Author Topic: Jurassic World  (Read 1299 times)

Jurassic World
« on: June 14, 2015, 03:11:21 AM »

DangerousDave

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Went to see this this afternoon. Place was packed. Reminds me of why I rarely see movies opening week these days :) Warning: spoilers and really long thoughts follow.

Overall, I think the movie was solid. I rewatched the previous sequels recently and I think ultimately while they both have their flaws, what makes the movies work or not really just comes down to characters. Jurassic Park isn't some magnum opus; its characters are entertaining but mostly just sketched out, and really only Grant gets much in the way of character development, with a side helping of Hammond, I suppose. For The Lost World, I actively hated most of the protagonists. For Jurassic Park III, I sympathized with the protagonists, but they didn't leave much of an impact.

Jurassic World probably threads a needle between the original and the sequels in this regard, and at least on first viewing, I think that's probably where I'd rank it quality-wise as well. Rather than just sticking people on an island and letting dinosaurs go after them, it tries to push things forward, whereas TLW and JP3 really just wanted to stick to the basic conceit. The park is glittering, impressive... and also kind of boring and sterile at the same time.

That's really the core theme of Jurassic World; it's not about man playing with nature, really, it's a meta-commentary on how you do a sequel to Jurassic Park. I'm not entirely sure how well it succeeds in that respect; talking about how everything's been taken over by corporate interests, while also showing off your product placement, seems like an odd stance to take. The mustachioed nerd in the classic t-shirt he bought off eBay is really just an audience surrogate in a lot of ways, who didn't need something fancy, didn't need a Spinosaurus or an Indominus Rex—they just wanted a decent story that got us some damn dinosaurs. It's a story about how audiences are jaded and aren't impressed by something magical in the same way, while also trying their best to impress those same jaded audiences. It's... schizophrenic, in a way?

Chris Pratt is agreeable enough, who makes the most of what he's given in what I think almost everyone would say is a pretty mediocre script. I've heard some people complain that he's like they merged Malcolm and Grant together and he's some hunk with no flaws, but really Grant and Malcolm didn't have flaws either. Bryce Dallas Howard (not Jessica Chastain!) is kind of bland on purpose. She's definitely playing something of a trope with the emotionally distant, preoccupied with work woman, but I don't really see the point in complaining about that—Grant was basically the same, although I guess with slightly more humor. The kids were really no better or worse than Tim and Lex in the first film, but I think they suffered from a bit of bloat around them. Would you rewrite Jurassic Park's screenplay and have it start with Tim and Lex getting put on a plane by their recently-divorced mom to go visit Grandpa on his magical island? No? Then why did they start this movie that way? Sure, you get an amusing sight gag with a sparrow and some "dumb teenage love" jokes, which are fine, but they're not for this kind of movie. Likewise, their whole "mom and dad are getting divorced" bit is a dangling thread that doesn't really inform the brothers' relationship with each other and never gets resolved... so there was no point bringing it up.

Likewise, the other sea anchor of this film is the "Kingpin Hoskins tries to make raptors hunt down Daredevil Indominus" side plot, which I just don't think works. It feels like a nasty gangrenous appendage left over from the horrible point where this film was about human-dinosaur hybrids hunting down terrorists. Hoskins himself seems like an interesting character, but it quickly turns into this weird shadowy background conspiracy, which partially feels like dead weight for a possible sequel, and also seems like it is missing pages of context—I didn't understand how InGen took over from Misrani suddenly, or why the board of the latter would call the former in the first place (how does that company still exist?!) Having Henry Wu back was great, and it was an interesting evolution of the character—he adopts a lot of lost traits from his novel counterpart, and the bit of back-and-forth he has with Misrani is a nice little scene where he points out that he might be an arrogant mad genetic scientist, but he's just doing what he was paid to do.

Of course, he's talking with Misrani, who is the worst character in this film (even worse than the gyroscope attendant dude. I feel bad for that actor because he is buried in a bad stereotype he will never be able to get out of.) I cannot understand him at all. He's Hammond 2.0, who just wants to make children happy! But he's also a businessman who hates talking about business but was worried about it enough he told B.D. Wong to go create a giant dino-monster. But he's also Richard Branson, except a worse pilot! I... I just dunno. He doesn't even have any sort of arc like Hammond. Aside from telling Bryce Dallas Howard to go talk to Chris Pratt, he's pointless in the narrative (even the stuff about him being an inexperienced pilot, which is telegraphed and foreshadowed heavily, seems moot—what pilot was going to recover from 20-foot flying reptiles crashing into your copter?)

Ultimately, though, what disquiets me most about the film is the fan service. There is. So. Much. Of. It. Giacchino's score is bizarrely hamfisted with the John Williams music cues, bringing them in when frankly there's nothing as exciting as what was going on the screen in the 1993 film. Finding the old visitor center is cool (although there was apparently a garage right off the main hall/dining room?) and I really wished they'd spent more time there, honestly, away from the tens of thousands of people who were pointless, ultimately. But it all ends up with a T. rex and a velociraptor teaming up to push Indominus into a corner, where he gets finished off by a Mosasaur.* It reads like fan fiction and it ultimately presents itself that way too. So yeah, it was cool... but I felt like I was getting yelled at by the film, "this is awesome, right?" It sort of pushed so hard I was a bit repulsed by it. Maybe if Jurassic Park III hadn't existed we wouldn't have gotten this weird deathmatch.

With all that said, I did enjoy it. It works in a straight-up "brains off lets watch some idiots get eaten" way, and while it doesn't elevate itself successfully to the level Jurassic Park did, I don't think it sits down at the level of a Michael Bay movie either. I can understand why people were apprehensive about the raptor stuff, but I think it acquitted itself quite well in this film—the twist that the Indominus was sort of a "big raptor" and totally blunts their hunt was a nice one I didn't expect.

*Speaking of narrative fat, the packed park ultimately was pointless. Everyone was apparently off by the ferries and thus not in any danger when the Indominus arrives at the visitor center, even though it was apparently drawn to the center of the park by the massive heat signature in the first place. In my off-the-cuff fan rewrite I could see just spending the time on their own in the old park, trying to stop the Big Bad from reaching everyone. Also, I refuse to believe any sane person would say 'yes, I will go deliberately use myself as bait for the T. rex' and would still be wearing those goddamn kitten heels!! They even had Chris Pratt mention them early on, so I would have assumed they would have her put some damn boots on when she had some downtime. It was just bizarre.

**Postscript, on weird stuff that bothered me watching—how the hell can the Mosasaur not kill everyone who walks by the water under normal circumstances? The park was still operating power-wise so it's not like there's electric nets or invisible fences... so there was only a normal guard-rail under normal circumstances stopping it? Huh? Also, it seemed like that final bit of the battle was taking place around the central water feature... and the original showing of the Mosasaur was clearly in a different arena with stands all around it and stuff. So yeah, I guess some classic Bad Jurassic Park Geography inspired by the original film, but it was odd.


Anyhow, that's my rant. Interested in what others think :)
« Last Edit: June 14, 2015, 03:15:15 AM by DangerousDave »

Re: Jurassic World
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2015, 04:27:13 AM »

Tar Alacrin

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I was wondering if you were gonna make a big rant post about this :P Was not disappointed.

I loved the movie. It was the best Godzilla movie I've ever seen.
Honestly though, Because I am not pinned down by nostalgia I'd put it on the same the level of the original.

And I think you are right in some of your analysis. But I still think you are approaching a franchise with a very critical eye, when that franchise has never deserved that. Even the first movie wasn't that great ultimately, it was mainly able to stand up because of the amazing feat of technology it was, and cause of dinosaurs. But you are right; ultimately they boiled down to characters because the technology was too new and untested to be able to have more than like 13 minutes of actual dinosaurs in the movie, but the characters were all basically just comical caricatures back in the first movie, just like they are in this film now. Ultimately they were fun flicks with great scores that had really cool dinosaur scenes and were pretty well made all around, and I think this new movie fits right in.

I think the movie actually was Better for not focusing on the  cheap characters too much, the film doesn't forget why the audience was in the theatre. A lot of movies like this go down to pot because the film makers have to write a human story to wrap around whatever interesting thing is happening in the film so that the audiences can connect with whats going on; And they wind up forgetting why the audiences were there in the first place and trying to make the finale about the stupid window dressing people (new transformers movies, new godzilla movies, the hobbit movies weirdly enough with the tauriel-kili subplot (don't get me wrong, there are more issues with those movies than just this))

Jurassic World doesn't do that at all; they constructed a mildly interesting plot that starts to fall apart if you think about it too much, threw in a couple of genuinely interesting and surprising twists, and used it as a device to get us Dinosaurs. Heck, it doesn't even attempt to take itself seriously; they even let the audience know not to take them seriously within the first couple scenes by implying that LIVING DINOSAURS IN A THEME PARK would EVER grow old, especially since like... Zoos exist right now and are functional and profitable, so a zoo with dinosaurs would be that, but times a million... And look at how successful a Movie about Fake dinosaurs is.
But back to my point about not forgetting why the audience was there. The reasons why they were there were 1) Big Dinosaurs. 2) Dinosaurs 3) a little bit cause of Chris Pratt. And look at that finale, which WAS totally awesome; it was mainly epic and seemingly-realistic dinosaur fighting with a little bit of Chris Pratt sprinkled in, and like 3 shots of the other people cowering around. It totally reflected the reasons why the audience was there, and it was great.

And throughout the whole movie they focused more on the Dinosaurs than in any of the other movies; and with the exception of the final scene where the indomidus is killed by the mosesaur and the T-rex and Raptor get all "End of Ocean's 11" and walk their seperate ways in front of the water, all the dinosaurs felt super realistic and cool*, way better than in the previous films; where they didn't have much personality beyond just "Mindless Killing thing, or super passive herbivore"
In fact, my favorite bits from the movie was seeing how Pratt and the black guy took care of the raptors. That was sick. I want a TV series just about that stuff; like how do they take care of that giant Mosesaur? What kind of a show do they actually put on with the raptors?

*Except that one scene where all the pterodactyls flew out of the Sphere and Right into the helacopter (like seriously? They aren't that stupid, they wouldn't just randomly attack what would appear to be a pterodactyl that is bigger than them...) And then proceed to fly in a direct Beeline to all the survivors. That was dumb.

(as for the intro bit, I think the idea is that they wanted to get the kids away from their parents, to slightly mix up the formula a bit, cause the past 3 movies have pertty much been about parents saving their kids. And story wise it made sense that the parents would send their kids to go stay with the aunt while they were getting divorced. That said, it did inform the entire bit of character development for the brothers; remember how their whole relationship was about the older brother bein like "I'm getting out of hear as soon as i can" and then later in the movie after some character development the little brother was like "but will you just leave me? Are you gonna abandon me too?" And the big bro was like "Naw dog, we bros, we stick together forever" - I wonder why the little brother was thinking so much about people abandoning him and splitting up. Its not oscar winning, but it works)


TLDR: It was a great movie. Good fun to watch, had some issues with logic and stuff, but ultimately it had epic dinosaur fights to make up for it.
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Re: Jurassic World
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2015, 06:00:51 PM »

Postmortem

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I agree with pretty much everything Dave said. This was ultimately a very worthy sequel to Jurassic Park. My complaints were that:

It didn't tie into the other two films very well. If you've visited the Jurassic World website, you understand what's happened in the last 14 years, but other than a quote from Masrani saying "Hammond handed me the reigns as his dying wish", you don't get much in the way of explanation of what else has been going on in that time. Anyone marathoning the movies in the future who didn't see this in theaters and after the website has been taken down (or altered for sequels) won't understand why the pteranodon subplot from JP3 never went anywhere. That'll be a little frustrating, and that's frustrating to me. :/ It almost feels like (just like X-Men: Days of Future Past) another film was needed in between the last two.

The film I think was a little bit too much about spectacle. I want to go out on a limb and say that in the other films, the presentation of the dinosaurs was always basic... "This is a dinosaur, and that's all you really need for this to be cool." But in this film, a dinosaur wasn't cool unless it also had some cool, extended action sequence where it fights another dinosaur or kills someone in an over-the-top way... and while that might tie into the commentary of, "Dinosaurs aren't impressive anymore" I can't help but feel that it took things just a little too over the top and destroyed a lot of the realism for me. It took me out of the movie a bit. They were no longer animals with their own instincts and motivations, but movie props set in place to serve the action. It destroyed the realism that I always loved about Jurassic Park just a little bit.

On that note, the special effects also bothered me. Compared to a lot of other films these days, the CG seemed... cheap. Everything looked shiny, and compared to how the poor CG was well-hidden in the older films (under rain, low-lighting, quick shots, etc), something felt off about this one. The film certainly could have benefited from having more practical effects. For example, the raptors when they're in the cages and their heads are immobilized. Why was that CG? If anything, it seems to me that that's a situation where they obviously should have used practical effects. Maybe that's just a side-effect of not having Stan Winston around... but his studio still exists! Why didn't they tap it again? It seems odd not to have Stan Winston Studios involved in a Jurassic Park film. I dunno... all around, too much of this film just felt shiny and fake.

And rushed. It was like they were trying to hit on all the fan-service plot points that they needed to get in the film, but didn't know how to properly weave it into a script. I was upset that they didn't utilize the Indominus's camouflaging ability more. It was just too much pointless fan-service to only have it in there for one sequence, however great that sequence was. And a lot of the dialogue was lacking in the weight that it would have had if delivered in one of the other films... all the dialogue was great, but it's like the actors were told to rush through their lines so we can get back to the dinosaur action. It leaves you little time to process what's being said. I wouldn't say the film was a mess, but somehow it still felt jumbled.

I was disappointed with the film for one big reason, and that is this:



Because of this poster, and the way that raptor appeared to be similar to the raptors from the original park, I was fully expecting that Chris Pratt's dual role as a 'raptor expert' was also to hunt down surviving raptors from the original park that InGen wasn't fully able to contain, pulling in the "raptors breeding in the wild" subplot from the first novel. It would've tied into the scene in the first film where they find raptor eggs in the wild that ultimately never went anywhere in that film. I thought that would have been a much cooler and more unique way to have the park break into chaos. Even in the movie, when you see the northern volcanic region of the park on the map in the control center (the same region where the raptors were breeding in the novel) it's a "RESTRICTED AREA". So I was disappointed that that didn't happen. Another case of 'head canon' being cooler than actual canon I guess.

Lastly... everyone knows about the fiasco involving the original script for Jurassic Park 4 where they were going to have human-dinosaur hybrids in the military. Everyone hated that, the concept art was creepy and so not Jurassic Park. People who were following the development were happy when they decided to go down this route and just do another dinosaur movie... you know, what Jurassic Park is supposed to be about. But after seeing this movie a second time, it dawned on me that they didn't do away with that plot. They just reduced it to a subplot. Throughout the film, you continually see Wu sneakily coming and going through a secure door into a lab... later in the film, it's reveals that Hoskins and Wu are in league, presumably some business arrangement... Hoskins wants dinosaurs that can function in the military, and Wu just wants to push science forward. When the park falls into chaos, Hoskins orders Wu to leave the island "with the embryos" but never specifies what embryos they are. When Pratt & Co. finally get into the lab, they find all these genetically modified animals, but they (and I, during the first viewing) failed to realize that the three(?) tanks in the back of the lab were incubating human-dinosaur spinal chords. The second time I saw the film, that just hit me like a ton of bricks... the human-dinosaur hybrids are still in the film, and not only that... they're still holding on to them as a potential plot line for sequels. So that script wasn't completely abandoned... they're just going to try to slowly ease us into it. I'm nervous, but interested to see if it could work with a slower reveal.

Anyways... I still thoroughly enjoyed the film. I can't wait to see how JP Legacy responds to the new details in this film and uses it to update their infamous maps of the island. There were a lot of big changes between this movie and the first, so it'll be interesting to see how they react to the Jurassic Park equivalent of the Forward Unto Dawn being changed.

Re: Jurassic World
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2015, 01:56:21 AM »

DangerousDave

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Yeah the poster was beautiful and probably set up some expectations that were never going to be met :)

Re: Jurassic World
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2015, 02:21:28 AM »

Slightly Live

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Havent seen it yet, but planning to.

Read the books about a year ago and recently re-watched 2 and 3 in preparation.

Hope it doesn't suck.

Re: Jurassic World
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2015, 03:31:18 AM »

Capac Amaru

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Maybe a future sequel will deal with the rights of engineered human hybrids, that aren't automagically evil Frankenstein monsters.

*holds breath*

Re: Jurassic World
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2015, 10:10:05 PM »

Sixftunder

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Maybe a future sequel will deal with the rights of engineered human hybrids, that aren't automagically evil Frankenstein monsters.

*holds breath*

Please God, no.

Praise Bird Jesus!

Re: Jurassic World
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2015, 03:29:51 AM »

Capac Amaru

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I was thinking more just theropods with increased intelligence, not half man, half dinosaur.

Re: Jurassic World
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2015, 09:23:18 PM »

DangerousDave

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I was thinking more just theropods with increased intelligence, not half man, half dinosaur.

Well, you weren't thinking how JPIV's producers were then :)