Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Written by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly (screenplay), Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (story), Michael Crichton (characters)
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio and Ty Simpkins
In the latest Jurassic film installment, not only are these fools still cloning dinosaurs and then subsequently shooting at and running terrified from them, but they are doing it all on the ruins of the place where the same damn thing happened in 1993. Jurassic World’s meta cynicism is almost as unrelenting as the violently earnest, flat characters; sometimes the clash between the two is entertaining, and other times it’s annoying. The dino-revival turned slaughterhouse from the first film is now a happy-go-lucky theme park, tacked-on corporate sponsorships and hordes of vacationing families included. It’s a shinier gloss to distract from the fact that these creatures are still more than capable of getting loose and eating everyone.
Director Colin Trevorrow has made a summer spectacle that seems mad about being one. The most memorable shot in the movie is not of velociraptors doing battle with a ferocious new hybrid dinosaur but of one of a T-Rex being obstructed by smartphones. These people are just here to get their photos, and the grinning corporate suits working behind the scenes are making bigger and more dangerous spectacles for them to Instagram.
At first, Jurassic World is an amusing critique of corporate culture (with built in product placement, of course). It descends into predictable madness when a big carnivorous dinosaur escapes, but what caught me off guard was just how sadistic Trevorrow’s movie actually becomes. Obviously, the two wide-eyed young brothers who we follow from the beginning will be fine. Chris Pratt, the movie’s overly stoic moral compass, will be fine. Bryce Dallas Howard, who if she was allowed to take off her ridiculously high heels in the middle of the jungle might actually have been able to save everyone, will be fine.
The movie seems to go out of its way to show everyone else suffer, though. There’s an extended sequence where the brothers’ babysitter gets picked up by a flying creature, dropped in a pool and then eaten by a gigantic sea monster. In this same scene we see a brief shot of a tiny triceratops plucked away from a shrieking child by the airborne reptiles. It’s off-putting and mean-spirited, and the sanitized PG-13 rating only accentuates that.
Trevorrow is not as good at sick, sinister entertainments as David Fincher, so Jurassic World feels more like an angry mash-up of blockbuster movie elements than an actual movie. Its unending sly winks at itself are amusing at first and then eye-roll inducing, and it’s hard to sympathize with terrified people running from dinosaurs when it doesn’t make you like any of them beforehand. The velociraptors have a more sympathetic and endearing character arc than anything else in the movie, which made me wish the franchise had just done away with humans altogether for this installment. Rise of the Planet of the Raptors, please.