Friday, February 19, 2016

Movie Review: Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic World (2015) co-written and directed by Colin Trevorrow

Twenty years after the failed attempt at opening a dinosaur theme park with actual dinosaurs (in the original Jurassic Park), they've finally developed a thriving attraction, Jurassic World, that draws tens of thousands of people each day. The park is a big hit but it always needs something new, much like any other park that adds new rollercoasters or movie-themed rides. So the scientists and businessmen behind Jurassic World have concocted a new dinosaur to swell the attendance numbers--Indomitus Rex. It's mostly T-Rex with some other genetic material thrown in to make it bigger, scarier, and have "more teeth." Investors aren't 100 per cent confident the new dino is safely caged. They have the park's dino-taming expert Owen (Chris Pratt) inspect the pen of I-Rex, which of course isn't sufficient to hold in the creature. Pandemonium ensues with 20,000 tourists on the island, two of which are the nephews of Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), a director of the park who is too organized and busy to show the kids around. She has her assistant keep an eye on them while she deals with park management, including persuading corporate investors to sponsor exhibits. It's a race to reunite family members and keep people from dying.

The movie has some amazing special effects and exciting action sequences. Owen's main job (apparently) is taming raptors which he is pretty good at. The dinosaurs look impressive (no difference between animatronics and CG). Fights between humans and dinos are exciting as are those between the dinosaurs themselves.

Thematically, the movie is all over the place. Owen has a good working relationship with the animals, unlike Claire who looks at them as numbers on a spreadsheet. There's a brief flirtation with an animal rights theme but this movie is a big summer blockbuster that needs to get on with the action. Another character mocks the corporate sponsors of the new exhibit, which is funny until you realize the rest of the film is chock full of product placements, the motion picture equivalent of corporate sponsorship. The scientists are sort of depicted as bad guys, but fade out in the shadow of the "corporate security" people (led by Vincent D'Onofrio's character Hoskins) who want to use the dinos for military applications. They are the sort of one-dimensional baddies you expect to see on a poorly written Doctor Who or Star Trek episode. The movie is a big summer blockbuster, so there's no real need for that sort of depth.

I found the movie entertaining but light-wieght. It's like cotton candy--pretty to look at and sweet-tasting but no nutritional value whatsoever. The occasional sweet treat is perfectly fine.

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