Jurassic World is delighting audiences, smashing box office records, and making people excited about dinosaurs again. But did you notice the movie is also sort of terrible? If the new installment of Jurassic Park left you with questions, our patented Spoiler FAQ has the answers you didn’t even know you needed!
How would you summarize the plot of Jurassic World?
Well, it’s about one rich person’s attempt to continue the legacy of another rich person by having dinosaurs eat the middle class.
Oh, and to teach one business-oriented woman that her life running a multimillion dollar operation utilizing the most advanced genetics research in the world is completely worthless without children.
Which part wasn’t clear?
Any of it.
Okay. So you remember how in the first Jurassic Park movie the dinosaurs got loose and killed a bunch of people?
Well, it was a tragedy. And we know this because when Bryce Dallas Howard, playing the childless, joyless woman in charge of the new park, sees Jake Johnson in a Jurassic Park shirt he got on eBay, and she chides him for his horrible taste in wearing an icon of such a tragedy.
Wait a second…
Keep in mind that Howard is running Jurassic World, which is exactly like Jurassic Park except bigger and exponentially more dangerous to the people inside it. It also uses the exact same T.Rex skull logo as the original Jurassic Park. So literally the only difference between the two is that one was named “Park” and the other was named “World.” And yet the Jurassic Park t-shirt is supposed to be the epitome of bad taste.
Is there some kind of metaphor you could use to help me understand this?
Yeah. If you assume Jurassic Park is the Titanic, Jurassic World is like someone coming along, building a new boat called the Mega-Titanic, sailing it along the exact same sea route, and getting weirdly judge-y any time mentions the original Titanic in anything other than hushed, reverent tones.
How is Jurassic World more dangerous than Jurassic Park?
Well, at its most basic, it’s still full of dinosaurs, at least half of whom want to eat all the tourists. That’s not great.
Jurassic World decides to up the ante by creating a new dinosaur hybrid called the Indominus Rex, which they have designed to be the World’s Greatest Killing Machine in order to attract more tourists to the park. The fact that the Indominus Rex will only eat all these new tourists escaped them completely.
Why is the Indominus so amazing?
It’s like a bigger, smarter Tyrannosaurus Rex. It can change color like a chameleon, it can somehow hide its infrared body temperature, it’s smart enough to not only remember where a tracking device was implanted in its body as a wee dinosaur but also 1) figure out what it was for and 2) claw it out of its own body, but only after it escapes from its pen. Also, it can talk to other dinosaurs.
Why would the Park — sorry, World — do this?
Early on Howard says that people are bored with regular old dinosaurs, and want something bigger and scarier. Then the movie shows that Jurassic World is jam-packed with tourists who seem 100% content to see all the regular old dinosaurs, because dinosaurs are awesome.
Obviously. Can you bring this back to your Titanic metaphor?
The makers of Mega-Titanic, worried that its passengers might be finding the ride a bit boring, have created a sentient iceberg with heat-seeking missiles to add “spice” to the voyage.
Yeah. So essentially, they’ve made a dinosaur version of the Predator.
That… actually sounds awesome.
It pretty much is. If you don’t mind that the Indominus Rex is smarter than all the human characters in the movie put together, you’re in for a solid time.
The characters can’t be that stupid, can they?
They can and are.
Do you have examples?
Do I! Well, let’s begin with the fact that besides making yet another park full of killer dinosaurs, and then genetically engineering bigger, more efficient killer dinosaurs, the park — sorry, the World seemingly employs absolutely zero zoologists or structural engineers. This is a problem if you want to make sure the dinosaurs 1) do not escape and 2) have been content enough in captivity that if they do escape, they don’t spend all their time trying to kill as many park attendees as possible.
Really? They don’t have anyone?
Well, they have Chris Pratt, a Navy guy who has been hired to… train group of velociraptors… for… maybe military purposes, even though Pratt seems aghast whenever someone mentions using them for military purposes. Anyway, he moonlights as the sole animal behaviorist and final arbiter of dinosaur enclosure adequacy, which we know because the rich guy who owns Jurassic World, upon seeing the Indominus for the first time — wants Pratt to check it out. Pratt immediately sees that everything is screwed, and if the Indominus ever gets out, it’s going to kill everybody.
Why does Pratt know so much about dinosaur behavior?
It’s all those dinosaur classes the Navy makes its recruits take. Anyways, then the Indominus gets out.
And the stupidity continues. Despite the abject lesson the first Jurassic Park provided, the employees of Jurassic World are somehow completely unprepared for a dinosaur getting loose. Oh, they have a team of soldiers who suit up to subdue rogue dinos, but they’re basically armed with tasers while, again, they’re fighting Predator-saurus. As for the park itself, like all amusement parks, they’ve hired teens at minimum wage and given them a binder of instructions for emergencies. To return to the Titanic metaphor, this is like the Mega-Titanic, knowing full well what happened to the first ship, issuing binders to its staff instead of lifeboats.
Well, there’s the new owner of Jurassic World, who almost has his helicopter pilot’s license, is clearly demonstrated being mediocre at helicopter-flying at best, who chooses to fly the park’s only big-ass gun to fight the Indominus and crashes to a fiery death almost immediately. There’s the weird Private Military Corporation guy played by Vincent D’Onofrio, who somehow decides the Indominus rampaging through the amusement park is the perfect time to use Pratt’s team of velociraptors for a mission, despite the fact that the only person who knows anything about the raptors is Pratt, who tells him that his hold on them is tenuous at best. There’s the two kids who, when they are told of an emergency in the park full of dinosaurs that’s a new version of the park where people were massacred by dinosaurs, decide to leave the confines of the park to explore outside. And then there’s Bryce Dallas Howard, who’s the biggest idiot of all, because she doesn’t realize the magic over her own ovaries.
Why do you keep saying this?
Because in a movie that almost completely eschews character development — not the worst choice, given character development takes away from the hot dinosaur-murdering action — the one real arc is for Howard’s character, who is so professionally minded that she won’t take off work when her own nephews come to visit, and doesn’t even know their ages, and is scolded by other characters for this. Literally, Bryce’s sister, played by the infinitely-better-than-this Judy Greer, essentially tells her that she can’t possibly have empathy for another human being until she has children — which is a matter of “when,” despite Bryce’’s claims to the contrary.
Is it really that bad?
Look, it’s not as overt as Judy Greer screaming “YOU ARE A WORTHLESS HARPY UNTIL YOU REPRODUCE,” but again, Howard’s character has the sole arc in the movie — from skilled, capable, business executive and shell of a person to a woman who finally learns the satisfaction of caring for children.
Gross. Is this what Joss Whedon was saying when he called Jurassic World kind of sexist?
Not really. He was referring to this clip, in which Pratt’s badass was all cool and natural and sexxxy, and calling out Howard’s exec for being uptight. It’s a pretty tired cliché, but to be fair Pratt’s character is such an alpha male in the movie he literally refers to himself as an “alpha male,” so that swaggering dickery is part of his character. (Actually, if he wasn’t played by the intrinsically charming Pratt, the character would be almost wholly insufferable.) Whedon’s not really wrong, but in terms of sexism, I’d say the “motherhood = validity” is a much bigger problem in World.
If it’s so crappy, why is the movie making so much money?
Uh, in a word,@#$%ing dinosaurs. As it turns out, dinosaurs are still pretty awesome. You can roll your eyes at all the character interaction you want, but Jurassic World delivers when it features those characters running for their lives from dinosaurs and/or being eaten. Plus, Chris Pratt leads a team of velociraptors for a bit! Isn’t that awesome?
It does sound pretty awesome!
Of course, it’s another terrible idea, because as soon as the raptors meet the Indominus, the Indominus asks them the partner up, and they immediately join forces to kill all the humans.
The Indominus asks them?
Like, in… dinosaur language?
Yup. He’s part raptor, apparently.
I’m not 100% certain this scientifically holds up.
I’m sure it’ll all make sense when you’re a mother.
Bt then someone shoots a velociraptor with a rocket launcher, and by god that’s kind of awesome too.
So how do they finally defeat the Indominus Rex?
Let me just say that the Indominus is defeated by Jurassic Park.
The one surviving velociraptor teams back up with Chris Pratt and a Tyrannosaurus Rex, the dino-stars of the first movie, to bring down the Indominus.
And in Titanic terms?
The Mega-Titasnic and the iceberg that sank the original Titanic team up to fight the new sentient, missile-firing iceberg.
Okay, so what’s next after Jurassic World?
Seeing as Jurassic World the park was a much bigger, more public tragedy than Jurassic Park, I assume… someone makes an even bigger version, and no one learns anything. Perhaps they’ll go the Super Mario route — Jurassic Galaxy, anyone?
Are you talking about dinosaurs in spacesuits?
Yeah, me too.
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