Film Posts 16: Jurassic World

Friday 12 June, 2015

I can’t quite figure out with Jurassic World whether it’s satirising itself. The movie’s premise is that, 20 years on, the operators of the expanded, corporate theme park that is Jurassic World need to be feeding the public with new dinosaurs, bigger and scarier, because the old ones just aren’t a novelty any more. Which seems to be how the movie feels about its audience: in this era of 3D and IMAX, where the blockbuster movies are fighting to be the biggest and most spectacular and show the audience something they’ve never seen before, the makers of Jurassic World have exactly the same problem as the park’s owners.

So the film gives us new dinosaurs – bigger, smarter, louder, “more teeth” – but I’m not sure it gives us a better movie. There are frequent references to the original Jurassic Park, where you feel the makers are saying, “Look, it used to be pretty good in the old days, didn’t it?” Maybe Jurassic Park was so good and so far ahead of its time that we didn’t appreciate how hard it would be to out-spectacle it in 2015. Or maybe if I went back now and re-watched the original I’d see just how far we have actually come.

Naturally the special effects are incredible, possibly too good. Like the tourists in the park, the we’re no longer stunned by what we’re seeing – we take for granted now that little kids could ride on a baby triceratops, or that velociraptors can be muzzled and stroked – and we don’t stop to wonder at the sheer awesomeness of what’s on the screen.

There’s plenty of spectacular action, with trademark Jurassic tension, threat and thrills (and of course, a smattering of people being eaten by dinosaurs – no, that’s not a spoiler, it’s what you expect from this franchise), and Chris Pratt is turning into the go-t0 guy for lovable, roguish, action hero roles. Logic and common-sense are optional commodities – just how fast does it go dark on that island? – but you don’t go to these movies for the science, and it gives the nitpickers like me something to take away with us. The dialogue is uneven, some of it really ropey and cliched, but now and again there’s a one-liner delivered with real panache that keeps you engaged and well-disposed towards the film. All in all, a very entertaining couple of hours, but not likely to make my film of the year shortlist.

Two gripes: product placement AGAIN, with Samsung, Verizon Wireless, Coke, Starbucks and others being prominent (though here again that could be self-satirising – it’s a film about a theme park, and that’s all about franchise and branding); and why did we have to have a full 30 minutes of adverts and trailers before the movie started? Oh, and the lady sitting along the row rattling her popcorn bag loudly (though for a Friday evening in Telford, that was a pretty well-behaved audience).

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