Saturday, June 27, 2015

New Release! Jurassic World (2015)

The Mosasaurus in the poster is one of the most
awe-inspiring visuals in the movie.
Director: Colin Trevorrow

Plenty of popcorn fun for most movie-goers. Discriminating viewers will need to turn off their brains a bit, though.

If, like nearly all of the modern world, you saw the original 1993 Jurassic Park, then you can guess what to expect from the plot. Yes, there are a few updates and tweaks to the mythology. By the time Jurassic World starts, the original park has recovered to its status as a Disneyworld-like destination theme park of the highest order. Various species of the long-extinct dinosaurs have been brought to life through the marvel of genetics, and they are running all over the mountainous and tropical terrains of the island. Of course, it isn't long before something goes amiss, thanks in great part to the hubris of several people involved in the park's operations.

In this particular episode of the series, the missteps of the human scientists, greedy capitalists, and a military zealot coalesce into the terrifying form of a murderous new species of dinosaur, dubbed the Indominus rex. The Indominus, which is a mysterious hybrid of initially-unknown species, breaks free of its prison and goes on a kill-crazy rampage around the island. This sets up many different action and suspense sequences, pitting Indominus against other dinosaurs as well as platoons of human soldiers sent out to take down the monstrous beast. For those who like plenty of action and aren't bothered by heavy use of high quality CGI, then the movie will give you more than your fill.

For my part, the action became rather dull by the mid-way point of the film.  There are some scenes and sequences that I found rather clever and entertaining, especially during the initial escape of the Indominus. Eventually, though, the movie became a near-blur of hundreds of dinosaurs running and flying around while thousands of humans either ran from them or tried to shoot them. There were times when I couldn't shake the sense that I was watching a massive multiplayer online first-person shooter video game. It also didn't help that there was almost no initial build-up to the actual reveal of the dinosaurs or the park, which robbed the film of some potential awe factor.

The plot does nothing to enhance or evolve action adventure movies, either. The human element takes the form of two brothers, the hyper intelligent 12-year-old Gray and his detached 15-year old brother Zack. The two get stuck in the wild as the Indominus wreaks havoc, which predictably becomes a bonding experience for the siblings. There is nothing exactly wrong or offensive about these characters or their story, but there's also little that is especially interesting about them, either. Gray's implied genius - the one possibly fascinating character trait that either of them have - is somewhat underused.

After seeing how well he played a rebellious, funny action
hero in
Guardians of the Galaxy, it was a little disappointing
to see Chris Pratt have to work from an oft-lukewarm script.
Other characters fit a little too well into adventure movie stereotypes. You have Claire, the career-obsessed "ice queen" female who needs disaster, dinosaurs, and a strapping hunk to remind her that human lives matter. You have Owen, the savvy, swaggering adventuring "man of action." The latter is actually given enough depth to make him interesting, but he still is the one who saves the woman and children from the rampaging thunder lizards around them. It's a basic story arc that would have been right at home in a 1940s western starring John Wayne.

All that said, I can't say that the movie was bad. There are just enough clever moments, decent jokes, and grand spectacle to fulfil its promise to summer moviegoers. It's an escapist flick with a whole bunch of dinosaurs stomping around. The movie's attempts to get profound or funny may fall flat much of the time, but the essential fun is there. Kids who love dinosaurs will get plenty of excitement from it, and anyone wanting to have a little harmless amusement at the movies are likely to enjoy it with them.