Friday, November 13, 2015

Jurassic World [dir. Colin Trevorrow]

Sometimes all you want is to see giant monsters bashing at each other or devouring human fodder. So after watching Gamera 2: Attack of Legion couple days ago I was filled with an urge to check out Jurassic World, the latest entry in the genetically created dinosaurs saga originally written by Michael Crichton.

The first Jurassic Park movie, made at the dawn of mainstream Hollywood's use of computer graphics, was a big thrill at the cinema (of course, it was, like the series has always been, a clever mix of animatronics and optical tricks mixed with CG). The only thing that bugged me was Spielberg-Attenborough's schmaltzy rendition of the Hammond character (unlike the salty bastard of Crichton's novel) and those really annoying kids, who I kept praying would get devoured. The sequel Lost World was mostly lost on me. It had large doses of an annoying Jeff Goldblum saddled with a crap family story, and the first thrill of watching giant reptiles move across the screen was diluted by then. Jurassic Park III may be regarded as a lower entry for not being made by Spielberg (but by his protege Joe Johnston, who later made Captain America - The First Avenger), but I enjoyed it more than its predecessor. I like Sam Neill more and it was an unabashed theme park ride, which brought to life several sequences from Crichton's original novel (the aviary scene, the dino in the lake) that could not for technical reasons be achieved at the time. Also loved that they incorporated in the raptor design the then recent discoveries about the connections between dinosaurs and birds.

Jurassic World, as people have previously noted is practically a reboot / rehash of the first JP film. Isla Nublar is once again open, there is more genetic tinkering to make new, fiercer dinosaurs that provide more excitement to the public (perhaps analogous to how wildlife programs often focus on predatory sequences), stupid kids inside fragile vehicles are attacked by predators, systems go down without any backup, a chaotic final showdown between multiple dinos...you know the drill. Chris Pratt stands in for Sam Neill, although his character seems more rustler than anything else - he apparently has the ability to communicate with raptors and act as the alpha male of the pack, something I find more difficult to swallow than the much-played-up leading lady's tendency to run in heels (the new dino is given some Hannibal Lecter like abilities to out-think his prey, although some are used once, then forgotten). Using the excuse of the dinos being genetically modified to match with public perception, the raptor design has been returned to the original reptilian appearance from JP. So originality is not of the film's strengths but it shines in slick execution. People feared that director Colin Trevorrow's indie film roots may result in a loss of spectacle, but if anything he seems determined to show that he can stage mass scale action as well as the known big movie makers. And technology has come a long way since the days of the original JP. The texturing and movement of the dino-creatures is amazing and they're much better integrated into the environment.

I wish I had seen this in the theater because it's the sort of film I feel should have been seen once in the most immersive format. I doubt I'll ever want to re-watch it.

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