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Friday, July 10, 2015

LAURIE AND DONNA GO BACK TO THE JURASSIC

This week Spacefrieghters crew members Laurie Green and Donna Frelick begin a new occasional series, reviewing the latest SF films in their best Siskel and Ebert style. First up: JURASSIC WORLD.

LAURIE SAYS:

Okay, everybody ready? A one and a two . . .
I enjoyed the latest edition of the Jurassic franchise for what it was meant to be--a fast-paced, action packed, gaspfest. With visually stunning sets, some cool new tech, and a few new beasties--including the seemingly unstoppable new designer monster, Indominus rex--it was quite a ride. If that's what you're looking for in your quest for summer Sci-Fi entertainment, it completely fills the bill.   

Set twenty-two years after the original Jurassic Park folded and on the same island--Isla Nublar, off the coast of Costa Rica--this reincarnation of the doomed predecessor has been successfully operating for a decade. (DUH da daaaa)

Though some of the plot ploys bordered on annihilating suspension of disbelief, *spoiler shield* (highlight the following space with your cursor to read) such as Velociraptors who could be clicker-trained or the extremely macho stunt of riding a motorcycle amidst a pack of hunting Raptors without a healthy barrier of steel between human handler and said predators, *lift shield* I still give it a "GO."

However...

If you're expecting a deep debate on genetic engineering or the cataclysmic failure surrounding the last attempt at a prehistoric zoo, you won't find it here. You also won't find any character development whatsoever, which only the first movie of the franchise attempted. What you will get is a lot of thrills, a few intriguing twists, a plethora of prehistoric eye candy, a not-so-well developed romantic side story, and the required Poor Little Cute Kid Factor thrown into the mix for sympathetic effect.

Chris Pratt certainly makes a charismatic though sometimes TMTL (Too Macho To Live) hero, though this viewer found his female romantic interest far less deserving of a happy ending. The villains (including one character who harks back to the original Jurassic Park) were utterly two-dimensional and mustache-twirling.

All-in-all, Jurassic World is worth the price of a ticket if you're on the hunt for a fun and flashy big budget film but not a deeply moving theater experience.

DONNA SAYS:
 


Well, I’ll agree with Laurie that JURASSIC WORLD was an entertaining way to spend a hot afternoon. I mean, what’s not to like about watching a T-Rex and an even bigger, toothier dino-creation called Indominus Rex duke it out in what’s left of the puny humans’ “amusement park”? Bring on the CGI and more popcorn!

Chris Pratt is well on his way to becoming the latest go-to guy in action heroes. The role of Owen, the park’s dino-wrangler and resident Voice of Doom (absorbing some of Jeff Goldblum’s purpose in the original JURASSIC PARK, but without the snarky humor), is a good fit for Pratt. He does well in all the physical stuff, looking heroic without looking like Dudley Doright. But I did miss the smart-alecky edge that made GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY so much fun. Owen is a very serious fellow. Especially when, as Goldblum’s character put it, all the “running and, um, screaming” starts, as it inevitably must when humans do stupid things.

And here is where I suppose I must part with Laurie. JW is nowhere near the thrill ride JURASSIC PARK was so many years ago, despite advances in film technology that should have made it more so. It is the same old story line recycled for the nth time: in our arrogance we overreach our ability to control the technology we create and it destroys us. That we’ve seen this same scenario of genetic manipulation and denial played out almost to the last detail before on this same damn island just seems a bit ridiculous. Did we learn nothing the last time, people?  But, okay, forget the story setup, did the film’s producers think no one had ever seen the first movie? Or the second? Or, God forbid, the third?

Now THAT'S a dinosaur . . . movie!
What made the first movie a classic was Stephen Spielberg as director. Spielberg is a master filmmaker, one who studied the art of creating suspense from another, earlier master, Alfred Hitchcock. He understood that it wasn’t the sight of a huge monster thrashing around that scared the bejesus out of you—it was the idea of that monster stalking you unseen in the dark. Think of the scariest moments of the original film—T-rex stomping closer and closer while the kids huddled, trapped in the car; the velociraptors hunting the hidden kids in the kitchen. Mostly we saw the kids’ terrified faces. The dinos were secondary. The same techniques were used to great effect in JAWS. We hardly saw the big fish until the final few minutes of the film (which was just as well, given the limitations of the shark model Spielberg was using).

All of that suspense is completely missing from JURASSIC WORLD. Director Colin Trevorrow, with only minor films to his credit, is clearly out of his league here. Both in terms of plot and technique, everything is out in the open, most of it in broad daylight. Is it fun to watch? Sure! Would I watch it again? Shrug. Much rather see the original again for the tenth time.

So, mission call? I’d say JURASSIC WORLD is a GO, but don’t expect much beyond some mindless summer fun.

(Watch this space for more GO-NO GO reviews of this summer’s hottest SF blockbusters from Laurie and Donna! Next up: TERMINATOR: GENESIS)

Cheers, Donna and Laurie

 

4 comments:

  1. I like the dual review format Siskel and Ebert!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Riley. I think Donna and I were pretty close on this one, but sometimes we're at opposite ends of the universe, much like the real S&E.

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  2. LOVE the invisible writing, Laurie! I haven't seen the movie and am certainly not busting a gut to go. I reckon Donna's got it right. Did we learn NOTHING? Same old same old - but with nifty SFX.

    I'll add that Crichton's original book is MUCH darker than the first movie. I think Speilberg was a bit constrained because kids (being besotted with dinosaurs) would want to see it. One of the scariest scenes was when the goat disappeared - and then the leg fell down. Suspense, as Donna said.

    Ah well. Roll on December...

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Greta. Had to hide the spoilery stuff so it didn't spoil some of the scenes. Even thought one of the movie posters depicts one of those scenes. :/ I read Crichton's book and honestly enjoyed the original movie much more. Speilberg just added some real magic. (The movie had quite a few departures from the book. It had two T-Rexs, for one.)

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