Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Movie Note: Jurassic World

So, by now you've probably heard that Jurassic World had the biggest opening weekend of any movie in history.

But you're probably wondering, "Is it worth all the hype?" And is it horribly sexist? (Okay, probably not so much that second, regardless of what the MSM would have you believe.)

Well, I took my eleven-year-old daughter today to find out, and the answer is, "Sorta."

Let me explain. (Mild spoiler alert throughout.)

The original Jurassic Park did not have all that great reviews when it opened. But, to my mind, it was one of the scariest movies I'd ever seen, and it still stands up today as a masterpiece of the Monster movie genre. Spielberg is hard to beat for suspense, and he used his effects to great effect, and as little as possible, leaving most of the worst to the imagination.

The first sequel was pretty good, and the third was okay. This one is better than both of those, but not so good as the first. There are, however, many references to the first movie in this one. If you haven't seen it, (as if!) check it out before watching this one: there are many locations from the first that are used in this one, though twenty years later and very much abandoned. Plus, the director uses variations on a number of the camera shots and action sequences that resemble the original, in much the same way the second of the Star Trek reboot movies echoes and mirrors wrath of Khan. It doesn't feel forced, but it gives a strange and interesting frame of reference to situations that now feel new, but familiar, almost a deja vu variant.

Anyway, in this one, Chris Pratt plays an ex-Navy (GO NAVY!) guy who is working with a group of velociraptors, which, as we know from the first movie, are highly intelligent and hunt and live in packs. This is important to the somewhat improbable, but still satisfying ending if you can suspend your belief to that extent.

Bryce Dallas Howard, who is female, and, of course, hot, plays the head of the Jurassic World park , (though not the company that owns it), which is the descendant of the original one that everyone in  the first movie decided was a really, really bad idea. She is strong and competent at her job, but not so good at the security and containment aspect, which of course plays a big role in the movie. She also has two nephews visiting her from the mainland that are a major focus of the movie.

The idea is that Jurassic World has opened a park that has for a few years been quite successful at bringing tourists in, but is looking for something big, new and scary to keep their numbers up. To this end, they start creating genetic hybrid, designer dinosaurs (Designasaurus Rex! Heh!)using useful genes from current species, which creates  problem, as the useful traits are often accompanied by unexpected other traits. In this, the movie uses an element from the second book that was explained in a highly unsatisfactory manner, but (thankfully left out of the second movie), but is used to good effect in this movie, with a decent explanation. And that's all I'll say about that.

They make this giant, carnivorous predator that of course goes AWOL early in the movie and wreaks havoc all over the place. The kids get off the beaten path and chased by the giant monster. All heck breaks loose in the main park, and mayhem and (almost entirely bloodless) carnage ensue. There is very little blood, and the grossest part involved hearing bones crunch off screen.

We were in a pretty crowded theater  and there was cheering and screaming from a contingent of younger viewers who seemed to be having a pretty good time of it all, and the comments I heard on the way out were universally positive. I suspect word of mouth on this movie will push the box office even higher, and it will deserve it FAR more than that other piece of high-grossing crap, Avaturd.

Don't worry about the 3D on this one. There were, I think, two scenes that were outstanding examples of how it should be used, but for most of the rest of the movie, I didn't even notice. Save your money on that. But if you like dinosaurs and action and horror and people getting eaten by giant creatures. I actually recommend this one highly. It's exceptionally good for being the fourth entry in the series. Usually by this time, we're getting Jaws: The Revenge, or Friday the 13th 4:More Dead Teenagers.

As far as for kids, it's good and scary, but if they've seen any of the originals and enjoyed them, this one will hold their interest. The sex is limited to a more or less chaste kiss and some minor innuendo. The language is surprisingly light for a movie of this type. And, as I said, the violence is mostly bloodless, non-graphic, and for as much as  there is, a good deal is implied. In fact, one of the more chilling scenes is in the control room, watching the life monitors of the members of a patrol flicker out one by one, intercut with them getting thrown around by the big designersaurus.

Most of the effects are pretty good, but there are a few times they feel fake, which is par for the course, I guess. See it on the big screen.

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