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The Battalion

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The Battalion

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Review: Despite record turnouts, ‘Jurassic World’ fails to impress

Jurassic+World+brought+in+%24500+million+on+its+first+weekend
Provided
‘Jurassic World’ brought in $500 million on its first weekend

There’s a moment in Jurassic World that encapsulates everything about the franchise: A massive dinosaur stalks a group of helpless people, and for a moment everything gets quiet. The monster sniffs the air, looking, and then moves on. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief. But then!–
This moment occurs more than four times in World, and gets more predictable with each passing scene. Cut the music, cue the CGI and slow pan, cut to actor reaction, let the image sit for a moment to register, and then big explosion, big noise, cue chase scene… You get where this is going.

By the fourth time, I’m checking my watch. And that sentence is, in essence, what this movie is. It’s “the fourth time.” It never breaks new ground. It waddles in the prior films’ tropes, themes, plots, and even characters (Children? Check. Disparate couple? You betcha. Know-it-all

scientist? Of course).  

 

But to know why this is disappointing, it’s important to note that the original Jurassic Park, which came out in 1993, won three academy awards. Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects. It was a film that solidified CGI as a hallmark of American Cinema and proved to many filmmakers that computer technology was worthwhile. It’s the reason movies like Avatar exist. It’s the reason digital surround sound technology exists.

 

Yet while critics lauded its forward movement with computer-generated technology, many criticized the script and its characters, calling it flat.

Twenty-two years later, and still the same problems. Except they’re worse, because there is no reliable backbone of progressive CGI to compensate for the weak storytelling. The dinosaurs you see here, despite being “hybrid dinosaurs” made from the genes of who-knows-what, are nothing you haven’t seen before. It’s the same, just newer. It’s the same, just newer.

 

Yes, there are references to the first film (interestingly enough, the filmmakers seemingly decided to sidestep the second and third), and fans of previous movies will surely feel a nostalgic twinge when the familiar soundtrack starts up, but once the popcorn runs dry and the film reel stops spinning, there isn’t much to remember about the experience. It’s a movie that best operates when the real main characters, the dinosaurs, are on-screen.

 

It’s just a shame so much screen time is taken up by the film’s initial protagonists, the children Gray and Zach. The film follows their trip to the Jurassic World theme park, which is built on the land where the original film took place. Gray is the younger of the two brothers, perpetually interested in anything dinosaur, and Zach is a teenage boy perpetually interested in girls. On a trip to see their aunt, the park’s operating manager who is in the process of unveiling a new ‘attraction,’ a dinosaur is let loose and begins eating anything it can. Cue horror and violence. Cue blood spatter. Cue… children?

 

Perhaps the most damning feature of this film is its desire to showcase death and violence right alongside images of children. The theme park appears to be kid-oriented as much of the extras mingling about the rides are in the seven-to-ten-year-old category, and Zach even mentions that the park is for kids in a throwaway line. So is the movie for kids?

 

While the first film was, without a doubt, a suspense thriller, this film attempts to ride the invisible line between “action adventure for the kids” and “monster thriller covered in blood.” The result is a dumbed-down version of a thriller where the main characters all feel immortal, the danger is completely manufactured and there is no tension. Even worse, the marketing for the movie downplays its violence, meaning that many of the occupied seats in my theater were children. Maybe it’s just my taste, but I hate to be seeing a man brutally ripped apart by a massive pair of teeth while a child behind me squeals. This is a movie that attempts to be for children and adults, but ends up being for neither.

 

There are more things to say about Jurassic World. Chris Pratt is easily the best part of the movie. There are some heinously obvious product placements. It’s kinda like the old movies, but newer.
But maybe I’m not the person this movie was for. Clearly a lot of people wanted to see it, as evidenced by the record-shattering opening weekend that netted Universal a quick $500 million and more than guarantees multiple sequels. I just hope those sequels can learn from the series’ mistakes.

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