June 19, 2015 by bck1402
Jurassic World makes a fairly bold statement from the off. Having been in operation for the last ten years, attendance is waning. They note that attendance spikes every time a new attraction is introduced, and in typically American fashion, they decide to “go big, or go home.” They decide to create a new hybrid dinosaur that is bigger and badder than anything before.
“…your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” – Ian Malcolm (Jurassic Park)
It says something about the current state of entertainment as well. As much as we clamour for something ’New’ – at least, we say we want something new – but what we actually expect is more of the same. After all, this is a Jurassic Park movie, right? Do we really want something new? Sure. As with the waning visitors to the park in the movie, we have become jaded and the dinosaurs on screen are really not cutting it anymore. We’ve seen them before in the previous movies, and other copycats or documentaries that employ the same visual effects. The “Wow” factor is gone, so we want something new.
And when that comes along, what do we expect?
More of the same dino-action that we loved before.
“Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and… screaming.” – Ian Malcolm (The Lost World: Jurassic Park)
So what do we truly want in our entertainment these days? Often we don’t recognise the “something new” or “something different” until it’s passed us by. Forgive me for harping over some of these shows again, but let’s take the Wachowskis for example. Any new project that comes from them these days is likely to be branded with “From the creators of The Matrix”, and that can be quite the curse for their projects. Jupiter Ascending was born from the opportunity to do something new and different and the Warner Studio backed them on it. Audience, and critics alike, however didn’t really want anything new because the obvious comparisons to The Matrix were made. The same has happened to their TV project, Sense8, done in collaboration with “The creator of Babylon 5”, J. Michael Straczynski. What I felt was an impressive attempt at massive global scale storytelling, utilising a diverse ethnic case, most of whom hailed from the country their story took place in, was considered too ‘muddled’ to be easily comprehensible.
The show is very much in line with The Wachowskis’ and Straczynski’s fascination with revolutions or cycles, and destinies, while reveling in the nature of connections within humanity. It does push boundaries too, particularly on at the sexual front (LBGT characters are more than represented, including having a transexual actor playing a transexual character) more than along racial lines.
A look at the box office can easily point to what audiences expect as well, as Avengers: Age of Ultron continues to dominate while Tomorrowland is considered a failure. Still, how much different is the current Avengers movie from its predecessor? You still have a bunch of heroes, fighting impossible odds against a villain who somehow has an army on his side (Chitauri aliens in the first, Ultron’s robots in the second). San Andreas doesn’t give anything new to massive natural force destruction that wasn’t present in either The Day After Tomorrow or 2012. Franchises are predicated more on expectations than wants. So, the current top movies at this time include five franchise movies, one based on a TV show, The Rock doing his thing in a natural disaster movie, Melissa McCarthy doing her thing in a (pretty good) riff on a genre movie, Tomorrowland and (surprise) a drama about Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson called Love and Mercy.
As long as the franchises proved financially successful, that is what we will continue to get. After all, these movies come from corporations whose goal is to make money the best way possible, even if it means churning out the same plots with different stories. After all, there aren’t that many plots around, just different representations of those plots.
Just as with the dinosaurs in Jurassic World.
The sole returning character is geneticist, Dr Henry Wu (BD Wong), who proclaims clearly that none of the dinosaurs are real. They never were. A true statement in either the movie or our reality. The initial computer effects used to bring the dinosaurs to life over 22 years ago were state of the art wonders. These days, when computers can create worlds (really, check out the vids) and creatures any imagination can conjure, nothing is surprising anymore. The “Wow” is gone.
“Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions.” – Alan Grant (Jurassic Park III)
Of course, that doesn’t mean you still can’t entertain and Jurassic World does exactly that while making that rather pointed observation about audience wants and expectations. Bringing in a new lab created big bad Indominus Rex, complete with named sponsor backing, adds to the thrills of the new and unknown. This is a dinosaur that’s never existed before so how it behaves is open to imagination, which also means that taking it down requires some creative thinking. The trailer has already shown the raptors in action alongside butch and rugged hero, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) along with a few other newcomers including the shark (Jaws?) swallowing Mosasaurus!
It also means that the dinos are why we’re going to see this new movie. Director Colin Trevorrow smartly builds his movie and lays the key plot points that pay off in the final action scenes, and he pulls it all off with assured skill while paying tribute to the Amblin age of movies. Most of the Jurassic Park tropes are there, and again, there’s is nothing new in the kids being in danger (as in the previous movies) even if they are different kids (as in the previous flicks). Some things just have to remain the same, and even after the events of 22 years ago, hubris reigns supreme with only our hero, Grady, having the humility to recognise the danger the dinos pose.
And despite all that, along with some complaints over the depiction and treatment of the female characters, the movie entertains as it should. Trevorrow hits the beats, the cast bring their game faces, the mix of practical and CGI effects allow for some beautiful human/dino interaction scenes, and more and more, Michael Giacchino proves to be the worthy successor to John Williams as he resurrects some of the more iconic themes and makes them his own. There really is much to love, with some nice science fiction layering, subtle statements on character, witty dialogue and cool action set-pieces.
Much like Tomorrowland taking us back to a different kind of family adventure film, Jurassic World takes us back to the wonder that was Jurassic Park and how it managed to wow us when it first roared across the screens.
Stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, Judy Greer, with Irrfan Khan and BD Wong
Directed by Colin Trevorrow