Saturday, 4 July 2015

Jurassic World; Star Lord Can't Save You Now

More is less. The more Jurassic we get, the less point there is to it all. Like so many other sequels, it’s not how much bread you’ve got, it’s what you’ve got to spread over it. And Jurassic was only ever one idea; “Hey, what if we brought dinosaurs back and put them in a theme park?” The first movie demonstrated that it would be an objectively terrible idea, and nothing that’s happened since has asked any new questions or thrown up any smart answers to the old one. Dinosaurs in a theme park is an idiotic idea, and then there’s the running and the screaming. Or in a line which Chris Pratt just throws away early on; “Dinosaurs. Wow enough."

I honestly can’t decide if the movie is commenting on its own intellectual bankruptcy; the plot is pretty much:- long running franchise wants to get more bums on seats, so clones new versions of its old successes, which get loose, go on the rampage and destroy the franchise. So the plot, so what’s actually happening to the Jurassic idea its very self. And since it opened strongly and will make its money back, in a couple of years they’ll be trying to find another explanation for how anyone smart enough to get hold of enough money to re-build a people-shredding theme-park could be dumb enough to spend that much money that way.

So; theme part full of dinosaurs? check; moppets in peril? check; well-meaning but misguided corporate overlord? check; sinister corporate forces up to no good? check; knowledgeable hero to save the day? check - and so on. It’s pretty much a remake of the third movie, which was a remake of the first movie, which was - perhaps - where it might have been smart to stop. Apart from anything else, though they had all the money in the world for CGI dinosaurs, they didn’t get anything like the line-up of B-movie character actors that Jurassic Park threw at the problem, and so they wound up hoping that Chris Pratt could somehow be both Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill simultaneously while also channeling Bob Peck. Chris Pratt has been blossoming lately, but no-one could blossom that much.

Jurassic World isn’t a terrible movie; Chris Pratt saves most of the scenes that he’s in, and everyone else at least hits their marks. The spectacle’s all in place and a lot of it works. But there’s a sense of oh, man, here we go again. There’s a climactic fight with a T-Rex and a bunch of raptors which goes on too long and just reminds us that the first one did everything which needed to be done with that idea. And just as they make their dinosaurs by splicing in the DNA of other animals, the script writers bulked out the plot with DNA from other franchises, stealing its doomed marines with headsets straight out of Aliens at the same time that they nicked that franchise’s preoccupation with building creepy man-eating animals for the military.

Which brings me back to Chris Pratt. Weirdest Navy Seal ever. At no point does anyone even make a stab at explaining how a Navy Seal is somehow trying to train raptors to sit up and beg for puppy treats. We just have to surf that on a wave of Pratt-ian charm. Pratt turns on about forty percent of the schtick which made Star Lord work and hopes for the best …. The whole notion of a raptor whisperer who has trained a pack of raptors to go hunting with him was cool enough to drag me into the cinema almost against my will, but instead of running with that idea, it’s just a thing which happens around the edges of yet more corporate hubris building a great big monster which eats all the guests at the theme park. Guys, you had an actual new plot! Nah, let’s just go with science doing things it shouldn’t do.

Speaking of science, whatever about biology and biochemistry, physics is obviously suspended from duty in the area around Isla Nublar. The movie has four raptors in play, and in the last act, they get run over, hit by anti tank rockets, hurled into walls hard enough to break the wall, bitten in half by bigger dinosaurs and chucked into gas explosions. No matter what happens to them, there are always three of them left. I expected them to start drifting round corners in souped up Hondas

But; you can’t argue with the numbers. The movie made back its budget before the end of the first weekend. There will be another one. Chucked in around the dino-fights at the end, there’s even a pretty broad hint at what it will be about, as sinister military contractors leg it from the scene with vials of priceless dino-DNA.

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