Jurassic World

★★★
Thankfully, it’s good, but not enough to make it worth the wait.
Movie Review #980

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Film criticism doesn’t exactly require that I state the obvious, but I’m going to anyway: we’re not supposed to look at “Jurassic World” as an allegory.  To do so is depressing.  Take a look at the two  leads.  Chris Pratt portrays a Velociraptortrainer, heavily concerned with developing a sense of mutual trust with his raptors.  His unlikely partner throughout this journey is Bryce Dallas Howard, the operational officer for Jurassic World, who is borderline-obsessed with making sure the park turns a profit.  You look at it as an allegory, and you realize that these two stand for the executives at the very film company that made “Jurassic World” possible.  Pratt represents the executives concerned with marketing and appealing to the audience, while Howard is concerned with making sure the movie turns a profit.  It’s a depressing allegory and I highly doubt it was intended, but sadly, its message—that “Jurassic World” is ultimately a game a finance over aesthetic—works.

I don’t want to cast aspersions on “Jurassic World”.  It’s a good, fun movie.  If it weren’t, I doubt it would have turned such an incredible profit in its opening weekend.  Given the amount of time this spent (12 years) in development hell, and how long it’s been (14 years) since the last entry, most of us doubted that it would be the first film to cross $500 million in its opening weekend.  Granted, the movie isn’t as great as the original “Jurassic Park”, but it’s beyond impressive that the story here actually seems to win in comparison to the first story.  It’s similar, but different.  22 years after the events of the first film, a new theme park called Jurassic World has been opened on an island called Isla Nubar.  Here, they don’t just bring back dinosaurs using their DNA.  They genetically modify them. Their latest endeavor is the Indominus rex, which laughs at the inferiority of the T. rex.  Only the lab that designed it knows its genetic components; it’s part T. rex, but the rest is classified.  The few officers in the park who do know about this endeavor have been keeping it in containment and have not yet begun to use it as a public display for the park.  But when the Indominus rexbreaks out of captivity, all hell is going to break loose.

“Jurassic World” benefits from many, many references to the original “Jurassic Park”.  We have nods here that come out of nowhere, such as when one of the World employees is seen wearing a Park T-shirt.  A long dialogue follows as Bryce Dallas Howard’s character instructs him to change shirts, and explains just why having a Jurassic Park shirt on in Jurassic World comes across as hazardous to the rejuvenated theme park.  It’s a humorous, nostalgic, almost meta nod to the original work.

Though “World” benefits most from something that was barely around when “Park” was released: a 3-D presentation.  I highly recommend seeing “Jurassic World” in 3-D, or perhaps not at all.  Director Colin Trevorrow includes more scares in his sophomore work (following his 2012 independent debut, “Safety Not Guaranteed”) than Steven Spielberg did in “Park” back in 1993.  “World” offers a few really intense and exciting scenes that benefit from remarkable CGI.  I can’t deny that they’d look great in 2-D, but they look all the more “jurassic” in 3-D.

I don’t doubt that the classic 3-D gimmick was part of what has made (and does continue to make) “Jurassic World” such a gigantic financial success.  Clearly, seeing dinosaurs not pop out at us is “soo twenty-two years ago.”  But it’s obvious that a much greater factor into the movie’s success was marketing.  “Jurassic World” features lots and lots and lots and lots of product placement.  The nonstop pluggery starts out as an enjoyable joke.  For instance, Jurassic World has become a bit tight on funding lately, so their new dinosaur may have to go by a name like “Verizon Wireless Presents the Indominus rex.”  Such is the suggestion of one World executive, while another executive offers the clever suggestion of using different corporate funding and name their next dinosaur “Pepsisaurus” instead.  I found this particular scene rather amusing.  Even more enjoyable may have been one of our first glimpses of the new park, where we notice a building labelled Samsung Innovation Center.  But these clever plugs are balanced with questionable ones, such as Mercedes-Benz.  Seeing the logo appear in front of us ostentatiously reduces an adventurous SUV trek to a simple car commercial.  Then there’s the product placement that takes the in-your-face approach during action scenes.  I have to say, it is quite bothersome seeing Starbucks and Pandora stores pop up side by side when all hell is breaking loose onscreen.  That, after all, is what we came to watch in the first place.  We didn’t come to get a Frappuccino or any new jewelry or such.

I saw the first “Jurassic Park” movie during the summer that bridged third and fourth grade.  I caught word of a “Jurassic Park IV” soon after, and at the time, its release date was slated for April of 2008.  Let me tell you, I was excited, and I was forced to level that excitement over eight years.  At the end of the day, I didenjoy the outcome.  But if I had known ahead of time exactly what I had been waiting for, I might have only spent the last few months gearing up.

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