15 June 2015

Review: Jurassic World

Genre: Action / Satire

A good film must always start with a smart screenplay, for the screenplay establishes the backbone onto which all the appendages of filmcraft are later embodied. Jurassic World, the fourth (for those counting) installment in the Jurassic film franchise, surprisingly had backbone — and much else to its credit.

Writer and director Colin Trevorrow and writers Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, and Derek Connolly wield the core artifice of the beloved franchise, not like a paintbrush by which to illustrate audience members' both light and dark dreams as the original franchise writers Crichton and Koepp did, but rather like a lance with which to sharply skewer the boil of inflating consumerism ironically coaxing on this already classic franchise. Indeed, the plot's structure is governed and seasoned throughout to smack the hand that reaches for what it offers with its own other. At every major plot point, the vital juices that like sugars the standard contemporary Summer blockbuster audience craves in epic battle sequences, jaw-dropping CGI, nightmarish thrills, romantic attractions (including especially lusts), and even familial bond trials are served up only to quickly thereafter be bathed in an acid wash of sardonicism, hyperbole, grotesqueness, or (in the best instances) irony. The audience is pummeled and jabbed while on the edge of its seat — no, because it is on the edge of its seat — and at times even fervently reminded that "more" is in poor taste. Of course, this essential element in the film is carefully coded, lest the audience be like the protagonist in Kubrick's (1972) A Clockwork Orange all too aware of and consequently upset by its violent attempted recondition. However, cloaks can only disguise figures to a certain extent; to a viewer who notices the inanity in the theme park guest who in the midst of an aerial attack chooses to save not just one but two cocktails from his outdoor table before running for cover, everything is apparent — and relieving, relieving of that one's expectations of the film have non-negotiable parameters into which everything must neatly fit to achieve maximal effect.

A key feature of the film, like any other film, is in the characters whose lives it follows. In a traditional Summer film, the stock characters representing ardor, bravery, comedy, or demonry are brought out, basically to wave at the audience and then retire flatly to the sofa in the back room. In this film, stock characters representing such traits emerge clearly but, like radioactive materials, then slowly decay over the course of the film, to reveal a thorough twist on the identities of the players. Nick Robinson's Zach presents as essentially a anthropomorphized penis, an adolescent entirely ruled by his sexual cravings (and sullen otherwise), but later resolves his storyline not with a heart-pounding kiss at the climax of action in the movie's final third — no, for we have already had such a kiss, diegetically commented on for a opening tone-setting element of satire, in the first few minutes of the film — nor even with the platonic bond-making chastity of fraternity — no again, for it is precisely this Spielberg-esque boyish wonder that obviously persistently entangles not only him but also nearly everyone else in play — but rather with a filial adherence to an older role model or "strong father figure", whose own virility by the way is so thoroughgoing that his romantic interest is bound notably to wearing high heels throughout the entire film for conceptual balance!

To say nothing of the Visual Effects, Sound Editing, or Sound Mixing — which were all stunning in their own rights — I must say simply that Mr. Pratt has perfected the definitive impression of a younger Clint Eastwood — both remarkable and horrifying in its own special way.

So, though of course this fourth installment into the Jurassic franchise had none of the novelty of its origin nor the untrammeled verve of its other predecessors, it has in its favor a sizable wry eye on its audience and for that alone I would say:

Grade: B/B-, a true modern fairy tale with a dash of something tastefully new. (Action porn seekers, look elsewhere.)

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