I’m a huge Jurassic Park fan, of both the novel and the movie. I even loved both versions of “The Lost World.” I have an entire bin in my closet dedicated to dinosaur toys from the original movie, including a Dr. Grant action figure that’s still in its original package. As a child I would run around my backyard wearing a denim button-up shirt and fedora while looking for the remains of a T-Rex.
Trust me when I say I take no pleasure in this review.
Jurassic World sucked. It’s the worst of the series (yes, even worse than Jurassic Park III). Yes, the movie has made a ton of money, but it does have a lot going for it outside of the theater, including a huge advertising budget and the power of nostalgia.
Contrary to a number of reviews, the movie was not entertaining, nor was it engaging. It’s a poorly written, horribly directed movie with a ridiculous plot. Here is a quick synopsis:
About 20 years after the events of Jurassic Park, a corporation named InGen is finally able to open a functional theme park dubbed “Jurassic World.” Two children are sent to visit the park while their parents prepare for divorce (this is the most development you will get for any of the movies’ characters). They are supposed to meet with their Aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is too busy running the park and developing a new attraction to deal with her nephews. The new attraction, the Indominus Rex, is a genetically modified dinosaur that is designed to increase attendance due to its terrifying nature. In order to ensure the integrity of the new dinosaur’s containment, the park consults ex-Navy man, and highly overused trope Owen Grady (Chris Pratt). Needless to say, shit goes haywire, the dinosaur escapes (because all the characters are beyond stupid), people get eaten etc.
I’m fine with all of this, really. It’s a movie about a dinosaur park, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief and go along with this plotline. However, the movie has multiple silly plot gaps, an obnoxious and overt factor of self-awareness, and eye-roll inducing acting/dialogue. Here is why Jurassic World isn’t worth your money:
1. We get it, it’s meta
“The first Jurassic Park was legit!”
This is a line stated by a character early on in the movie. In context of the conversation, he is talking about the Park that closed down twenty years ago. Some people have claimed that it’s meant to reflect our own expectations of the movie due to the original. The movie is full of these “self-aware” moments, and not all of them are on purpose. The point of making the I-Rex is to help spike attendance, because according to Claire, people don’t find dinosaurs exciting anymore (even though the park has had steady revenue growth). People want upgrades: bigger, louder, more teeth etc.
People have been led to believe that this plotline is again about studio execs pushing unnecessary changes on the audience, or that Jurassic World itself is an upgrade to what people truly want. However, director Colin Trevorrow dispels the idea that this was done on purpose:
“To me, it wasn’t so much about the movie, it was about our culture in general and this desire for constant upgrades,” he says. “It’s not necessarily an indictment, but at least an observation of how the world has changed. I could see how that could be compared to the movie itself, but like many things in this movie, that particular angle didn’t even occur to me.”
To me, it would have better if it were done on purpose. It could have been some explanation as to why the movie is terrible, almost giving the audience a warning: “Sorry, we’ve been making this thing for 10 years and the studio execs made us do this.” Even if this had been the case, a movie isn’t good by virtue of being self-aware. You still have to have something else to give the audience. So what does Jurassic World give?
2. Absolute plot silliness.
One of the first characters you meet is Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), who is looking to turn raptors into weapons for the military. Now, maybe you have some hang-ups about this plan, because you’re not a moron. It seems the characters in the movie know how silly this idea is, but later on they strap GoPros to the raptor’s heads and try to use them to hunt the escaped super dino, because why the fuck not?
See, all stories (even blockbusters) have to give the audience some suspension of disbelief. A lot of people love farfetched stories. It makes us use our imagination, and engage with the characters. The trick is you have to balance it out with some believability. Someone trying to weaponize raptors (and other people actually going along with it), is not believable. Two kids fixing and starting a 20-year old Jeep is not plausible.
There are just so many unbelievable moments that ruin the experience.
How could Claire spend the whole movie running away from dinosaurs in her high heels? Why did two dinosaurs just agree to walk away at the end of the movie? If the I-Rex has a location device in it’s back, why not check out where it is before you go into its paddock? And how did it manage to claw it out with those short arms? Are the raptors fucking talking again? Did the raptors just betray Owen? And then betray the I-Rex? Should I just sneak into that new Melissa McCarthy movie?
Even with all this silliness (and there is much, much more), they could have at least made the characters engaging…
3. Fuck it, eat everyone. I don’t care.
Not a single character is the least bit interesting. It’s mostly just bad tropes (badass military guy, frigid business woman, evil guy with a goatee), and bad dialogue. You know exactly who in the movie will live and who will die. Even worse, chances are you won’t care.
I apologize to you twenty-somethings that have a crush on Chris Pratt, but his character is unbearable. I’m a fan of Pratt, but the script does him no favors. It’s mostly arrogant quips and cheesy dialogue. If you took his character and put him in the original Jurassic Park, he would be eaten and you would have been grateful.
Bryce Dallas Howard’s character isn’t very inspiring. She starts out as a somewhat frigid businesswoman and ends up a somewhat heartwarming aunt, all without losing her heels. Of course she’s had a prior relationship with Pratt’s character, studio execs think that moviegoers can’t live without some developing love story.
Vincent D’Onofrio’s character is just really obnoxious. He just shows up and reminds the audience of the stupid military raptor plan. He is kind of like Wile E. Coyote: cartoony and comes up with some ridiculous shit to get what he wants.
The kids are completely forgettable. You know they are safe, and there isn’t a single second during the movie where you would feel otherwise.
The point is, none of them have any edge to them. None of them have any development, and therefore are just plain dull. It’s not like I expect anyone to win an Oscar for their performance, but you can’t make the audience care this way.
4. What do you expect? It’s a summer blockbuster!
I can almost guarantee that someone will skip down to the comments, and write something similar to this statement.
“Why not just shut your brain down and enjoy watching a raptor ride a T-Rex into battle?”
I mean, what did I expect? Picture of the year? Maybe I should stop being a cynic and just be entertained. It’s not supposed to be serious after all.
Here is why: It’s literally impossible. You cannot enjoy something when you are brain dead. It’s like saying “just let your taste buds go numb and enjoy that juicy burger.” You have to engage with a story in order for it to be enjoyable. The movie doesn’t have to be good, but it does have to be engaging.
Jurassic World is neither.
Yes, CGI dinosaurs fight in this movie. That novelty wears off after a minute or two. There are also plenty of Jurassic Park tie-ins, but that was to be expected.
A lot of people say that found it “entertaining” because of these reasons, but that is an incredibly low standard for “entertaining.” It’s like saying “Wow, I was entertained by all the guns being fired in that movie.” You don’t need to pay for a movie ticket to see this, just have your kids play with his/her dinosaur toys on the living room floor.
I’m not saying that people are idiots if they liked the movie, but I do believe a lot of them are lying to themselves about how much they “enjoyed” this movie. I think there is a lot of peer pressure not to seem “above” a certain type of movie, forcing people to agree that dino vs. dino action is really awesome, when in fact it was incredibly boring. Most of the negative reviews of Jurassic World that I have seen have been brutally attacked by fan boys.
All in all, Jurassic World is a colossal disappointment.