Film and TV

Jurassic World Will/Will Not Be The Greatest/Worst Movie Of The Summer, Maybe

Jurassic World opens this Friday. The fourth movie in the series spawned by Michael Crichton's novel (you forgot there was a Jurasssic Park III, didn't you?) takes place more than two decades after the ... unpleasantness most cognitively functioning people assumed would make Isla Nublar a forbidden zone forever.

Funny thing about two billion dollar movie franchises: studios like to keep milking them, for approximately two billion reasons (see also: Pirates of the Caribbean: Depp Wants to Buy Croatia). Will it be worthwhile? You could wait until Friday to find out. Alternately, because America is the land of instant gratification and Friday is two whole days away, let's speculate based on nothing more than the trailers and rumors I've heard on the internet.

DISCLAIMER: I have seen the movie, but I wrote this before the screening. Any speculation is exactly that.


Big Is Better

*Everybody* likes dinosaurs. Many of us have a baseline interest lingering from a childhood spent obsessing about them, because they were safely terrifying. Even Christian fundamentalists, unable to reconcile the fossil record with Biblical timelines, incorporate them into their narrative, because dinosaurs are cool.

And if dinosaurs (the name means "terrible lizard," which is outstanding) themselves are awesome, then big dinosaurs are even Jurassic World has two (that we’ve seen): a Mosasaur the size of a Typoon class submarine, and a new hybrid dinosaur that makes T. rex look like a Jack Russell terrier, all apparently because tourists are already bored with creatures reborn after millions of year of extinction. Bud from Repo Man was right.

Consume Mass Quantities

One drawback, I felt, of the original movies was the limited body count. In the original, the victims were staff members and Hammond's lawyer (eaten in the scene that elicited the most cheers when I saw it in 1993). The two sequels, recall, took place on Isla Sorna, and most of the devoured were mercenaries or scientists. This won't be the case in World, where things are fully operational, meaning plenty of meat for the "meatasauruses."

Honestly, who's going to mourn the death of a few thousand theme park guests? Aside from the manufacturers of novelty license plates, I mean?


You guys, lots of critically acclaimed actor type people are in Jurassic World. First, you've got Vincent D'Onofrio playing InGen security chief "Vic Hoskins." With a name that manly I imagine each of his Y-chromosomes has its own scrotum. D'Onofrio plays unhinged well, and because he's in charge of security in a dinosaur theme park, I expect him to die in particularly remarkable fashion.

Ron Howard's daughter is also in it, she was in one of the Twilight movies and Spider-Man 3. Yeah. Moving on, there's also Chris Pratt, who in addition to being so hot right now plays the velociraptor trainer in the movie. I really really hope it turns out he's the annoying kid Dr. Grant scared the shit out of in the original Jurassic Park, now adult and thirsting for revenge.

Seriously, is this not the coolest thing you've ever seen?


Those Who Cannot Learn From History Are Doomed...something something

The original park in Jurassic Park never opened because — lest we forget — one asshole programmer shut down the entire security system and let all the "terrible lizards" out. One assumes added safeguards have been implemented since then, but even so, what are the insurance premiums for a standard amusement park? Something like 10-15 percent of revenue, right? What about an amusement park where the attractions would like nothing more than to dismember you and feast on your still-warm organs? I'm guessing 60 percent at minimum, so tickets must be, like, $5-10K per person (what I call "high Disney"), and that's not even the all-inclusive.

This, of course, assumes you could find an insurance company willing to cover you after your company let a Tyrannosaurus escape captivity. Twice.

The Thrill Is Gone

It isn't just Jurassic World (though it's a convenient example), but the reliance on CGI in just about every big budget sci-fi/comic book/fantasy movie over the last 15 years is both overwhelming and increasingly distracting. At least in the original movie there was the possibility Stan Winston's T. rex model might, I don't know, fall on Jeff Goldblum or something. Mad Max: Fury Road proved practical effects still have a place in genre flicks, so I guess what I'm saying is they should have used real dinosaurs.

No Central Characters Were Harmed In The Filming Of This Movie

Chris Pratt's character isn't going to die, neither is Bryce Dallas Howard's, and you know those two kids are totally safe. I don't blame director Colin Trevorrow for this, but rather Steven Spielberg, who established with the first movie that none of the principals will get knocked off (and Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm survived multiple visits).

In fact, the only character returning from the original movie is Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong), the same genius who spliced frog DNA into dinosaur DNA and allowed the beasts to change their sex and breed. This time around, he's bred a new dinosaur, twice the size of a T. rex with *opposable thumbs*. Wu will probably live on and, I don't know, clone Hitler or something.


Seriously, is this not the dumbest fucking thing you've ever seen?

So there you have it: Jurassic World will either be great, or it will be crap. Possibly it will be mediocre, with parts both good and bad. Less than a month until Terminator: Genisys!
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar