Jurassic World’s probably not the stupidest film ever made. In film history there are dozens, hundreds, thousands, of incredibly stupid pictures. It’s important to remember that when you feel like calling Jurassic World the stupidest film ever made.
But my god, it’s a stupid film. Here’s the plot: Jurassic Park, now pointlessly renamed Jurassic World, is finally up and running, but it’s been up and running for so long that tourists are bored, forcing InGen to develop a new genetic mash-up monstrosity, which escapes and wreaks boring havoc. How did InGen manage to stay afloat financially after three multiple-fatality disasters in under a decade? Who launched Jurassic World, and how? When was John Hammond redeemed in the public eye? How can people possibly have become bored of fucking real-life dinosaurs over ten years, when zoos full of boring old elephants and penguins in Vienna and London and San Diego have stayed profitable for, like, centuries between them? Don’t ask. The interesting film, the one all about salvaging Jurassic Park/World, has been skipped straight over. Not a single question that might possibly occur to you has an answer: it’s roller-coaster movie ride time, so strap yourself in and shut your mouth.
So how does the film fare as popcorn? It’s spilled popcorn. It’s an unappetising, sticky mess all over the place. If the only time you’d seen Jurassic Park was when you’d had half a bottle of tequila, and never realised you were sitting on the remote the whole time, skipping back and forth at random until you fell asleep, then Jurassic World is pretty much what you’d have seen. Like most Hollywood films, there is action and suspense and romance and annoying kids and explosions and a half-arsed anti-capitalist statement, but when have you ever seen the elements shuffled this thoroughly? Action scenes at the start! Plot set-up at the end! Snogging while people die all about the place! The kids get formally introduced about an hour after they appear in the film. And – is this worth mentioning? – can I help myself? – I can’t. OK, so a character in this film is convinced velociraptors have more military applications than drones, or soldiers, or stealth jets or aircraft carriers or fucking guns. Raptors are cool, they’re really damned cool, they were cool in the first movie hunting scared, unarmed nerds. But they can’t fly and drop bombs, though the film is stupid enough that they might as well. Dinosaurs are treated as basically magical dragons who can or can’t do whatever the script says. So why bother even trying to follow the action scenes? Things explode, a lot, and the named characters live, and the trained, armed soldiers die, in exactly the same circumstances, presumably because only nameless faceless characters are delicious to dinosaurs. It’s honestly that easy to predict who’ll live and die: there are characters in the film whose names are revealed only after they’ve died.
Speaking of characters, by the way, you would be wasting your time even with the main characters. You’ve met them all before in the various films in the franchise: the nerd; the villain; the divorcee kids; the industrialist; B.D. Wong; the big-game former Navy badass. Former Navy? What animals did he train for his expertise? Penguins? Flying fish? And you know that perfunctory Jurassic Park conversation? You know the one – “I’ve created wonders!” “You haven’t created, you’ve – you’ve unleashed” – that sort of thing. Well, they have it here, of course, but they can’t remember which character, the scientist or the industrialist, represents arrogance and hubris, so they switch rôles a couple of times and then just give up the whole exercise. Like this film has a message anyway. It has all these insert scenes about control or nature or something because Jurassic Park had them, but Jurassic Park was good at weaving its message into its spectacle. In this film they’re just both here because they’re both supposed to be here because they’ve both always been here. It’s boring, and that’s the most damning thing you can say about a film that clearly exists only to knock off your jaded cinema-going socks. It’s really tedious. I was willing the dinosaurs to stay in their cages just to spare me another boring, pointless action sequence.
Because Jurassic World could have been an enjoyable travesty, a Jurassic burlesque, but it isn’t fun. It’s got really annoying direction, almost always out-of-focus and clearly designed for 3-D exclusively (I saw it in 2-D). And it’s got acting which is, at best, totally indifferent (say, Bryce Dallas Howard and B.D. Wong – Chris Pratt sucks, for the record, as does my actual current fave Vincent D’onofrio). Even the production design manages to be both boring and garish. And then there’s, Starbucks, the constant, Mercedes-Benz, product, Jimmy Buffet, placement BEATS BY DRE. And the score is nothing but the famous JP theme, played slow on piano, honestly nothing but. And the sound design is horrible. And the special effects are plain ugly. And the film is generally an embarrassment, because whatever pessimists say about modern cinema, our trash movies at least are currently held to probably the highest standard in film history; the high-quality blockbuster output of the Marvel, Bond, or Mission: Impossible franchises and their ilk has been such a bar-raiser that it’s shameful for Universal to put out a film this obnoxiously poor, like their sequel machine is stuck in 1980s grind-‘em-out mode.
Honestly, making a decent sequel really isn’t that difficult, is it? Do the same stuff, but not too the same; make it bigger if you can’t make it better; don’t induce any plot holes; most importantly, don’t ever, ever big yourself up by taking a shit on the original. Here we really get into Jurassic World’s heart of badness: it has a little bit of a complex about shitting on the original, because everyone knows that that was the problem with Jurassic Park III, the Spinosaur killed the T-Rex and all the audience goodwill was instantly sapped. So this film tries to assure audiences that everything’s on the level by undoing it when a live T-Rex smashes a Spinosaur skeleton. But there’s a real disconnect between the film’s intent, and the film’s themes. Because the subtext to the idea that “mere” live dinosaurs no longer impress the public is that the mere CG spectacle of the original doesn’t cut it in an era of Godzilla and Pacific Rim and Transformers. But that’s exactly the opposite of the truth: people still love the original, not for its spectacle but for its careful pacing and memorable characters and iconic production design and well-judged humour and terrifyingly well-executed suspense scenes and perfect score. The original is so good that it’s easy to forget it’s a special-effects film about dinosaurs. Despite its refusal to go five minutes without recreating a famous shot or line of dialogue from the original, this film can’t possibly feel like a loving tribute because its implicit aim is to outdo the original. T-Rex isn’t good enough, so InGen created Indominus Rex. Jurassic Park wasn’t good enough, so Universal created Jurassic World. And when you work through an idea – in this case, the public’s supposedly insatiable appetite for new and bigger spectacle – by engaging in exactly what you criticise then you’re not satire, you’re indulgence.
So that’s all folks! What did you make of Jurassic World? Hate it? Love it? Whatever your thoughts make sure to leave them behind in the box below!