I finally saw Jurassic World.
It was pure entertainment.
An action flick or a monster movie. Lots and lots of carnage.
...but not really in league with the original Jurassic Park. There is no sense of awe, like the first time I saw the Brachiosaurus rear up.
Definitely not sci-fi.
There is a ton of articles written by prominent palaeontologists on the internet already about the scientific inaccuracies of JW, so I'll keep that brief, and maybe touch a bit more on the sci-fi and plot aspects that JW missed. Obviously, SPOILERS!
But first, the obligatory palaeo-sins (like cinema sins):
- The dinosaurs all look rubbery and early 20th century like. Never mind the featherless-ness, these dinos looked worse than how they looked in the original 1993 JP. You can really see what I mean in the skin texture of the herbivores like Triceratops or any of the sauropods, especially in the scenes with the gyrosphere. The JP Triceratops and Brachiosaurus didn't look like that, so why do this? If the decision to omit feathers was to keep the aesthetics in line with the JP franchise, then why not keep the aesthetics in line with the JP franchise?
- OK - so Dr Wu actually said that if the dinosaurs were genetically pure, they will look very different. I can buy the featherless raptors due to this in-universe explanation, but I don't buy that the early 20th century look is by corporate or consumer demand...
JW is essentially a monster flick: a genetic hybrid they've created is way too clever and unpredictable to contain, and it runs amuck, leaving a trail of carnage behind. While I admit, this was quite exciting, I think there could have been better themes to explore.
I genuinely think that JW missed a valuable opportunity to be a solid sci-fi film, with substance, exploring some important or thought provoking theme.
Some of my favourite sci-fi films are District 9, Minority Report, and Children of Men, just to name a few. All these films use scientific themes or technological advancements as a plot device to make a point about something substantial, whether it be discrimination and social segregation, a out-of-control police and justice system, or dystopian future due to unexplained infertility. Each film explores human morality and actions given some sciency situation (stranded alien race, pre-crime technology, unexplained infertility).
The science and technology established in the JP universe provides an excellent opportunity to explore various ideas, consequences and human actions. Having said that, JP films have addressed certain ideas, or maybe a single idea: that man should not meddle with nature.
JP films have always portrayed scientists and innovators as arrogant, irresponsible and immoral. Ian Malcolm in the first JP film constantly challenges John Hammond about it and repeatedly beats the audience with his moral compass. JP and JW both warn that meddling with and attempting to control nature has unpredictable and undesirable consequences.
I have issues with this message. Nothing in our modern lives is entirely natural, which in most cases is a good thing. We don't die from preventable diseases or are constantly worrying about clean water. Science and technology are not bad or immoral. I think we've heard enough of this disinformation and it's time to explore new ideas.
Genetic manipulation gone mad, or man playing God, is an interesting idea, but we've seen that in films like Splice, but more importantly, I feel it really doesn't fit well as a Jurassic Park film. Dinosaurs are fascinating and awesome as they are, we should be focusing on telling a story about what would happen if we were to perfectly clone a dinosaur (no hybrid - I mean, come on, by the time JW is open InGen must have perfected their bioengineering technology; in fact Dr Wu claims exactly that in the film and in the promo video):
- Can we keep them alive?
- How do they respond to today's climate?
- Would Isla Nublar be big enough for dinosaur ranges?
- Can you keep large carnivores like T. rex in solitary paddocks, and only fed goats?
- How intelligent are they and what kind of problems will confinement have on them?
Maybe these aren't movie worthy topics and more like a biologist's thought process, but surely a creative and talented screen writer can write these things into a story. I can see that JW kind of tried to address some of these questions especially in the scene where Owen Grady was inspecting the Indominus rex's solitary confinement. Maybe they could have put that aspect, that Jurassic World staff were abusing their animals by raising them in solitary confinement, which leads them into madness, as the main plot line, instead of focusing on the unpredictable traits and super powers of I. rex. It could still be full of action, tension and bloodshed, but it's gotta be put together in a clever, coherent plot line. JW as it is, is just a big lead up to the final showdown between the T. rex - raptor team vs I. rex. Basically, the whole film is just an excuse to have the awesome tag match at the end. It's like fantasy Jurassic fight club.
...but it's gotta be said, I did thoroughly enjoy the film despite the flaws. Having said that, Jurassic World could have been a much better film. I do hope future Jurassic Park films take on a more serious and thought-provoking sci-fi route...though maybe that's asking too much from a dinosaur/monster franchise...one can dream....