Jun 12, 2015

Smashing Action Figures Together: Jurassic World Review

Friday Night vs Monday Morning Reviews are simple. I go see a movie and do a write-up of my initial feelings and impressions and share them with you so you have them by Friday Night. Then on Monday morning I write another section after I've had time to think about the movie that will be more in depth.

Friday Night
How can I describe Jurassic World the briefest way possible? One word: thrilling. It is an absolute thrill to watch. Director Colin Trevorrow knows what we all want to see when we go into a Jurassic Park movie. In many ways Spielberg had the easier job. All he had to do was put the dinos on the screen and we all go "ooooh" and aaaaah." But in many ways the climax of this film is like watching a kid who got the toys twenty years ago and started mashing them together while doing their best T-Rex imitation. Example: you want to know what it'd be like if the raptors were on the human's side? Boom. Here you go. Keeping that theme going there were not one, not two, but three moments that made me want to stand up and cheer. Trevorrow knows we want to see certain things and he gives us those things. Do they make sense? Not really but shut up there are dinosaurs fighting on the screen.

The film successfully walks the tightrope between creating something new while also fitting in a tricera-ton of callbacks and references to the first Jurassic Park. Little details like Chris Pratt's Owen not falling into the same trap the character Muldoon made in 1992 (which is never let the raptor on your left out of your sight.) Or early in the movie where the T-Rex is fed a goat with a red flare dropped nearby. The film has been made for people who have seen the first film and the four people from the Australian outback who haven't. Joking aside, Jurassic World stands on its own and can be watched in isolation and while some of the references might go over some heads the movie does not depend on them to be good.

Performance-wise the actors do their jobs well enough. You might think this is Chris Pratt's movie based on all the marketing but it's Bryce Dallas Howard's character Claire who goes through the most change from beginning to end. Special mention must be made that Pratt is not just rehashing Star-Lord in a hunting vest. He's much more competent and less jokey than the superhero which was an absolute must and frankly, a relief. I didn't want to see Star-Lord fight dinosaurs, I wanted to see a character that belonged in this world fight dinosaurs.

I believe the film is most definitely worth the watch. Jurassic World is not going to win any awards but it will absolutely thrill you during its run time. They spared no expense.

Monday Morning
So I've had a couple days to sit in my batcave (as one does) and think in contemplative silence about Jurassic World after my heart rate has slowed after seeing... well... I won't spoil it. But I have to imagine most people know exactly what I'm talking about when I say that because it's estimated that Jurassic World made over $500 million worldwide in just one weekend. The only film to do that. Ever. Domestically it made off with just over $200 mill which puts it just under The Avengers from 2012.


So I'm pretty sure you've seen it. If you haven't I stand by my recommendation that you should. Is the film flawless? No. But very few films are. Jurassic World is a roller coaster. While you're on it you're screaming in both fear and enjoyment. But after the ride and you think about it you see how it was a tad superficial.

For instance Bryce Dallas Howard's character of Claire is the focus and the only one to really have anything resembling a character arc. She goes from uptight bureaucrat to take charge action lady. Everybody else, including Chris Pratt's Owen are pretty much who they are at the start of the movie. The two boys in the movie are largely just plot devices. Apologies but their names escape me and I really don't care enough to look them up. They're there so that Claire and Owen have something to go after while the rest of the cast keeps screwing up the situation so it only gets worse. That way our heroes can dodge the responsibility of all the tourists that are eaten by the dinosaurs.

Speaking of Claire, Owen, and all of the tourist eating, there was a pretty cool scene in the movie that completely flipped the standard gender roles in an action movie cliche that made me smile. Normally there's a damsel in distress and the big hero swoops in, saves her, and the damsel basically throws herself at the hero and kisses him. It's the big moment where their relationship is cemented. Well that happens exactly but it's Owen that is the damsel and Claire that is the hero. I found that to be a nice bit of subversion. Especially in light of this brouhaha from a week or two ago.

There is an attempt to give the two boys an arc but it fails completely. There's two or three lines about how their parents are probably getting divorced and that greatly upsets the younger of the two brothers. This divorce plot is promptly never mentioned again. I suppose it's there to get us to care about them but they are children. Put kids in danger and we'll care. The fact that they're kids is enough.

There was some stuff with the dinosaurs themselves that didn't make much sense, certain cross-species alliances seemed forced. And I'm not talking about Owen being the alpha in a pack of raptors. That was done superbly well and hands down the best aspect of the movie. I'm more or less talking about (SPOILERS) Blue the Raptor and the T-Rex HAVING A CONVERSATION as if they're saying, "Sweet moves back there, sister. But I gotta split. My pack is dead except for Star-Lord over there and he's still tight with a raccoon. Lame-ass." "Ain't nothing but a g-thang, killa. But if I see your ass again Imma eat it." "Aight. Peace out." (END SPOILERS.) It goes back to my initial impression of the movie. This overall story direction had the same logic of a kid smashing action figures together.

But, even after a day or two of thought, the movie still gets away with it because it was just so damn cool and fun. Watch it you haven't seen it yet.

If you liked my review please share it. If you'd like to converse leave me a comment or get to me on twitter @MisterFroggie. This is a new format of review for me so constructive feedback of any kind would be greatly appreciated.

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