Jurassic World

From 1992 to 2002 I used to keep track of every movie I saw in a movie theatre. I would list the date I saw the movie and then rank it on a 1-10 scale.

In the summer of 1993 I was incredibly excited to see “Jurassic Park”.

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In fact my mom and I even drove from the small mountain of Steamboat Springs, Colorado down to Denver so that we could see it on the biggest and best screen possible and so that we could see it with my sister. This morning I looked back on the movie list I put together at the age of 15 and I saw that on June 13, 1993 I saw “Jurassic Park” and gave it a rating of a 9. That wasn’t the last time I saw that movie in the theatre. I saw it again on June 28th and again gave it a 9 and then I saw it a third time on July 19th and gave it an 8. The fact that I saw that movie three times in the theatre in just over a month speaks to three things. The first is that I was fifteen years old. Summer blockbuster movies are designed for teenage boys and I certainly was the target audience for that film. Second, the film was legitimately good and original. “Jurassic Park” wasn’t art but it was Spielberg at his blockbuster best. And third, I lived in a small town with five movie screens. If you loved movies as much as I did you had no choice. You saw what was playing, sometimes more than once, or you didn’t go to the movies at all…There could also be a fourth reason. I was a closeted gay boy and I didn’t have the distraction of dating.

In the summer of 1997 I was still in the closet and wrapping up my associate’s degree at the local community college in Steamboat Springs. I also worked at the movie theatre in town. That meant that when “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” came out I got to get a sneak preview of the movie the morning it opened for the general public.

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On May 23, 1997 I gave the film a 9. I enjoyed it a great deal but the flaws in the movie became apparent on a second viewing. On June 26th I gave the film a 6. I think it wasn’t until that second viewing that I realized how stupid the final sequence in San Diego is. Still I enjoyed future Academy Award winner Julianne Moore.

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And back then I thought Vince Vaughn was cute.

In the summer of 2001 things had changed. I was no longer in the closet. I was enjoying the summer with my first boyfriend. I had just graduated college and was working an office job. I also was living in Boulder, Colorado and no longer saw every single movie. Those things combined with the fact that Steven Spielberg didn’t direct “Jurassic Park III” resulted in me not seeing the film in the theatre.

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It wasn’t until two or three years later that I saw the movie on DVD. I was not impressed at all and figured it was the end of the franchise.

I had mixed feelings when it was clear “Jurassic World” was going to happen. However, the fifteen year old in me who loved “Jurassic Park” so much wanted to give it a chance and the thirty-seven year old gay man I now am wanted to see Chris Pratt. So twenty-two years after “Jurassic Park” I saw “Jurassic World” with my mother and husband last Friday afternoon.

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By now most people know that the film is kind of a sequel but mostly a reboot of the Jurassic franchise or as my husband called it “Jurassic Park: remix”. There are things I like from the film. The opening twenty minutes reminded me that it is still possible for me to feel engrossed in a summer blockbuster. Chris Pratt is charismatic and sexy as hell. Bryce Dallas Howard was better than she has been in the past. B.D. Wong is very valuable as the one cast member from the original film.

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I really wanted to like, if not love, the film. I just couldn’t.

Why not? Well, even though Bryce Dallas Howard’s performance is fine her character is a stock bitch female character that has to be softened and then kissed. Why must everything reinforce heterosexual couplings? I don’t know if the shots taken from “Jurassic Park” are meant to honor the film but to me they just felt like they were stolen. Rather than keep me entertained all they did was remind me of how much better “Jurassic Park” was. Judy Greer is a gifted comedic actress but she is truly atrocious in this movie. The film was so by the book that there wasn’t much suspense. The film is a CGI nightmare. Obviously, dinosaurs aren’t real but the more you have of them the more you realize how bad the CGI is. The product placement is out of control.

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I am also sick of films being meta. It used to be cute but now all the winking at the audience is cliché. Not to mention inventing a bigger and more ferocious dinosaur because the T-Rex is now “boring” is just lame.

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The film reminded me a lot of “Jaws 3” and I don’t mean that in a good way. Not to mention that the film really is “Jurassic Park: remix”. Almost every element of the film is taken from one of the previous three movies. The film really needs a quite scene like the ice cream scene between Laura Dern and Richard Attenborough in “Jurassic Park”.

I guess if you haven’t seen the original “Jurassic Park” as many times as I have you would love this movie. Or if you‘re a fifteen year old boy and it’s your turn to be the target audience. Yes, Chris Pratt is fantastic to look at but that can only take you so far.

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I really wanted to see the movie and I don’t necessary regret it but I think it will probably be the last Jurassic movie I’ll see in the theatre. The 1993 version of myself might be surprised to read those words but that kid also saw movies like “The Age of Innocence” and “The Remains of the Day” so maybe he would understand after all.

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3 thoughts on “Jurassic World

  1. As your husband, I agree with most of your comments. 🙂

    Jurassic World is a better than average summer blockbuster. It would be a GREAT movie if we didn’t have the original movie as a point of comparison. And it’s worth mentioning that Jurassic Park’s success didn’t rely on a handsome movie star as a draw. Chris Pratt is a movie star and he’s a BIG reason why Jurassic World has been successful. Sam Neill was never in the same category as a “movie star” back in 1993 as Chris Pratt is now. The scenes and elements that were taken from previous Jurassic movies was annoying and unoriginal, although they were well executed. But like you say, if I wanted to see a re-hash of scenes from Jurassic Park, than I rather watch the original movie. The CGI was very unfortunate, as it makes everything look like it came out of a video game. However, these are not the worse elements of the movie. The worst thing, and perhaps its biggest meta element is the Indomitus Rex. Dinosaurs are wonderful creatures that should inspire awe and capture our imaginations on their own. There is no need to create new species just for the sake of making the movie more exciting and scary. That is just lazy writing to me. The second worse element (and almost tied with the Indomitus Rex) in the movie is poor characterization. Most characters are just tropes: the action hero, the ice queen career driven bitch, the douchy older brother, the nerdy younger sibling. It’s very difficult to care about characters that are so one-dimensional. It’s even harder to care when the main characters are not even in any actual danger. Most of the body count in Jurassic World comes from nameless faces. In total, there were probably THREE recognizable characters who died in the movie: the owner of the park, BDH’s assistant, and Vincent D’onofrio’s character. The fact that I can’t even remember these characters by name just speaks volumes at how poorly characterized they were. It underscores the point that the characters’ names, personalities or the kind of people they are doesn’t really matter. They are just in the movie as dinosaur fodder, and their deaths don’t really register. I also have a minor pet peeve with the way that velociraptors are portrayed in the movie. After two decades since the original movie came out, it has long been established that many dinosaur species, including raptors, had feathers. Obviously, no one should go to a summer blockbuster expecting scientific accuracy, since even in the original film the raptors were actually depicted much larger than they really were (the real velociraptors were about the size of a turkey). But the depiction of the raptors in Jurassic World actually contradicts the in-universe appearance of the raptors. In Jurassic Park 3, the raptors are depicted as having protofeathers and frills on their heads as a form of acknowledgement of the new information that was now available in regards to dinosaurs in the early 2000s. The fact that the movie ignores its own mythology to depict raptors that are more reptilian than those from Jurassic Park 3 is a huge disappointment. I’m also not a fan of depicting raptors as “friendly” to humans. This is a ridiculous trope that the original movie wisely avoided. But every subsequent Jurassic movie has tried to portray its dinosaurs increasingly closer to humans (the parenting skills of the T-rex in Lost World and the intelligence, communication, and parenting skills of raptors in Jurassic Park 3). I was somehow able to suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy those previous movies, but depicting raptors as over grown pets, capable of being trained by humans, and developing trusting relationships with humans was a little too much for me. I half expected Chris Pratt to saddle up one of the raptors and ride him around like Super Mario riding Yoshi. That being said, the Jurassic franchise is one of my favorites, and I will probably continue watching future installments in the theater, even if the quality continues to decline.

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