“You’re looking into it too much.”
I recently found myself exiting my local Vue cinema having been bitterly disappointed by Jurassic World. I would be the first to admit that, considering the original was the film that got me interested in movies, I may have hyped it up a little too much. Not that I was expecting greatness. I’m not overly keen on films two and three so I went in expecting a movie that isn’t anything overly great, that delivers everything we’ve seen in the franchise before but still retains an element of fun. What I wasn’t expecting was a film with no tension, weightless action and plot holes so glaringly obvious that I marvelled at how such lapses in logic were allowed. When I attempted to express this to my brother, with whom I saw the film, he just rolled his eyes and said: “You’re looking into it too much.”
This is a phrase that has been levelled at me for as long as I can remember. I don’t see myself as the arty-farty old time film critic (I’m neither old, nor really a critic), but many of my friends and co-workers see me as such: the kind of person who can’t switch off at the cinema, who picks at every conceivable detail of the film to the point where enjoyment is a rarity. It’s true that I’m analytical with my film watching but, ultimately, I see a movie to be entertained. With a big movie like Jurassic World, its damn near impossible to go into it totally neutral but that’s definitely what I try to do. Alas, the film didn’t entertain me, yet when I attempt to explain why I wasn’t entertained, I get put down.
Is it too much to ask for a film to be good? Of course, everyone enjoys different things. I’m more likely to be kinder to a horror film than a rom-com, but nothing, not even a love of a particular genre, can cover bad story telling. Just look at the first two Transformers movies. I like Transformers but hate Revenge of the Fallen. The reason is simple: the first film tells a story that makes sense and is paced well enough to keep it from being boring (no mean feat considering its chunky runtime). Revenge of the Fallen is only ten minutes longer yet it feels like you’re in the cinema for days. It’s not hard to make a Transformers movie logical, yet the second (and fourth film for that matter), tell an overly complex story for what amounts to a film about robots hitting each other.
So, on the face of it, Jurassic World should’ve been an easy sell. The original film proved that the monster movie tropes of run, hide, repeat can be enthralling if paced well and sticks to internal logic. But this doesn’t stop there being plot holes that, to me, were blindingly obvious. And let’s be clear, plot holes aren’t always the same as lapses in the film’s internal logic, often they’re tantamount to bad story telling. That’s not to say Jurassic World isn’t without its lapses. You’d think a park as advanced as it is would have some kind of autopilot on the gyro-balls to stop tourists straying off road or that, when the shit hits the fan, the park guests would be told to return to their hotels rather than waiting around the main concourse where they’re vulnerable. But why include a conversation between the kids concerning worries that their parents may get divorced when this subject was never touched on before or mentioned since? And why have the park’s owner, Mr Mizrahni, preach about money not being an issue then balk at the thought of killing the $26 million dollar Indominus Rex once it escapes?
There are things I’d noticed that are gripes particular to me (my personal dislike of CGI over practical effects, jarring moments of goofball comedy) but the biggest one is the fact that, other than the Indominus’ escape scene (which itself is silly, as none of staff seem to remember placing a tracking bug in the creature before venturing into its paddock), there is not a single moment of tension which, for a film billed as an adventure/creature feature, is quite a failing. It’s like an unfunny comedy or a non-scary horror. The escaped pterodactyls are more of a minor nuisance and the raptors, who were the most unpredictable and frightening aspect of the original, are totally neutered by Chris Pratt’s ability to talk them down. The t-rex and the last surviving raptor even nod to one another in a stupid “job well done” kind of way when the Indominus is finally defeated.
Reading this article, you could argue that, yes Luke, you are looking too much into it, but bare this in mind: I really enjoyed Fast and Furious 7 and GI Joe: Rise of Cobra. Both knew exactly what kind of movie they were and embraced their lunacy fully. Yes, both have plot holes, but none so jarring as to fuck up the internal logic of the film. Both are consistent in tone and well paced. Jurassic World is none of these things and doesn’t know whether it wants to be a full thrill ride (there are some surprisingly brutal death scenes) or action comedy. It’s pretty jolting to have a horrific death scene followed by a goofy scene of adolescent sibling banter no matter what the film (“what do you think will happen just staring?”).
Either way, I didn’t enjoy it. But like I said, by articulating this, “I’m looking too much into it”. Maybe I should just keep my mouth shut next time.