Why I Liked Jurassic World

Look, it’s not perfect. It was never going to be perfect. If your expectations were to high, that might be your own fault.

When it comes to sequels, particularly sequels 22 years after the original, and when the original was a literal box office monster… one must take this into consideration. And this isn’t something like Star Wars, which is more like continuing a story set in a particular world. Jurassic Park isn’t that — it’s a concept brought into the “real” world. Just… keep that in mind. You’re never going to recapture the original awe of seeing dinosaurs for the first time. Let’s accept that and move on.

So, Jurassic Park, the original, is on my Top 5. Spielberg is my favorite film director.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I was REALLY looking forward to this.

Let’s get some of the issues out of the way:

1. The director didn’t set up any chance for wonder.

Colin Trevorrow did a good job. But there were major problems with pacing. Some sequences felt rushed, others lingered too long. I know not everyone can be Spielberg, but these kinds of films can be improved if you give the audience a chance to see things through the eyes of the characters, not just as a voyeur, peering in on a situation.

2. The InGen plot.

There had to be a human villain. And I guess it had to be InGen. But Vincent D’onofrio’s weaponized raptor plan was a little silly.

3. The bland children.

James and I are notorious for mocking Lex and Tim, Lex especially. She’s pretty useless. She screams a lot. She doesn’t offer any helpful advice. She can’t pronounce “herbivore.” And, despite being a self-proclaimed hacker, she can’t correctly hold a mouse. Tim, though seemingly more intelligent than his older sister, doesn’t do much in the way of helping, particularly when Alan and Ellie are desperately trying to keep the door closed and Ellie can’t reach the gun… But these kids — I just don’t understand. Gray and Zach had certain characteristics that were alluded to — Gray’s (possible autistic?) obsession with numbers and data, Zach’s distracting teenage attraction to cute girls. Neither of these traits come into play at any point during the film. Even in JP II, the gymnastic skills of Ian’s daughter come into play. Gray and Zach serve as props for Claire’s frigidity and disconnectedness. Speaking of…

4. Claire

There’s been lots and lots of debate of the character of Claire, and her relationship to/with Owen. I get it. And trust me, for the first act and a half, I couldn’t believe her white silk suit stayed so pristine. But over the course of the second and third act, it’s clear that Claire can hold her own. She can run in the heels she wore to work that morning. She takes the initiative to release and bring out the T-Rex. So there are moments where she’s pretty great, but the film never really acknowledges them. The one moment that bothered me the most in the whole film was when, immediately after saving Owen by shooting to death the flying dinosaur attacking him, the nephews still choose Owen as the cool and safe one. Really?

These are all some definite issues found in Jurassic World. And there are others. But what makes it so amazing?

1. The park is open.

It is actually up and running and successful. It’s so successful, it has major corporate support in the form of a Downtown Disney/Universal Studios CityWalk. This is a great idea. Major theme parks have disasters all the time, but they continue to function, often with continued success.

2. Paying homage.

If the last two acts of Jurassic World took place in the original visitors’ center, I would not complain. Seeing the tattered remains of the “When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth” banner, the remains of the original skeleton, the same Jeep, the murals… Not to mention all of the other references like Dr. Malcolm’s book, the “original” gates, and B.D. Wong, of course. I was actually pretty disappointed that Barbasol can didn’t show up in any of the close-up mud shots.

3. The T-Rex wins.

Well, truthfully it’s a little sad that the big sea-monster dinosaur actually claims the win, but the T-Rex puts up a good fight. The message behind every JP is that the T-Rex is king, and this is no different. Though I wish she had a little more screen time earlier in the flick, it was still nice to see her come into play.

4. The dino-dialogue

A lot of the dialogue was questionable. I mean, it’s tough. An action flick is expected to have a certain amount of witty, self-referential repartee. But… there were some pretty pathetic lines here. That’s why I truly believe the best dialogue was between the dinosaurs – the raptors and the Indominus Rex, the raptors and the T-Rex — whatever’s happening there  is far more interesting than the forced lines between D’onofrio and Pratt, Pratt and Howard, etc. I would have loved some subtitles, but even as is, those interactions were far more entertaining than any human interactions on screen.

As of right now, Jurassic World is on par to make nearly $205 million in the domestic box office, the second-largest opening weekend ever. Already, sites are pouring out their thinkpieces about why this is.

It’s not rocket science, folks. We want to see those monsters that Spielberg brought to live 22 years ago — the human monsters and, you know, the dinosaurs.

 

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