Reviews for the Easily Distracted

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Jurassic World

Title: Jurassic World

Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote: "You know, you're right: this truly was the best vacation ever. Now let us never speak of it again."

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two big piles of shit out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs. Dinosaurs eat man. Man creates dinosaurs again. God herniates Himself laughing.

Tagline: "The park is open."

Better Tagline: "Who could possibly have seen this coming?"

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Think you're having a rough day at work? Jurassic World park director Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) has you beat. As if dealing with several hundred previously extinct animals and 20,000+ guests wasn't enough, her two nephews (Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins) have just arrived for a weekend of prehistoric fun. On top of that, she has to deal with a belligerent security chief (Vincent D'Onofrio), and ex-not quite boyfriend (Chris Pratt), and the surly disposition of a hybrid apex predator (hilariously named "Indominus rex") to the park's bestiary. 

"Critical" Analysis: At some point in the torturous development history of the 4th Jurassic Park movie, director Colin Trevorrow stated that Jurassic World would be a more or less direct sequel to the original, with the sequels (The Lost World and JPIII) "set aside." This is significant for one very important reason: it means everyone involved in bringing the theme park online did so undistracted by events on Isla Sorna and a sweaty Julianne Moore (no easy feat). In other words, not only did InGen and the Masrani Corporation (new park owners) learn nothing from their mistakes, they seem to have gotten dumber.

Which is ironical, because the big problem is how smart the new dino is. It repeatedly outwits its human captors and proves impressively undetectable for a 50-foot killing machine. Hoskins and InGen want to use velociraptors to hunt it, even though they've never been field-tested and their trainer (Pratt) has only just managed to keep them from trying to kill him. Meanwhile almost nobody on an island crawling with 20-ton reptiles has a weapon capable of taking them out.

Your enjoyment of Jurassic World will therefore depend greatly on your willingness to accept that people would not only create this place, but would do so in the most brainless way possible. The gyrospheres Zach and Grey ride around in can be driven freely throughout the paddock and folks are free to kayak (and presumably portage) wherever they please. True, the Mosasaur pool is surrounded by electrical barriers, and that might give one comfort if the goddamn thing wasn't the size of an aircraft carrier. Finally, the InGen scientists are all keenly aware of the quote-unquote mistakes of the past, and have ignored them in stunning fashion.

Example? Dr. Wu (B.D. Wong, the sole cast remnant from the first movie), confronted by park owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) when the coprolites hit the fan, says it best, "We are doing what we have done from the beginning." I've stated before — and will continue to do so until he is devoured by a Tyrannosaurs while sitting on the toilet — that Wu is basically a mass murderer. Adding frog DNA which allowed the original dinosaurs to reproduce and breeding velociraptors apparently didn't result in enough death last time around, because Wu admits to adding strains that allow the Indominus to change colors and mask its body temperature. You know, for kids.

Of course, this is presented as an indictment of humanity's obsession with bigger/meaner/scarier. We've evidently become so habituated to the existence of dinosaurs that even T. rexes are no longer enough to raise our permanently arched eyebrows. The days when Dr. Alan Grant got the vapors upon seeing that first Brachiosaurus are long over, replaced by a generation more interested in posting Grumpy Cat memes and arguing about Caitlyn Jenner on Twitter. Once again, I blame the Millennials.

[And mark my words, Universal will use this very argument if JW a) performs poorly or b) gets criticized for its ubiquitous and often unconvincing CGI: "Hey, we're just giving you ungrateful assholes what you asked for."]

There are some interesting sequences, I must admit. The pterodactyl attack glimpsed in the trailer turned out well, an aquatic dinosaur that could eat the U.S.S. Nimitz is pretty cool, and the final act is occasionally suspenseful, with at least one nifty surprise. And believe it or not, the motorcycle raptor chase scene works pretty damn well in context (the context of training prehistoric reptilian predators to serve as half-assed bloodhounds, that is).

And yet, all the running and screaming won't disguise the slow pacing, the weariness of watching giant computer-generated monsters beat the virtual crap out of each other (the Transformers effect), or the lack of chemistry between Pratt and Howard. Pratt does stoic pretty well, but Howard is largely relegated to 'damsel in distress' until literally the final scene. They do share a moment, pausing in their frantic search for Zach and Gray to mourn a slain sauropod (shades of the camera mournfully and hilariously lingering on a slain Ewok in Return of the Jedi). With a budget of $150 million, this might be the most expensive chapter of "Terry and the Pirates" ever.

Jurassic World is in theaters today and why I am even writing this you've already bought tickets.
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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