Skip to main content

Summer Recap 2015: Welcome to the Most Terrifying Place On Earth

It's been 23 years since Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park was released and was hailed as another crowning achievement from the master storyteller, and another 8 years since Joe Johnson milked dry the udders of what was left of the franchise with Jurassic Park III. It was rumored that Universal and Spielberg have been in talks for years about making a fourth installment of the series, but I didn't think by this point, that people would care enough to go see another JP film, much less be any good.

Imagine my surprise: Jurassic World was a monster hit for the studio, beating Marvel's The Avengers record for the highest grossing 3-day weekend of all time with $208 million, became the third-highest grossing film in the U.S. with $648 million and is now the third highest grossing film worldwide. But, of course, numbers don't mean jack to me if the picture is basically another Michael Bay-style soulless spectacle. Again, Imagine my surprise: Enter Colin Treverrow, the indie director who won well-received praise for his feature debut, Safety Not Guaranteed in 2012, to inject what made the first JP movie so damn enjoyable: the thrill, the excitement and the wonder of seeing prehistoric animals come to life. Oh, and the director and co-writer also makes a nice subtle jab at both Hollywood for churning out these effects-heavy movies and for-profit amusement parks domesticating and abusing animals.

Jurassic Park - now renamed Jurassic World - has been open for years, and the tourists are looking for the next big thrill; the 'OMFG, did you see that?!' moment, if you will. Seeing Brachiosaurus's and Parasaurolophus's in their natural habitat from the safety of a gyrosphere? Boring. Having the little ones go on dino rides? Who cares. Seeing a dead great white shark being swallowed whole by a Mososarsus? People get splashed, big deal. Even the T-Rex has lost its scare effect on the audience. Attendance has dipped, and they want something new, and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the operations manager, is all-but wiling to give it to them in the form of a genetically-modified dinosaur, the Indomius Rex. The one voice of reason, Owen (Chris Pratt), a velociraptor trainer, basically states the obvious about the park's newest creation: "Probably not a good idea." You should guess what happens next, but just to avoid spoilers, I'll simply say that the I-Rex is one of the baddest monsters I've seen in years. Seeing her pick off humans and other dinosaurs is thrilling to watch.

I forgot to mention that Jurassic World is perhaps the most meta picture I've come across since Drew Goddard's The Cabin in the Woods and George Romero's Diary of the Dead. Take the scene where the great white is devoured by the Mososarus for example. Besides providing commentary on how a wild beast has now been domesticated for the amusement of the paying audience, it also acts as both a tribute to Spielberg's classic monster movie Jaws, but it also serves as bit of stinging irony: that 1978 film was a landmark in the blockbuster genre, along with A New Hope and Raiders of the Lost Ark and others. Spielberg carved out a new genre in film, and his own creation, the terrifying great white, is now being devoured by larger behemoths; blockbuster movies that are inspired by Jaws, but lack the same touch a Spielberg has, or a Lucas, or even a Jim Cameron has. Even the Indomius Rex serves as a piece of clever commentary: she's what happens when we get exactly what we wish for: excess running amok and leaving a trail of wreckage in it's wake. In a season where all studios care about is churning out the same spectacle, and an audience that's looking for the next big thing, it's refreshing to see a popcorn film that delivers on eye-popping visuals, and has something meaningful to say about the state we're in, if we're smart enough to listen, that is.

*** stars out of ****


Popular posts from this blog

Even Us Liberals Have To Deal With Annoying Loudmouths

Editor's note: the point of this post is not to target Bernie Sanders supporters. My intention is to talk about an experience I had with one person in particular and convey that I'm not a fan of his "agree with me or you're not a real liberal!" style of radio/podcasting.

From the website

obnoxious: adjective1.
obnoxiousbehavior. 2.
annoyingorobjectionableduetobeingashowofforattractingundue attentiontooneself:
anobnoxiouslittlebrat. 3.
Archaic.exposedorliabletoharm,evil,oranythingobjectionable. 4.
Obsolete.liabletopunishmentorcensure;reprehensible. I love watching The Young Turks on You Tube. I try to catch clips and stories by the Internet broadcast group whenever I get the chance because you do get to hear the stories that the mainstream media, otherwise don't usually report on, and their views are proudly progressive. I may not always completely agree with the overall points that Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparin and Jord…

We Can Do Better, Folks.

If I have one plea to ask of my fellow liberals, it's this: please, please -- regardless of what happens with the election, don't make comedian Jimmy Dore the spokesperson for the blue cause. In case you don't know who he is, here's a brief recap: Dore is what you get when you combine Glenn Beck's wing-nutty bullshit ideas and theories, mixed with Bill Maher's smug, sometimes condescending demeanor, if you removed his ability to make an audience laugh. Lately he's been the voice for disgruntled and disillusioned Bernie Sanders supporters who believe the choice between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is a vote for the same-old establishment politics that have screwed over the middle class and enriched the top 1% and that Bernie Sanders was the only candidate that could break the spell of business as usual with a political revolution.

Dore's argument boils down to the following: the Democratic establishment needs to …

Spare Me

Sometimes you find something so incredibly stupid and so utterly irresponsible on social media that you have to address it. Last weekend was the Peoples' Summit in Chicago, where a coalition of Sanders supporters and left-wing activists flocked to a three-day event to discuss about where the movement, which started back in 2016 behind then-candidate Bernie Sanders, would and should go in the Trump era, including whether the Democratic Party can be (or should be) saved, or if the time has come to abandon the party and start a new People's party instead. Enter The Young Turks correspondent Nomiki Konst and her thoughts on why the Democratic establishment should accept and embrace independents who don't lean either with the R's or D's in primary battles.
"No open primaries for Democratic Party equals voter suppression and racism with young independent voters" @NomikiKonst#PPLSummit — Holly Mosher (@FilmsForChange) June 10, 2017
*Rolls eyes HARD for several m…