Jurassic World (Universal Pictures, PG-13)

Jurassic-World 75It’s bad to the point I was actually angry by the time I left the theatre.

 

 

 

 

Jurassic-World 500

Little boys tend to like dinosaurs. This includes Little Pete; the first job I ever remember wanting to have was to be a paleontologist. As such, the premise of the Jurassic Park movies very much appeals to the young boy in me; a zoo for dinosaurs? Awesome! Let’s see this movie!

Alas, every Jurassic Park movie has left me disappointed. I’d venture that the original 1993 film was at least better than Michael Crichton’s novel, which had a great premise but was basically just schlock in execution, but the improvement from novel to film wasn’t enough to make me actually like that film all that much. And now we have the newest installment, Jurassic World, which takes place 22 years after the events of Jurassic Park, and which film everyone seems to be very excited for. But why? There’s some nostalgia these days for the first Jurassic Park movie, but do people really like the other two all that much? Is it because of rising superstar Chris Pratt? Surely it’s not because of the questionable choice of co-writer/director Colin Trevorrow, whose best-known prior film, Safety Not Guaranteed, was a shitty, little-seen indie also starring a Parks & Recreation star, Aubrey Plaza.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but Jurassic World is a turd—Transformers-level stupid, more irritating than entertaining, and with basically no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It’s bad to the point I was actually angry by the time I left the theatre.

Here’s the deal. In an attempt to keep attendance up at the theme park Jurassic World, meddling scientists have made a frankensaur from the DNA of an assortment of dinosaurs, including the T. Rex. This new dinosaur is called the Indominus Rex (it’s explained that it has such a dopey name so that little kids would be able to pronounce it), and of course, since man was playing God in making it, things promptly go south and it runs rampage over the park. Meanwhile, Pratt plays a Harrison Ford-like character called Owen, who trains raptors. (You know this ability is going to come in handy in the third act.) Owen isn’t exactly the main character, though, despite Pratt’s top billing; the movie focuses more on brothers Zach (The Kings of Summer’s Nick Robinson) and Gray (Insidious’ Ty Simpkins), whose Aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a bigwig at the park. Zach is high school-aged and disaffected and Gray is middle school-aged and enthusiastic, because the screenwriters are clearly creative and don’t trade in generalizations or stereotypes. Neither is remotely interesting as either a character or as an actor, and, if you’re like me, you’ll spend the movie hoping they’ll get eaten soon, though you know they won’t be.

The fact that the movie centers mostly on these two young boys tells you a lot about who the studio is targeting with this thing—young boys, of course. Young boys have shitty taste; why is everyone so quick to dismiss the Twilight films because little girls like them, but something like Jurassic World is a big release anticipated by everyone? But beyond that, Jurassic World feels like a horror movie sequel targeted at children—imagine, say, a Saw VIII or a Human Centipede 4 with a PG rating, and you’ll be getting close to the tone of Jurassic World. The kill count is high, but only minorities and extras are sacrificed. Your young white males are safe! Don’t worry!

Problems with this movie run both minor and major. Why is it that, if the park Jurassic World is on an island near Costa Rica, all of the park’s employees and tourists appear to be from the United States? (Irrfan Khan and Omar Sy turn up in a lame attempt to add a little multiculturalism, and Khan is perhaps the most likeable person in the entire movie.) How come every female character is a redhead? How come humans seem adept at outrunning giant dinosaurs on foot? Why didn’t someone notice that all of our main human characters, and basically all of the minor ones, are irritating?

As for leading man Chris Pratt, I hated him in his breakout role, on Parks & Rec; I think he’s the worst thing about that otherwise pretty solid show. That said, I’ve for the most part enjoyed his film work, including Zero Dark Thirty and especially in Guardians of the Galaxy. He isn’t convincing in Jurassic World, though; Pratt’s a better comedic actor than he is an action hero, and World doesn’t have enough humor for him to float by on the charm card. Howard comes off better, at least, despite being another supremely grating character.

I expect Jurassic World to make a metric ton of money. Stupid people like stupid movies, and the world is full of stupid people. As George Carlin said, “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize that half of them are stupider than that.” | Pete Timmermann

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