Wednesday, June 17, 2015

We’re Just Living In Their “Jurassic World”

Movie Review by Jack Silbert
Jurassic World set an all-time box office record by raking in $208,806,270 over its opening weekend, not to mention another six bucks from me the following Tuesday. (That’s the bargain day at my local theater.) Now, I wasn’t a guaranteed audience member. Sure, I saw Jurassic Park back in 1993, and I liked it a lot. But I didn’t see The Lost World sequel in ’97, and even Steven Spielberg didn’t really show up for part III in 2001.

Perhaps feeling nostalgic, I bought a ticket for Jurassic World, even though Spielberg is still on the sidelines (again as executive producer). Anyway, I’m not the key demographic here. Kids love dinosaurs and kids love Chris “Guardians of the Galaxy” Pratt. Put them together and… ka-ching.

The metaphor for everything.
Early on in the film, we meet two brothers—a pre-teen and a teen—who I imagine are here to make the proceedings even more kid-friendly. At first I thought the younger brother, with his bushy 1970s hair and dino View-Master, was a flashback to Pratt’s character as a little boy. Nope, we’re solidly in the present day.

The brothers are sent off on va acation to visit their aunt (Richie Cunningham’s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard). She’s an all-business bigwig at the Jurassic World theme park. Pratt’s ex-Navy character is on the island as some sort of Velociraptor Dr. Doolittle.

As we meet the different characters, the first hour or so of the movie just slogs along. (There’s also an evil guy—and we can tell he’s evil because he has a goatee—who wants to weaponize the raptors.) Maybe Spielberg himself could have humanized these people a bit more (or even Bryce Dallas Howard’s dad, or whoever directed Guardians of the Galaxy…), to make us care for them, and thereby liven up the first half of the film. Alas, director Colin Trevorrow is not up to the challenge. Yes, there are dinosaurs in the early going, but we see most of them through the context of a theme park. And watching tourists watch an Apatosaurus is a bit of an Apato-bore-us.

Not for the faint of heart.
Thankfully, Trevorrow revs up the action in the movie’s second half. (Shockingly, something goes wrong with the “Indominus rex” dino they’ve grown in a test tube.) This is where I have to warn parents: Don’t bring very young children to this film. There is a lot of violence—dinosaurs munch people, and there will be blood—and things get pretty scary. That being said, Trevorrow pulls out all the stops action-wise. We get trucks and motorcycles and helicopters and crashing and smashing and shooting and lots of close calls with lots of cool creatures with lots of teeth. At times it feels like a horror film; at others like a classic disaster flick. We get a nod to Hitchcock’s The Birds in a thrilling scene featuring flying Pteranodons. And there are even a couple of genuinely funny bits.

During the mayhem, Bryce Dallas Howard truly steps up her game, becoming someone that young women in the audience can admire—and not just the future MBAs out there.

So, despite its slow start, Jurassic World is ultimately solid summer entertainment. And I think they set up a sequel, so this franchise is far from extinction.


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