To say I was a fan of the original Jurassic Park film is an understatement. Like many children I was enthralled by the fantastic (and often scary) story of a dinosaur park gone rogue. Steven Spielberg was in top form and everything, absolutely everything from the acting to the mesmerizing special effects were FLAWLESS. It was a one-of-a-kind journey that could not be replicated, so it wasn’t a shock to find that the sequels couldn’t even come close to recapturing that magic. To state that they were lackluster is putting it mildly.
Jurassic World II is perhaps the most overrated sequel to date. It’s one of three films by Spielberg that gets a better rep than it deserves simply because it’s a Spielberg film (see also: War of the Worlds and Poltergeist). Overtly preachy with “heroes” that cause way more harm than good, it’s like watching The Avengers/Iron Man/Thor and any number of those awful Marvel comic book films. But like everyone else I went to see it, and even got a slight guilty thrill from watching the T-Rex raise hell in a city-scape. But after the initial excitement of seeing it in theaters (and it being the direct sequel to a childhood masterpiece), watching it on dvd the flaws are painfully obvious. It’s the same of course with Jurassic Park III, which did a lot of pandering to the fans (similar to the first sequel), only at this point it was OBVIOUS pandering, so naturally it is the least favored of all sequels. How though anyone could believe that Jurassic Park III would be the FINAL sequel to an astronomically profitable movie series (Jurassic Park III grossed beaucoup cash, baby) is beyond me. What did puzzle me however is why it took so darn long to crap this new one out, and CRAP they did!
To be fair though, on the initial onset the latest sequel appears to be a fun, nostalgic ride. Sort of. It’s always nice to see our favorite dinosaurs (like the Triceratops, the T-Rex). There’s also some pretty cool fights (near the end). And seeing the park up and running in today’s world answered several questions I had when watching the first film and while reading the book (seriously read the book), plus you get a chance to see what became of the park from the first film (a happy welcome back to the Visitor’s Center, if you will). I am also thrilled to say that the CGI/Special effects were fantastic compared to every other film that’s been out in the last ten years. Spared no expense. Unfortunately I found myself quickly losing the thrill at about 15 minutes in, and it was a bumpy ride the rest of the way.
To say I had some problems with this film though is a bit of an understatement. I had a great many, many problems with it. Tired movie troupes, an un-likable hero, and more pandering to the audience were among my chief complaints. It would also help if the director of this film had actually bothered to pick up the book or re-watch the original. All the lessons learned in the original are completely ignored in this film, but I will get to that in a bit.
Let’s see, where to begin?
Let’s start with this films sub-par Alan Grant, Owen (Chris Pratt). Right away I didn’t like this guy, and by the end of the film I practically loathed him. Owen is an ex-military guy who for some reason has been given the task of training Raptors. That’s right, those hyper-intelligent, super athletic, super aggressive, malicious, conniving, can’t-be-tamed-that’s-why-we-have-to-feed-them-in-a-massive-concrete-chamber Velociraptors (who bear absolutely ZERO resemblance to their real-life equivalents) can now be trained. But only by Owen, who as far as we know has had ZERO prior experience to training vicious extinct predators. Riiiiiight.
And before you scream “imprintation!” keep in mind that we’ve been shown that imprinting on these animals doesn’t work, at least for carnivores. John Hammond, both in novel and movie canon, imprinted on every animal in the park. That didn’t stop him from getting eaten (in the novel). Same with Dr. Wu (also eaten in the novel). And every other biological technician and handler in the park. Guess who got eaten? Bad boy/special snowflake Owen claims he imprinted on the raptors, I somehow can’t see him in a laboratory setting playing with a baby raptor, can you? I love how they don’t go into detail on that in the film. But one thing they stress big time in this film is that you can’t question Owen! He’s always right, likely due to the fact that he looks good with his shirt unbutton and man-penis solves all problems. So he has GOT to be our hero, right?
And when Owen isn’t playing with his vicious little buddies, he likes to wander the park lecturing all them book-learners with his “no-nonsense” good ol’ boy logic. You know, the people who spend every waking moment visiting and observing various and all sections of the park, monitoring the development of the creatures IN the park, including learning about their habits and their contained environments? They don’t know SPIT! Let’s ask good ol’ boy Owen who, as far as we know, only spends his time playing with his clawed buddies or fiddling with his bike.
By the way, am I really supposed to buy that Claire, whose job it is to monitor ALL activity in the park, to work with investors, to oversee development of new attractions (dinosaurs), to oversee the maintenance of old attractions (dinosaurs), etc, etc, etc, doesn’t know the name (or can’t accurately pronounce) of EVERY dinosaur in the park? Um, no.
But let’s get back to Owen. I love how the movie tries so hard to make him the hero, but he is more Nedry than Grant. It is after all, his actions that upthrown the whole park. Remember? He is busy puffing his chest out in the observation deck with Claire, whom he is also busy flirting with when not being a condescending jerk to, when he notices GIANT CLAW MARKS that somehow no one else sees, and throws everyone into a panic, DESPITE the fact that when building the containment they obviously knew the Hybrid wouldn’t be able to climb its way out (remember, the raptors nor the T-rex, with their giant claws, couldn’t do the same). Yet he manages to throw everyone in a panic, then does the UNBELIEVABLY STUPID THING of dragging two other people INTO the containment with him WITHOUT KNOWING ANYTHING ABOUT THE ANIMAL. He didn’t even know what the animal LOOKED LIKE! Naturally everyone but him gets killed and the unit is opened to allow the Owen’s dumb ass to get through, and of course the Hybrid tags along so it can wreak havoc all over the park. Nice going, Owen.
Despite the fact though that it’s all this jerks fault, that doesn’t stop him from boring the audience with his lecturing and chastising everyone. Oh, shut up Owen!
Now let’s get to Claire.
Claire is played by the very talented Bryce Dallas Howard, so she comes off as mostly like-able despite being a one-layered character. And of course being the attractive female lead, she will be romantically tied to the male hero and of course live. Unlike the other “Hammond” of the group, Masrani (Irrfan Khan). I was sad to see her not take on more of an Ellie role. She’s basically another tired troupe, like Owen, she’s emotional, but “tough” in that she will “dress down” from business to casual to slutty business in half a minute.
Seriously, what was with that scene? She and Owen are running off into the jungle looking for her nephews (who are pretty forgettable characters) and, ever the lecturer, Owen tells Claire to buck up or she’ll be eaten (as if she was some sort of hysterical banshee in that scene – she was pretty calm). So she literally rolls up her sleeves and rips her shirt to reveal a sexy tight halter. Why though? All that loose fabric guarantees a snag, and what was wrong with her shirt buttoned to begin with? Oh I get it, we are titillating the audience. Or was that supposed to be a funny moment? And what about the damn heels? Supposedly the actress wouldn’t take them off, in which case the director should have done his job and put his foot down. We are supposed to buy that she ran around the jungle/hard concrete in stilettos without breaking her ankle? Please. And what is with her clothes being all ripped up while Owens just remained dirty? Oh, I get it, titillating the audience again. We seem to enjoy seeing women in action films look like assault victims by the end of the journey. They must always be wearing something flimsy, preferably white and preferably a skirt. Am I the only one disturbed by this?
And as the female of the bunch, she will do very little to actually help, because it’s got to be the man who saves the day (at least with this director). Seriously, is anyone else sick of seeing this in films? I’m not trying to be preachy, but how hard would it have been to reverse roles here? Are there no ex-military women? No female trainers? And let’s say the role of Claire was played by a man. Are we still to the point where we have to play the tired old meme that the man has to take charge because women in leadership roles can’t handle crisis situations? Even Ellie in the original made a remark about such things! I just, I can’t with this crap. Claire was a character that took charge in the day-to-day operations, she was shown as capable, was even level-headed through-out much of the film, but the movie treats her as incompetent as soon as Owen arrives on the scene. It’s just kind of another slap in the face to female viewers, and for that, f*ck you director!
And that awful forced kiss at the end (because beautiful people have to get together I suppose). Eck. Let’s move on.
Let’s examine the movies main villain, the Hybrid (and also Vincent D’Onofrio, but we’ll get to him in a bit). SPOILER ALERT: it’s part raptor, part T-Rex, and part of some chameleon fish. He’s pretty awesome, I’ll admit, but I’m still confused at why this creature was even made. Firstly, I don’t care how many years that the fully functioning park has been in existence, living, breathing, interactive dinosaurs are ALWAYS going to be super cool! Especially if the park they are in is the only one of its kind in the world. This isn’t like lions in the zoo, you can’t go out into the wild to see one (get eaten by one). People certainly aren’t going to get tired of them twenty years later. Secondly, remember that really cool, gigantic half-Rex, half alligator looking thing that was in the third film? The Spinosaurus actually existed and looked and behaved VERY MUCH like he was depicted in the film. Remeber that freaky scene where he is eyeing Dr. Grant at the edge of the clearing? Goosebumps! And remember how easily it kicked the crap out of the T-Rex? It was one heck of a bad mutha! Why not just breed one of those??
You mean to tell me you are going to get bored of this?:
And let’s take another look at that bad ass Spinosaur:
And get this, like Owen, the Hybrid is a super special snowflake too that can control the other raptors, because it has a little bit of raptor DNA! Uh, huh. Well if those raptors were idiotic enough to let a walking skin sandwich like Owen tell them what to do and put his oily hands all over them daily maybe it’s not too far fetch.
No wait, it still is. I can’t. My brain is on overload from the sh**ty logic of this film.
Did anyone notice that the cunning hunting style of the Raptors, the thing that made them so cool in the other films, is completely missing here? They are more like Lassie with a bad tooth ache. I know the hyper intelligence of Raptors in the movies (and novel) are complete BS, but this movie tells us they are virtually unchanged from before. Yet those Raptors are not the same bad asses we originally fell in love with.
Speaking of bad ass, let’s bring back the T-Rex for his required cameo. Only about five minutes does he spend in this film. There’s an “epic” battle between the T-Rex, the Raptors, the Hybrid, and what ever that giant crocodile thing was in the water – which was actually pretty cool I’ll admit. The problem though comes in the aftermath of battle. Am I really, REALLY supposed to buy that the T-Rex wouldn’t turn around and snap the neck of ol’ Blue? And then gobble up the humans for desert? Or that the Raptor wouldn’t continue to engage the T-Rex? This isn’t Homeward Bound! These are vicious, aggressive, PRIMAL predators! This isn’t Cats Vs. Dogs here. They aren’t going to just nod heads (which they literally almost did, I kid you not!) and go their separate ways. They are going to kill, develop a territory (which means more killing), and then kill again. This was so fricken bogus of an ending I could scream!
But we are not done. Let’s talk about my greatest grievance. Remember all the pages, and pages, and pages, and pages of Malcolm and Grant in the novel lecturing about WHY the park would FAIL. Remember the speeches given by both in the films, and even the freaking ENDING SPEECH by Hammond at the first films’ conclusion? Do we remember what was said in those speeches? What was made very, VERY clear. The overall freaking theme and moral of the story? I’ll give you a hint boys and girls: It was SH*TTED on in this film!
YOU. CAN’T. TAME. PRIMAL. ANCIENT. ANIMALS.
But what happened? Not only was the park extremely successful with the original, “authentic” dinosaurs for MANY YEARS, but the RAPTORS, prehistoric life’s most vicious and cunning killers with near human intelligence (in movie/novel canon only), are almost trained domesticated dogs. And you know what’s WORSE! They actually recognize humans as beings WORTHY of not being eaten, EVEN AT THE FILMS CONCLUSION! Total freaking pandemonium has erupted. The Raptors are near the top of the damn food chain at this point (more so than humans), and they don’t try to eat/maim/kill the humans. They don’t attack any other herbivores, and they allow themselves to be led around by a chimp on a motorcycle. Good lord. And what about that awesome water dinosaur? How the heck was he able to be contained and not eat his trainer or the audience? I can’t conceive of a freaking way that was accomplished! Remember he could throw himself onto the concrete platform!
And remember how Hammond said at the end of the original film that the dinosaurs needed to be left alone, with no human interaction? It was the basis of the entire plot to the direct sequel? And he basically admitted that making a park containing these sorts of creatures was a HUGE mistake? Well chalk that up to Alzheimer’s, because Hammond made Masrani his partner/protege to continue his legacy (notice they had Hammond’s name up for one of the attractions?). And at one point Masrani makes a comment about being given the reigns BY HAMMOND to create a new park! WTF!!!
And wasn’t INGen out of business during the events of Jurassic Park III? Remember that control room guy had an old shirt from the original NEVER-OPENED park? He said got it online and that there were more of them. This would make sense if, as in the novels, the company went bankrupt and sold all their stuff. But this apparently never happened, so how was anyone able to get merchandise from a park that was not only never opened, but that the company almost-literally buried under the new park? “Bad taste” indeed.
I’m still confused why Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio – a fantastic actor in a bad role) was at the new park to begin with, other than to serve as the human villain for the movie. His part was so dumb, and he was so obviously a moron and entirely predictable that I was losing focus when he came on screen due to sheer boredom.
Did I mention the kids were highly forgettable? Two brothers, one Timmy-esque and the older “too cool for this”, girl-crazy brother that were such clichéd stock characters I was secretly hoping they would get eaten so we could go back to having some resemblance of a plot. Also boring and predictable characters that just serve as fodder to give Claire and Owen more conflict.
Speaking of conflict, why wasn’t this film bloodier? I know it’s a family film, but let’s think about what happens when a herd of vicious Pterodactylus/Pteranodon/Flying dinos descend on a bunch of rampaging humans. Remember their behavior in Jurassic Park III? I would expect these vicious birds of prey to swoop down on any small humans (children) and carry them off to feast. I certainly don’t expect them to play a game of carry-and-drop with what are essentially pink moving popsicle on a hot afternoon. But I guess we need an excuse to kill off the annoying female assistant, whom nobody misses at the end of the film, it’s not like she had a family or friends, right? She was on her cell phone the whole time instead of watching a bratty teenager and his loud brother. She deserved her fate!
And all those dinosaur bodies slashed but not gored up or strung around by the Hybrid who “hunts for sport”. Right. I’ve seen my cat catch mice “for sport.” Do you want to know what he does to them? Even Ted Bundy would be sick to his stomach if he saw. But I guess we need a mindless dinosaur to just rampage about for virtually no reason, but we musn’t show too much carnage! Let’s face it, none of these animals are acting like freaking animals in this film.
But now let’s talk about the REAL aftermath of the movie. The glorious epilogue of this film won’t be a white wedding, but the mountains of LAWSUITS! Claire and Owen may be in the throes of movie love, but they ain’t going to have a penny to spare (and might be lucky to avoid jail time) by the time the families of the dead, dying, and maimed get their day in court!
Heck, even before hand I noticed potential lawsuits with some of the rides. I realize that the river ride and atrium shown were shout outs to the original novel (that the director and script writer apparently never read), but even in the novel those rides were closed for the trial tour based on the massive problems that arose during their construction. The Pterydons were maiming the workers in the atrium, and I didn’t see any means in this film for viewing patrons of the park to be protective from these territorial and highly agitated flying attractions. And as for the river ride, I don’t care how “gentle” those big behemoth Brachiosaurus (or whatever they were) are, all it takes is for one unruly child to start poking them and it’s over. The park is beautiful, and as a viewer I would have loved to have seen more of it, but it still looked highly impractical. I mean, kids riding Triceratops? Even Triceratop babies! How has PETA or ASCAP not shut them down? And Triceratops were just as territorial and aggressive as some carnivores! It’s like the stupid director divided every animal up into two categories and every animal that ate green was deemed super passive! Has he ever been to a petting zoo? Kids can be violent and cruel. These animals, even small ones, are made to protect themselves and will act instinctively! At the very least, some child is going to have a broken arm or leg when they get stomped on or butted! Yet another example of how this park could not have lasted this long!
Actually, come to think of it, do you remember in the book how these animals were so valuable to Dr. Hammond? Millions of dollars spent to create and raise just one, IF it survived the first stages. Not to mention all the problems they had with diseases that these dinosaurs would catch. They were so valuable Hammond wouldn’t even dream of maiming one, so let’s throw them in with a bunch of disease carrying humans to be prodded and poked!
And while we are at it, let’s talk briefly about Dr. Wu and genetics. How does the series make do with the fact that with each passing year, the dinosaurs shown throughout the films are more obviously dramatically false representations of their real life equivalents? At least Jurassic Park III paid some lip-service by going back to the feathered, striped carnivorous colorings of the creatures, which was actually more accurate. In the novels, all the carnivores had bright coloring and stripping, as you would have found in the wild and would have looked really cool on-screen (my one problem with Spielberg’s otherwise perfect film), even though the velociraptors were still depicted as pure fantasy. Here, the movie makers decide to pay homage to the novel, stripes are in, and at least we have Wu here to explain that the reason for the now obvious discrepancy was because they were genetic hybrids from the very beginning. Unfortunately, new problems now arise. In the novel, this was well explained by Dr. Wu. The gaps in DNA sequences were replaced with other species. Dr. Wu and his scientists worked hard to try to create these creatures as close as they could, but admitted they were not pure species, which made their behavior even more unpredictable, adding to the fact that they were extinct species to begin with, with no known behavioral history. This was important in the novel because it stressed the unreliability in these animals, and further explained WHY they couldn’t be contained. Bringing it up in movie canon, NOW, as a hand-waved way of half explaining the continuity issues and dissociation from reality, now raises MORE questions.
That’s all good and well, but why breed raptors so incredibly hostile that they need the Raptor-whisperer to pacify them and yet aren’t used for show? If it stands to reason that these animals were bred “bigger” and “scarier”, why are they isolated from the rest of the attractions? Remember, these animals are very clever, can jump fantastic heights, and can coordinate themselves to flank and even create traps! Near their containment unit, did you see anyway for audiences to view them? They can’t view them on those tiny platforms above, too easy for a child or adult to fall into the pin. They can’t view them arena or cage style, one leap or one swipe of those huge claws and it’s all over. They would have to view them through some sort of class containment or such, yet I didn’t see anything like that. So what was the point of creating and raising them, since they were in obvious isolation for a while. Why not just breed them more docile? Or not have them at all?
And again, where is the damn Spinosaurus, Dr. Wu? That thing certainly would have brought in a hefty pay-day!
I will say though that this is pretty cool:
I’m sorry. I tried to get on board with this film. I really, really did, but I can’t help but feel that the director thought his audience were a bunch of morons. At least up until now we’ve had heroes from the first film pop up for audience good will, but this time instead we got an unlikable smug a-hole, a ineffectual female troupe, a park that shouldn’t exist (at least not in its current state), cool looking animals with no soul, and a script stuck in an early draft.
Eh, watch it if you want, but don’t expect much more than some small tangents of good old nostalgia (and a LOT of cringe-inducing moments).