PG-13 for dinosaurs eating people. There's some language and some crude, sexual humor bordering on harassment. But for the most part, it's an exercise in watching people getting torn apart in creative ways. It is less violent, at least on-screen, than Jurassic Park. But that doesn't change the fact that it is still an obscenely violent movie that I let me kids watch on the reg. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Colin Trevorrow
Despite the fact that I've confirmed this a whole bunch of times, I'm pretty sure that I've written about this movie before. I know that I've seen it since having started this blog. But apparently, I can't find any evidence of having written about it, so I watched it again to ensure that I can safely say that I've written about every movie that I've seen for the past five years. This is my life. I can't say it isn't.
One of the side effects of having a blog where you have to watch movies critically is the harsh reality that a movie you like might not be the quality film you want it to be. I really like Jurassic World. It's the second best in the Jurassic line, although a distant second from Jurassic Park. Every other Jurassic movie pales from the first two. There's a lot of love behind this movie. It clearly adores the OG Jurassic Park so much that it even has a character vocalize that the original park was "legit". It also delivers on a promise that we were never really given. After all, Jurassic Park sells the notion that this park was going to be opened to the public. The test run was clearly meant to be experienced by the masses and, consequently, the chaos would grow exponentially. Cool. I love it. The Lost World: Jurassic Park really dangled that in our noses more, implying that the new Jurassic Park was going to be in the heart of San Diego. It is the eternal threat that never actually came. So watching a very populated Jurassic World gives me this feeling of, "Now that's what I was waiting for."
And in terms of spectacle and fun, it totally delivers. I always considered the OG Jurassic Park to be a perfect balancing act that offers a smart corporate thriller mixed with a really good sci-fi disaster movie. None of the other films in the franchise really even got close. Sure, they all dabbled (with the exception of Jurassic Park III) with the evil corporation inGen and their attempts to monetize these animals for inhumane use. But that first movie is just so tight and Jurassic World doesn't really even try to be that tight of a movie. I knows what most people want: dinosaurs eating people with the John Williams Jurassic Park theme behind it. And, really, stuffing as many potential deaths into a movie worked, despite the fact that it really shouldn't have in any way. Usually, bigger doesn't equal better. But in the case of Jurassic World, with its militarization of nostalgia and action, it works.
But then my brain had to go and screw it all up. I mean, I'm still going to enjoy it because my heart likes what it likes. I mean, one of my favorite movies is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and that movie is problematic as heck. There's something cathartic about the Jurassic franchise. This is a problem that we keep causing ourselves. Michael Crichton stressed the importance of how man will do anything for entertainment, even spit in the face of God in the name of science. So when things go bad, it is our own fault. We built the Tower of Babel and we keep on learning the lesson from that action. But Jurassic World, for all of its attachment to the past and nostalgia, kind of brings in a weird message that I don't know really works. Part of it comes from the fact that we just can't keep having raptors escape and fences go down. There needs to be something even scarier out there. And that's where the message of the Indominus Rex kind of screws things up.
It's interesting to think that Colin Trevorrow almost directed the last Star Wars movie following the very gutsy The Last Jedi. The Last Jedi made and lost fans on the notion that we should dispose of the past and accept new things. It's this giant allegory for the death of nostalgia. Jurassic World takes the opposite approach. If anything, it criticizes anything new. The Indominus Rex is the new threat to the parkgoers. It's an abomination, more so than the cloned dinosaurs because the Indominus Rex represents the artificial or the false. The movie teases itself with self-referential comments on the absurdity of the name and the hubris of its creators constantly. Trevorrow isn't trying to hide that notion. It's central to the story. And, at first, it seems like man has to face his own creation one-on-one. That is, until the dinosaurs are called to be the response to the problem. Dan Harmon made this whole bit on Harmontown where he accurately predicted a substantial chunk of Jurassic World. He kind of guessed that the heroes of the story would be the villains of the old story: the raptors.
The thing is: the movie actually sells this as the dumbest idea possible. Hoskins, the human villain of the piece, keeps trying to show off that the raptors can be these perfect soldiers. They can take down the Indominus Rex and everyone immediatealy reacts like they should. The stress that this a terrible idea. This leads to all kinds of people being killed, including Hoskins himself. But the thing that no one really talks about is: Hoskins was right? I mean, it was the raptors, the T-Rex, and the Mosasaurus that take down the Indominus Rex. Yeah, it didn't work exactly like Hoskins said. But he was right. Those raptors are the reason that the heroes of the film escape. Sure, the way that the Mosasaurus saves the day seems completely beyond the suspension of disbelief. After all, if the Mosasaurus could jump out of its tank and grab something huge on land, how is he not constantly eating park-goers? (Note: this is the first watch of the movie where I thought of that.)
But the biggest takeaway is the allegory that comes out of that. Jurassic World relishes in the visiting of Jurassic Park. Don't get me wrong, I'm right there beside you, Jurassic World. Those scenes tend to be my favorite because I am such a massive Jurassic Park fan. But by having the original dinosaurs, not souped up in any way, just take out the "something new", isn't that an attack on the notion of offering something new? I will always love Jurassic Park as one of my favorite movies. It's my comfort film. But the reason that I keep watching these movies is that I want to be offered something new. I want the mythology to expand, not to be retread. And the only reason that I don't throw Jurassic World on the ash-heap is that it appeals to my baser nature of enjoying things I like. I had the same reaction to The Force Awakens. A lot of people really didn't like that movie because it was such a retread of Star Wars. I acknowledged it and still liked it. But it didn't mean as much to me like a new film really would have. (The irony, of course, is that I didn't necessarily love The Last Jedi at the time. Now, The Last Jedi is simply an okay movie.)
I want the humans to take down the Indominus Rex. I really get tired of the T-Rex solving a lot of the problems in the Jurassic Park movies. With Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in mind, I'm seeing the same thing happen with the raptors as the deus ex machinae. I don't have a problem with Clare's shoes. I don't have a problem with whiny kids. I don't even have a problem --although I really should --with Owen's weird regressive attitude towards workplace sexual harassment. I just don't love the message of nostalgia over innovation. It's a hard line I'll take.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.