Jurassic World is officially the biggest blockbuster of Summer 2015… and it doesn’t deserve that distinction at all.
It’s official – “Jurassic World” is the highest grossing film of Summer 2015. And I couldn’t be more confused.
Make no mistake about it, I get the anticipation. The “Jurassic Park” movies were a staple of my childhood, so when I heard that a fourth installment was being made after more than a decade of waiting, I was excited. Then when I heard that the new film was going to take place in an operational theme park, I became downright optimistic. After all, the previous sequels had done basically nothing new with the premise of the original; save for a scene at the end of “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” in which a Tyrannosaurus Rex goes on a rampage through San Diego, both movies contained the same setting (a jungle environment) and the same kind of action (people running from dinosaurs in said jungle environment) as the first film. By contrast, “Jurassic World” seemed to be taking the franchise in an interesting new direction.
Soon people who saw “Jurassic World” in theaters came back to me with glowing commentary, so naturally I bought a ticket myself… and it sucked.
Yes, I said it. “Jurassic World” SUCKED! What the hell was I missing?
Here is my three-point case against the movie everyone else seemed to love this summer…
1. The special effects were cartoonish.
You don’t need to see the movie to understand what I mean here. Just check out the trailer, then ask yourself: Does it look like those dinosaurs are actually there? Sure, they look like impressive computer-generated images (CGI), but in the end they still look like they come from computers. The stegosauruses, apatosaurus, mosasaurus, velociraptors… All of them look painted in rather than physically present. This is because, although the original “Jurassic Park” was renowned for its groundbreaking use of CGI, the movie still relied primarily on animatronics whenever possible, so that the actors – and audience – would be looking at three-dimensional objects, with CGI filling in gaps that real-life machinery and artwork could not. By contrast, “Jurassic World” contains only one animatronic dinosaur, an apatosaurus we see dying in a close-up after being mauled by an Indominus Rex (the movie’s genetically altered super-dinosaur). That scene, needless to say, was the only one that recaptured the magic of the original, since it actually fooled me into thinking that the dinosaur was really there.
2. The movie is pretty sexist.
Shortly before the film’s debut, director Joss Whedon criticized one of the released clips for promoting sexist archetypes. Although he was taken to task for accusing a film of sexism without having seen it (which he himself admitted was unfair), I can safely say that he wound up being absolutely right. Whereas the first two movies contained strong female protagonists who viewers were expected take for granted were the equals of the male characters (Laura Dern and Julianne Moore played a paleobotanist and a paleontologist, respectively), Bryce Dallas Howard’s female lead is constantly criticized for caring about her job. Indeed, her entire character arc revolves around learning to not be so focused on having a successful career. Only “Jurassic Park III” beat out “Jurassic World” in terms of sexist stereotypes, although it’s hard to imagine something worse than Tea Leoni’s shrieking and hysterical housewife routine.
3. “Jurassic World” does virtually nothing with its premise.
Remember how I said that “Jurassic World” seemed promising because it had such an interesting take on the premise of the original? This brings me to perhaps the most astonishing failure of the film – aside from a brief scene in which pterodactyls attack tourists, virtually all of the film’s dinosaurs attacks occur in the same jungle setting that we saw in the first three films. Indeed, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” still beats out any other film in the franchise when it comes to the amount of running time devoted to showing dinosaurs outside of that environment. What’s worse, even the pterodactyl scene was ruined by its frenetic style. Whereas the tyrannosaur rampage through San Diego took time to develop its individual set pieces (the T-Rex stomping through a suburban neighborhood, killing a pedestrian in a commercial district, attacking a bus and blocking traffic, etc.), the pterodactyls-attacking-tourists segment of “Jurassic World” was so rushed that – aside from a memorable scene in which a woman is tossed from dinosaur to dinosaur before meeting an unexpected demise – it’s over basically before it begins.
Think about the implications of this for a second. “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” despite being critically maligned (and in some cases rightly so), actually works better as a sequel to the original movie than “Jurassic World.” And yet “Jurassic World” is the highest grossing film of Summer 2015.
I end with a sincere query to my readers: If you liked “Jurassic World,” can you please explain why? I really, really don’t get it.