Jurassic World Review

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Jurassic World is a hard movie to get a handle on, especially for a summer blockbuster. At times it seems really smart, a completely worthy successor to the original Jurassic Park. At others it seems like the worst of braindead schlock. It fully acknowledges the crassness and intellectual barrenness of just constantly trying to be “bigger” and “more,” while simultaneously trying to be “bigger” and “more” than its predecessor. At other times it is reverently echoing not only Jurassic Park, but a plethora of Spielberg movies. It flits from joyous wonder to complete cynicism. It doesn’t have Furious 7’s complete disregard for reality, nor Fury Road’s perfectly coiled narrative, but somewhere in this messy movie is a solid heart.

Jurassic World starts with a theme park on the island that is not only operating, but very successful. After the disaster of Jurassic Park, Hammond wouldn’t let the idea of the park die and sold it to a businessman who could get it up and running. In the present of the movie, it has been running long enough that people are starting to get tired of merely seeing dinosaurs, so scientists at Ingen have cooked up something special, a hybrid dinosaur called Indominus Rex. Surprising no one, the new attraction breaks free and wreaks havoc on the island. It chases around a pair of kids, Gray and Zach, sent to spend some time with their Park Director Aunt Claire. She is too busy running the park, leaving them with her assistant to get the expertise of Owen, who is doing a field study with velociraptors. When the new attraction breaks loose, the whole park is put in danger.

This movie doesn’t stray too far from the original Jurassic Park. Literally, as it takes place on the same island and occasionally in the exact same buildings. There is a dinosaur theme park and the dinosaurs get loose, havoc is wreaked. There are other Spielberg movies referenced as well. There is a short chase scene right out of Indiana Jones and the great white shark fed to an aquatic dinosaur as an attraction can’t help but be reminiscent of Jaws.

It is the mix of crass pandering and thoughtful update that makes Jurassic World hard to parse. It is well executed in most aspects, but it is built on an irreparably flawed foundation. It can’t shake the fact that it is exactly the thing it is criticizing. It manages to work on Chris Pratt’s considerable charisma and the actual likeability of the two kids running around. Vincent D’Onofrio does what he can with a terrible and unnecessary villain. Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire hovers on some line between awesome character and sexist stereotype. She is undeniably competent and under control, but the film also seems to castigate her for working while her while her nephews are around. She wears heels, which are actually appropriate footwear for her job, for quite a bit longer than is in anyway sensible and for long after she had been advised to remove them. Her character is much like the movie itself, largely admirably but stuck with some hard to excuse warts.

***1/2

Now Playing in June 2015

I haven’t really had the time for writing due to a change in my employment.  It is a good change in many ways, but it does leave me with a lot less time.  I hope that soon things even out and I am able to get back to writing at least somewhat regularly

Another big thing that is the death of Nintendo President Satoru Iwata.  I don’t have much to add to the outpouring upon news of his loss.  It is a terrible loss.  His personality is a big part of what made NIntendo seem so friendly during this last decade.  Between the Nintendo Directs and Iwata Asks, he made it clear that Nintendo cared about both the games they made and their audience.  Iwata will be missed.

Beaten

Etrian Mystery Dungeon – wrote about it here.

Shinobi 3DS – This is a well made game, but it is also a very difficult one.  I was as frustrated by it as I was entertained.  Shinobi really captures the classic action game appeal of the Genesis entries in this series, but it also captures some of those game’s warts.  I am hesitant to call this game’s difficulty a wart, though. It is a clearly intentional choice; this is supposed to be a hard game.  But that didn’t stop it from hampering my enjoyment of Shinobi.  Still, for the price it was definitely worth a try.

Jade Empirewrote about it here.

Ongoing

Knights of the Old Republic – I’ve played through about a quarter of this before and after I played Jade Empire.  There is a clearly visible evolution of Bioware’s output from Baldur’s Gate to Kotor to Jade Empire to Mass Effect.  They all work along some of the same lines, but there are clear changes to the gameplay. I am really enjoying this one.

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire – It just started playing this.  I didn’t quite feel like a new Pokemon game when this came out last year, but I picked it up when I saw it on sale and the mood struck me for some Pokemon so I started it up.  I’ve actually never gotten through this generation of Pokemon at all.  I played about halfway through Emerald back in the day, but I lost interest.  I don’t think I’ll have a problem finishing this one, even if I am not a huge fan of the Pokemon available early on.

Splatoon – I was greatly enjoying this game for a few weeks.  It is the most fun I’ve ever had with any sort of multiplayer shooter.  It is a decidedly Nintendo take on the genre, but it is also a thoughtfully designed game.  It avoids a lot of the pitfalls that make most shooters very “adult” like taking away the bullets and giving the player’s squirt guns.  The lack of voice chat is not an oversight by Nintendo, but a determined attempt to make the game playable by everyone.  I stopped enjoying it when I destroyed my save data.  As in the flash drive that held my save data was physically destroyed.  I was up around rank 12 and had unlocked several interesting weapons and I just don’t have it in my right now to start over. Hopefully I will soon.

Olli Olli – I got this out of the Nintendo Humble Bundle.  It is kind of fun to mess around with, though it didn’t really do anything to stick with me for long.  I’ll probably keep fiddling with this for a little while.

Moon Chronicles – Another Humble Bundle game.  This is just the first chapter and I’m not a huge fan of FPSes, but this has been fairly enjoyable.  I’m not in a hurry to keep playing it, but I’ll finish it up sooner or later.

Paper Mario – I kind of got distracted and didn’t make a lot of progress on this.  I really like it, but some work troubles haven’t really left me with a lot of video game time and this game just sort of got lost in the shuffle.

Persona 2 Eternal Punishment – Very slow progress, but progress is happening.  Sooner or later I am going to get really sucked into this and burn through the rest of it.

Smash Bros 4 – I got the new characters (Roy, Ryu and Lucas) but at the same time there was an accident that destroyed the flashdrive that I had my digital copy of this game saved on.  It takes a long time for me to download a 13 gb game, so by the time it was done I was   not really in the mood to play anymore.

Upcoming

Mario and Luigi Partners in Time – I’ve never played this one, but it recently became available on VC, so I’ll pick it up.

Dragon Age Origins – This is what is up next after I finish with Kotor.