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A Conflicted Review of "Jurassic World"

If you haven't seen Jurassic World yet, I suppose the best favor I could do for you is to tell you it's terrible and that you should go see it.  It's the kind of movie that greatly benefits from its audience having low expectations.

So crush those suckers right now.  Step on 'em.  Trample 'em.  Smush 'em nice and hard beneath your boot until you feel the bile burning the back of your throat.  And then you'll find that Jurassic World is kind of a fun movie sometimes when it's not being completely idiotic.


This is one of those movies where you can very clearly see that the script has been rewritten half a dozen times.  It's like looking at a major dig site and seeing the clear demarcations between each stratum in the dirt.  There are artifacts left behind from each revision that just hang around in the story for no good reason, distracting you with their existence.

For a good example, take a close look at the female lead played by Bryce Dallas Howard and her boss played by Irrfan Khan.  It's obvious that at some point in the past, these two characters were either A) the same person or B) in reverse roles.  One of them is supposed to be the "let's plow forward with no regard for the consequences and make All the Money" blowhard, and the other one is supposed to be the "we should be careful of what comes, O God, what have we wrought" worrywart.  But their dialogue and choices waffle so much between both extremes that they both end up being inconsistent characters without a clear arc. They're kind of the same undefined person except that one dies horrifically and the other farts around for ninety minutes.

(As an aside: Bryce Dallas Howard gets the raw deal in this movie.  She's a fine actress and I'm pretty sure I've actually liked her in movies before, but her character is just awful in this movie.  She doesn't do anything, she doesn't learn anything, she's unlikeable, her plight is shallow, she never gets a satisfyingly redemptive moment, and she's not even physically believable since she never takes off her damn stilettos while outrunning velociraptors.  It's like the screenwriters felt that "a woman" was enough of a character for her to figure out, so they didn't give her any good material to work with.  What a waste.  And what a disappointment for us, since we have to spend most of the movie with her.)

There are a lot of great - or if not "great," at least interesting - ideas present here.  Some of them are even executed really well, like the mosasaur.  (Pretty much any moment in the movie where the mosasaur makes an appearance is worth your time.  It's the main reason to watch.)  Others aren't totally used to their best benefit, but still make for an entertaining scene or two - like the little gyroscopic balls that the kids ride around in.  And some just fall completely flat, like Vincent D'Onofrio's "I think I'll find some way to turn this into a weapon because why not" corporate stooge.

To put that another way: this is a movie where a group of trained velociraptors are exploited by a military squadron to be used in battle, and that somehow ends up being one of the worst parts of it.  How did you mess that up, Jurassic World?

All of this ultimately leads me to call it a wash.  None of the Jurassic Park sequels are very good, so I'm not going to pretend that Jurassic World is somehow the worst.  (That's a tough question to answer: how do you put three equally flawed, middling movies next to each other and pick one out as being the "bad" one?  Right now my gut's telling me that The Lost World is the worst, but then I remember that scene where the T-Rex shoves the medical lab over the cliff and I remember that it had some pretty great sequences.)

The bottom line is that it doesn't live up to the original, but it does have a mosasaur, and that's worth a rental.



PS - Y'all did your market research wrong, assholes.  "People don't care about dinosaurs unless they're bigger and have more teeth."  Bullshit.  You have dinosaurs.  You win already.  Just clone the herbivores and you're fine.

Hey, you know that part of your park where kids can ride around on baby triceratopses?  Just do that.  You don't even need to set them up on an island.  You could do that in Omaha and cut down on your transportation and production costs.  This isn't that tough a model to crack, guys.  Small + cute + does not eat people = you have more money than God.

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