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Jurassic World

Last Week: Entourage
Two Weeks Ago: Aloha
Three Weeks Ago: Mad Max: Fury Road

Two Fingers - Jurassic WorldHere's the thing about Jurassic World: it's phony. As phony as the plastic poo I sometimes leave on the floor in the Attitude Lounge. Not as a joke, more like a distraction so they won't find my real poo until after I make my exit. 

I don't mean the dinosaurs are phony, because we all expected them to be. Anyway, I'm pretty sure they aren't real dinosaurs because real dinosaurs are as rare as real clowns.  Most of the time, it's just people dressed up like clowns. Or dinosaurs.

What I mean by phony is the story and the characters. They're as synthetic as the "ho-made fudge" at truck stops, all ginned up in a laboratory to simulate something real. In Jurassic World, the ingredients are all taken from the Big Book of Hollywood Stereotypes by a phalanx of screenwriters and director Colin Trevorrow. No emotion or action in Jurassic World feels organic or unique. The obnoxious product placement for Mercedes, Samsung, Coke and Verizon are there to make sure you understand that this is a product first and story second.

This is the fourth in the Jurassic Park series, just like Fury Road was the fourth in the Max Max series. The major difference between them is that Fury Road was balls out and willing to do just about anything to entertain us, even blow itself up. World is about protecting the asset and maintaining the franchise. It plays it safe because the grassfuckers are afraid to lose. This is the Toyota Camry of movies: steady, reliable, and playing the Eagles on the sound system because the Eagles feel like rock'n'roll to people who aren't ready to admit they no longer like rock'n'roll.

The story opens with drab, sniffling parents dropping their two children off for a flight to Costa Rica to visit their aunt (Bryce Dallas Howard). Of course, one kid is a know-it-all dinosaur lover and the other is the brooding teen. You've seen these kids before, like a million times in other movies, and Jurassic World does nothing to distinguish them. They're just fucking kids, and kids are a dime a dozen. Not literally. I think the guy who sells them in the Home Depot parking lot wants like five bucks apiece, but still.

Jurassic World - The Filthy CriticThe aunt is Hollywood's idea of the shrill, overachiever who must be redeemed by love. She's humorless, wears no-nonsense business suits, works too hard at Jurassic World to spend time with her nephews, and has a boyfriend shaped hole in her heart. In short, the shitty screenwriters think she needs to get fucked to be fulfilled. That's sort of funny because oftentimes, I feel least fulfilled right after fucking. Fucking myself mostly, but same result.

The World park is Jurassic Park rebuilt as a less natural but bigger, more Sea World-like amusement. Its billionaire owner is determined to deliver bigger thrills to its guests, even if that means tinkering with dinosaur DNA to create monsters bigger and badder than what nature created 65 million years ago.

Once the kids are introduced, the audience knows they will be imperiled because, although they are good kids, they bristle at authoritarian restraint and get themselves into a pickle. What the audience doesn't know upfront is how mechanical the plot is, or how little it invests in making us give a rip whether these little shits survive. Halfway through the movie, one of the kids starts crying, apropos of nothing, and tells his brother their parents are getting a divorce. Nothing leads up to this, and nothing comes from this. It's just a loud, wet fart that hangs over the scene and the kids, some noxious gas a hack screenwriter couldn't keep in. It probably smells like kale.

Of course, shit goes haywire. If it didn't, and if World's characters didn't have the IQs of squirrels, this movie would have no reason to exist. Jurassic World's new dinosaur, Indominus Rex, is genetically tailored to be bigger and more menacing than a T-Rex. It breaks loose and starts plowing through the park's plants and animals like a lady at the carnival who just ate her third funnel cake and discovered it's two-hundred yards to the nearest shitter.

On this massive island designed to house hundreds of dinosaurs and accommodate thousands of guests, nobody can stop the new beast except bad boy Owen Grady (Chris Pratt). We know he's a bad boy in the Harlequin Romance sense not from his actions or his words (which are both dull), but rather from the California black plate motorcycle he wrenches on. And because he's got stubble. He probably knows all the rad skateboard tricks, too. Guess what he just got into… the Cool Guy Zone.

It goes without saying that the aunt and the bad boy have a history. They haven't gotten along, what with her being all tight-ass corporate prick and him being such a tough guy who doesn't play by the rules. By the end, and by facing a giant lizard together, they learn to love. She'll get the boning she needs so badly and it will turn her into a hippie.

Grady is an animal trainer trying to prove he can tame raptors. He's supposedly doing it for mankind and his love of animals, but he's under the direction of standard-issue villains: defense contractors. They are personified by standard-issue scene chewer Vincent D'Onofrio, who appears to be chewing a lot more than scenery these days. There is some gobbledygook about the government wanting to use man-eating dinosaurs as weapons. Yeah, that's pretty fucking silly, and not in an entertaining way. It doesn't help that D'Onofrio's character is so relentlessly a dick that his intentions are never in question. But really, nothing is ever in question in this movie: not who will live or die, not the conclusion and not the fate of Big Business.

The plan is to use Grady's trained raptors to track and help kill the Indominus Rex before it can eat the children (and others). Lots of weapons and machinery are used, including dinosaurs with infrared cameras mounted to their heads and, eventually, a T-Rex.

Dinosaurs and carnage are why this movie exists. Jurassic World's most entertaining parts are the collateral damage, such as the release of pterosaurs that wreak havoc on the tourists, and when the monster chomps on army men. The climactic battle is a clash between Rexes, but it's briefer and less inspired than it should be. There are occasional flashes of brilliance that suggest this movie could have been way more fun if it weren't so damn locked into formula: a petting zoo where screaming children torment small beasts and ride triceratops, and a man who salvages his overpriced margaritas even as flying reptiles swoop.

Jurassic World - The Filthy Critic

Except in alcohol, porn and monster battles, quantity does not make up for quality. Yet Jurassic World provides mediocre dino fights and overdoses on too many obvious characters and plots. It would have hugely benefitted from more gore and less bore. It probably also would have been better if it had let the movie audience marvel at its spectacle, rather than have the on-screen characters do it.

I would have dumped the damn kids because they sucked. I would have made Pratt's Grady genuinely interesting, rather than a dude who ticks a few boxes on the "cool guy" checklist (motorcycle, lives in a trailer, hates Big Business). I didn't mention the other subplots, such as the shady scientist in cahoots with the government who is more interested in saving the future of the genetically modified dinosaurs than he is in the people around him. He's sort of like the makers of this movie in that sense. Also, the de rigeur nerds at the control panel who normally have sharp quips, but nobody bothered to give them any here and so their presence is pointless.

There is a truckload of sheer stupidity in the movie's basic premise, but that isn't the movie's problem. Look, Jurassic World wouldn't exist if anyone had learned a lesson from the first three movies. In every single one of them dangerous animals get loose and bust up shit like the Harelip on flakka. So, yes, it's incredibly stupid for them to rebuild the park with even bigger, more dangerous animals, or for the Costa Rican government to let them, or for them to fail to build redundancy in their security systems. All of this can be forgiven, though, if only the movie gave us a reason to forgive it through characters we can care about and genuine thrills.

Neither exists. Where Fury Road was a sixty-year-old wooden roller coaster with flimsy seatbelts and rumors that it occasionally derailed, Jurassic World is a shiny, brand new metal coaster. Fury Road was exciting because it was unpredictable and unstable. Jurassic World goes faster and higher, but you're also strapped in tight, the ride is smooth, and there's no chance you won't end up right where you started in one piece. Whoever made this movie was too afraid of losing a rider or two to make it fun for the rest of us. Two Fingers.

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