I’m honestly finding it difficult to comprehend why so many people are raving about Jurassic World. It’s just so bad! A terminally dull by-the-numbers action movie that cynically manipulates its audience by constant reference to their collective childhood and nostalgia. The story is contrived and predictable, the over-use of CGI makes it near impossible to engage with the movie, and the characters are one dimensional. It bored me to my very core. That’s pretty much all I have to say on that.
So instead of a full review, I would like to explore what I think this movie represents and explain why I truly believe that this is one of the most evil films ever made.
Most films these days have a character or characters that are designed in such a way that the audience can immediately identify with them. Despite the fact that the punters at the Jurassic World theme park are analogous with the movie-going public, the film offers up two brothers who, boring as they are, represent the two main age groups that blockbusters are targeted at. These are young, excitable kids who want to see their favourite characters do cool stuff; and the disengaged and generally uninterested teenagers whose money Hollywood execs covet like gold-hoarding dragons. Note that these characters are male. Because only boys like dinosaurs, am I right? This is what Hollywood thinks their target audience is like – little yappy lads who have asthma attacks when they see their favourite characters on screen; and rad-hip-cool teenage boys who stare at attractive girls like psychopaths because THAT’S HOW RELATIONSHIPS START. In this analogy, the brothers represent the sort of consumers who still, perplexing, think Transformers movies are legitimate cinematic classics.
Next we have The Woman. You know, The Woman. For there can be only one in a Hollywood blockbuster. Typically, The Woman either has to be the ‘badass’ action girl who, under her mask of strong-independent-womanliness, secretly wants a big strong man to hold her at night; or your basic damsel in distress who cannot form independent thought and needs a penis-owner to save her from most situations. A subcategory of the damsel in distress is a female character who has next to no impact on the story whatsoever. Further, women in movies have to, by law, be either driven career obsessives or mothers. And you can bet your bottom dollar that career orientated women secretly wish they were mothers. Bryce Dallas Howard’s character is the career driven, low story impact damsel in distress subtype – although, in fairness, she does actually do something right at the end of the movie.
Here, The Woman represents Hollywood itself; she is shown to be obsessed with marketing figures and focus groups, attendance rates and money, and sees the dinosaurs as assets to exploit rather than living, breathing beings. Drops in attendance and sudden spikes when new attractions are unveiled has led her and her team of marketing executives to the conclusion that they should genetically engineer a super-dinosaur from a number of other species and any other animal that will later be plot convenient. Marketing people are smart like that.
The new dinosaur, stupidly named Indomitus Rex, represents current blockbusters generally; hodge-podge Frankenstein’s monsters cobbled together from other movies and CGI. A plot element from here, a character type from there. Sew it all together with boring action set-pieces and we’ve got ourselves a new movie, Egor. IT’S ALIVE! ALIVE!
Not content with pillaging its own graveyard for inspiration, Jurassic World digs up the cemeteries of other (better) movies in its mad quest for serviceable body parts. The headache inducing raptor/motorbike scene is pretty much the Endor speeder-bike chase from Return of the Jedi (but less interesting). It’s no coincidence that Chris Pratt is/was rumoured to be the intended star for a future Indiana Jones reboot – he’s basically Dr. Jones but with less personality. Pratt’s scenes with Howard in the jungle are incredibly reminiscent of similar scenes in Temple of Doom, right down to their respective costumes. The general vibe of 70s era life force man versus uptight woman that Joss Whedon pointed out becomes even more apparent as the movie goes on. Perhaps the most mindboggling homage – if you can call it that – is a fairly direct adaptation of a plot point from an animated Tekken movie of all things.
The eccentric billionaire who owns Jurassic World represents your good directors; principled creatives who genuinely care for their art and, to a greater or lesser extent, the audience having a good time. See Gareth Evans, Alex Garland, Jonathan Glazer etc. The character played by the woefully under-used Vincent D’Onofrio is the opposite; it doesn’t matter if it is right or even good, as long as it makes money. Michael Bay, basically. The creepy scientist (who is surprisingly not German) probably represents some poor writer somewhere in Hollywood. A wannabe auteur shackled to a typewriter who will spend their peonage pumping out blockbuster drivel because one day they might be allowed to make the magnum opus that they have in their head.
You’d think that Pratt’s character would represent the nostalgic members of the audience. Those movie-goers who were utterly transfixed by Jurassic Park as kids and went to see this latest film out of childlike nostalgia. Really though, Pratt’s character is simply the latest embodiment of The Hollywood Hero; the man with a thousand faces and no personality. The Average Joe compelled to save the day because the plot demands that he does. A figure who is looking increasingly tired and out of place in modern movies, but will constantly be reused because… well… it worked before, right? We need that guy… otherwise we’d have to write different and relatable lead characters instead of copy-pasting the same one over and over.
No, the true representative of the nostalgic masses comes in the form of Jake Johnson’s Lowery, who is the epitome of nostalgic man-childishness. While not straying too far into fan-boy territory, it’s clear that this character’s sole purpose is to reinforce how cool Jurassic Park was – as if the audience didn’t know that already. He wears an original Jurassic Park t-shirt, has dinosaur toys covering his work station (a nod to Firefly?) and waxes nostalgic about the original park despite the disapproval of the boss lady. You liked Jurassic Park? We’ll have none of that nostalgia here, thank you very much. We’re doing something ‘new’ here, remember? (Note also that this character – the representation of the nostalgic audience member – is shown throughout the movie to be a bit of a loser.) The awkward dichotomy – the balance act between old and new – is one that is never resolved and that permeates through the entire movie. The film expects – nay, demands – that the viewer has seen Jurassic Park, but then belittles that movie and frantically shovels new stuff into your brain. This makes the huge amount of references throughout the movie seem token and pointless.
Nowhere is this ongoing battle between good and new more apparent than in the last 15 minutes of the movie where the new dinosaur goes up against the original T-Rex in an incredibly predictable and oddly short show down. Given that the new dinosaur has been the weirdly omnipresent villain of the movie, it obviously dies at the end (not a spoiler), but not before it kicks seven shades of shit out of our old T-Rex buddy. Of course, the T-Rex could never win. The story would never allow it to win outright because that would be tantamount to the film makers admitting that Jurassic Park is better than their exploitative blockbuster sequel. Instead the new film resolves itself with a helping hand from deus ex dinosaur – signposted throughout the movie and predictably showing up at the end.
We can tell what the film truly says about Hollywood by where all the characters end up. The scientist/screen writer character gets bungled out of the movie, for he has a new master now and more crap to make. The owner of the park/good director literally goes down in flames trying to do something that was a little too much for him to handle. The misguided opportunist/bad director also meets his end, ironically by CGI. The brothers/general audience are largely unchanged by the events of the movie and will probably just get on with their lives. The nostalgic bloke disappears and is never heard of again, presumably reflecting the speed with which hard-core fans left the auditorium when the credits started rolling. You already know what happened to The Hollywood Hero and The Woman. They walked off into the sunset together, of course. Probably to star in every blockbuster movie from now until the end of time.
But then, the movie makes a final concession. The Jurassic Park T-Rex – old, battered and beaten – stands proudly and gives its trademark roar, reminding the audience that the original is still the best.
Put simply, this movie is pointless. Like all the very worst remakes, it adds absolutely nothing to the series it’s attempting to resurrect. So devoid of original thought that not only does it batter its audience with nostalgia, but also cherry-picks the rest of its ideas from other movies. It’s a cynical reanimation of a franchise long dead for the sole purpose of making money. Vacuous and bereft of soul. A film that hates its own fans.
If you like Jurassic Park, re-watch Jurassic Park. Don’t subject yourself to a film that has nothing but utter contempt for you and your nostalgia.