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4 reviews, 14 user ratings

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Jurassic World
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Safety And Entertainment Not Guaranteed"
1 stars

I suppose I should probably preface my thoughts on "Jurassic World" by admitting upfront that the "Jurassic Park" film franchise has never really done much of anything for me over the years. Oh sure, I had the same childhood fascination with dinosaurs as anyone else and my love for movies featuring giant creatures slamming the bejeezus out of each other while snacking on the nearest available bipeds knows no bounds. However, while Steven Spielberg's original "Jurassic Park" was a technological astonishment when it emerged in the summer of 1993--and still holds up surprisingly well in that respect 22 years later--it was a disappointment from a dramatic standpoint and I still fly into a rage over the decision to transform the John Hammond from a malevolent Walt Disney type (okay, slightly more malevolent) into the more benign version that we wound up with, largely because it denied me the chance to see the guy responsible for "Cry Freedom" be eaten by dinosaurs. Although it is often dismissed as the weakest of the lot, I actually prefer "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" (1997) because of the sheer beauty of that mid-film attack set-piece involving the cracking windshield and the giddy thrill of seeing the suckhole known as San Diego reduced to rubble by rampaging prehistoric creatures. "Jurassic Park III" (2001) was little more than a desperate attempt to stretch the franchise out for another box office bonanza that somehow contrived to bring Tea Leoni and dinosaurs together and nevertheless failed to have the former be messily consumed by the latter in every other scene.

So when it was announced that a fourth film in the franchise was finally going into production after years of rumors and false starts (including one screenplay from John Sayles that was so completely insane that, had it actually been produced, would have simultaneously destroyed the entire series for good and possibly been one of the most awesome things ever made), I cannot say that I was particularly interested in sitting through yet another orgy of dino-related destruction and not even the surprise decision to hire Colin Trevorrow to co-write and direct based solely on the strength of his sole feature film credit, the quirky low-budget time travel comedy "Safety Not Guaranteed" (2012) was enough to inspire much in the way of genuine interest on my part. Therefore, it did not exactly come as a surprise to me that "Jurassic World" turned out to be a dull and oddly retrograde exercise in creative stasis that has been drained of whatever sense of wonder and excitement that the previous films in the series managed to generate. However, those moviegoers who actually were looking forward to seeing it--and judging from the crowds at the opening shows at the local multiplex, there are many of them--may find themselves surprised and a little appalled by just how exhausted and exhausting the formula has become by this point.

Completely ignoring both "The Lost World" and "Jurassic Park 3," "Jurassic World" posits that the park did eventually open after those minor mishaps chronicled in the first film and has gone on to become an enormously popular tourist destination. However, as one person puts it in one of the overly self-conscious bits of meta-commentary that dot the screenplay, "No one is impressed by dinosaurs anymore," and corporate drone Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is charged by the park's new owner, zest-filled Indian billionaire Simon Masrani (Irrfan Kahn), with figuring out new ways to keep the public interested. To that end, mad geneticist Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong), who was responsible for the original dinosaurs, and his team have whipped up a new hybrid creature whose genetic bouillabaisse consists of T-Rex DNA and a lot of classified stuff. The resulting creature is known as Indominus rex, a behemoth whose genetic bouillabaisse consists of T-Rex DNA and a lot of other material that is classified and whose general level of fearsomeness is so great that Verizon Wireless is keen to pick up the sponsorship rights.

Jurassic World may be on the cutting edge of genetic research but when it comes to security and containment issues, it continues to lag behind Santa's Village and the Indominus gets out of its heavily guarded paddock and begins making its way towards the main portion of the park and the thousands of walking snacks who clearly did not read the fine print of their tickets regarding park responsibility in the wake of being eaten. This is devastating news for Claire because this is exactly the type of thing that might cause a dip in ticket sales and--almost as bad--her two visiting nephews (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) have slipped away from the assistant that she passed them off to in order to work and stuff and are now running the risk of becoming appetizers. To avoid an uncomfortable scene at the next family reunion, Claire enlists the help of park worker Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), an ex-Navy man who has spent the last few years attempting to train a quartet of velociraptors, to help her find the kids, making sure not to change out of her high heels into more sensible shoes beforehand because, after all, that is the kind of thing that those hard-charging female types would do, right? Seeing the bright side of things is another former soldier (Vincent D'Onofrio) who has been working on a diabolical plan to utilize dinosaurs in combat situations (a move that appears to be a vestige of the fabled John Sayles script) and sees the unfolding chaos as the perfect situation for a field test of his theories.

Even though, as previously stated, I have not really been a friend of the franchise as a whole, I am fully cognizant of the fact that going into a film like "Jurassic World" expecting a complex plot and fully-developed characters is nonsense--we go to see long-extinct creatures being brought to CGI life and wreaking the most elaborate havoc imaginable (and in 3-D as well for those willing to spring for the extra three bucks per ticket) and anything else is pretty much gravy. And yet, even by those relatively lenient standards, the screenplay by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly and Trevorrow comes up painfully short. The story is little more than a retread of elements and motifs cribbed from the earlier films that brings nothing new of interest to the table and after months of trailers and commercials suggesting that the film would center upon the dinosaurs rampaging against the unsuspecting and helpless humans (as was the case during the glorious closing reels of "The Lost World"), the disappointing reality is that with the exception of the airborne attack seen in all the ads, this aspect is weirdly left unexploited. There is also a lot of attempted satire about the tunnel-visioned bigger-is-better nature of contemporary corporate mentality--where money and merchandising trumps logic and ethics with oftentimes terrible results for all--but much of that falls flat since the film, with its soulless and senseless nature and enough product placement to fuel two or three James Bond films on display, quickly becomes an example of this kind of thinking rather than a critique of it. (This is especially embarrassing now that the recent "Mad Max: Fury Road" and the upcoming "Inside Out" have proven that a film actually can be both a mass-market behemoth and a soulful personal statement when handled properly.) And while I vowed not to nit-pick the logic on hand, I remain baffled by the theory that seems to be espoused that states that using genetic science to create new strains of dinosaurs is a horrible and distasteful practice that could only be endorsed by monsters or B.D. Wong but using that same science to bring ordinary dinosaurs back to life is a pure and holy endeavor that the good guys can participate in and still sleep soundly at night.

An even more bewildering and unwelcome aspect to the screenplay is the oddly retrograde attitude that it displays towards gender dynamics throughout--turns out that the park attractions in "Jurassic World" aren't the only prehistoric things about it. While I agree that people are way too willing and eager to lambast things for being sexist for the scantiest of reasons at times, the sexual politics on display here are so determinedly retrograde that Kyle Smith may wind up giving the film a rave review on that basis alone. Much of this invective is aimed at the Claire character, who must be the least inspiring female figure in any Spielberg-related enterprise since Kate Capshaw whined her war through "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." She is a competent (more or less) and efficient corporate type and inevitably, that means that she is an incompetent fool when it comes to the womanly stuff that she apparently should be concentrating on and it is only when her long-dormant maternal instinct comes to life in her efforts to rescue her nephews that she begins to demonstrate even trace elements of core competence (though she never does get around to losing the heels). In the most deeply embarrassing scene in the entire film, her sister (Judy Greer) calls her on the phone and basically shames her for not being a wife and a mother--happily, Claire is polite enough not to point out that the only reason she is hosting her nephews for the week is so that her sister and her husband can hammer out the details of their impending divorce. Then there is the character of Claire's assistant (Katie McGrath) who spends most of the film merely trying to do her job before being chomped up in the most over-the-top and absurdly elongated manner imaginable. It goes on for so long on and against a character who has not really done anyone any harm (other than not being with the kids at all times, as is the implication, even if they aren't hers) that it kind of casts a pall on the proceedings that is impossible to shake.

Even if it were possible to ignore all of that unpleasantness, "Jurassic World" still offers viewers an uninspired storyline, characters than run the gamut from idiotic to deeply unlikable, would-be set-pieces that never quite come off due to Tervorrow's inability to properly handle such matters with any degree of style (even a seemingly foolproof scene where the brats are trapped in a gyroscopic vehicle being kicked around by dinosaurs like a soccer ball is done in with its weak staging) and the inescapable fact that while the creatures are impressive enough on a superficial level (though there is some CGI dodginess here and there), they inevitably lack the magic and wonder that they held the first time around. Of course, just the sight of dinosaurs running around while John Williams' familiar theme swells up may be enough to convince many viewers that they are having a good time (as was the case with my audience) but there is nothing else beyond that for anyone to latch onto. Whatever its flaws, the original "Jurassic Park" was a watershed cinema event that captured and inspired the imagination of a moviegoing generation. "Jurassic World," on the other hand, is just another run-of-the-mill blockbuster that will make a ton of money this week, drop by about 60% next week and be all but forgotten by the end of July. It probably won't be an extinction-level event for the franchise but if they do make a fifth film, I'll be rooting for the asteroid.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=27058&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/12/15 12:30:41
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User Comments

4/05/19 Kengh It’s really disappointing reboot. 1 stars
6/10/17 Homo habilis I'd rather step in literal Triceratops poo than watch this figurative Triceratops poo 1 stars
10/29/16 morris campbell by the numbers but the dinos still thrill 4 stars
9/30/15 Loopy fairly boring and by the numbers, a few cool moments not enough 2 stars
7/09/15 Paula Daniels Liked it but very short time wise 4 stars
7/08/15 Luke C Enjoyed it, but doesn't touch the original even remotely 4 stars
7/06/15 mr.mike "Is Noice" (Borat) 4.5 stars 4 stars
6/22/15 KingNeutron Liked it, but really wasn't scary like the 1st film 4 stars
6/16/15 Jack The worst of all the JP films. 1 stars
6/16/15 action movie fan great exciting ginosaur moive bat6tles danger the best so far for 2015 5 stars
6/15/15 DeebaDoobie The climax reminded me of the 'Time Masheen' in 'Idiocracy' LOL 1 stars
6/14/15 Del The plot was predictable. The action was boring. The jokes were lame and the plot lazy. 1 stars
6/12/15 Bob Dog Shoddy reboot. 2 stars
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  12-Jun-2015 (PG-13)
  DVD: 20-Oct-2015

  11-Jun-2015 (12A)

  DVD: 20-Oct-2015

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