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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.





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Saturday, June 13, 2015

entry arrow10:21 PM | That Bloated Dinosaur Movie



In every iteration of the Jurassic Park franchise, they bring in a cast member from the first movie to get the drama going, and to provide a kind of emotional continuity. Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough came back for the first sequel, and Sam Neill came back for the second sequel. For ‪Jurassic World‬ (2015), where Colin Trevorrow takes over helming duties from Steven Spielberg and Joe Dante, nobody came back, except B.D. Wong, playing a pale and underwritten copycat of Wayne Knight's traitorous character in the first movie. That should have been ample warning.

What can I say? I was looking forward to becoming the awed kid I was in 1993, but this new film flat out bored me. The audience I was with seemed bored, too. What was unmistakable was the missing sense of spectacle, and the little thrill that happened -- the raptors racing with Chris Pratt's wrangler -- proved unsatisfyingly short-lived. In 1993, we marvelled at the newness of the CGI that made the rampaging dinosaurs photorealistic. (Jurassic Park, in fact, very much provided the benchmark with which computerised special effects came to dominate box office tentpoles.) Twenty-two years later, with too many movies employing CGI, the old magic has become supersaturated and numbing, we no longer have to pinch ourselves to remember these critters aren't real. Perhaps it is our own familiarity, and perhaps it is also our jadedness, that spell a kind of doom for this franchise. I'm not sure it will disappear, but the new film gives the signal that we can only expect diminishing returns from here on. I remember Mr. Speilberg once declaring that he will never let what happened to Jaws happen to Jurassic Park. Jaws, which redefined the Hollywood blockbuster, had given birth to numerous sequels, all without Spielberg's imprimatur, and each succeeding film became more ludicrous than the last, each one essentially a nail to the franchise's coffin. Alas, the same thing seems to be happening to Jurassic Park, albeit now under Mr. Spielberg's watch.

Maybe that's the very nature of sequels: lighting never strikes twice -- but they still make money, anyway. (Just take a look at Pitch Perfect 2.)

Why did Jurassic World prove boring? I am actually a little bit surprised because I know it didn't have to be. Jurassic Park III, directed by Mr. Dante, worked well enough -- and has com to be a much-underrated continuation of the story. Yet, there was genuine thrill in that film, and I think it failed only because it seemed to have suffered from the public acknowledgment that this was the first movie in the franchise Mr. Spielberg finally agreed to have someone else do the job. (The Lost World, which he had directed, had been an unqualified disaster, and perhaps this accounted for his decision to let go.) But that last sequel worked, anyhow.

So, what failed? Did Jurassic World crib too hard from other Spielberg films (Jaws, in particular) that things felt recycled? It did that with the abandon of a trigger-happy photocopier with the first Jurassic movie. You realise, as the story unfolds, that it is essentially the first movie, but wrought bigger. And like the bigger, hybrid dinosaur at the centre of the new story, it just didn't work. The acting didn't work either: everyone (from Chris Pratt to Bryce Dallas Howard to Vincent D'Onofrio to those two wooden child actors) just telephoned in their performance -- so when they started dying, you just didn't care.

And oh my god, the film even had a villain monologue at the end. Ugh.

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