Movie review: Jurassic World

It took a bit for Dara and me to finally see Jurassic World, but we got a chance today as part of a big afternoon birthday party bash for our good friend Mimi! We all gathered downtown for a movie and dinner shindig, and a lovely time was had by all.

Picoreview for the movie in particular: I liked it far better than I was expecting, actually! I was wary after seeing this review over at the Bitchery, as well as Seanan McGuire’s disappointed commentary. Seanan’s in particular had me worried, because she is a devoted fan of the franchise. We’re talking fangirling on the same level I throw at Great Big Sea and Le Vent du Nord here, people, so she knows what she’s talking about.

So I went in with fairly low expectations, prepped to be annoyed by gender portrayals but wowed by the nonstop RAAAR! And actually, I found myself only mildly vexed by the gender portrayals, so I count that in the win column.

And really, let’s get real: the primary reason I wanted to see this movie was this guy right here.

Owen Means Business

Owen Means Business

Although that said, Jurassic Park is only a little bit behind Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Raiders of the Lost Ark when it comes to formative movies of my adolescence. And it certainly ranks up very high on the list of my favorite John Williams soundtracks. So I have a pretty hefty fondness for the original movie, and that was pulling me into the theater to see this one, too.

And in the meantime, heads up: the spoilers are HIDING BEHIND THE FOLD and they are totally tracking you.

So then. Let’s get the gender stuff out of the way first.

I have to say that yes, it did highly irritate me that a) Claire got shit for not dropping everything to immediately attend to her nephews, b) she had a hard time remembering how old they were, and c) of COURSE her sister expected she’d eventually have kids.

Because yeah, I gotta echo the Bitchery and Seanan here. C’mon, people, not every woman is going to be a mother. Not every woman wants to be a mother, and it’s really fucking irritating to see that expectation crop up in a movie like it did in this one, even in one throwaway line from Claire’s sister.

Also, speaking as someone who’s had a hysterectomy: not every woman can be a mother, so for me, that kind of a line is doubly fucking irritating.

Also, speaking as someone who lives three thousand miles away from her nieces and nephews and accordingly mostly only interacts with them online: I often lag several years behind on my mental impressions of my nieces and nephews, because I get hung up on the last time I actually physically saw them. Hell, I still have a hard time remembering that my sisters aren’t still the little children I grew up with, never mind my nieces and nephews, some of whom I haven’t even seen in person, because this is what happens when you live three thousand miles away from most of your relations. And yes, I have a hard time remembering how old some of them are as a result. They probably have no idea how old I am, either, and y’know what? That’s okay.

It doesn’t mean we’re not still a family who loves each other. I’m writing this on the tail end of having a multi-way text conversation with my brother, his wife, and their kids, and we’ve been shooting selfies back and forth, because this is what we do because we live three thousand miles apart.

Likewise: I have to vote on the side of it being unfair to give Claire shit for not dropping everything to spend time with her nephews, because hello running a multi-billion dollar theme park here, with attractions that can fucking eat the guests if they get loose. She has to be on top of things. It’s not like Claire can just easily blow off work, given what she does.

Okay, sure, if she agreed to look after the kids in the first place (which, given that the movie starts with the kids on the way to the park, you can take as implied), it’s reasonable to expect her to at least make arrangements for them. Which she did. She delegated to her assistant! She got them VIP passes and everything! And she did try to figure out in her own “shit I don’t have experience with kids, how the hell am I supposed to know if they go to bed at the same time” way how to deal with them.

And I really, really wish we could have seen the boys give her a bit more props for seeing her be badass in person. The “is that Aunt Claire?!” reaction was awesome, though it would have been nice to see them say something directly to her about how she is badass as well as her boyfriend.

And cosigning Seanan, too, on look movie, would it really have killed you to make one of the kids a girl? I MEAN HONESTLY.

Growf. Now that that’s out of my system, I can actually say that despite how I just spent several paragraphs talking about all that, it all actually annoyed me way less than I was fearing it would during the movie. A good bit of my reaction is admittedly fueled by the commentary I’ve read, and by my own thinking about it after the fact. While I was actually watching the movie, I mostly just had a couple of moments of fleeting irritation–because once we got to the Indominus being introduced, things picked up considerably.

Let’s talk about Hoskins now–I can’t really call him a bad guy per se, because he wasn’t really a villain. He was an amoral asshole only interested in using velociraptors as weapons, sure. Acting against the interests of the main characters, absolutely. But this is after all a Jurassic Park franchise movie, and we all know the main antagonists in these flicks are in fact the dinosaurs, so that was all fine. Certainly all the prior movies in the series have had antagonists driven by motives of greed, so having one driven by motives of military prowess is at least a variation on the theme.

It’s kind of hysterical though that he was played by Vincent d’Onofrio, who was so unbelievably awesome as Fisk in Daredevil. This character was so much more thinly portrayed than Fisk that he just underscores how d’Onofrio could have whipped out this role in his sleep. And I do have to give him props for giving Hoskins at least a glimmer of wonder beneath his “RAR MILITARY” exterior. There are a couple of moments when he’s trying to interact with the raptor pack, one while they’re still in the compound and another later on in the climax just before he’s chomped, when you see that on some level he really does think this is kind of neat. And all props to d’Onofrio for putting that in there.

And man, if I hadn’t read up beforehand on the movie and realized that d’Onofrio was in fact playing this guy, I would not have recognized him at all. Again, props to d’Onofrio for that, too. Dude can act, even with a character as thin as this one.

The kids, also less annoying than I expected even given that they were both boys this time. I did like that Gray did have his one quieter scene crying about their parents’ divorce, and how Zach was trying to tough it out. Not entirely impressed with him making such a big deal about leaving his girl at the beginning and then ogling all the girls at the park–but then again, teenage boy, so I can’t exactly call that an unrealistic portrayal, I guess?

I did really like that the kids actually saved themselves, though. That was pretty awesome. I found their entire sequence in the gyrosphere fun, and once they actually made it into the ruins of the original park and figured out how to jumpstart one of the old jeeps, all props to them for that. (Also, while I waffle between finding all the callbacks to the first movie charming and finding them heavyhanded, I did also really like how they had the plaintive version of the theme playing during that entire bit. That was an effective musical moment!)

Honestly, I did like Claire, too. I’ve seen people giving her shit for running in heels, but I gotta say, the actress sold it. I’ve read that she specifically wanted to run in those heels. You can debate about whether that’d actually work in real life, but she totally sold it on screen. AND often outran Mr. Pratt, I point out.

Nor was she stupid out in the field, either. I liked her response to Owen’s telling her she was wouldn’t last two minutes in the wild: rolling up her sleeves and tying off the bottom of her shirt. Sure, we’ve only seen her as the glamorous front-facing businesswoman up to this point, but she did then proceed to handle herself quite reasonably, I feel! She followed Owen’s lead and didn’t do anything stupid to threaten either of them. And then she saved him from a goddamn pteranodon, thank you very much!

AND: it was Claire who risked her ass to go and get the T-Rex, too. To wit: okay yeah, also pretty awesome to see the big scary T-Rex from the first movie being the thing to take down the Indominus–by teaming up with the raptor pack. Because OF COURSE THEY DO.

Which of course brings me to Owen and the raptor pack!

Aside from him being occasionally annoying to Claire, yeah, I liked him. And I liked the raptors! Echo! Blue! Delta! Charlie! And especially Blue. <3 I very much liked how this movie made us actually like the raptors as well as the T-rex, and that quite a few of us in our group went “AWWWWWW” when three of the four raptors were killed.

I didn’t see it coming that the Indominus was part raptor, and I really should have, given the similarity in shape between her and the smaller beasts–not to mention that it made the most narrative sense. We came into the movie knowing the history of the raptors. We didn’t need to see them hunting on screen. But we do see the Indominus cutting a swath across the island–and by the time she takes over the raptor pack, we know in no uncertain terms exactly how bad a situation this is.

THEN we get to see the raptors turning on the humans and AUGH that was good and scary and AUGH. Relieved to see Owen got to save Barry (had to look the character’s name up) by luring the raptor about to kill him away with motorcycle noises–so yay the black dude gets to survive the movie. ^_^

I was a bit said to see Mosrani die, though. He was there to be Hammond’s successor, and as such actually had a moral center, and it was sad that the poor guy’s flying skills were just not up to pulling a helicopter out of a pteranodon swarm. Probably not something his instructor thought to cover in the flying lessons. Though perhaps on Isla Nublar, THEY SHOULD.

Also sad to see the assistant Zara bite it, since she got to do very little except chase the kids around.

But yay! I liked Vivian in the control room, and I did quite like her interactions with Lowery, too–“I have a boyfriend”. And he wasn’t an asshole about it, either, which made me glad both of them got to survive the movie, too.

Notable as well that Dr. Wu also got off the island. Because sequel bait. Since we do also already know sequels are indeed coming.

All in all, I did actually enjoy myself quite a bit at this flick and it’s definitely the best of the franchise since the original, thus far. We had some interesting discussion in our group as to whether it was in fact better than the original–a thing I’m not prepared to commit to myself, just because I feel that the original did have way better gender portrayals, not to mention an outright sense of wonder that this new movie kind of lacks. (Which, admittedly, was actually also even talked about in the movie itself, as part of the point of why they created the Indominus, so there’s that…)

I’d watch this again. Maybe not in the theater, but I may actually buy it when it hits Blu-ray. And if you like a movie with a healthy dose of dinosaur RAAAAAAR, yeah, give this a look while it’s still in the theaters, at least once. The Indominus is worth it.

(Although some of us are a little sad that Chris Pratt never managed to lose his shirt. >:D )

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