Friday, June 12, 2015

Jurassic World

A cliché-driven action adventure that never gives itself time to establish meaningful scenes or dramatic scenarios. Made for those who, for some reason, don't think this franchise has run its course.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.

Jurassic World

“No one is impressed with dinosaurs anymore,” exclaims Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) who is more, or less, in charge of the theme park/exotic zoo that is Jurassic World. Of course she’s referring to modern human nature’s callous indifference to stale entertainment. Dinosaurs ruled the Earth for millions of years, but it only took a couple decades for us to sour on them. So, while the state-of-the-art park Jurassic World is packed, they need to keep it that way; and as we’ve learned in far too many movies once rampant consumerism is paired with ethical dilemmas, consumerism always wins and it’s usually the consumers who pay the price.

The moment Claire brings up stock holders and profit percentage points you know everyone is in grave danger. Claire and her geneticists have cooked up a doozy of a dino. It’s meaner, bigger, and smarter, because that’s what creates publicity buzz. This totally won’t backfire, right?

The inevitable escape of the monstrous genetic experiment, along with every other terrible lizard, takes place later on in the film. First, we’re introduced to the cast of characters we’ll be following. There’s the brother duo Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins) who don’t get along. I wonder if they’ll form a brotherly bond when this is all over. Claire is a stiff managerial type who will probably, I don’t know, become less stiff by the end. Then there’s Owen (Chris Pratt) sitting in for the dearly departed Robert Muldoon. Owen is training Velociraptors using the same type of clicker I failed to train my dog with.

Lowery (Jake Johnson) is a technician sitting in the park’s control center who serves as a meta-bridge to Jurassic Park of yesteryear. His only purpose is to crack wise, and provide self-referential Jurassic jokes. Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) is your standard military-complex capitalist nincompoop who wants to turn trained raptors into weapons. The logistics behind Hoskins dastardly plan are half-cooked at best. Masrani (Irrfan Khan) leads the park in John Hammond’s absence. At first he seems rather childishly ecstatic about the idea of the park. As an idealist money appears to be the furthest thing from his mind, right up until it isn’t.

While the pure movie magic of Jurassic Park likely won’t be duplicated, it’s enough to at least hope for a memorable scene or two. What’s disappointing is that Jurassic World rarely has time to establish a set piece before a new one begins. So, genuinely awesome sequences like the T-Rex slowly escaping its paddock in the original are lost here. Instead the action is frantic and non-stop. The characters hardly have a moment to speak to each other – barring necessary exposition and unnecessary one-liners – before the next big action sequence takes place. This rapid-fire dino-action is more exhausting than exciting. The tension is thin, because the movie never allows it to build before destroying everything on screen.

One also has to wonder about Jurassic World’s bizarrely inept security protocols. A theme park with deadly animals allows a ride to be completely controlled by guests even in the event of an evacuation? A nifty gyroscope ride in Jurassic world allows two people to brazenly pilot a spinning glass ball through a grassy field packed with herbivores. A neat idea. However, nobody thought that giving complete control of the ball over to the passengers was a bad idea? No one? Most of the movie hinges on the fact that Jurassic World is about as devoted to safety as a demolition derby that allows audience members to fully participate.

Unfortunately, Jurassic World doesn’t contain any really memorable scenes. Its strict adherence to action-adventure tropes conjures up overtly silly scenarios that lack even a fraction of the original’s visceral punch. It’s big, and loud, and expensive looking, but it feels hollow. Maybe Claire is right. Maybe people just aren’t that impressed by dinosaurs anymore.

3 out of 5

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