June 29, 2015
Family Film Blogging (Summer Blockbuster Edition): Jurassic World
Posted by Christine Hurt

I have a lot of reviewing-catching up to do.  Two weeks ago, I took eight children (only two were mine) to see Jurassic World.  I am still reeling with its awesomeness!

So, you may have seen some reviews that say that the movie (i) has no plot or no good plot; (ii) is merely a special effects vehicle; and (iii) is merely a product placement vehicle.  I will address these claims in order.

First, the movie has a plot, though it is not well-developed.  Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) works at the Jurassic World theme park, which is built on the site (island) of the original Jurassic Park.  Claire is some sort of executive who is concerned with "the investors" and the return on "assets."  (The "assets" are the dinosaurs, and I suppose "the investors" are shareholders, presumably private shareholders.)  Now, having seen Jurassic Park (but not the other two sequels), I can only imagine that someone  had their bad idea jeans on when they thought opening Jurassic World theme park was a great idea, and the folks in charge don't seem to have done much "worst case scenario" planning.  I.e., the park's scientists have created a hybrid dinosaur (Indominus Rex) that seems to be indestructible as well as super-crafty.  But, they put the dinosaur in a pen with 40-feet walls, so everything should be ok.  Owen (Chris Pratt) is some sort of velociraptor-whisperer who trains raptors at the park.  He seems to be sort of a hired-gun boy wonder that one of the investors/directors brought in to bring credibility to the "assets."  Vincent D'Onofrio is Hoskins, and I have no idea what he is doing in the park.  He seems to head up some sort of paramilitary group, though Wikipedia says he is head of security.  Anyway, he wants to weaponize the raptors for combat, which of course our hero Owen knows is hubris heading toward a fall.  When everything falls apart at Jurassic World, Hoskins' group takes control of the park by orders of the board of directors.  As you may guess, Hoskins will try to bring down Indominus Rex with the raptors, but he'll need Owen's help to do it.  The overarching theme, of course, is that human hubris and commercialization are about to meet their match against mother nature.

The two subplots involve Claire and Owen.  Claire's sister is having marital problems, so she sends her two tween/teenage boys to the park for a fun weekend away.  Claire is supposed to be spending family time with them, but she's not much on "family" or "time."  But, when Indominus escapes its pen, she and Owen must go search for the boys and protect them.  How did Owen get involved?  Because of the second subplot:  Owen and Claire are star-crossed lovers, having had one disastrous first date.  But, Owen is the only person Claire can turn to, etc.  For artistic reasons that seem fairly stupid, Claire does a lot of heroic things in heels and a white dress.  Laura Dern got hiking boots and khaki shorts (and weird mom jeans), but Claire gets a wardrobe barely suitable for work, let alone running from dinosaurs.  Owen, of course, gets Indiana Jones clothes, but Claire gets Marion Ravenwood-style white dresses.  So, there's the plot, which seems completely sufficient.  The winningness of these subplots is that Chris Pratt is the most likeable actor since Harrison Ford.  You would have to have a heart three sizes too small not to love him and Owen.  

Second, the special effects are awesome.  Do the effects substitute for plot?  Not for me.  The effects make the plot worthwhile.  I can't tell you how many times I gasped, screamed, yelled, etc.  The movie is like a roller coaster ride, and after the ride you say "Let's do that again!"  

Third, the product placements are there, but in a way they reflect the plot.  In the movie, Jurassic World is an over-the-top theme park, complete with high-end shopping and brand-name corporate sponsors.  To tell that story, the set would need some high-end trademarks to give the park that corporate feel.  The irony, of course, is that the stores and brands get trampled on and ruined by mother nature.  But, you still saw the brand names before they were destroyed!  Because of the theme park plot, the movie also gets to have product placements for itself!  So, one employee is chastised for a considerable amount of time for wearing a "Jurassic Park" t-shirt.  I bet they are selling those like hotcakes!

The homages to the original movie do not stop with the t-shirt and are nice Easter eggs for those JP aficionados. The t-shirt wearing employee has a workstation reminiscent of the cluttered and clumsy traitor in the first movie.  The lost boys find a shed with all sorts of museum pieces from original park.  I would list more, but I don't want to give away the end!

The bottom line is that we thought Jurassic World was a great summer blockbuster and can't wait to see it again!

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