this movie is a way for parents to get their kids to watch something they loved growing up. Well, for heaven’s sake, why not show them the original? Sure, it’s a little slower to get to the action (I consider this a plus), but the effects have really held up (I daresay are even better than all the CGI) and of course most of Spielberg’s movies are practically timeless. At the risk of sounding like a cranky old woman, the trouble with kids today is pea-sized attention spans (this is even used in this movie, where they can barely tear their eyes from their phones when there’s a dinosaur right in front of them) and dramatically lower expectations, and the rest of us have to suffer through the inferior product as a result.
The first one may have been guilty of some CGI, but in the scenes that really counted, you felt like the dinosaurs were living and breathing and could actually harm their co-stars. Never at any point did I feel that in World.
And I’ll say it, Chris Pratt raised the bar considerably with Guardians of the Galaxy. I expected better of him. I will accept repayment in the form of Guardians II.
(I consider it ironically appropriate that the majority of entertaining content in this post came from other people’s work, not my own effort. Just like this movie. See what I did there?)