We’re coming up on 15 years since the release of the middling Jurassic Park III, and in celebration of the occasion Universal has decided to wipe the slate clean and take another shot at a direct sequel to the original dino classic with Jurassic World. Unfortunately it would seem they only cleared away the muck of the past two Jurassic Park films for the sake of taking a huge, two hour long dump all over the newly revived franchise, and by extension the audience who unknowingly stumbled into such a monumental mess.
It’s hard to know where to start with Jurassic World because by the end it had so thoroughly defecated on my already nearly nonexistent expectations that it was difficult to decipher how it had gotten to such a disastrous state when I was busy just praying it would end soon. The impressively thin plot is that 20 years after Jurassic Park closed in the aftermath of the first film, its follow up attempt, Jurassic World (because clearly Jurassic Park was a great idea that deserved another shot despite everything that caused it to be shut down), is now a sprawling amusement park struggling to stay relevant as the public grows tired of dinosaurs.
It’s at this point in the film that we are treated to 20-minutes of a transparent attempt to kickstart an anti-corporate narrative that is so laughable that I might have mistaken Jurassic World as a parody if everyone wasn’t so unnervingly serious. I’m totally down for a film discussing the grimy capitalistic machine which powers so much of modern media, but here that discussion has been boiled down to an “us vs. them” simplicity and then shoved down your throat for most of the first half of the film, ignoring completely the massive brand placement present in so many scenes and the fact that Jurassic World itself is itself a product of the very thing it hopes to criticize. It’s a trite attempt to make a point that’s already been farmed to death in media, and feels insulting to the audience as if they somehow wouldn’t be able to immediately see through Jurassic World and its constant contradictions and self-justification.
I went back and watched the original Jurassic Park before seeing Jurassic World, and what struck me as so great about the former was its sense of wonder and excitement. In contrast, Jurassic World is almost immediately filled with an overwhelming cynicism that eats away at it like so many disposable extras being devoured by the prehistoric hunters that used to be so enrapturing. It doesn’t care about people, they’re expendable; underdeveloped; insufferably teenaged; bait to be ripped apart in gratuitous fashion. It doesn’t care about dinosaurs either, they’re just another setpiece waiting to explode; a way to flex the CGI budget and ensure that Jurassic World meets the minimum explosion quota to be considered a summer blockbuster.
The narcissistic routine which Jurassic World so lazily performs is exhausting and makes it impossible to even enjoy the spectacle it tries so hard to force into existence. It pulled out all the stops trying to impress me with its violent, intricately modeled dinos, but it didn’t matter how many pterodactyls it fit on screen or that Chris Pratt was somehow domesticating raptors, I didn’t care about any of it. Jurassic World is the most visually capable film the franchise has ever seen, and it wastes all of it on a chaotic mess of terror and violence that is neither fun nor impressive. It’s just boring.
It never really mattered if Jurassic World was any good, people were going to see it anyway, but this predetermined success stings so much worse when it’s given to a film that so completely illustrates the collective creative bankruptcy remakes are often accused of being the result of. It’s a meandering escapade into a universe I used to find so fascinating, fluffed up with nostalgic throwbacks and halfhearted attempts to humanize its cast, with a healthy dosage of nauseating gender roles sailing us home wishing we’d been wise enough to forgo the trip.