Movie Review: 'Jurassic World' (2015)

The best moments of “Jurassic World” happen within its first 2 minutes; when the father of the two boys who will be in peril for the next 2 hours, expounds “you’re not going to war” as his teenage son shares a lingering goodbye with his girlfriend. Andy Buckley brings the one earned laugh of the movie and like that he and his father character are gone.

What “Jurassic World” offers up in lieu of a funny dad and nervous mom, are sweeping shots of awe at CGI dinosaurs that are part of a dinosaur-type Sea World, where dangerous animals have been brought back to life to amuse humans.

Apparently no one at Jurassic World got the memo about the last 3 times this experiment was tried and failed. If it’s an indictment against the greed of mankind and a warning about the consequences of not respecting nature…absolutely none of that comes through.

Seventy percent of the movie is spent watching people “ooh” and “ah” over these creatures. Another 10% is spent with a archetypal type-A scientist (Bryce Dallas Howard) and sassy raptor wrangler (Chris Pratt) as they tediously search for her dimwitted nephews. The final 20% is spent with characters warning other characters about the dangerous consequences of the dinosaurs' escape as people are getting eaten. If this sounds boring, that’s because it is.

At the core of "Jurassic World's" problem is that the characters caught up in the chaos are not worth caring about. Add to that the credibility-defying storyline that finds parents enthusiastically sending their children to a dinosaur park, where people were previously killed in mass, not once, not twice but three times and this movie is truly warped.

“Jurassic World” is supposed to be a monster movie. It’s not supposed to be groundbreaking or thought-provoking cinema. However, it should have a modicum of intellectual respect for its viewers.

Its plotline is two steps short of one of SyFy channel’s movies-of-the-week. At least, they have the decency of not pretending they are make anything other than the silliest movie known to mankind. In contrast “Jurassic World” treats its subject with a stupefying amount of serious tonality. Running away from CGI dinosaurs has never been this momentous.

The thing that made the original “Jurassic Park” movies work was the art of its puppetry. Twenty-three years after the first movie, the effects still haven’t aged as much as “Jurassic World” will have in ten years time.

As seen in David Cronenberg’s remake of “The Fly,” puppets have an incredibly long shelf life. In comparison, computer effects are rapidly improving, therefore making a movie just a few years old visually obsolete in a few more. The movement away from puppets destroys any semblance of realism this preposterous movie could have attained.

The characters caught in the monster melee are so dense, it is impossible not to contribute the events that happen to them as the work of natural selection. If only the movie treated it with that kind of cynicism. Unlike the rogue creatures in “Alien” or “Predator,” the dinosaurs of “Jurassic World” are not all that intelligent, cunning or interesting.

As much as viewers want to be rooting for their fellow humans to survive, this needs to at least seem plausible. Writing the humans into a corner where the dinosaur has to be dumbed down to make their escape feasible is not good.

A prime example of this dues ex-machina at work comes when the main dinosaur that’s the same height as the cliff below it, refuses to take the small step down to capture its prey. There’s no way a pesky leap would have stood in its way, especially when that “leap” would be the human equivalent of taking an average stair step.

Other ridiculousness includes: Bryce Dallas Howard’s prickly character rocking high heels throughout the entire movie, Chris Pratt’s Owen saving no one, and the questionable development of the two’s romance.

The up-tight fem and laid-back lad routine is getting pretty tired at this point. A redeeming facet in most of the “Jurassic Park” movies has been their discussion of divorce; how kids deal with it and how the dinosaur disaster can bring families back together. This sentimental exploration does give the movie some heart.

Though Chris Pratt tries hard, there is nothing for him to play as Owen, the raptor wrangler. The standard for what passes as an action hero has officially hit a new low, as Owen does absolutely nothing but make one failed concerted effort after another trying to stymie the nefarious dinosaur.

You keep waiting for him to do something and when he finally tries to, it all goes to Hades in a hand basket. Apparently he’s caught the same bug affecting some of summer’s other heroes: Mad Max, the Transporter, and to a lesser degree Ethan Hunt.

“Jurassic World” offers nothing new under the sun and the recent “Godzilla” installment definitely edges it out as far as monster movies go. The tricky part about the genre is that it is essentially a disaster film that features a flesh-and-blood presence at the source of the destruction.

What makes disaster movies gripping is caring about the characters caught in the eye of the storm and watching people from different walks of life team up against a force greater than themselves to survive. None of those elements are accomplished here, so perhaps they are holding back for “Jurassic Galaxy.” Rating: 2/10

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