The original Jurassic Park is one of Spielberg’s best films. It’s warm, fun, thrilling, and brilliantly shot and edited. It’s both adorable and scary in turn, with Sam Neill bonding with snot-nosed kids and Wayne Knight getting his comeuppance. It spawned two mediocre-to-bad (depending on who you ask) sequels, but the first movie itself can’t be blamed for what followed. It’s iconic, well-made, and just a great, great movie.
Jurassic World is okay. Whatever popcorn entertainment you’re expecting, that’s basically what you’re gonna get.
The movie starts with two barely-relevant parents shipping their kids Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins) off to visit Jurassic World, presumably to keep them out of the way while they finalize their divorce. Jurassic World is a popular theme park run by the kids’ type-A aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). Claire’s the logistics side of Jurassic World, while Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) is the owner and eccentric financier. Still with me? Worried about the moneythings surrounding Jurassic World, Claire or Masrani or somebody asked head geneticist Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) to make a bigger, badder MURDERSAUR as a new attraction. Now that the new Murdersaur is in its pen, Claire has to — are you keeping track of all of this? — Claire has to talk to Owen (Chris Pratt), her ex-romantic interest, who’s also ex-navy, who’s also handling the velociraptors, to check out the Murdersaur cage. Meanwhile, Owen is getting hassled by Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) about the possible applications of military raptors. In the midst of this series of interpersonal disasters, the Murdersaur flies its coop and starts eating chumps, because what else is a Murdersaur going to do?
You see how many irons are in this fire? It’s insane. This is the premise. All of this is the setup that happens before the Murdersaur even gets loose. There’s a bunch of semi-important side characters and whatnot that aren’t even mentioned up there, who also get their moments and pertinence to the plot. How can the movie keep track of all that crap? It can’t. Half the time it doesn’t even try.
The thing about Murdersaur in 3D is that it seems to know what elements made the first Jurassic Park movie great — human connections and growth, danger and suspense, little moments of humor, use of music and lighting — but doesn’t understand why these worked in that movie. Rather than having a main plot, you end up with a main conflict surrounded by a bunch of subplots, some of which never fully resolve. As a result, you get a mixture of all the desired elements, but with no grace or sense of balance, contradicting each other like a Three Stooges gag. They’re all thrown into a blender, and out comes a sloppy pile of PG-13 celluloid ooze.
There’s one moment, in particular, that highlights exactly the kind of discord I’m talking about. Claire is making a sad face over a sad thing. Sad music swells over her sadness, and Owen stands, bringing his gun up. He takes a few steps and she joins him, and immediately, I mean within two seconds of the sad thing, he makes a harsh observation about dinosaur murder, while the sad music is still playing. Pratt’s line delivery is good, the sad music is sad, but there’s such a jarring contrast between the two I almost started laughing. Was that moment supposed to be sad? Stark? Dramatic? I have no idea, because it was funny as hell.
The movie’s not without its charms, though. Claire makes a decent protagonist (in spite of the fact that we don’t spend enough time with her to really understand what her arc is supposed to be). Chris Pratt continues to be funny and handsome and essentially the world’s most likable dude. There are some cool callbacks to the original. We get to see the siblings bond and grow a little bit, though we never find out what happens with their parents’ one-way ticket to splitsville. As promised in the trailer, Pratt rides a motorcycle with some clever girls. And most importantly, the climax is straight out of every ten-year-old’s dreams, and I mean that in the best possible way.
Dinosaur Mistake 4 has got its appeal, you’ll have a good time watching it, but it’s clumsy. It won’t resonate with you in a way that makes you want to watch it with your kids, and it won’t resonate with your kids in a way that makes them willing to give another Jurassic Park movie a chance in twenty-some years. It’s fun, a little silly, and sadly forgettable. It’s a strange case, because Jurassic Park made a better movie than book; but weirdly enough, Jurassic World, with its bonkers structure from several perspectives, would have made a better book than movie.Liked This? Share It!