Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dino Might

I love dinosaurs. I love huge, obnoxious action movies. I love Chris Pratt. So why on earth does Jurassic World look like a complete disaster?

Let’s get this out of the way: I’m not one of those people that holds action flicks as some sort of high art. I’m no highbrow, but I find most action movies to be sorta dumb and mindless, but just like fast food and 24 hour news channels sometimes I just want something dumb and mindless and if I get to see shit blow up and maybe some cleavage all the better.

And yet sometimes things just don’t click. Jurassic World doesn't look like it's going to click for me.

I enjoyed the first Jurassic Park, but I’m mindful that the movie came out over twenty years ago. The shaky science aside, it had a decent narrative arc, awesome (and, at the time, unprecedented) special effects, a reasonably satisfying ending, and child actors that didn’t make me want to throw my popcorn at the screen. It had lawyers getting eaten up in an outhouse, Richard Attenborough tottering around like he owns the place, Newman getting spit on, Jeff Goldblum being a weirdo like always, and a big pile of stego poop and I am still amazed that Steven Spielberg didn’t get a concussion from all the Oscars thrown at him.
I never saw the other movies. No reason; they just weren’t on my to-do list, but by all accounts seem to have been decent enough. Maybe someday.

And yet, nothing about Jurassic World makes me want to see it. Maybe it’s just because we’ve seen this movie before. Maybe because the effects aren’t all that different than what we see on a second-rate Showtime Original. Maybe it’s because of the current trend of shooting movies where apparently artificial and natural lighting are a scarce resource reserved for special occasions and one can barely see anything that is going on, a method that is only acceptable for bottom-barrel horror flicks looking for cheap scares. Maybe they hung everything onto Chris Pratt, an admittedly awesome actor who seems perfectly cast for the role.

Sadly, though, I don’t think it’s enough. Dinosaurs in movies are old hat even after 20 years, let alone eons. And even Bert Macklin can’t carry those dinosaur bones for 124 minutes.

And that is a bit of a shame. Growing up, if you asked me what my dream occupation was, it wouldn’t have been paleontologist or museum curator, it would have been “triceratops.” (I wasn’t a smart kid.) So Jurassic Park was the shit for me back in the day, even though I managed to reset my expectations in regards to dinosaur career opportunities.

Of course, I’ll be in the minority about this movie. There’s no doubt that this will be a smash hit, and I’ll be seeing velociraptors on Burger King cups for the next four months. And maybe I’ll get around to seeing it when it’s in the Redbox. But this is one of many high-profile summer blockbusters that baffles me as to its need.

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