18 July 2015
The Park Is Open
by John Floyd
by John M. Floyd
As you probably know, this is a mystery blog. I know that too--after all, I work here. But today I'd like to veer off the mystery/crime/suspense path and down into the cross-genre weeds, and focus on suspense fiction only. (One out of three ain't bad, right?) I promise I'll get back on track next time.
Return with me to '93
This film reminded me of my recent SleuthSayers column on movie taglines. The tagline for Jurassic World, according to its trailer on YouTube, is The park is open. I like that. It brought back, as it should have, memories of the excellent film Spielberg directed in 1993, the one that was "65 million years in the making." And although the word "sequel" is used a little loosely these days, this was most definitely a followup to the first movie. It pretty much ignores the second and third installments, but the original theme park is mentioned throughout this film, and is even seen via Jurassic Park logos on T-shirts and Jeep doors, and long-ago characters like founder John Hammond are mentioned as well. The old visitor's center, now abandoned and crumbling, even makes an appearance. As expected, the new tourist trap--an unfortunately accurate term, considering what happens--is bigger and better, as are the dinosaurs inside its walls. But they are just as deadly and unpredictable as before.
All creatures Crichton small
I truly enjoyed this movie. It had its faults, that's for sure, but it also had everything it takes to capture and hold my interest: a good premise, engaging characters, a lot of action, (fairly) sharp dialogue, humor even in tense situations (there are many of those), and a satisfying ending.
- A score by Lost composer Michael Giacchino, and the occasional use of John Williams's original music. Some might say this is too much of a reminder, but in this case it works, since almost everyone has either seen Jurassic Park or has heard that theme, or both. It's comfortably familiar.
- Two new dinosaurs (the super-intelligent, super-evil Indominus Rex--one reviewer labeled it a Holyshitasaurus--and a shark-gobbling leviathan called a Mosasaurus) that make the T-Rex look like a teddy bear.
- A bad-boy, rough-around-the-edges raptorwhisperer hero who is shown to be both brave and compassionate, in an early scene where he rescues a colleague.
- A villain who sincerely thinks he's in the right even if he's not--they're always the best kind--and who gets what's coming to him, even if it is a predictable end. There's also an unpleasant-at-first character who later turns from the dark side and is not only won over by the hero, she becomes the heroine--how's that for a character arc?
- Nonstop action. This is one of those films where wetting your pants almost seems a better choice than taking a restroom break and missing something.
- [Possible spoiler:] An ending in which the real villain (the genetically-designed behemoth that goes on a rampage) is finally dispatched by a combination of (1) a clever last-minute brainstorm and (2) the only thing on the island more fearsome than it is. You'll see what I mean.
The only downsides were maybe too many subplots, some cartoonish characters, and a silly scene where the hero takes a motorcycle ride alongside the normally deadly velociraptors . . . but I can live with that.
NOTE 2: The lady who plays Bryce Dallas Howard's sister, Judy Greer, also played her sister in the M. Night Shyamalan movie The Village. Too much information, right? Sorry--I can't help myself.
It's a monster mash
Dino DNA Q&A: Can a successful movie return in the form of a successful sequel, 22 years later?
You bet jurassican.