Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard
Playing off childhood nostalgia and obscene levels of hype, Jurassic World was poised to make a record-shattering opening weekend. And it did, beating Marvel’s Avengers for the highest-grossing opening of all time.
What’s inexplicable, though, is the widespread acclaim that the film is receiving.
This is the first time greenhorn Colin Trevorrow has directed a big-budget film — and his work has none of the artistry of Spielberg’s original 1993 Jurassic Park. While Spielberg is executive producer of Jurassic World, and has even endorsed the film in interviews, the flick benefits from none of his masterful touch. Rather, it’s like Michael Bay violated the screenplay, injecting it with tone-deaf, bloated action.
The movie is centered around humans’ mostly futile attempts to kill a genetically altered super-dinosaur. There’s every trope you could ask for: two kids in danger who have to fend for themselves, a big bad greedy military antagonist, etc.
The movie contains the same central theme as Jurassic Park, that of humans not having the right to play God and alter nature. Yet, in Jurassic World, it’s stuffed in your face and clawed into your skin. In the original, one of my favorite but oft-overlooked scenes takes place around a dinner table: a chaotician, a lawyer, two paleontologists, and the park owner, John Hammond, have a mild but subtextual argument on the dangers of playing with life.
Take away every veil, bare every fang, and you get Jurassic World. One of the lines of the movie that seems to be reflected in every facet? “We need MORE TEETH!”
Of course, the American moviegoer’s expectations for this film would have been satisfied with just about anything. Nevermind the two-dimensional script and characters, the mind-numbing final sequence — Jurassic World has just enough nods to the original and is self-irreverential enough to please the current generation of superhero-glutted consumers.
Perhaps the most ambiguous character in the film is the owner of Jurassic World and successor to John Hammond, Mr. Masrani (played by Irrfan Khan). In contrast to the cringeworthy predictability of the other characters and the moral distinctions that are drawn so clearly and crudely as if with spray paint, Mr. Masrani’s fate is left unclear for most of his brief tenure.
You find yourself having more sympathy for the velociraptors than for the humans. Maybe that’s deliberate, but it doesn’t excuse the clumsiness of the rest of the cast.
Praise the use of animatronics. Praise the fact that the film explained why the park dinosaurs don’t have feathers. Jurassic World pays attention to these small details, but misses blindly on so many other fronts. It’s not deserving of Spielberg’s endorsement or the favor of Jurassic Park fans — it’s worth only eye-rolls and scattered applause.