Jurassic World spoiler alert:
There’s a huge, pissed-off dinosaur in it.
No, really. In one scene early on, park operations chief Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) explains that their on-site scientists needed to innovate bigger, better dinosaurs (she may have said the words, “faster, louder, scarier,” but I wasn’t taking notes… you get the idea) in order to re-boot the general public’s interest in visiting the park of living, prehistoric attractions. Because, you know, living prehistoric attractions aren’t interesting enough as they are.
I appreciated how Claire was just as much speaking of we, the audience, as she was of the fictional Jurassic World visitors. We movie-goers are the actual visitors of the park; we’re now on installment number four of this behemoth of a sci-fi action-adventure franchise, and let’s face it: At this point, we need “bigger, better, faster, louder, scarier” dinosaurs if any movie starting with the word “Jurassic” is going to get us salivating to the tune of (insert lofty dollar amount in theatre ticket sales). 22 years after the fresh, meteoric impact of the original Jurassic Park roused millions of imaginations around the world, the team behind this new chapter in the saga had to come up with something spectacular… at least in raw dinosaurage, if the plot lines were going to continue along the uninspired course they’d taken in the intervening years.
1993’s Jurassic Park, based on the novel by Michael Crichton, was just a tough act to follow, so to speak. Steven Spielberg unleashed it on a public that’d been unaware of exactly how well dinosaurs could be done in cinema, and not a mind that saw it was left unblown. The sequel was, in my opinion, dull, and the third one looked to be even less interesting. Following that disappointment, folks on the Jurassic World team got busy spawning a super enormous, intricately modified version of a dinosaur. Callaghan and I entered the theatre fully expecting it, since the trailer had looked promising, and we really wanted to believe the hype this time. We weren’t disappointed. Indominus rex was delivered, and the Jurassic thrill was back and intact.
Because Jurassic World quickly developed into a well-paced, rollicking visual fest of panic and people flung asunder, I was breathlessly entertained enough to shrug off my annoyance and suppress my inward eye-rolling provoked by some of the sub-plots and caricatures of the people in the story. I was willing to overlook the absurdity of the shoes on Claire’s feet, which were 1). white (I noticed as she was running through mud), and 2). high-heeled (I especially noticed as she was running through mud). In fact, from the time she started running, I made it a point to look at her feet in each scene, checking to see whether she’d resourcefully broken off the heels. She hadn’t. She ran at breakneck speed through a prehistoric forest and fields with rampaging beasts and her life in peril… wearing high heels.
I wasn’t there for well-developed characters devoid of stereotypes. I didn’t go in expecting to marvel at the usage of restraint in the writing, or in any other aspect. I was there for the suspenseful thrill of it all, and the snappy lightness of the script allowed us to simply enjoy that. We didn’t have to wrangle too much with ethics in science or the over-arching concept of “playing God.” We could just appreciate the excellence of everything done well in the film. We could admire the panache of the motorcycle-riding Velociraptor Whisperer played by Chris Pratt. We could feel gratified when Claire started to see beyond the dollar signs in her park’s living, breathing “assets” and “attractions” and developed respect for the dinosaurs as actual, sentient beings. We could bask in the nostalgic pleasure of the Jurassic Park theme music sweeping through the theatre, carrying us along on our ride, and we could enjoy exhaling before the spectacle of it all. There were angry, vicious dinosaurs, and they were impressive.
[Side note: Glancing around the theatre, we couldn’t help but raise our eyebrows at each other over the sheer number of young children we saw. Especially with the level of advancement reached in CGI technology, how did this film end up with a PG-13 rating? The girl sitting next to us had to be around six years old, and she was in good company with plenty of other children – including babies and toddlers – throughout the sold-out house. We were genuinely confused. Did the parents think that perhaps Jurassic World would feature Barney?
I remember when I went to the theatre with my family to see Alien. I was ten, and the scene that horrified me – the alien popping out of the guy’s chest – made Alien look like a walk through Mister Roger’s neighborhood compared to Jurassic World].
Directed by Colin Trevorrow, Jurassic World brings dinosaur-sexy back after all these years. It’s a satisfying blockbuster summer action flick to watch, and it’s certainly unlike any zoo you’ve ever visited.