**WARNING: THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS**
So, it’s been twenty-two years since we first experienced the true terror of the prehistoric beasts that roamed Jurassic Park – I use the term ‘we’ loosely as I would have only been one at the time so I was more than likely watching Pingu the friendly penguin rather than man-eating dinosaurs. The third installment, Jurassic World, pretty much follows the same format as the previous films as we are immediately introduced to two young brothers all set for the once in a lifetime trip to a dinosaur theme park. However, it doesn’t take long for the boys to get caught up in complete chaos as greedy capitalist owners act like greedy capitalist owners, unleashing an uncontrollable dinosaur, the Indominus Rex, upon the park to ensure the profits don’t drop, thus creating complete havoc when it escapes. Cue heroic rescue plan, blah blah blah.
When I first heard the gossip regarding Jurassic World‘s release I was more than excited for what potentially could have been the film of the year, but the tired plot plays out in such a predictable fashion that I doubt it will make 2015’s top ten, let alone take the top spot. Okay, it’s not terrible; it’s actually okay if you’re looking for better-than-average CGI effects mixed with a little bit of action, but to sum it up, it’s as satisfying as a late-night pizza: you can’t wait until it arrives and when it does it’s enjoyable and sometimes quite exciting (well pizza does have this affect on me, and maybe me alone), but ultimately, you feel guilty after you’ve indulged and almost regret the whole experience all together. Believe it or not, it took four screenwriters to craft the stereotypical characters that drift through the regurgitated storyline. This still may appeal to some people, but for me, the gender politics are so outdated and ridiculous that I can honestly say I don’t think I’ll ever be inclined to sit through this dribble again.
First of all, what the hell with Claire (Dallas Howard)? It’s 2015 and we’re still being forced to watch the same, old ‘damsel in distress’ prance about on screen while she relies entirely on a white male – who’s so at one with his primitive side he might as well roar instead of talk – to rescue her. Howard plays the operations manager who is supposed to chaperone her two nephews around the park but as she has an extremely busy schedule, she swerves her duties choosing to work instead (because in Hollywood, powerful business women are insensitive bitches, apparently). However, when the new, man-made Indominus Rex escapes on a rampage of death, she is forced to rely on the dinosaur-whisperer, Owen (Chris Pratt), to help rescue them.
Despite being (I’m presuming) highly experienced, she lacks the basic intelligence to do her job properly and has to call upon ‘The Man’ to save the day. All this simmers down to the fact that what Claire really needs is a husband for guidance and a family to distract her from the pressures that come with business. Being a career-obsessed perfectionist is clearly not painted in a good light by the four ‘genius’ screenwriters – well, not in regards to women anyway. Owen is like the bacon butty to Claire’s afternoon tea; they couldn’t be more different from one another.This is emphasised when it’s revealed that she rejected him after he wore shorts to their first date (to be perfectly honest, it’s not the best move to make). His constant flirting is met with an icy response so cold that it could sink the Titanic, and don’t get me started on his ‘banter’ (no, making immature jokes about sex is not funny or attractive). Basically, Claire needs to be grateful that a ‘real man’ is interested, otherwise she’ll be mocked and made to look a helpless, stuck-up fool.
When the crunch time comes, Claire begins miserably and Owen’s jeer at her lack of suitable clothing points out the redundant nature of her femininity. Personally I bow down to any woman (or human) who can run through a jungle environment in heels, but in Hollywood this just reiterates Claire’s inability to live like a twenty-first century woman, take off the bloody heels and crack on! Let’s be honest though, it’s not realistic and it’s just another excuse to poke fun at ‘The Woman’. It comes as a total surprise when Claire eventually kicks herself into gear and saves the children from being eaten. Her reward? A kiss off the strapping, young chap, Owen. The message is clear: loosen up and you might actually have a chance with someone so masculine you can almost smell his sweat and dirt from your cinema seat. Despite her heroics, the children dismiss this and still favour the macho figure (even though they’ve never met him before).
Pratt and Howard play two of the most cliched characters in modern cinema; they have dreadful dynamics in the first half of the film. Owen would actually be quite likeable if he wasn’t such a misogynistic arse. It seems that Trevorrow has taken this film to an age even further back than twenty-two years ago. Every single one of his characters is a massive stereotype (teenager obsessed with girls and social media; young, excitable boy looking up to his older brother; emotionless, female power freak, incapable of maternal instincts and in need of a man). The recurring theme of invisible women in Hollywood (where are all the other women in the film?) needs to – ironically – disappear. We shouldn’t be telling young girls that they have to rely on men to be their saviours; women can step up too and be successful, independent women without being power hungry bitches.
Trevorrow is a questionable choice of director, especially as four writers – including himself – were involved with the project which itself has inherent problems – whoever thought up the idea of raptors as weapons should be working on kid’s cartoons, not blockbusters. For example, Vincent D’onofrio is another predictable character who reeked of evil from the moment he stepped on screen; all he needed was a white cat, high cackle and scar running across the length of his face. Maybe the screenwriters were so focused on their ‘witty’ Owen that they let their cultural research slacken as ‘the pakis are out of containment’ (uttered near the start of the film) didn’t really go down too well in British cinemas either.
The other obstacles along the way, particularly the scientists taking dangerous shortcuts in order to speed up the production of more exciting dinosaurs, raises the question of whether humans should play God for the purpose of entertainment. This is diving into deeper waters though and for fear of drowning I’m going to stay away from this for now.
On a more positive note, Jurassic World was the first slice of IMAX action I’ve indulged in and I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to experience cinema the same way now I’ve been spoilt. Although the cinematic effects could have been a lot better and at times the CGI appears slightly unrealistic, it looked pretty good in IMAX. Cinema is growing rapidly and the emergence of this new screen at my local cinema has conjured up images of what’s in store for the future of cinema. To think that the next generation will take experiences such as IMAX for granted is pretty scary. Already it seems that the DVD’s short life is coming to an end as it’s only a matter of time before people solely rely on providers such as Netflix or Sky Store to watch all the latest films. In regards to Jurassic World, it may not be as jaw-dropping as the original, but in the current climate that would be a difficult feat to achieve.
There’s a lot of issues with this film and for me, it is probably the biggest disappointment of the year. With the rise of 3D technology and IMAX screenings throughout the U.S and UK, there was a huge opportunity to take an entirely new spin on this, but unfortunately it’s just another plot where all the white, middle class people end up with boring but happy lives. Even Claire, who has to ask her new fella, ‘what shall we do now?’. White man rules supreme – yay!
**As a side note, anyone who describes Owen’s sexism using the word ‘banter’ will get a metaphorical punch in the throat.