By Marcianne Miller
Since it has made over $500 million world-wide in its debut weekend, there’s no way I can convince you not to see the blockbuster Jurassic World. All I can do express a minority opinion and maybe save you some money. Yes, you do get your money’s worth—the movie is big and gory and there are plenty of dinosaurs. But it’s also ridiculously silly and unless you’re a 10-year-old dino freak you forget the movie before you even cross the parking lot. Even with hunky Chris Pratt and local celeb Vincent D’Onofrio (who can read the phone book and be mesmerizing), I was bored to tears. If I wasn’t being repulsed by endless scenes of monsters chomping people in half, I was yawning.
It’s 22 years after Jurassic Park and the gigantic dinosaur theme park on Isla Nublar off Costa Rica is in full operation. There are hologram dinosaurs and real ones and they’re all terrific and fascinating to watch. Thousands of people pour into the park each day, which is amazing because there is absolutely no shade in the place, but in reality it’s suffering a decline in attendance. So the greedy evil corporate owners have demanded a new attraction to hype up the profits. “Bigger! Louder! More teeth!” The scientists have come up with a genetically modified behemoth, Indominus Rex. She’s a nasty monster–she ate her twin sister—and pays no attention to the “Do Not Escape” signs.
Chris Pratt, so likeable in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) has found himself in Jurassic World being lackluster as Owen Grady, the resident velociraptor trainer. His dullness is partly due to his unrequited hots for the Operations Manger of the park, Claire Dearing. Played with mind-numbing inanity by super-pretty Bryce Dallas Howard, Claire prances through the entire film in a gorgeous white power suit. She runs through the jungle, crawls away from hungry dinosaurs, shrieks and grimaces and bites her over-ripe lips, all without breaking an ankle in her high heels or even getting a smudge on her cheek. I thought I was going to gag. Mercifully, Chris Pratt kept showing up in most of her scenes and I was dutifully distracted.
Instead of playing Ms. Annoying Careerist and following in Owen’s derring-do footsteps, Claire should have been faithful to her familial responsibilities. Turns out her two nephews, teenage Zach (Nick Robinson) and his younger brother Gray (Ty Simpkins) are spending their vacation at the park and she’s supposed to be taking care of them. Well, that doesn’t happen. This woman has no motherly instincts. Heck, she doesn’t even think of the dinosaurs as things she should care about. They’re not living things who have needs and get cranky. They’re “assets.”
The kids were pretty good–plucky and clever and screamed with real velocity. The best scene in the movie is the two boys traveling the park’s savannah in a big transparent gyroscope that Steven Spielberg thought up. It was awesome and I could have ridden in it for the rest of the movie. Alas, a dinosaur catches up with them and then the gyroscope is punctured by a humungous claw and the boys hightail it off to the next death-defying obstacle. At least they helped one another and didn’t have too much stupid dialogue so I liked them a lot.
Notice that the kids are two boys. Could have been a boy and a girl, huh? Why not? Well, what do you expect? The whole thing was gender stupid. There’s one woman who plays an operator in the NASA-like control room. And another who chaperones the boys for a while but she ends up getting chewed up and flung about in the grossest slaughter of them all. There’s one black actor who plays a dinosaur assistant trainer and one Indian actor and one Asian-American who are corporate employees. That’s it. Even most of the terrorized tourists, at least those you could see before they got stomped on, are white.
Basically, the big, bad hybrid dinosaur gets loose, wreaks havoc and all the big reptiles fight one another or chase after humans and chomp them to pieces. It’s all quite fun if you like that sort of thing. Obviously a lot of people do.
It’s not as good as the original Jurassic Park. How could it be? That was the summer blockbuster of all time. But way better than the forgettable two intervening outings in the franchise. Director Colin Trevorrow’s previous film, Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) was a quirky, delight. If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to. But even someone as talented as Trevorrow could not overcome the mishmash of a script that had five writers on it (including himself). The biggest failing of the film, which the original did not suffer from, is a lack of interesting characters. Okay, the movie has a lot of dinosaurs and special effects, but for a movie to be a good movie it has to be about people and it really helps if the people are worth caring about.
See Jurassic World if you must. It is an event. 3-D, and its additional charge, is not necessary. The movie is full of scary jolts just as it is. But do save yourself a bundle and at least see it at a bargain matinee. I personally think it’s too gruesome for sensitive young children.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.
Showing city-wide. Check theatres for show times.
Marcianne Miller is a member of SEFCA (Southeast Film Critics Assn.) and NCFCA (North Carolina Film Critics Assn.) Email her at [email protected]
I don’t understand the race issue, the black guy actually survives which is unlike most horror movies!
I am agreeing with a lot of your points. I thought this was a surprising dull and poorly written movie. Maybe Vincent D’Onofrio ate everyone’s script and so they had to come up with their dialogue on the spot?
The movie had a big gender problem and racial problem. But honestly that’s just something I’ve come to expect with any blockbuster since it’s hard to remember any of them ever taking any kind of risk whether it be with casting or storytelling.
This was a stinker. : (