Eight logic fails that make Jurassic World a giant disappointasaurus.
June 17, 2015
“We must rediscover”, wrote Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich, “the distinction between hope and expectation”. Jurassic World may now offer us that opportunity. Back in April, hopes were high that this would finally be the film to return the franchise to greatness, however — to paraphrase The Dark Knight — this is not the film we’d hoped for, but the one we should have expected.
Why is it a giant disappointasaurus? Let us count the ways.
IT’S ALL JUST A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY REPEATED
So, there’s a revolutionary dinosaur preserve on an island off Costa Rica. Two young children, relatives of the park’s chief administrator, visit and receive a VIP tour, only for an enormous dinosaur to escape its pen, trash the kids’ glass-roofed transport and begin killing park employees. The park’s innovators, InGen, only make matters worse, but, thankfully, there’s an old-school expert on hand to keep the kids alive, even when they're circled by three ravenous raptors in the climatic finale that sees a T-Rex come to the rescue right in the heart of the Visitor Centre.
Don’t know which Jurassic film we're talking about? Exactly.
SAFETY FIRST, PEOPLE
In 1992 John Hammond tried to open Jurassic Park, but (unfortunately) some things went wrong and people died. His son tried again a few years later, but (unfortunately) some things went wrong and people died. Couple of years after that, Sam Neil went back to the islands and again, people died. It was very unfortunate. Point is: if you're somehow convinced that 'fourth time's a charm', you begin by ensuring that every single design aspect of your dinosaur theme park is grounded in the knowledge that things could go wrong and people might die.
Now, I'm no structural engineer, but for me that at least means having:
a. A bunker capable of securing every person on the island within minutes; and
b. enough transportation off the island for every person who's on it. 'Lifeboats on the Titanic', and all that.
Unfortunately, in Jurassic World, the definitive emergency protocol involves: keeping things quiet (because, money), having inexperienced teenagers herd everyone into an open-air Visitor Complex alongside the two largest dinosaurs on the island and then calling for a moderate-sized ferry to crawl back over from Costa Rica to pick up some of the people.
SHE’LL BE RIGHT
Early on in Jurassic World we hear the park’s operations manager, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), complain that “this is the second time this month” that a dinosaur has breached its security perimeter, before dispatching a team to quietly fix it up. The second time. In a month. The fact that it was a herbivore is entirely irrelevant. Even if it had been nothing more than a prehistoric butterfly or an aggressively-growing shrub, you'd shut that entire park down in a heartbeat until there were no security breaches. Ever.
The logic failings of Jurassic World are so glaring from so early on that you basically want everyone to die just to punish them for unbelievable stupidity.
RECEPTION! RECEPTION! MY KINGDOM FOR RECEPTION!
You know what would be a great twist in a movie? Someone whipping out their mobile phone and it having perfectly good reception. Sadly, though, for both the visitors and staff of Jurassic World, despite being in a state-of-the-art theme park that literally lets you ride glass orbs through herds of genetically engineered dinosaurs one full decade into the scientific era of ‘de-extinction’, nobody's yet figured out how to put a cell tower on top of a tall hill.
1993’s Jurassic Park was full of wonderfully crafted, three-dimensional characters whose names we still recall more than two decades later. John Hammond, Doctors Grant and Sattler, Ian Malcolm, Dennis Nedry, Timmy and Lex — heck, we even remember the names of the dinosaurs (did someone say dilophosaurus?). They’re all still memorable because of their distinct personalities and carefully selected attributes, both human and reptile. Lex knew UNIX. She knew UNIX.
Jurassic World, by contrast, is more like the Star Wars prequels in that you refer to characters like you were giving police a vague description of the gang that mugged you. “Well, um, there’s the uptight redhead who never takes her heels off, her assistant (she’s British, I remember that she was British), the rich guy who was semi-charismatic, but then just died, those two kids (the younger one seemed to know some stuff about DNA but it never amounted to anything, so...), oh, and the hero! He was kinda cool, but we never really got to know what he wanted or desired, so he just sort of... stayed cool and did cool things”.
Sorry folks, the only character you’re going to feel anything for in this film is a dying Apatosaurus. That indistinct gang stole your $20 and you’re never getting it back.
KNOW YOUR STARS
The stars of Jurassic Park were the dinosaurs, specifically the T-Rex and the velociraptors. All those memorable humans listed above — their excellent performances notwithstanding — were in supporting roles and that suited everyone just fine. In Jurassic World, there are at least loads of dinosaurs, including two fantastic new editions: the mosasaurus (a giant shark-eating sea creature) and the terrifying hybrid known as the ‘Indominus Rex’. The problem is, we see the Mosa the leasta, and the Indominus, despite sporting some amazing features like camouflage, scarcely uses them. In a movie full of branding, it almost seems incomprehensible that a dinosaur capable of going full chameleon doesn’t at some point blend into the park’s background with its skin adopting the Jurassic logo (or, you know, those of IBM and McDonalds).
"IMAGINE IF WE’D HAD THESE IN TORA BORA"
Vincent D’Onofrio’s character wants to weaponise raptors for the US military to use in the place of drones. It sounds pretty insane, but to be fair, the US Navy has already trained dolphins to protect its ships, recover gear and detect mines. Still, D’Onofrio's line was so terrifically stupid that the audience laughed. The mere mention of freedom-loving velociraptors hunting down bin Laden in Afghanistan like some sort of Squeal Team Six ought to have had his character institutionalised, but instead he somehow ended up Head of InGen security and given full licence to test out his theory. Also, his constant allusions to "65 millions years of instinct” fundamentally misunderstand the concept of ‘time', in that if something lived 65 million years ago, died and is then brought back to life today, it has not accrued aeons of life experience in the downtime.
$700 MILLION ON DAY 1
Yes, it’s a blockbuster. In fact, it’s the blockbuster, breaking all opening day records in the US. Why? Because, dammit, we want to see dinosaurs and Jurassic World has dinosaurs. Big ones, cute ones, scary ones and familiar ones. It ultimately gives us exactly what we want, which is why — in the absence of a good story — it’s such a shame it couldn’t also give us what we’d hoped for.
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