Movie Review: Jurassic World

JurassicWorldby Brad Nelson6/16/15
One of my favorite moments in the movie, Liar Liar, is when Jim Carrey, struggling to do otherwise, strains out “I…can’t…lie.” Well, neither can I regarding cinema.

Michael Medved gave a capsule review of Jurassic World on his radio program yesterday. This is the fourth movie in the franchise. He made it sound pretty good (giving it a thumbs-up of 3-stars) by saying that although the characters were kind of dumb (which one would expect, particularly given the first movie), the action and CGI were very good and made the movie worth watching.

However, this movie is so bad, I can’t help but think that Michael gave it a pass because, well, if you shot down all the crap coming out of Hollywood, always giving negative reviews, perhaps one would think one would be drifting into cultural irrelevance.

But I have no problem camping out there permanently if need be. This movie is unambiguously a turkey. This is about as stupid and illogical as they come. But I had to see it, especially given the positive review by Medved, if only because I’ve been following this franchise and very much enjoyed the first book (perhaps Crichton’s finest). The original Jurassic Park is one of the few movies I ever bothered seeing in a theatre, and it was a fun ride.

But the original movie wasn’t flawless. The two kids were annoying, with cheesy dialogue often stuffed into their mouths. And the two major premises of the film were flawed:

1) Man can’t control nature

2) Nature will find a way

Well, given how successful we have been at domesticating plants and animals, I’d say we’ve done pretty good. And as for “nature will find a way,” that idea can be forgiven for reflecting prevailing naive Darwinian beliefs that animals can just magically add features and body parts because they need them.

But these somewhat lame ideas were given life when uttered by the eccentric character played by Jeff Goldblum. It was a fine cast all around and a believable concept in terms of science fiction. Given the premises, the movie played them out well. It even threw in some nice humor from time to time.

But Jurassic World is little more than a remake of Jurassic Park without the least attempt to make sense or do anything original: They open a dinosaur theme park (on the same island, presumably by the same people), a dinosaur escapes, and all hell breaks loose. That’s it. What humor there is is mostly unintentional. And if all you want is to see CGI dinosaurs eating people, that might be enough for you. Go spend your money and don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

Barely a minute goes by when something stupid or implausible doesn’t happen. If you must see this, bring a friend who enjoys Mystery Science Theatre 3000. This is a movie that should be a howl to make fun of. But it’s also sad. When I heard the somber strings of John William’s classic original theme for this movie, they seemed out of place — used and abused by people who are little more than hacks. Still, you can bet this will make a lot of money. The tastes of American society have been severely corroded by years of this kind of thoughtless garbage.


Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.

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14 Responses to Movie Review: Jurassic World

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Like you, I enjoyed the original book (by the way, in calling it Crichton’s best, are you including the books he wrote earlier — such as Binary — as John Lange?) and movie. I’ve seen remarkably diverse reviews of this movie, some very favorable and some very unfavorable. No one seems to take an in-between look. No doubt it will eventually be available somewhere like AMC or whatever, and I’ll see parts of it when nothing more suitable is on and I don’t want to turn the TV off yet.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Timothy, maybe I need to check out Binary, although I’m not really in the mood for a political intrigue novel. Perhaps if I can find the movie.

      I’ve read two of his novels for sure: Jurassic Park and State of Fear. I tried to read Sphere and got bored. And I’m just going to assume that because the movie, Congo, was so bloody bad that the book probably isn’t a classic.

      I haven’t read The Andromeda Strain but love the movie. Given the rough sampling of his works, I thought Jurassic Park, the novel, was so good that surely it must be at or near the top of the list.

  2. Anniel says:

    I’ve not been a movie fan for so long now I can’t even remember the last theater I was in. The ads for this one didn’t stir me at all. Thanks for the warning though, I’ll not pay any attention to the raves.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I believe the last movie we saw in the theaters was The Phantom Menace, though I’ve seen plenty of others (one way or another) on TV.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I’ll not pay any attention to the raves.

      If you stuck a bucket of warm pee on the movie screen, you could later read all the 10-star glowing reviews at IMDB.com. It’s truly an alternate reality out there. At times I think it’s not that people like it. It’s that they think they’re supposed to like it, that it’s cool to like it. But I call it the way I see it without respect for anything else.

      This is the kind of movie that a bunch of guys drinking beer in the basement could sit around and watch and have a laugh. In forty years it may even be a classic of campy cinema. Right now it seems to function as an I.Q. detector.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    The original JP was on TV a few nights back and my impression of years back was confirmed in spades. After watching about five minutes of this rot, I left the room and logged on to ST in order to regain the IQ points I had just lost.

    I believe Crichton’s movies and books are a very mixed bag, but at least “The Andromeda Strain” was not complete rubbish.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Jurassic Park, the book, I thought was interesting, well-paced, and all-around a thoughtful piece of sci-fi. Jurassic Park, the movie, although I like it, gains much of its appeal from the campiness which, in this case, works if only because it makes a difference if Jeff Goldblum is delivering the lines (or Sir Richard Attenborough) or some nose-picking cardboard-cutout nondescript seen-one-you’ve-seen-em-all modern yute is chipping out the wooden lines.

      I think the original movie is a great bit of fun. Sam Neill is a favorite of mine, which adds to the charm. And in this case, the movie is as good as the best section in the book which is when T-rex first gets out. There’s a lot that is different as well. There’s a major section in the latter part of the book where they are wandering through tunnels and come upon the lair of the raptors…who have been hunting them all across the island, I think.

      And there are some truly stupid moments in “Jurassic World.” But I think it’s more of a death by a thousand cuts. It’s just a plethora of things that are stupid or don’t make sense. One of my personal favorites is that the main premise of this movie is that they are looking for even more exciting dinosaur than T-rex and friends because they say the public is getting bored by them. So they decide to make a designer dinosaur, a mix between T-rex and their own engineering. And that’s the dino that escapes. And he’s not particularly any more frightening than T-rex. The entire premise of the movie from the get-go is stupid.

      And the premise to Jurassic Park was pretty lame as well. All that stands between the park visitors and T-rex is an electric fence. That might be good enough for cows, but what happens if the electricity goes out? Thankfully, in the movie enough good stuff happens that you can suspend disbelief on some of these points.

      But in this movie, where lame fencing was the main problem again (and they knew about the problems previously), the plot becomes a joke. And my other favorite bit of super-stupidity is one of the ways the tourists get around in the park. In the original movie, they were in cars that were computer-controlled…basically all but on a rail, I believe. And they went in front of the various paddocks where the animals were behind electric fences. (Even gorillas in our zoos are behind large motes with fencing as well.)

      In this one, the two kids are in a small plastic bubble which (I’m not making this up) rolls around the open plains steering where they will between various dinosaurs who are all running around loose, including huge herbivores the could easily squish them, if only by accident. This stuff is so stupid, it almost makes some of the dumb sequences in the horrible “Crystal Skull” Indiana Jones movie look sensible. Almost. Let’s just say it’s on that scale of stupidity.

      And the thing is, I know full well now that there is a dumb-downed audience of no or bad taste who just doesn’t know the difference or just doesn’t care. This is not a rant against campy movies or even b-films. This is an indictment of a culture that has truly lost its mind….unless this movie absolutely tanks at the box office, then at least a little faith will be restored.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Sounds like what we call an “idiot plot” — something that requires that the characters be idiots, because no one above that level would act so stupidly.

        Zoos vary in their methods of enclosure. The Louisville Zoo mostly doesn’t rely on moats. The gorillas are mostly separated from their viewers by (presumably unbreakable) glass.

  4. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Sam Neill is a favorite of mine

    I think he a very good actor. I first saw him in “Reilly Ace of Spies”.

    I have read all of Crichton’s dinosaur books and can’t recall much about any of them. But that is true for all of his books which I have read. I am chiefly left with “impressions.”

    My impression of “Timeline” is that it is an interesting book with human interaction being just as important as the scientific side. That of “Sphere” is that it could have been written in half the number of pages. That of “Disclosure” was disgust as it was like reading a movie script, so why not skip the book and go straight to what you meant to do in the first place, Michael? That of “State of Fear” is that I was more impressed with and recall more of the addendum at the end of the book than the previous 400 pages.

    I found Crichton to be a very interesting man. He was clearly very intelligent, but unlike many intelligent people he didn’t go around spouting nonsense. Clearly, he was a great observer and had huge interest in people and science.

    I remember the first time I saw him on TV about 40 years ago. I think it was on the Johnny Carson Show sometime after “The Andromeda Strain” had come out. He was discussing with Johnny his education and background and the risks of becoming a writer. I think he said as an M.D. he could have had a very secure life, but he wanted to be a writer.

    He knew this was a gamble and after looking into it, he found out from someone or some publication that there were only about 200(?) professional fiction writers in the US who were able to make a living from writing. That impressed me.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      As a student of history, I rather liked Timeline, though I will note that the recent history of the Plantagenets by Dan Jones treats the story of Edward II having a red-hot poker shoved up his rear as probably an apocryphal tale. But then, George of Clarence probably wasn’t really drowned in a butt of malmsey wine, either (though I haven’t yet read Jones’s book on the dynastic wars that culminated in the Wars of the Roses).

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Both because of its setting and the description of time travel in a “scientific” way, I think “Timeline” would be my favorite of these books.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I saw the movie, “Timeline.” I didn’t know Crichton wrote this. The movie was light fare but entertaining.

      No doubt Crichton was intelligent and had a pretty good imagination. And had the gumption to switch careers in mid stream. Wow.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    When I watch a really bad movie such as “Jurassic World,” I tend to lose all eloquence (that I have) and analytical ability. My main reaction is to want to do what John Belushi did to the guitar in Animal House…smash it against the wall a few times.

    But this fellow, after a long and far too intellectualoid “make my minimum word count” review, ends with something brilliant:

    And therein lies the rub. Forty years ago, Spielberg all but invented the summer blockbuster with nothing more than a smart script, a perfectly chosen cast and a malfunctioning rubber shark. Today, Trevorrow can bring his dinosaurs to life in ways never before imaginable, but he can’t make us believe in or care about his characters. Like Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, this serves more as a reminder of glories past than of futures new. It has scales but no soul.

    That is the thing so scarce these days. A smart script.

  6. Rosalys says:

    Thanks for the heads up about Jurassic World. I was my intention to see it in the theater even though I have instinctive doubts – I’m thinking they’re just milking a lucrative franchise. I’ll still probably see it, but I’ll wait for it to show up on the tube for free.

    I enjoy sci-fi movies. I like good sci-fi and I love really, really bad sci-fi.

    Most of the Michael Crichton books I’ve read – and I’ve read most of them – I liked. My favorite is Next, and played up as the farce that it is, it would make an hilariously terrific movie!

    When Jurassic Park came out, our younger child was the right age and sex – 11 year old boy – and naturally, he was crazy for all things dinosaur, Sam Neill, Michael Crichton, and Jurassic Park. For his next birthday we had a roller skating party at the local rink. One of his friends gave him a copy of Crichton’s latest, Disclosure. I had NOT yet read much Crichton lit at the time and, hey, I didn’t know! However… You know how roller rinks have these booths… well, my boy and several other of his friends were sort of tucked away in a corner behind a table. The boy who gave him the book was discretely (or at least he thought he was!) flipping through the pages looking for something. God gave us mothers a sixth sense. I glanced at this cosy little group, and figured I’d better take the book, and told them to go skating while they still had time. I read it; needless to say, my boy never did get his book back. Next Monday, I saw this other boy’s mother while waiting to pick them up after school. She sought me out, and with a look of repentant horror on her face she groveled before me, “I’m so sorry! I didn’t know!” I could assure her that I was able to intercept in a timely fashion.

    Oh, God bless little boys! They are what they are, and they need His blessings!

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