Friday, June 19, 2015

Review and Recast : Jurassic World

I saw Jurassic World the day before yesterday, and I have been dying to review it. I've actually refused to tell people my thoughts on the movie because I wanted to save all my words for this review! I'll start with the review and then add my recast at the end. Will there be spoilers? Obviously. But honestly, if you don't already know what happens, then...man, I don't know what to do with you!

mosasaur

Dinosaurs : I'll just start with the dinosaurs, because they are the best and only good thing about the movie. If I were to give this movie a grade based on the dinosaurs alone, it would be an A++. ALL of the dinosaurs, and even some non-dinosaurs were in this movie. That big guy above, which I thought was a liopleurodon from the trailer is actually a mosasaur, which is not actually a dinosaur. I don't know enough about dinosaurs to know how they're classified. There were other non-dinosaurs in the movie too. According to a review with paleontologists, including dinos and non-dinos is correct. Whatever. Here's all I care about : ALL OF THE DINOSAURS WERE IN THIS MOVIE. There was the t-rex (feels like an old friend by now) and raptors (who feel like the best supervillains ever, but are apparently friends now), but then there were the cute running things from the first movie and the big necked guys who are all friendly and don't step on people kayaking down a river with them and triceratops and pterodactyls (or something else). Ok, ok, I don't know all the names of all the dinosaurs. But I'm just saying from herbivores to carnivores, there were just so many dinosaurs and it was so great to see them. I feel like I know all of them, like they're all old friends. I like meeting the new ones too. I liked SEEING the park in action. The beginning of the movie was like every dream I've ever had since Jurassic Park just coming true in all the best ways.

Plus, there was the new guy, Indominus Rex.

indominus

My love of the film begins and ends with the dinosaurs. Every other aspect of the film was complete crap. This was the absolute worst that Hollywood has to offer and I'm really sad it's made so much money. I KNOW there will be a sequel, and I hope it tanks based on how awful this one was. But it won't, and if I'm honest, I will probably always pay to see dinosaurs on the big screen.

Animal Cruelty : A supposed theme of this movie is don't fuck with nature and don't abuse animals, but it's not a theme that really hits home. So, they've created a new, bigger, meaner, eviler dinosaur and raised her completely in captivity with no contact from any other living thing ever. She is cunning and intelligent, manages to escape and allude EVERYONE for the entirety of the movie. Chaos ensues. She goes out and kills for fun. There is a really awful scene with a field littered with dead brontosauruses, because I-Rex has decided that killing is fun. The storyline of I-Rex so closely mirrors what's happening with pit bulls and other similar terriers that I feel like it's an irresponsible story line.

Beyond the awful situation with I-Rex, we see a dino petting zoo complete with baby triceratops giving rides to little children. This movie is all about animal exploitation. The dinosaurs are fed on schedules in full view of the public, for the public to enjoy their teeth. The public can kayak along side dinosaurs and can ride out in little glass balls to enjoy the fields of herbivores. I was horrified by this movie. In the original movie, the park was more like a zoo than a theme park. People could ride on a tram that was manned by the control room and maybe catch a glimpse of a dinosaur behind hugely fortified walls. In this park, thousands of humans can interact with the animals throughout the day and the animals are made to perform. This movie ignores the horrors of Sea World and the responsibilities of most zoos for the sake of the enjoyment of park-goers.

And yeah, it's supposed to be a fantasy, but it isn't. Media constantly shapes our cultures and our ideas. Maybe this is a bunch of dinosaurs on a non-existent island in a fairy tale world, but the reality of movies and media is that they shape our beliefs and our behaviors and I felt this movie was extremely irresponsible in its portrayal of the treatment of animals.

fashion

Sexism : There's a hotly contested debate over Bryce Dallas Howard's high heels in Jurassic World. While I admit this is a problem, it's not the only problem in the movie. Some argue that Claire Dearing was dressed appropriately for a day that involved meeting the with potential investors for the I-Rex animal. This is not true. The truth is that any head of operations at a large theme park or zoo would most certainly dress appropriately for the terrain of the park and the day to day duties. There is no world in which Claire Dearing would simply dress real nice, sit in an air conditioned office, and never leave the comfort of her fancy car. If nothing else, she'd wear appropriate shoes, like flats, keds, or even boots and appropriate fabric like linen, wool, or a tech fabric that would keep her cool while sweating away a short walk in a really humid environment. There is just no world involving a massive theme park/zoo that would include the head of operations wearing what Claire did...unless she was off-island and attending someone's wedding or maybe a meeting in some offices in New York or something.

Claire's clothing aside, that's not even the worst aspect of the sexism inherent in this movie. The first interaction we see between Claire and the lead, Owen, he sexually harasses her twice within the conversation. Claire dismisses his harassment, until he sexual assaults her later in the movie. In the first conversation they have, we learn they once went on a date. He sexually harasses her, and she dismisses it, then the shit hits the fan. While they are out, in search of her nephews, in the midst of action, they share no meaningful conversation that makes you believe they are somehow realizing their attraction for each other. With the rest of her team indisposed trying to catch the I-Rex, she turns to Owen to help save her nephews. Somewhere along the way, he grabs her and kisses her. This is sexual assault. He did not ask permission, there was no consent, he simply grabbed her and kissed her. Entirely inappropriate. Meanwhile, in the control room, the geeky savior of the day tries to kiss his female coworker as she's leaving. She stops him with an announcement that she has a boyfriend, because that is the only reason a man should not try to kiss a woman without express permission.

The wardrobe aside and the sexual harassment and assault aside, this is an entirely gendered movie. We have the great cold bitch and the lovable everyman. The bitch doesn't want kids, and hasn't even seen her nephews in years, but her sister has sent them to her as guests of her and her park, inexplicably. When they make really idiotic decisions and disappear, she becomes hell bent on rescuing them. Maybe this is just because she values the kids of her sister and not because she has become maternal, but the trope is overused and awful. Even as the movie is trying to force her to obey her ovaries, she bows to the male lead at every turn. She hides behind him in the garage of the old park and sits in an armored truck while he goes off to fight and even the kids choose him over her. Sure, at the end, she lets the T-Rex out because they need more teeth, but that doesn't make her a super hero. Although, Claire's lack of development and heteronormative choices aren't unusual in this movie. At every turn, Owen is made to be the "man's man." Every decision he makes is to assert masculinity, and why is he even there anyway? He's training these raptors to what end and for what reason? Nothing in this movie makes sense and all of the characters are two dimensional, which I think makes the sexism worse. As I said before, our media dictates our culture. Making a bad film with poorly developed characters that reinforce gender stereotypes continue to reinforce institutionalized sexism. The audience doesn't think about it, it's just laid on a platter for them, to assure them that the way it is, is the way it should be. I was saddened when I complained about the sexism after the movie and my 15.5 year old fellow moviegoer didn't even notice it. She's culturally conditioned to accept that this is the way of the world, and so that's what she saw.

Oh how I miss the feminism in Jurassic Park.

river

The park : Ok look, this park is absolutely ridiculous. It would just never happen. I don't care if it's outside the bounds of American insurance companies, it just wouldn't be the flimsy bullshit it was. Kayaking, uncovered, through a river with MASSIVE dinosaurs? Are you kidding me! What if they stepped on you? No. That would be a boat on a track with massive walls and huge fences around it. Fancy glass balls that allow KIDS to roam free in a field full of dinosaurs? Again, no. ESPECIALLY since they were so in control of them they could ignore a park evacuation and go through a broken fence. HELL NO! Those cars would've been manned from the control room and prohibited from ever passing outside of the field's boundaries. A massive lake right on the main midway with a HUGE aquatic animal that could JUMP OUT OF THE LAKE ONTO THE MIDWAY TO EAT ANOTHER DINOSAUR? Yeah right! That lake would've been beneath the midway by hundreds of feet and NOT surrounded by two railing short enough for a teenage boy to lean on. Also, those flimsy merchandise stands that were destroyed in the final scene while the kids and the male lead cowered against t-shirts? Again, no. That park would've had state of the art buildings that could be entirely closed up at the touch of a button and escape hatches so whatever guests and employees could get underground and to safety if there were a breach. Not to mention, the ENTIRE park would've had massive boundary walls to keep out any escaped animal under development. The park as beautiful as it was, was such a joke. I worked at two separate amusement parks for seven total summers, and I am telling you that there is no way that Jurassic World would have such pathetic and ineffectual security measures!

killer

Racism : Yet again, we have a fantastical and entirely fictitious story that is also completely racist. I don't understand how a massive corporation and theme park somehow manages to have only white characters in lead positions. How convenient that the one black character never really had a part. While I appreciated the reappearance of B.D. Wong, his part was extremely small as well. At least Omar Sy didn't end up the way of Samuel L. Jackson's character in the original, but there was no meat for minorities. I enjoyed Chris Pratt a lot, but I gotta say, I'd replace him with John Cho.

guys

I know, I know, Chris Pratt is the "every man" a la Harrison Ford, but I'm over it. John Cho is good looking, a great actor, and capable of the audience falling in love with him. But let's just say we keep Chris Pratt because he's more famous or something. How about we replace the unnecessary Bryce Dallas Howard with a woman of substance who has more action movie experience and is super good at kicking ass? I nominate my fave, Zoe Saldana.

girls

Finally, if we can't believe that minorities could sell this movie...which really, the dinosaurs sold this movie...then the least we could do was replace the annoying white kids. Claire's nephews didn't have to be white. Her sister could've married someone else and made some less white kids, right? Wouldn't the Smith kids be far more interesting to watch than those annoying white boys...who magically rebuilt a 22 year old jeep just in time to escape the I-Rex. I vote yes, I'd rather see the Smith kids in place of any basic white kids any day.

kids

There you have it, all my issues with the movie. Was it a good movie? Absolutely not. It was a tired plot with 2-dimensional characters and so predictable as to be almost unwatchable. (Am I the only one who knew from the opening of the first egg in the opening sequence that the new dino was part raptor?) This movie was unoriginal and didn't innovate at all. Jurassic Park was a fantastic film with never-before-seen realistic dinosaurs, fantastic action, and interesting characters. Jurassic World was everything we have already seen all tied up in a sexist and racist Hollywood package. I have read that this movie was ten years and just as many writers in the making, but that's no excuse. Very small changes could've made this movie worth watching for more than the dinosaurs. But even the dinosaurs followed an extremely predictable and already been done pattern. Predictable, boring, and disappointing.

2 comments:

  1. I feel the exact same way. I also find it really fucked up that in our media, a woman being torn apart by dinosaurs is no big deal, but if there's a woman being shown, say, receiving oral pleasure, it's an NC-17 rating and therefore makes zero money. I left Jurassic World feeling mostly horrified, disappointed, and sad. But yeah, the dinosaurs were cool. Humans are just so fucking stupid

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    1. Yeah, what did that nanny ever do? Oh, that's right, she talked on her phone instead of holding the hands of TEENAGERS. Clearly, she deserved an impossible death...because those non-dinosaur lizard birds couldn't pick up a human in their beaks.

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