JURASSIC WORLD (2015, Colin Trevorrow)
The fourth installment of an ever-diminishing series is a face-palming monstrosity of stupidity, talking down so low to its audience, feeding them the lowest-hanging fruit from a tree grown in a lab designed to do the least work for the most money, that it’s no wonder at all it earned the highest grossing opening weekend box office of all time. The best-selling beer in America is Bud Light.
This bloated, self-proclaimed blockbuster starts off with a Lifetime movie prologue introducing us to the blandest white family since… JURASSIC PARK? Two market-tested kids (one is a headphone-donning hoodie-wearing teenager, the other a wide-eyed Spielbergian boy of wonder) fly off to meet their aunt Claire, played by Bryce Dallas Howard (dishonoring her father, whom I like to imagine narrating her character’s absurd pointlessness in his ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT voice). After wasting a good 15 minutes on these dull Q-tips, we enter Claire’s world, which is mired in corpocracy and greed — just imagine, a movie that finally takes on giant corporations! It’s almost like big companies are commodifying nature by turning it into theme parks and zoos, destroying life in order to make a fast buck! What a novel criticism; I really hope people pick up on this subtle message. (And believe me, it’s lost on nobody — the irony of an anti-greed message in a movie so greedy it actively insults its audience).
Finally after about thirty minutes, we meet Chris Pratt’s Owen, then spend another eye-rolling fifteen minutes watching the Raptor Whisperer argue with a power-hungry Vincent D’Onofrio (having tanned his skin and grown some hair since DAREDEVIL) over whether or not to exploit these beloved creatures. You will suffocate underneath all these strawmen.
So it isn’t until an hour into the movie when we’re introduced to the main narrative obstacle, which is the breaking loose of a genetically engineered Superdinosaur, the Indominus Rex. This beast is spoken of in such hushed tones of fear (the wasted Irrfan Khan says that not only will it scare kids, but it “will give their parents nightmares”), that you’ll be expecting one jaw-dropping visual. Well, guess what. It just looks like a T-rex. In fact, in the movie’s final act — which is by far its finest section (it includes about 15 minutes of stellar F/X work as raptors, the Indominus, the T-rex, and some pterodactyls all fight each other in World Dino War I) — you can’t even tell which one’s the Indominus and which is the T-rex half the time. How unimaginative is the creative team that they couldn’t design a badass awesome looking mega beast? It nearly ruins the only part of the movie that isn’t agonizingly stupid.
The script deserve special mention for idiocy, as it performs the incredible feat of turning Chris Pratt humorless. I assumed that wasn’t even possible. Scenes are stitched together or cut out without rhyme or reason — at one point it cuts from a character leaving a scene in broad daylight and entering the next scene in the pitch black of night. At another point Pratt douses himself in gasoline and then runs into a control room where his clothes are miraculously dry and scent-free. Claire calls her teenage nephew in panic, trying to warn him that a giant man-eating monster is on the loose right where he is, and their reception cuts off. So do you think she instantly goes to text him just in case the text goes through? Nope. She just calls again and prays for him to pick up.
More storylines are introduced and discarded, characters are there just to be dino-food, and one scene after another either rips off, echoes loudly, or pays blunt homage to several actual movies. But being reminded of the existence of ALIENS, PREDATOR, HOOSIERS, and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK does not make me enjoy the thing that’s reminding me. It just makes me wish I was watching one of them instead.