Monday, June 15, 2015

Jurassic World

I don't usually do reviews of things but I've decided to make an exception.

Did you know that Michael Crichton died a few years back?  Yeah, I hadn't known either until I checked his Wikipedia page two years ago, looking for some other piece of information, and was startled to see that he'd passed.  How was that not huge news?  How did I not know about that?  He's one of my favorite writers and insanely talented (he was also a Doctor, all around talented).  I'm a huge fan of Michael Crichton's work and an equally big fan of the first Jurassic Park movie and the books.

All that to say, I hope he's looking down and laughing at the people who put together Jurassic World.

The first thing I want to say is that you probably shouldn't take your kids to see this movie.  It is NOT kid friendly.  It's rated PG-13 but I'm pretty sure they bribed someone to get that rating.  This movie is full of death, both dinosaur and human, and treats it with either a disturbing lack of sensitivity or with a melodramatic mope.  Unless you want to have some long discussions with your kids about death and dying, I would not recommend you take them.  This is scary because they're already merchandising toys for ten and under.

Okay, on to the movie.  Warning, there be a few spoilers ahead, though I'll try to keep them to a minimum.

I knew Jurassic World wouldn't be as a good as the original, it's a very rare sequel is (especially in this series), but I was really hoping that it would at least have a spark of the original.  It didn't.  In the same vein as every major "block buster" these days they compensate for lack of plot and engaging characters with millions in special effects and marketing.

As I walked out of the theater with Stephanie, brain whirling, I tried to pin point what bothered me the most about it.  Big dinosaurs, check.  Decent directing, check.  Big budget, over the top effects, check.  Lots of suspense and scares, check.  It was like the writers watched the first movie and found all elements that made the first one so amazing, then tried to replicate them in Jurassic World... but even bigger, scarier, with more teeth, which is amusing because that's what the corporate characters were trying to do in the movie.  (At many times the plot was very analogous to the movie itself, corporate money trying to turn something magical into something lucrative.  The park has a Starbucks, for god's sake.)

Yet, despite stealing so much from the original, somehow nothing the writers and directors did worked as well as Jurassic Park.  So I dug into it in my head to try and figure out why.

The characters are all one dimensional, there are huge plot holes, all of the sub plots fell flat, but for me at least it was the stupidity that really ruined it.  I don't blame the actors, they did they best they could with what they had (poor Vincent D'Onofrio).  The entire plot of this movie revolves around the characters being really, really stupid.

In Jurassic Park (book and movie), the characters are all brilliant.  Sure, they were flawed too, which all characters should be, but at the core they were almost all brilliant people with good intentions.  It was an intelligent story that combines biology with Chaos theory mathematics, it was awesome.  They had amazing science and put together an almost fool proof system to contain the dinosaurs.  The characters were smart, the systems they created were smart, it was the hacker Nedry that messed everything up so he could steal embryos, followed by cascading issues as they try to regain control over the park.  Smart people trying to cope with a messed up scenario.

In Jurassic World, their "system" never fails, it's just inadequate and the people are too stupid to have an effective response.  All their technology is in place, they have all their protections, weapons, vehicles, and personnel, they're just comically ineffective.  Seriously, their back up plan was cattle prods.  That's why they can't contain the situation, bad ass dinosaur gets out and everyone is fucked.  There's lots of other examples for the stupidity of the characters but I don't want to have too many spoilers.  If you go see this movie you will be constantly shaking your head at the decisions these people make.  Really?  That's what you're going to do?  These are supposed to be experts in their fields yet they all come across as idiotic.

There's only one character with any common sense, Owen.  He seems smart only in comparison to the other characters, to any one watching he just speaks sense.  You guys are dumb, you're making dumb decisions, but they do it anyway.  And look, everyone is screwed.

At any point in time, had there been any smart people in Jurassic World, the situation would have been predicted and avoided, or quickly contained.  End of movie.  Instead, we follow dumb people around, watching their inadequate preparations fall short, making bad decision after bad decision.  Really, that's the plot driver, stupid people making stupid choices and dying.

One thing that makes me sad is how many people these days either haven't seen the original at all, or haven't seen it recently.  To them, Jurassic World will seem bright, flashy, and original.  For the rest of us, that loved the first movie, it's easy to see how bad a rip off this movie is.

The other thing that made me sad was hearing the iconic Jurassic Park theme song played (blatantly) in Jurassic World.  I mean, they beat you in the face with that music five minutes into the movie.  It was like getting into an elevator and hearing one of your favorite tunes in Muzak form playing over the speakers.

Once again Hollywood tries to carbon copy the intelligence and wit of a fantastic story, follow up on previous success, and fails as it always does.  Jurassic Park will remain a classic for a long time, Jurassic World, for all its box office success, will fast fade from memory.  That said, the producers will call it a success because they've already got big numbers, Crichton's family will laugh all the way to the bank, and the ghost of Michael Crichton will smile because no one else has come close to matching his original vision and talent.

I'm not going to say you shouldn't see this movie, it has some general entertainment value, just moderate your expectations.

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