By: Kevin Jordan
Rawr and stuff.
Do you remember, twenty-two years ago, how terrified you were while watching Jurassic Park? The T-Rex, raptors, electrocuted children, and Samuel L. Jackson’s dismembered arm? It was like nothing we’d seen before and it was awesome, even if it scared the bejeezus out of us. Do you remember yet? Now, imagine the exact opposite…and that’s Jurassic World. If you’ve seen any of the previews, you already have an idea of what I’m talking about because you saw Chris Pratt riding a motorcycle alongside a pack of raptors. The raptors were easily the scariest part of the original film and now they’ve been relegated to Star Lord’s posse? The correct reaction to that preview is – wait, what now?
If I had to describe Jurassic World in one sentence it would be as follows: take San Andreas and replace earthquakes with dinosaurs. For a movie that took twelve years to make (Jurassic World that is), the finished product makes you wonder what the writers were doing for the other eleven years, eleven months, and twenty-five days. And we’re talking about not one, but four writers. Yeah, four writers took twelve years to come up with “the raptor whisperer” and drop him into a lazy ripoff of the original story.
(Side note: If you are the kind of person who gets upset at critics trashing movies that are “pure entertainment” or “not meant to be deep,” what the hell are you doing reading reviews in the first place? If you just want to see dinosaurs chase people around and occasionally eat one, you should stop reading this and go see it.)
If you are still reading this after my side note, let me tell you why this movie was such a massive waste of time. As I said, the movie is essentially a remake of the original, with a couple of tweaks to make it seem as different as night…and later that night. Jurassic World is a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, built on top of the original Jurassic Park theme park. After several years of operations, the owners want something new to keep people coming to the park, so they genetically engineer/invent a new dinosaur (called Indominous Rex and, yes, it’s okay to laugh) that is a cross between a raptor and a tyrannosaurus, is really smart, can camouflage itself, and can even make itself invisible to infrared heat sensors. In other words, it’s the dinosaur version of the Predator. If you are in any way surprised that Predator Rex escapes and tries to kill everybody, well – welcome to Earth.
The similarities continue with a couple of kids (Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson) being sent to the park to be with their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who just happens to run the park (I know; it gets worse). The younger kid knows all there is to know about dinosaurs and the older kid is a moody teenager whose sole trait is ogling every titted person in the park (as opposed to being a computer hacker). Unlike the original pair of children, these brothers have no useful skill or knowledge to help them survive other than how to change the battery in a Jeep Wrangler. But they will most definitely be attacked by Predator Rex while they are trapped in a park vehicle. And just in case they weren’t annoying enough, they will whine about their parents possibly getting a divorce because that’s exactly what the audience wants to care about in a movie called Jurassic World.
(Another side note: there’s a particularly crappy scene in which the boys’ mother – Judy Greer – calls up Claire to scold Claire for not spending time with the boys. I’ll repeat that – the mother who sent her boys thousands of miles away is scolding her sister for working instead of being with her nephews and is making that phone call from her own place of work. Again – FOUR writers; TWELVE years.)
The last major thing ripped off from the original is the idea of an insider looking to make himself rich by selling out to another party. I won’t ruin who the insider is (though if you can’t guess, seriously – welcome to Earth), but you will immediately recognize Vincent D’Onofrio as the one non-dinosaur villain. Here, the “writers” tweaked the story a little by making Vic (D’Onofrio) the head of an outfit training raptors to replace human soldiers. Owen (Pratt) is the one actually doing the training, but Vic is pushing for a field test to prove his idea so he can make billions sending raptors to Afghanistan. If that’s not ridiculous enough, Owen is able to communicate with the raptors using English and a little clicker. I sincerely hope Michael Crichton is haunting these writers because if he wasn’t already dead, this would have killed him.
There are lots of other, smaller rip-offs throughout the film, from feeding the most dangerous animal in the park with a side of beef, to the main protagonist hugging a dinosaur, to two goofy control room operators (whom the writers didn’t even have the decency to kill off this time around), to humans magically able to outrun the T-Rex while holding a flare (I have to stop because this could go on for a while).
But all of that pales in comparison to the movie’s biggest problem – it doesn’t feel like anything is really at stake or that any of the main characters are ever in any real danger. Owen can talk to velociraptors – how much danger can they ever really be in? Not to mention none of them suffers more than a scratch or two and out of the more than 20,000 people on the island, less than twenty people actually die.
If there’s one thing that keeps the film from being a complete failure, it’s Chris Pratt doing what he does best by delivering a solid performance and adding some much needed comedy to an otherwise dreary film. Hell, he earned his paycheck simply by getting through the motorcycle scene without crashing because he was laughing so hard.
It is possible that I’m being a little too hard on the writers for this one. It occurred to me that maybe they resented writing this film, but couldn’t turn it down because they have bills to pay. There’s a scene early on in which Claire is explaining to Owen why they created the bigger and more terrifying dinosaur and Owen replies with something to the effect of “you already have dinosaurs.” It makes sense as an allegory because this movie could have at least been decent if they had just focused on the regular dinosaurs and the park and put the characters into some real danger rather than doubling down on soldier raptors and a Frankenstein Rex and making F-Rex fight the raptors and the T-Rex at the end (I wish I was making that up). Maybe the writers put that line in there as a protest to the studio forcing them to churn out another bad Jurassic Park sequel, then wrote some of the dumbest shit they could think of just to see if it would get the green light. And you thought this was going to be a negative review.
Rating: Ask for all of your money back, go home, and watch the original again.