8 Things about Jurassic World

So after the diatribe that was Jurassic Park III and then the childhood soul crushing Godzilla, I was in no way keen to see Jurassic World. Just watch the first trailer, the idea of a genetically modified dinosaur isn’t so far fetched in the grand scheme of getting actual dinosaurs from mosquitos. But then right at the end you get a shot of Chris Pratt riding with raptors. Not being chased, riding! Then the second trailer came out, giving us more of Chris raptor-whispering. But then toward the end the trailer says the dinosaurs are communicating. Really, you are literally going with the dumbest part of the third – and worst – movie?

When my best friend invited me along to see the film on opening weekend I was not enthused. So little of my childhood remains untainted, take away Jurassic Park and all I’ll be left with is cynicism and… cynicism. Oh so much cynicism. But, then I went to see it and I can definitely say that the last remnants of my childhood remains somewhat intact. There’s still cynicism, but it’s a cynicism that warms the dreary remains of my English soul. That’s not to say the film is perfect – let’s not get ahead of ourselves. So here are 8 things in Jurassic World to gripe about.

Warning: There are spoilers.

1. Everything hinges on a very bad response

The premise of the film is that in order to increase the “wow” factor of the Park – because dinosaurs aren’t wow enough – corporate decide to develop a genetically modified dinosaur made of other bits of dinosaur. They call it the Indominus Rex:

I-Rex

I loved her all the way back when she dressed as a boy

I loved her all the way back when she dressed as a boy

Yes, the name is stupid – but the film has the sense to make a joke out of it. At any rate, the I-Rex is badass. Now, the owner of the park has the sense to not let the public near the thing until someone has checked that the cage is inescapable. So Claire – Bryce Dallas Howard – collects Owen – Chris Pratt – as the resident dino-whisperer to take a look at it. Only by the time they get there the I-Rex has escaped.

It is at this point that some very sensible people fuck right up.

As far as Claire and Owen know, the I-Rex has ninja-warriored its way up the wall and left the cage with a cheeky smile on its face. Now, that happened in the hour or so it took Claire to pick up Owen from the last time she was there. Here’s an establishing shot for you:

i-rex cageJust behind that plant is a gate, to the right of that is where the I-Rex climbed out. Two important things about this:

First, there are a bunch of workers about the place working on making the wall BIGGER. And yet, somehow, no one notices a dinosaur bigger than a T-Rex land on the other side of the wall. Remember the scene from the first film? The T-Rex is such a lard-arse its very footsteps make the water shake. I wasn’t joking with the ninja reference.

Second, see that window in the picture? There’s a guy behind that whose job is to monitor the I-Rex, and he doesn’t notice it climb out? Well, of course he hasn’t, the I-Rex hasn’t escaped.

That's him in the background, admittedly hard to notice because of the fore-Bryce

That’s him in the background, admittedly hard to notice because of the fore-Bryce

It’s all an elaborate trick because the I-Rex is sneaky like a ninja. Which just goes to show that Claire reacts horribly. Upon learning a super dinosaur has escaped, she leaves the safety of the observation room – for all she knows, heading right at the damned thing! It then gets worse because she puts in a phone call to HQ to inform them of the escape. The tech dude there activates the tracking implant in the I-Rex to reveal it’s still in the cage. By which point Owen and two men who should have known the I-Rex hadn’t escaped are already in the cage. That’s right, the clever dino-whisperer, who cedits the dinosaurs with more intelligence than anyone else, doesn’t think to check either. You’d think he’d use his super animal training skills to maybe search around first, you know, before getting in. And when he inevitably gets ambushed, his escape lets the I-Rex escape too. Though to be fair, that was down to the lard arse who should have known the I-Rex was still there.

morganaNow, why didn’t Claire – who knew about the implant – put in the call straight away? If she had, literally none of the movie would have happened. They would know the I-Rex was still in its cage, scoff at its sneaky cunning and get on with making the cage more secure. Oh, and Owen would probably build a positive relationship with it using some more dino-whispering. I’m well aware something has to go wrong for the film to take place, but up until this point the film has done nothing but show that Claire is bother uber-sensible and knows the park inside out. Her reaction just doesn’t make sense. Then again, perhaps the only reason I’m griping about it is because if Claire hadn’t screwed up like it was her first day on the job then Morgana wouldn’t have received the water-boarding treatment from a pterodactyl. That makes me sad – for obvious reasons.

2. How to train your raptor

Let’s talk about dino-whispering. Ultimately, it is nowhere near as bad as the trailers made it out to be. The premise for it is that Owen has been brought in by Vincent D Onofrio – generic profiteer – to see if it’s possible to train raptors in the same way that we train dogs and dolphins for military tasks. The endgame for Vincent is to replace drone strikes with raptor strikes at which point I think the Taliban would be fully justified in declaring a War on (Raptor) Terror. After all, the articles of war explicitly don’t say you can’t use raptors.

By the start of the film, Owen has some measure of control over them. But at the same time, he and the raptors, are quite clear someone’s getting their face ripped off if anyone tries to give out some hugs. Even when they are up close and personal, the raptors are muzzled in steel clamps. As for that scene in the trailer where he is getting up close and personal?

raptor cage 2 raptor cage 1 Here’s a picture of the raptor cage from the first film (left) and Jurassic World (right). Jurassic World is a world in which Jurassic Park happened and a good portion of exposition is spent to dealing with not committing the mistakes of the past. Except, that is, for the raptor cage. In the first film the raptor cage has an electric fence over the top of the cage, and then another hanging over that for good measure. Because, as the guy points out, the raptors test the fences. In the Jurassic World cage there is no electric fence and just some handrails for the walkway directly over the pre-historic murder machines. Not to mention some very conveniently placed air vents so that really the movie should have been about how the raptors escaped within five minutes and ate some dude who claimed he could talk with them.

As it happens, some noob on his first day manages to fall into the cage. Trying to save Babe, I might add. Understandably the raptors think they’re getting a second lunch and that brings us to the scene from the trailer. This is actually the first time Owen has entered the cage like this and he only does it to save the other guy. Played out in full,  most of it involves slowly backing away until he legs it at the last second.

Skip forward a bit to that other scene, then, with Hotwheels Jurassic Park style.

This actually happens

This actually happens

By this point the I-Rex has escaped and wiped out everyone and everything that’s gone against it; the problem being that most of their technical equipment just isn’t helping (we’ll get to that). So re-enter Vincent who suggests that their best option is to use the raptors to track and trap the thing. For the park it’s a desperation move and for Vincent it’s a field test for his military hardware (like I said, we’ll get to that). At this point Owen really doesn’t know if the raptors will get out of their cages and just lunge at all the military dudes standing around gawping. The only line missing from the film in this regard is the explainer that all the park guests are in a safe zone which none of the dinosaurs can get to – except the I-Rex because it hasn’t been proofed for a proto-Godzilla. At this point, its actually a fairly acceptable risk to take.

And it does go wrong. Though not quite for the obvious reason. The raptors seem to forget that they were quite happy to eat Owen a few hours ago, and they handle the introduction of a loud motorcycle as if he had secretly been inducting them to the world of Harleys from the get-go.

3. Frankenstein’s Monster

Like I said before, the premise of a genetically engineered dinosaur isn’t all that far fetched. After all, all the dinosaurs are genetically engineered to an extent. As Dr. Wu points out, the dinosaurs were engineered using bits of other animals and re-designed to meet with the public’s expectations. For those not in know, velociraptors were about three feet tall and covered in feathers and it’s quite hard to be scared of an overgrown chicken.

Note: the velociraptors in the film are in fact utahraptors. Also, covered in feathers.

The I-Rex is just a logical progression of that: taking bits of dinosaurs and splicing them together as a new one. Admittedly, if you are going to do that though, maybe create a mutant herbivore first? Albeit one with spikes, but just saying.

Silly Bryce

Silly Claire

Now the first scene in which all this is explained is pretty damned good. The owner of the park challenges Wu over just what he spliced into the dinosaur after it escapes, because neither he nor Claire thought to ask this before getting the thing ready for the public to see. Because by this point they’ve discovered that it can mask its heat signature – how it tricked them into thinking it escaped – and can change its skin colour to camouflage itself. As Wu explains it, in order to splice together a bunch of separate dinosaurs they had to include some other animals as well. This includes a frog that can lower its body temperature and an chameleon – I think. What I liked about this was that it basically made the whole thing out to be an accident. Wu didn’t expect the I-Rex to have those abilities, they were just unexpected side effects.

Later on, however, it all gets a bit cartoonish. Basically we learn that Wu and Vincent are in cahoots the entire time. Those abilities that look like an accident? Entirely intentional. All to make it a more efficient Taliban murder machine – provided they can get a pigmy version to fit in the tunnels.

i-rex 2

Cool guys don’t look at explosions

It’s an annoying and unnecessary level of explanation; one that turns Wu into the generic mad scientist and makes Vincent’s character more stupid than he already is. He’s already spent the rest of the film talking like he’s in a Metal Gear Solid game. Every conversation somehow becomes a philosophical exposition on what he takes to be the meaning of life: War, war, and more war. I get why he wants to use the raptors: he wants to prove they can be weaponised. But when you learn they’re just beta testing for the I-Rex, he becomes nothing more than a cartoon villain. And like a cartoon villain he’s the architect of his own demise.

You see here’s where the “They’re communicating” line comes in. The I-Rex is part raptor. Which Vincent knows about. So when the raptors do catch the I-Rex, they have a chinwag – seriously, there’s something Three (four) Stooges about the way the raptors stand there – and the I-Rex takes over the pack. Fortunately, they do speed through the raptor communication part so, thankfully, it is nowhere near as stupid as in the third film. Inevitably, the raptors turn on the humans and Vincent joins the growing list of characters who really don’t get that reasoning with dinosaurs just doesn’t end well.

4. White is grey, and so is Blue

bryce dallas 4Now, Claire’s dress ensemble is very, very white. And considering what she gets up to over the course of the film, it also gets really rather dirty. Also important: the heels. Thanks to watching Jeremy Jahns’ review beforehand, I was primed to notice this throughout the movie. There’s only a couple of scenes that really make it obvious but the point is everything Claire does throughout the film is done in some very, very high heels. Which makes some of things she does do – primarily a lot of running – ludicrous. We’re looking at someone who should have sunk into the earth in the early scenes and stood helplessly as a raptor ripped off her perfect face.

Anyway, this wasn’t actually supposed to be a comment on women’s fashion. I am the least qualified person to comment on that. No, what this has to do with is colour. A while back – before the film came out – Cracked did an article on why modern CGI looks crappy these days (I am linking a lot of stuff on this one, aren’t I?) which commented a lot on the Jurassic World trailers. The second point is about how every movie now doctors its films with colour grading so that the colours actually looked washed out. Seriously, go check the article out now. There’s some nice comparison shots between Jurassic Park and Jurassic World which show you what I mean. I’d put them up myself, but that would probably get me in trouble.

Now for the most part I didn’t notice that Claire’s dress was off-white, and believe me, I paid attention. Perhaps because the director or someone read that Cracked article and went back and changed things. Whether they did or not, I still struggled with the film’s understanding of colour. You see, the I-Rex is white:

Watch the video (if it worked). At the most I’m willing to grant the I-Rex is a light grey. But after the park owner comments on how he didn’t know they’d made it white, I was never once convinced that I was looking at a white dinosaur. Of course, as the I-Rex can change colour, you could say it’s always slightly camouflaged. Which is fair enough.

But then we get to the raptor squad:

raptor squadTell the difference? Good, now look at the picture below:

raptor squad 2I seriously cannot tell the difference between those raptors, especially which one is Blue who actually becomes significant to the film later on. And this is the promo picture! During the film, when most of the raptor havoc happens at night, I could not say which raptor was which. For the most part you have to go off the clues from the actors: “Hey Blue!” But they don’t always help with exposition so I didn’t even really know it was Blue at the end of the film until someone said it after all the shit was over and done with. Perhaps I was supposed to assume it was Blue?

Here’s a pro tip for any film maker who’s reading this (as they all should be): if you’re going to use colour as a means of distinguishing one character from another, don’t wash out those colours. Even in a night scene. Especially in a night scene!

5. Dino ex Machina

Speaking of Blue, thanks to Cinema Sins’ contribution Movie Fights mention of Deus ex Machina is now a sore topic for a lot of people. Either you agree that there’s too much of it, or you’re among the many who claim that Cinema Sins don’t know what Deus ex Machina means. So see here for a long explanation. Now, I did see someone complaining that the cliff the two kids jump off to escape the I-Rex is Deus ex Machina. It isn’t. That was just lucky for the characters that there happened to be a cliff there, importantly – and why it isn’t Deus ex Machina – that cliff would remain to be there regardless of if they found it or not. It’s part of the island.

That’s not to say that Jurassic World is without Deus-cum-Dino ex Machina. Admittedly, the first film set the mother of all precedents when it came to this:

tipy-toes!

tipy-toes!

And the film sort of addresses this nicely. In the climatic battle, Owen gets the raptors to turn on the I-Rex only for them to get ripped, grilled (genuinely) and crushed. This is relevant: I genuinely thought they were all dead by the end of it. Claire – given an idea by Kid B – runs off to unleash a T-Rex from its paddock and use that to fight the I-Rex. In a nice reference to the first film she lures it out with a flare and runs at the I-Rex.

Again, all done in heels!

Again, all done in heels!

Which works, sort of. It almost turned into a repeat of Jurassic Park III where they killed the T-Rex in a matter of seconds just to prove the Spinosaurus (or whatever it was) was so damned powerful. But herald Dino ex Machina in the form of a raptor (it’s Blue) which then helps the T-Rex fight the I-Rex (i’ll come back to that). I think my problem with this twofold: 1. I didn’t know which raptor it was that was coming to the rescue. 2. Whichever raptor it was, I am fairly certain it should be dead already. It’s a similar problem with a lot of heroes in films: you see them take a hit of a force which you’ve seen fell other characters. All of a sudden, the I-Rex didn’t seem all that powerful because it had to fight a T-Rex and a raptor. It just made it seem like the damage it had been doing wasn’t as bad as we’d been lead to believe.

However, my bigger gripe is the Dino ex Machina which kills the I-Rex. Neither the T-Rex of Blue get to take down the I-Rex, instead they knock it into the wall of giant pool. Then this happens:

mosasaurmorgana 2The Mosasaur leaps out of the water and snaps down on the I-Rex before dragging it under. I have conflicted thoughts on the Mosasaur: on the one hand it ate a shark. Hurrah! On the other, it ate Morgana: Booh!

What annoys me about this, isn’t that the Mosasaur killed the I-Rex. It’s how. If the I-Rex had been knocked into the water and then eaten, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. It’s the fact that the Mosasaur leaps out of the water like its in a high jump tournament and grabs the I-Rex. The reason I’m calling this Dino ex Machina is because its something we’ve never seen the Mosasaur do before. Yes, it leapt out of the water to eat a shark (and Morgana), but this particular leap actually involves escaping its tank in order to get the I-Rex. To which the obvious question is: how has it not leapt out and eaten the tourists before? Why hasn’t the hostess, standing on a flimsy pier hanging over the water introducing the damned thing, not been swallowed whole!?

6. Let Them Fight

Don’t get me wrong, the entire scene between the I-Rex, T-Rex and Blue is incredible, heels and all. In fact, in many ways Jurassic World is the film Godzilla should have been. Think about it: Jurassic World is basically a monster movie. It begins with the characters creating a monster, the monster goes on a rampage, now the characters must kill the monster. Heck, if you look at it, the I-Rex kind of looks like a proto-G.I.N.O.

Who me?

Who me?

And the monster thing is one of the most interesting themes in the film. It makes no secret of the fact that the I-Rex is a monster. Which comes to the same conclusion as Godzilla

One of the main expositional markers that they’re dealing with a monster is when Owen finds it has killed a herd of brontosaurus (technically an Apatosaurus – to appease a friend). He comments that it hasn’t eaten them and is doing it for sport. Considering his earlier comment that up until a few hours ago the I-Rex’s entire world had consisted of its cage, this line is utter bullshit. Animals do kill for sport and territory all the time. The I-Rex is simply trying to understand a new world full of things that want to kill it. In the bird cage, it actually runs away.

But anyway, what bugs me isn’t whether or not the I-Rex is a monster. It’s what that means an animal is. The implication of the final fight is the monster vs. the animals – T-Rex and Blue tag team. And when the animals win that’s when it gets a little Godzilla-esque. The T-Rex and Blue share a meaningful look and then the former wanders off. We’re talking about two apex predators suddenly being ok with sharing the same backyard. Animals don’t behave that way, and everything we know about T-Rexs and raptors from the previous films show they don’t behave that way (this get worse below). Fair enough if you want both to survive, but surely there was a better way than a bro-look? I’d have been ok with the bro-look between Owen and Blue after that, if it wasn’t already marred by the silliness of a T-Rex happy to wander off when there’s a meal within convenient biting reach.

7. Build it and they will come

As Kathrine Ryan pointed out, Jurassic World must have a huge Public Liability Insurance issue. This is, after all, set in a universe where Jurassic Park I-III did happen. Yet, somehow, even with the catastrophic amount of death they still decide to go with a park. I’m not questioning the funding, eccentric billionaires spend money on all kinds of shit. It’s the fact that he somehow managed to get through all the redtape that meant governments were ok sending people to the dinosaur island. Governments block people from going to dangerous countries all the time. And considering what the T-Rex did to San Diego, how are they even letting this happen?

Now, you could reason that considering Jurassic Park III, we know people are going to try and see the dinosaurs so you may as well make it a controlled, safe environment. You know, one which puts innocent people at a very convenient biting height.

t-rex 3

That glass window is at the same height as a T-Rex’s head. Putting that walkway through the T-Rex’s paddock is unbelievably less secure than the giant electric fence from the first film. Notice the lack of steel bars? Even the cars from the second film had steel bars over the glass – which were no protection in the end anyway. Not to mention, the whole thing is mean on the T-Rex. If the T-Rex wants to get from one side of its paddock to the other, it’s going to have to crawl under or climb over. And I am fairly sure that tunnel is not strong enough to hold the bulk of a T-Rex.

canoeingThen there’s the canoeing past the stegosaurus; dinosaurs which we saw in the second film were wildly protective. Kids are allowed to ride triceratops which are known for rampant charging. Then there’s the gyrospheres – the giant balls of glass. Even before the two kids reach the ankylosaurus, these things are allowed to roll around with brachiosaurus. That glass may be tough enough to stop a bullet, but there’s this little thing called pressure and tonnage which mean that if a brachiosaurus steps on one of those things, that gyrosphere is going to shatter like so many childhood dreams. We certainly see that the ankylosaurus’ club is strong enough to crack the glass. And the only thing separating them from the balls is a flimsy fence, how is that supposed to withstand a hit?

It all begs the question: how has a guest not already been mauled to death? When you consider it, none of the protection measures the park have in place are in any way sufficient for containing the dinosaurs. Yet, at the start of the film they imply that no one has been hurt yet. A point which definitely doesn’t cover the illegal Mexicans who clearly built the entire place.

oh look, a white I-Rex and a very black victim... oh wow, there is a horrible metaphor in that

oh look, a white I-Rex and a very black victim… oh wow, there is a horrible metaphor in that

It’s a wonder that people aren’t assailed by lawyers the moment they set foot on the island waiving all their rights. Because seriously, how do you get insurance for things like this:

Let's hope they were Mexican. Again...

Let’s hope they were Mexican. Again…

8. Before and After

As brilliantly as Jurassic World does reference and pay tribute to Jurassic Park, the way it does so raises some questions that really need answering. For a start, the new park is built on the same island as the old. But the dinosaurs had all escaped by the end of the first film and were kind of running free over the island. So what happened to them? One of the points of the first film was that even though they bred only female dinosaurs, the frog DNA allowed some of them to change sex and start breeding. As an extra precaution they bred them lysine deficient so that they couldn’t survive in the wild. Only the Lost World proved that, actually, its pretty easy for a dinosaur to get lysine on a tropical island.

So there’s no reason the dinosaurs couldn’t have survived, but it is never mentioned either way in the film. Even so, there is a potentially awesome clue right at the end of the film. It’s the first daylight shot of the T-Rex (clear, at any rate) and neatly establishes that the dinosaurs now rule the park, again (more on that in a sec). With the triumphant raw you get to see some of the damage that the I-Rex did during the fight, but you also see that the T-Rex has three very long scars on its neck that are clearly much older than that fight. I wonder…

I have a feeling that the T-Rex in Jurassic Park and Jurassic World are one and the same. Which raises some interesting questions as to how they wrangled the thing considering how well farming Site B went for InGen in Lost World.

There are two issues with this theory. First, if that is the T-Rex from the first film, then I am fairly certain it has some anti-raptor proclivities. So, why it didn’t tear Blue’s head off is even more question begging. Second, where’s the Spinosaurus? According to the third film, the Spinosaurus wasn’t officially listed as one of the dinosaurs created for the park. But after the film everyone knows about it, so why isn’t there one in the new park? Check the official list, it’s not there. Now I’m not saying the final showdown should have been between the I-Rex and the Spinosaurus. Actually, I would have been happy to see the I-Rex do to the Spinosaurus what the Spinosaurus did to the T-Rex in the third film. Because the Spinosaurus can suck it. And it would have ramped the tension for when the T-Rex fights the I-Rex for the finale.

Speaking of that finale, what on is going to happen next? There will be a sequel, the film’s been too successful for there not to be. But where can a sequel go after the dinosaurs have taken over the park, I stress, again. Are we going to get Jurassic World: The Lost Park? At this point I’d be tempted with a prequel to explain how they re-tamed the island for the new park. Prequels tend, however, to be poor ideas. But it may well be better than the alternative.

Check out this article on how Jurassic World has cleverly set itself up for a sequel. Dr. Wu has escaped the island with all the genetic samples of the dinosaurs which means the park no longer has the monopoly on them. While on paper this might sound brilliant, the logical conclusion of going global with dinosaurs is this:

flintstonesNow compare that image with this:

bryce dallas 6Notice any similarities? Heck, all you need to do is make Dino blue, and you’ve got a near perfect match. The future of Jurassic World is the Flintstones. But this means taking the franchise off the island. Yet one of the reasons the suspense works in the films is that the characters are very much so isolated and without immediate assistance. Once you put that on the mainland you begin to raise more questions that threaten the logic of the film. Just look at the way Lost World ended. So while I am excited for the success of Jurassic World, I am concerned about what the future may bring. Especially considering that the director, Colin Treverrow, after doing a pretty damned good job has already said he won’t take charge of a sequel.

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One thought on “8 Things about Jurassic World

  1. As for a sequel, it’d be great if they contacted some genius writer who could somehow mimic the style and structure of the late, great, Michael Crichton to write a novel fist, and then a script based on that. A lack of a solid and creative original source is definitely what hurt JPIII, and the fifth season of Game of Thrones. Any volunteers???

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