MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Universal Picture
Directed by Colin Trevorrow. Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard
Some films are so good the first time around, any attempt to expand the original vision with subsequent sequels has nowhere to go but down. Director Steven Spielberg’s 1975 Jaws is a good case in point; one trip to Amity Island was enough. Unfortunately, we are now living in the age of the big blockbuster summer movie and film audiences are apt to buy tickets just to see movies that are bigger, louder, and more pumped up with action.
Jurassic World returns us to the island that was the setting for Jurassic Park, retooled and expanded as a larger theme park/destination that includes rides and a greater variety of dinosaurs brought back from DNA from the past. Two brothers (Ty Simkins and Nick Robinson) leave the States to visit their Aunt Claire (Dallas Howard), who has a job in middle management at the park. Chris Pratt is Owen, a raptor whisperer who is charming and brave and seems like the only person onscreen who is remotely aware of the havoc that crazy dinosaurs have wreaked in the three subsequent movies.
In many ways Jurassic World is similar to any number of disaster films that have preceded it, including all of the Transformers movies and this year’s San Andreas. We are asked to care about one small handful of characters and their rush to safety, as hundreds of other unnamed people become off-screen Dino Chow. Unfeeling, uncaring scenes of death seem morally reprehensible, even when they’ve been a staple of movies for decades. And – make no mistake – this movie is not only more violent, but less thrilling and scary than the original film. Sadly, today’s kids, growing up ironic, may stifle a yawn.
The film consists of three acts. In Act I, we sit through long speeches of exposition designed to bring everybody onboard to Jurassic World while introducing new (and two-dimensional) characters. Act II spends a lot of time winking at the audience with nods to sequelitis. (There are genetic experiments to create new species with bigger teeth than the first monsters; one character wears a “Jurassic Park” T-shirt; and many scenes with visual quotes from the first flick.) Act III – the last half hour or so – is where everything goes crazy, and this part mostly works.
The big message is that we should be very careful whenever we try to play God, especially when our research is motivated by a consumer culture and aggressive military purposes. No matter how many times we see this homily on the big screen, humanity has managed to keep on committing the same sins over and over again.
Case in point: Chris Pratt has signed a contract for two more Jurassic World sequels.
Two halos: A cautionary tale about the bad things that can happen when you play around with science, a point that was made 22 years ago in Jurassic Park.
Three pitchforks: Much serious dino munching and bloodshed, mostly off screen; some mild sexual innuendo; greed; consumerism.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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