Saturday, November 07, 2015

[Movies] Jurassic Spielberg

The dynamic duo of the 80s, Spielberg and Lucas, haven't really lit the world on fire in the age of Whedon and Abrams. From the armchair it easy to ruminate about why, the culprit likely being the loss of the childlike joyfulness that prompted their visions to begin with. So when Jurassic World came on I didn't have high expectations, but I didn't expect it to be outright bad. It was outright bad.

It was slow. The action was late in arriving and generally sparse until the finale. Worse, the slow parts were atrociously poorly done. The dialog was recycled adolescent-level ranting; a vaguely anti-corporate and anti-science and anti-military mish-mash, right out a hundred b-grade sci-fi films from the 50s. The characters were uniformly unlikeable, and honestly, how do you make a heroic character played by Chris Pratt unlikeable? They managed. The little scenes and comments they manufactured in a failed attempt the imbue them with personalities were just embarrassing. The plot was essentially the same one as Jurassic Park with some details changed, evidently to move the plot from speculative sci-fi to outright absurdity. The incoherencies built up by the minute. The special effects could have come right out of Jurassic Park also, as if the intervening years never happened. And lastly, the level of violence was astonishing. I was trying to remember how many people died in Jurassic Park, I think it was only four or five. I would guess hundreds of people die in Jurassic World, some in very gruesome, non-kid-friendly ways, but since there aren't really any characters we care about I guess they are all just fodder anyway.

Was there anything to like? Honestly, no. Not even Chris Pratt, whose likeability is off the scale, comes out unscathed. I really thought, given the state of the the craft of making action films, that it was pretty much impossible to make a bad film. Even The Phantom Menace and the Crystal Skull had their moments. Jurassic World has none.

Watch the first five minutes of Avengers: Age of Ultron to see how it's done. There is more action, humor, and character building in those five minutes than in the entirety of Jurassic World. Ultron was amazingly good. The knock on it has been that it was too busy; that it was overloaded with characters and plotlines. That's true, but even with that issue, it still manages a to be a blast, and in many ways that makes it a greater achievement. Whedon had to set the table far umpteen upcoming Marvel movies and TV shows and he pulled it off without compromising quality. A huge win.

Spielberg and Lucas are now in the place where the makers of the later Roger Moore bond films were. The world has moved so far beyond them they look like parodies. Lucas finally stepped away from Star Wars. Can Spielberg step away from Indy or Dinosuars? I'm guessing no. The Spielberg I used to know kicked out something like Used Cars seemingly on a lark. He was so good he threw away movies that stand up 35 years on. Does he realize how bad Jurassic World is? Does he see how bad the Crystal Skull was? I'm going to stop now, this is making me sad.