Dinosaurs on a Dinosaur Ride, or, Jurassic World

Based on the promotional materials released in advance of Jurassic World’s theatrical debut it seemed the film was setting out to lead by example. Specifically, it would appear Jurassic World sets out to weave a cautionary tale about the monstrosities created in the name of appeasing insatiable audiences by creating a monstrosity to appease insatiable audiences.

“Shouldn’t real dinosaurs be enough?” the movie seems to ask, while making up a dinosaur no one ever asked for.

Needless to say any optimism I had for Jurassic World was extremely cautious, frozen still like Sam Neill trying to trump a T-Rex’s clumsy visual acuity.

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That caution wasn’t entirely off base. Thematically Jurassic World’s carnivorous embodiment of corporate greed buckles under its own weight around the time it’s explained that the Indominous Rex has cuttlefish DNA. Jurassic World has enough of an intellectual skeleton for the audience to hang some meat and muscle on should they feel so inclined, but kids watching the movie today probably aren’t going to rewatch Jurassic World in college and be blown away at how insightful it’s been all along. And I don’t know that anyone could convince me of the necessities of the I-Rex.

With that in mind, however, Jurassic World is an utter success.

Director Colin Trevorrow’s amusement park ride of a blockbuster took me back to a time before I understood that Jurassic Park was a massively intelligent, often hilarious film about the juxtaposition between the reach and grasp of human beings and their impotent struggle of trying to contain the indomitable power of the natural world. Jurassic World is the Jurassic Park I saw when I was five and had no idea what Jeff Goldblum was talking about. And that movie was awesome.

There’s a reason I’ve regularly watched Jurassic Park my whole life. Even without any understanding of the larger themes at work in the movie I could appreciate the sheer thrill of dinosaurs going bat shit. And boy oh boy is Jurassic World all about dinosaurs going bat shit.

Sharks prove to be Jurassic World's grossly underrepresented minority.

Sharks prove to be Jurassic World’s grossly underrepresented minority.

I unearthed Jurassic Park year after year growing up, excavating bits and pieces of it I hadn’t previously even noticed were buried, like an archeologist at work on an elaborate fossil. Jurassic World isn’t nearly as elaborate a fossil as it’s progenitor, and it certainly isn’t buried as deep, but that initial thrill and fun that I felt watching raptors fight a T-Rex when I was in kindergarten is there in spades. The same thrill and fun I felt when I saw The Lost World in theaters as a kid and got so excited I didn’t know what to do with myself.

Jurassic World let me watch a movie with an oblivious joy I’m not sure I can engage the original film with anymore now that I’m old enough to have latched on to the gospel of Ian Malcolm. Did some of that joy stem from laughing at ridiculous moments that probably weren’t supposed to be funny? Sure. Don’t tell me how to feel. But the fact remains, Jurassic World is one hell of a ride and I’m already itching to get back in line.

 

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