Monday, June 15, 2015

Old Saurs, New Grievances

Last week in an act of great kindness, Al shouted me a ticket to see Jurassic World. Here is my review! And here is Al's. And Jamas'.

Twenty-two year since Jurassic Park. Seven years since the death of Michael Crichton, and nineteen - nineteen years since Billy and the Cloneosaurus. One of us is getting very old, and it may not be the dinosaur. Nevertheless, and despite an advertising campign that left me a little non-plussed, I quite enjoyed this little low-budget indie movie that dared to dream. One of us may be going a little soft in the head. It's still not the dinosaur.

To borrow an already laboured description, Jurassic World is a game of two halves: in the first act of the movie you get the "ooh aah" bits - the technological advances and the realisation of the actually-running-no,-not-a-dry-run-this-time full attraction. There are some familiar elements - the journey to the Island, the rides, the fragmented family group - one of whom must learn about nurturing and responsibility, one of whom just likes big reptiles. There are several contenders for the Jeff Goldblum role of doomsayer, and a not-unsympathetic pretender to the role of Richard Attenborough's John Hammond. One thing I did approve of in this setup is the acknowledgement that this was not a simple case of history having been ignored and then repeated; human nature also plays its part - there's some hubris, of course, but also greed and fickleness. The new dinosaurs of Jurassic World are new dinosaurs because corporate sponsors want a bigger, scarier, "cooler" attraction in a time when Stegosauruses are no more remarkable than a zoo elephant to the modern punter. There's an obvious metatextual element to that, and so I sadly note that Jet Jr is watching movies that are highly sophisticated with CG effects and rendering, but that as he grows up the wonder at the skill behind it, not to mention the great leaps made since my childhood (or even 1993) will be lost on him. When the spectacular is the norm, all you can look for is the flaws.

Monty Python, 65 million years ago...
Jurassic World does have its own flaws - the main characters are pretty one-note (though I finally 'get' Chris Pratt now, I guess), and the two juvenile characters effectively kill their babysitter by abandoning her, and yes, the dinosaurs are the most interesting and well-rounded characters in the movie. But that's what you pay to see, right? So it's good news that once things properly kick off with the iRex at large and proving itself smarter-than-the-average, it's a fun ride. The chases are pretty good, even if the lead [human] female is in high heels, and by crikey the final battle is a doozy. I was actually a little sad that for an audience of people at an opening night with freebies, there was really no interaction or cheering during the feature. I know Kiwi audiences tend towards reticence at these things, but it's an element of US audience culture that I think I could bear to be part of.

In closing then, I recommend this movie. Thanks, Al! But don't bother with the 3-D, it's not that important.  Also, as cool as the ending was (with extra cheese in that closing line), I'm a little worried about what a sequel might mean for this franchise. I was pleasantly surprised this time around, movie gods, maybe we could leave it there?

1 comment:

  1. Nice! And yes, the climactic smack-down certainly delivered, even to slightly jaded action film-go-ers.

    I agree with your thoughts about another sequel, but recall reading about a script when JP 4 was first being mooted which seemed to be telling the story which I fear a next film would most likely go in - genetically modified and hyper-intelligent Raptors being deployed by the military.
    Personally, I'd rather see a sitcom about Rex and Blue sharing an enclosure...with hilarious consequences...