Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What the Raptor Said

If Jurassic Park is an udder, then 2015's Jurassic World is the cold, dispassionate hand that relentlessly attempts to milk it over the course of a week producing almost half a glass of milk. It has some entertaining aspects but the most remarkable thing about it is the diversity of bad logic on display.

The concept is there's been a successful theme park operating for years based around the cloned dinosaurs kept on the island. We're introduced to two boys, Gray and Zach (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson), from whose point of view we're introduced to the park as they go to spend a few days there with their aunt, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who happens to be operations manager at the park.

She's busy the day the kids arrive so she has her assistant meet them and show them around the park, a plot point the film dumbly jerks and spreads the resulting liquid thinly to suggest this implies Claire is shallow and the family is falling apart. The kids start to have anxiety over the possibility that their parents are getting divorced and we see their parents brooding over unspecified issues several times but if there was a resolution to this subplot it was left on the cutting room floor. Personally, I imagine Gray and Zach's parents getting a visit from a velociraptor who, after crashing through their living room window, sits them down and helps them work through their issues until the couple decide to renew their vows.

Richard Attenborough is gone so the man in charge of the company that owns the island is now Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), who's also an amateur helicopter pilot and later in the film he inexplicably turns out to be the only man on the island who can fly a helicopter. He enlists Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong), the same geneticist from the first film, to craft a brand new dinosaur named Indominus Rex from the DNA of other dinosaurs and modern animals. When Masrani asks Wu which animals were used, Wu says it's classified. Again, Masrani is the owner of the company. Wu works for. And Masrani doesn't bat an eye when Wu tells him he doesn't have clearance for information regarding a project he initiated and funded.

Chris Pratt plays Owen Grady who's part of a project to breed and train raptors for use in war, I guess to replace the tigers and pumas the military currently uses. Despite this project being his life's work, he's completely against Vic (Vincent D'Onofrio), head of Masrani's elite security company, using them as weapons.

Maybe you remember how in Jurassic Park the Tyrannosaurus was bigger and deadlier than the raptors. The raptors were no match for Tyrannosaurus. When Indominus, bred to be deadlier than Tyrannosaurus and somehow impervious to bullets, breaks loose, Vic argues the raptors are the only way to fight it. Owen finally grudgingly agrees it's their only option.

Even though it doesn't make any sense at all.

But that's okay, something even dumber happens when the raptors do meet up with Indominus.

Spoiler ahead

"What?" you may say, "The raptors stop and have a quiet conversation in some raptor language they somehow know and team up with Indominus?"

To which I'd be forced to reply with a sad sigh and resigned nod. It's a language Indominus knows apparently from race memory as Owen makes a big point of how much he disapproves of the way Indominus was raised in total isolation, stunting its ability to socialise. Well, I guess it's not so bad when you're born knowing a whole language.

End spoilers

I have nothing against Bryce Dallas Howard, I liked Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy. The two have a natural charm, but I sense we've gone past the point where we can have the rugged, ranger guy and the whiney, neat freak woman for his romantic interest. Even Jurassic World feels compelled to have a scene where Claire suddenly becomes assertive and cagey, though we're still given this fabulous pin-up shot:

If they really wanted to play with the gender roles--which, of course, they really didn't--they could have had her as the raptor trainer and him as the manager. Or maybe just avoid writing character types instead of characters. But maybe that wouldn't leave enough room for a scene of children in a bullet proof glass ball that's easily broken by the tail of an ankylosaurus.

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