Everyone in the audience and long lines waiting to get in to see it knows exactly what they're in for. There will be dinosaurs and there will be blood. The dinosaurs will look very cool. Kids will be threatened. There will even be a few "ooh" and "ahh" moments between scenes of carnage. There will be good guys — Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. There will be cartoonish bad guy(s) — Vincent D'Onofrio and BD Wong. There will be a plot thread left dangling to make way for another sequel. In other words, pure summer popcorn entertainment.
|Whose idea was it to use real dinosaurs again?|
|Safari fun - until somebody dies|
|Yeah, he's a movie star|
While Jurassic World delivers on all these counts and then some, I couldn't help noticing that there were a few other messages floating through the mayhem.
Why are we so bored and spoiled? Jurassic World is presented as the ultimate theme park, but we are told that attendance is down because people just want bigger and better thrills. There is no actual evidence of this from the people who are visiting the park. They all seem to be having a grand old time, kids and adults alike. But the corporate sponsors want more danger, more excitement, and the park feels pressured to provide that, in the form of a deadly, new dinosaur.
Theme parks are dangerous and expensive. How much exactly would it cost to visit Jurassic World? You have to fly to a remote island and stay on-site at a costly hotel. Park admission would not be cheap, certainly with hidden costs for special animal encounters. And all of the food, souvenirs, and shopping would be bound to be ridiculously expensive. Sort of like going to Disney, but with longer, sharper teeth.
Technology is killing us. No matter how thrilling the park might be, the majority of its attendees spent a lot of time experiencing it through their smart phones, either taking photos, or ignoring what's around them altogether. This point is made most strongly through the brutal demise of Claire's (Howard) assistant (Katie McGrath), who is attacked by no less than three dinosaurs, all while never dropping her damn product placement phone. The two main kids' (Claire's nephews) phone is crushed and discarded by the big bad dinosaur, rendering Claire's own phone useless as a way to contact them. And does our hero Owen (Pratt) even have one? Claire doesn't or can't call him, but has to drive out to his Luddite's dream of a shack to find him, far away from the high-tech lab, offices, and park where she resides. No wonder he is the only one to trust when the going gets deadly.
And about that product placement. No one in movies has embraced product placement perhaps more than Steven Spielberg. But here that impulse is turned on its head, with all the Starbucks cups and boutique stores lining the shopping area of Jurassic World seeming crass and over-the-top. A little too reflective of our consumerist present, perhaps. How did we get here and why do we need all of this stupid stuff?
Whether you are looking for the subtle critiques of our modern lives, or just in the mood for some slam-bang action, Jurassic World definitely delivers. And Chris Pratt proves that Guardians of the Galaxy was not a fluke. He's this generation's Harrison Ford and then some.