Jurassic World is the long awaited sequel to Jurassic Park, and pretty much ignores the existence of and story related to the other sequels which were critical and box office disappointments. While I was stunned by how quickly the film bolted to the top of the box office, the film itself was only passable for me.
This film has all the thrills of the original, but only half the story. It lightly touches on the ethics of genetic engineering, but focuses more on taking sides rather than having a discussion. The special effects and visual spectacle is barely on par with the original, and the characters are funny more than they are memorable. I left the film and immediately forgot every character's name except two, which is rarely a good sign.
The film isn't half bad, definitely better than the other sequels, but still off the mark when compared to the 1993 ground-breaker. The concepts and mechanics of how the park and attractions operate are clever, even if they aren't well thought out, and it is a fun ride of a movie if you're into suspense and bad guys getting gobbled up. But like Avengers 2, they take little risk in the story, and most of the characters don't act like real human beings. It is clear the producers/studio hopes to reboot a profitable franchise more than they are trying to be taken seriously.
I was warned that this film would be too scary for kids, but frankly, the original was scarier, and given the roster of other (probably) great movies coming out this month and next, Jurassic World is an attraction you can skip if your budget is slim.
The Nitpicks (contains spoilers)
I haven't nitpicked a film for a while, so let's do it for this one! Here's some general issues I had with the story and overall execution:
- The Indo Rex really isn't THAT different from the T-Rex. The 'genetic hybrid' concept may be a scientific breakthrough, but not really theme park attraction material. Unless the dinosaur is able to speak human language, has two heads or turn invisible, I think shareholders will not see the 'wow' factor.
- Product placements (I noticed Mercedez-Benz, Beats, Samsung, Coca Cola and Starbucks)
- People get over death too easily in this movie
- In the middle of the movie, the two brothers fix a car from the original Jurassic Park to become more mobile. Kids these days generally aren't trained to fix anything without googling for help online. On that note, why does the younger brother only have a single-use film camera while his brother gets a proper smartphone with a roaming data plan to share selfies with his girlfriend?
- NEVER go hunting for a genetically superior dinosaur with humans travelling by foot. Just throw more helicopters and drones to chase it with an extra dose of tranquilisers!
- Why do the asset containment unit have health status bars shown on screen when they are initially hunting the Indo Rex? And more importantly, why is there a programmed 'dead' indicator? Are they EXPECTING some of those guys to die while on duty?
- A couple of should-be-significant characters that are introduced but basically ignored for most of the film: the kids' actual parents, the big brother's girlfriend and the Asian geneticist who created the new Rex.
- When the boys jumped off the waterfall to escape Indo Rex, why didn't the Rex just jump after them? I guess he can't swim, but can't he follow them along the bank?
- When the dinosaurs first start attacking, they mentioned that boats won't be able to arrive to help transport the 20,000 visitors back to mainland until the next morning. Yet in the climax fight, which happens on the same day (night time), the entire park appears deserted except for the main 4 characters plus the one control room guy who stayed behind. Were they able to evacuate everyone earlier, or did they all get eaten up?
- The cast is more racially diverse than previous Jurassic Park movies, which I appreciate, but at the end of the day only the white people have a happily ever after. All the Asian characters either get killed off or are bad guys.
Secondly, given this film's attempt at 'updating' the story to a modern setting, here are a few things that would probably not work in a real theme park that appears concerned for the safety of its visitors:
- The big sea dinosaur leaps for the food: when it goes back into the water, it creates a huge splashes and gets all the spectators wet. I think half of them are going to either get a cold or contract a 65 million year old virus. I would say all their electronic devices would be fried, but I guess they all got the waterproof Samsung Galaxy S6!
- The Gyrosphere allows the visitors to guide their own ball so they can move with the dinosaurs however they want. This is a BAD idea given that the dinosaurs are big enough that a misstep can either crush or kick your ball around. Also, there should ALWAYS be at least one adult in each ball if it is self-guided.
- Don't do experimental genetic breeding of military-grade dinosaurs on the same island as a public-facing, child-friendly theme park.
Finally, one of the ethical issues this movie 'addresses' is using dinosaurs as weapons in warfare. While the idea is cool, the issue I have is that dinosaurs are the LEAST EFFECTIVE CHOICE you can have in a modern warfare, and no sensible military strategist or general would consider dinosaurs better than drones, missiles, or even old school humans. Here are just a small set of problems I can think of on the spot with using weaponised dinos:
- They are difficult to breed, feed, shelter and train
- They are expensive as hell to transport into theatre
- They are biological, and there are far more ways to defeat biology than technology
- They can't hack a computer network or fight from a distance
- There would be significant civilian casualties and property damage if the enemy is spread out over an urban area.