Before I get started, let me make something clear: I really did enjoy Jurassic World. I was eight years old when the first movie came out and a lot of that childish joy is still attached to this franchise. And though Jurassic World has its problems, I still loved it. Why? Because dinosaurs, that’s why. And because of Chris Pratt riding on a motorcycle with velociraptors. That’s just cool.
Jurassic World: The Premise
So, we’re twenty years after the first Jurassic Park. John Hammond is dead and has left his company to an out-of-touch-billionaire who flies helicopters so badly, he makes his flight instructor puke.
Also, technology is better, more advanced, and it’s been long enough now that the public has pretty much forgotten about all the running, screaming, and bleeding they did back when T-Rex took a stroll through San Diego. There’s enough hubris to make InGen believe they can control dinosaurs and because the public has the long-term memory of a guppy, this new park is up and running (no pun intended).
We’re introduced to two boys, Zach and Gray, who are going to the park to spend a weekend with their aunt, Claire, the administrator. Immediately, we see that Claire is your stereotypical Type A chick who is too busy translating a billionaire’s fantasy into reality to actually spend time with her nephews. She foists them into the keeping of her assistant, who spends most of her time on the phone and pays zero attention to the boys. That, of course, gives them an opportunity to slip away and get into trouble.
(Claire’s assistant is played by the same actress who played Morgana in the BBC show Merlin. The moment I saw Morgana, I knew things were going to get bad.)
Meanwhile, Chris Pratt–I mean, Owen is training raptors. His boss, Hoskins, wants to use the raptors for military purposes and Owen is all, “Are you nuts? These aren’t dogs!” And when an employee accidentally falls into the raptor pen, we see right away that Owen’s control over the animals is tenuous at best.
So far, there’s enough to make you uneasy. Then we meet Indominus Rex, the new attraction for the park who is ‘bigger than a T-Rex’. Claire is all “yeah, she ate her sister but kids are going to love this!” and the billionaire is all “yeah, this is awesome but let’s get an expert to take a look”. Claire gets Owen, who she dated once, to look at the pen and then everything merrily goes to hell.
(I’m still trying to understand how Owen is an expert. He was in the Navy but we’re never told what he did in the Navy. He can work with raptors but we’re never told how he qualified to do that in the first place. He seems to know a lot about animal psychology, but, again, we’re never told how or why. Owen is just ‘the expert’. Take it or leave it.)
Manage Your Expectations, People
It’s a dinosaur movie. More importantly, it’s a dinosaur movie that completely ignores science. For example, velociraptors were the size of turkeys, had feathers, and their claws couldn’t have cut through crocodile skin.
Also, it’s hard to believe that they could feed huge animals whose growth rates have been accelerated. (Dr. Wu tells us this at one point, about the growth rates, but you could easily guess that without being told, since it took twenty years for a T-Rex to reach full growth. Just sayin’.)
If you’re going to go see Jurassic World, go because of the great CGI, the action, and because of this man:
Jurassic World has some fantastic deep moments, though.
When Indominus Rex displays the ability to camouflage and hide from the heat sensors, the billionaire goes to his head geneticist, Dr. Henry Wu, who was in the first film. The billionaire is all, “Dude, what the fuck?” And Wu is all, “Dude, what did you think we were doing back here?”
It becomes this wonderful contrast between the reality of Jurassic World and the fantasy built around the park. People think they’re seeing actual dinosaurs but Wu outright says that there’s nothing “natural” about the animals. All of them were engineered to look a certain way, to meet expectation. Furthermore, Wu goes on to explain, you can’t add in a certain look without the accompanying behavior. They gave Indominus some of the genetics of a tree frog to help her immune system or something. Well, that also meant Indominus gained some of the hiding abilities of that particular species of tree frog.
I don’t think the billionaire ever got it. Like John Hammond, he never sees that this is all, ultimately, his fault.
There are also other points where romantic tropes get put on their head in an amusing way. For example, Owen is a bit of a chauvinistic pig. Remember that debacle over Whedon calling a scene from Jurassic World sexist? Well, that scene is sexist and very childish in a frat guy kind of way. But then Owen learns that Claire isn’t just a hot chick who can somehow run in six inch heels through the forest. In a white dress suit. And get only minimally dirty. And he respects her for it!
Anyway. Jurassic World has some good thinking moments.
I did have one logic problem.
When Zach and Gray get into trouble and are wandering on foot through the park, they come upon the main building from the first movie. It was awesome as they walked through it, with the original theme played on strings. There were these lovely Easter eggs: the raptor mural, part of the banner from the iconic scene at the film’s end, the night vision goggles, and the Jeeps. They even started one of the Jeeps and–
This is twenty years later. Those Jeeps have been sitting in a tropical environment for twenty years. There is no way two kids could have fixed up one of those Jeeps and driven off in it.
First off all, gas (like Twinkies) has an expiration date. Over time, it will separate and form this gelatinous goo at the bottom of the tank. This can occur in just two years. Imagine what would happen in twenty. Secondly, all of the rubber on the vehicle, from the tires to the hoses, should have rotted away by that point.
I love Easter eggs as much as the next person (I pointed and squeed when I saw a book on a techie’s desk that obviously had Ian Malcolm’s picture on it) but…come on, Jurassic World. A little logic would be nice.
But go see Jurassic World anyway.
It’s a fun movie with good underlying themes about fantasy and expectations versus reality. If you’re expecting something that sticks close to actual science, then just stay home and watch a National Geographic documentary. Otherwise, it’s a great watch!