There comes a time during the summer months when you just want some mindless thrills. That’s why theme parks do well, big action films often make a ton of money, and why sometimes people are drunk sitting by the pool. “Jurassic World” is tailor made for summer and it does not disappoint on the “mindless thrills” front. Indeed, it’s best you check any kind analytic thinking at the theater door before going in because if you start to think about some of what you’re seeing on the screen, you’ll be more than tempted to head for the exits. That’s not to say the movie is horrible, it’s just that if you’re looking for some summer fun that doesn’t require much from the audience (except just sitting there in various states of suspense), then this is the ticket. And judging from the monstrous wads of cash “Jurassic World” has taken from box offices around the country, it’s pretty clear that this movie was released at the right time.
While the plot should be obvious to those who have seen any of the “Jurassic Park” movies, I suppose, in the interest of fairness, I should give readers a sense of what “Jurassic World” is about:
1. Jurassic World is a theme park on an island near Costa Rica with a lot of dinosaurs.
2. Jurassic World has become a ho-hum attraction because once people see one dinosaur, they’ve seen them all.
3. Marketing drives attendance, and the scientists at Jurassic World who have brought the dinosaurs back to life work on creating a bigger, toothier, scarier dinosaur to wow park goers and boost lackluster profits.
4. Two children related to the lead marketing
idiot genius visit the island to get first-class treatment and all the blah, blah that white privilege buys. One of the kids seems to suffer from ADHD, while the older one (Nick Robinson as “Zach”) suffers from “Missing his girlfrienditis.” In other words, they are very uninteresting characters.
5. Big, bad genetically engineered dinosaur gets out of his holding pen, and all hell breaks loose putting lead characters and everyone else (including the good dinosaurs) in peril.
6. There’s hugging, but not much learning.
Now, even though story is predictable, “Jurassic World” was better than I expected it to be. There are thrills to be sure, but the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously with any kind of big message except that corporations can’t contain the beasts they’ve created, and military jerks want to use dinosaurs for, well, military purposes like fighting terrorists. It’s all very silly (or is it?), but one thing that pervades the narrative is how bored we as consumers get with things that are really quite amazing. Even the ADHD kid (Ty Simpkins as “Gray”) who is enthralled with dinosaurs, appears a bit bored touring part of the island on a ride that’s pretty awesome — until they go off-roading and get into trouble, that is.
It’s in this sequence where the logical side of my brain started to kick in — which, alas, also started to weaken the movie going experience for yours truly. What was it that set me off? Well, when the kids take their vehicle into “Do Not Enter” territory and get attacked by the big bad dinosaur, there’s a moment when the park manager/lead marketer/aunt to the boys Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is frantically trying to call her nephews in their hamster ball of a vehicle to warn them they are in danger. When lousy cell service garbled the phone call (they probably had a Sprint cell plan), Claire jumps into action to find her family members. Now, if you know anyone under 30 you know they don’t like to talk on the phone, but they do text. Why, in the age of smartphones (which all the characters had), would you only try one mode of communication in an emergency. There’s text, email, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Google Chat…well, you get the idea. But, we wouldn’t be able to get Claire out of one setting and into another. So like I wrote earlier, you have to check your analytic part of your brain at the door when watching this movie.
Is it worth going? Yes. Few will be disappointed, and many will walk out of the theater with, perhaps, the reaction I had: “Well, it’s better than I thought it would be going in.”