Jurassic World deserves a lot of credit for bringing the series back from the brink that it had been pushed to by the second and third films in the franchise. We enjoyed the movie a lot ourselves, and called it the best monster movie of the year. The original Jurassic Park was a lot more than just a monster movie though, and this shift in direction is just one of the ways in which Jurassic World ends up feeling like it comes from a smaller vision than the first film.
Despite that, we think it's a fun film - a lot more than the second and third films in the series for sure. But there are some really annoying things about this movie that we really had to talk about, after a third viewing in the cinema last weekend. This is a collection of all the problems we had with the film - we enjoyed it hugely, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have issues - and obviously, huge spoilers follow.
The first film was closely based on Michael Crichton's novel of the same name, and although there were some large changes in the storyline, it explored the science behind Jurassic Park in much more detail. The film was, in fact, geeky. The dinosaurs were guided by cinematic expediency, but there was an attempt to keep them as real as possible.
That's changed a lot in the 22 years which have passed between the movies. The fact is that scientists believe these dinosaurs would have actually looked completely different; but of course, the public already "knows" what a T-Rex, or a Velociraptor is supposed to look like, and changing that wouldn't go down too well.
There's an attempt to explain this away in the movie when B D Wong (the only character from the earlier films to appear in this one) says that Ingen didn't want reality. That the company was tampering with DNA from the very beginning, to make the dinosaurs look more frightening.
Which, honestly, is probably a summary of how the thinking went at Universal as well. Scientists might want to see dinosaurs with feathers, but the studio definitely called in a focus group to test if a cuddly Tyrannosaurus was acceptable or not.
Some people also pointed out that the Mosasaur shown in the film is many times larger than the real animal would have been. People used the great white shark shown in the clip which the prehistoric creature is about to eat as a frame of reference, and calculated that the Mosasaur would be a 177 foot giant. Others have questioned the measurements though but agreed that the Mosasaur would definitely be on the big side.
A palaeontologist from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in the US also told the Washington Post: "The prehistoric animals represent reconstructions from the 1970s and '80s. The reconstructions are totally out of date."
But perhaps the most bizarre decision was to have the big bad of the movie, the Indominus Rex, capable of talking to the Velociraptors, because they share some DNA. The number of eye rolls that the scene caused across multiple viewings is enough to cause a repetitive stress injury.
Even if we ignore the suggestion that dinosaurs held discussions, or the fact that this makes it as likely for a chimpanzee to send a diplomatic mission to humans, since we have "some" DNA in common, there's the fact that the Indominus was raised alone, without even a sibling. She has absolutely nothing in common with Blue, Charlie and the rest of the Raptor gang. Neither nature, nor nurture.
Jurassic World also plays out like a 90s movie in its treatment of female lead Claire Dearing. She's presented in classic 90s style as the ice-queen that needs to be defrosted, thanks to the manly presence of Chris Pratt's Owen Grady, who will save the day.
Of course, the film then tries to subvert this, by having her shoot a pterosaur before it eats Chris Pratt's face. If that had been the end of things, it would be a fine scene, but she immediately recoils, and hands the gun back to Pratt. She's also the one who saves the entire group when she runs to the Tyrannosaurus Rex paddock, and leads it back to fight the Indominus.
But the movie also decides to make fun of Claire for wearing heels throughout, even though the same writers put her in heels in the first place. Yes, we get it. The film is trying to subvert expectations, and making Claire the protagonist even as it looks to be Owen's film is certainly one way to do so. The catch is that the film tries to have its cake and eat it too. It's going "ha-ha" at tired conventions, while also faithfully following them. Actually subverting them would have been to let her keep a pair of real shoes in her car or office which she could've slipped into in just a moment. Actually subverting them would have been to have her take a knife from Owen and slice off the heels from her shoes. Instead, we got a scene where he makes fun of her shoes, and she responds by... unbuttoning her shirt?
There are plenty of other small things that the movie just gets wrong with its portrayal of Claire and Owen, and frankly one of the reasons why the film remains enjoyable and the characters likeable is because of how charming both Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are. If only they'd been given a little more to work with here.
Instead we have a parade of male characters who walk around reminding Claire that the dinosaurs in Jurassic World are living, breathing creatures, and not just figures on a spreadsheet. She learns to appreciate this for herself when she sees Owen cradling the head of a dying dinosaur, instead of on her own. When she finally meets her nephews again, the first thing they say to her isn't that they're glad she's fine, or happy they're reunited. The first thing these children do, is point to Chris Pratt, and ask, "who's that?" Because in this script, even 10-year-olds will define the ostensible protagonist through her alpha male.
But perhaps the most notable thing about this film was just how stupid it was willing to get in service of moving the plot forward. Entire storylines are introduced and then discarded completely - the divorce storyline of the kids' parents is there in the periphery for a few scenes, and then clearly forgotten forever, for one.
But there are some other things that made even less sense, such as the Indominus clawing out the tracker from its back. For one thing, how on Earth did it even manage to do that? None of its claws seemed like they'd be able to reach its back, and neither did its mouth seem that flexible.
For that matter, how did it even know where to look? "It remembered you putting it in," is a cool line and all, but are you telling me that Jurassic Park does surgery on baby dinosaurs that are completely new (and very expensive) species without anaesthetising them first?
And then there's the fact that at the end of the movie, the raptor shares a nod with the T-Rex, and a few expressive dinosaur words are exchanged. What the hell movie? That should not happen! The Indominus could talk to the raptors because it is part raptor - which is ridiculous but I'll accept it for now - so maybe it could talk to the T-Rex as well, but the T-Rex and the raptors shouldn't be chatting away!
Also, speaking of the T-Rex, how the hell wasn't it chomping down on Claire as she ran away on her high heels? In the first film, it's able to outrun a car going at 40 miles-per-hour and while Claire might be a great sprinter, in heels or without, she couldn't have been going so fast.
But the biggest plot hole was probably the gyrospheres. Yes, they're essential for the story, and gave us a reasonable way to put the kids in peril. But you know what, especially after the events of Jurassic Park, there's no way that an army of lawyers allowed Ingen to allow people to pilot the gyrospheres by themselves. People are going to drive into your super-expensive dinosaurs, or they're going to ram other gryospheres, or they're going to drive into trees. Those things should be automated, and should have a remote override in case you want to provide some control, so that in case of an emergency, they all come back to the starting point, instead of wandering off because the plot said so.
Have that one essential safety feature in place, and boom, we've got a very different movie.