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Published on June 18th, 2015 | by Anna Fruen

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Jurassic World – Newbie Review

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Some adorable moppets visit a park where ever-larger fangbeasts are being engineered. The fangbeasts are put into what I’ll call ‘probably fine boxes.’ Because they’re probably fine. Everyone enjoys a nice, pleasant day, nothing bad happens, and nobody learns an important lesson about the value of family.

Just kidding, can you imagine? No, it quickly takes a turn into classic “why must we play God” territory, and we’re soon rattling along a familiar path in which the boxes are less fine that anticipated. That isn’t a criticism of predictability, by the way. I’m not going to bemoan the abundance of remakes and sequels; we’ve been having that argument for about a decade now, and there are very good reasons for their existence. A twin combination of nostalgia and disposable income that loosen the pockets of even the stingiest of 80s kids.

Thing is, I didn’t watch Jurassic Park the first time around. I had absolutely no interest in dinosaurs, and was probably even young and dumb enough to dismiss it as a Boy Thing. What with one thing and another, it’s not until last year that some very kind ladies took pity on me and demanded that I watch it with them. With them, I heard Jeff Goldblum’s iconic delivery of “Life, uh, finds a way,” and a small corner of my soul was filled with sunshine.

jurassicworld2Does this diminish my cred? If my relative ignorance offends you, it really shouldn’t. This isn’t going to be the kind of review where I’m measuring it against hazy memories of summers that never ended and Freddos that were still 10p. I’m coming to this film as one of the unwashed masses, one of the mainstream plebs, one of the thousands who’ll either turn up in droves or stay away in likewise, ensuring the success or failure of the film.

Not that there’s any risk of failure whatsoever. The film’s success, truthfully, is predetermined. Chris Pratt is (in Zoolander parlance) “so hot right now,” and if a classic John Williams theme doesn’t instantly tap into the wide-eyed and wondering eight-year-old inside you, then… you don’t operate like me. All the trailer had to show us, realistically, was part of a dinosaur. We were going to be there, we all were. They wouldn’t have made it if they didn’t already have that securely in the bag.

It didn’t disappoint on those selling points. Chris Pratt was definitely there, and so were some dinosaurs. Even the opening notes of the iconic theme were woven throughout some key moments, giving the franchise a beautiful cohesion that satisfies (I’d imagine) whatever need for nostalgia you may have. In fact, there were only a few points that made me feel like the film wasn’t everything it should have been, and they mostly involved the portrayal of Claire, the busy and important park operations manager.

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The script prioritises family above all else, in a way that stands out. I expect it of a Christmas release, but in Summer it feels jarring. There’s a conversation between Claire and her sister Karen (mother of the aforementioned moppets) in which Claire talks about if she’ll have kids, and Karen amends that to when. There’s no discussion of whether she wants kids, of course – it’s assumed that she does! She’s just so damned busy with work and forgetting her nephews’ ages right now! And blagh augh guh eternally, because it’s 2015. Claire didn’t need to do the whole thing in heels, something I couldn’t pull off without breaking more legs than I have.

I have to wonder how much of that was intentional, in terms of making it feel like its 1993 origins. They don’t want to rock the boat, and given the current cultural conversation around the portrayal of gender in media, it would be hard to put a heroine in practical shoes without risking the ire of those bugs that live under damp rocks. But shouldn’t they have risked it? Didn’t they want to update the franchise, and make it culturally relevant? I strongly disliked feeling, when the credits rolled, as if they genuinely might show Claire barefoot and pregnant in some eternal-sunset kitchen just to make a point.

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The family focus is restated in many ways throughout the film, and isn’t confined to the hominids. The monstrous element of the Indominus Rex is introduced by playing up the fact that it had eaten its sister, the raptors are presented as a family group, and teamwork naturally saves the day enough to make the very valid point that everyone is safer in groups. In that, it’s prosaic.

I don’t know what more I’d hoped for. I honestly think I might be a little spoiled by having seen Mad Max: Fury Road so recently (twice, because obviously). I don’t know that I’d want to see Jurassic World again, unless it was to pick out the kind of clever Easter Eggs and throwaway references that were present in the original. Was there anything like that that you noticed? Is this a game-changer in any meaningful way? Is rawr really dinosaur for “I love you”?

See you below…

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