Friday, 7 August 2015

Things I Learnt From Watching Jurassic World

Hi, everyone. It’s time for another episode of Things I Learnt From Watching (Such and Such) Movie!

I finally watched Jurassic World. No, I didn’t pay to watch it – I downloaded it off the net. Even if it were a movie I’d have normally been eager to watch, the marketing blitz would’ve put me right off.

Here, for instance, are a couple of photos I took in a mall a few months ago, before the movie came out:

So last night, having nothing else I was in the mood to do, I finally downloaded and watched it. Now, I won’t lie to you – back when Jurassic Park first came out, in what was it, 1993, I loved the film. Today, over twenty years later, I’m mildly embarrassed by my initial reaction, but not all that much – for that time it was a good film, and told a fairly taut story without too many plot holes. I also watched the two sequels, which stuck in my mind with such overwhelming effect that all I remember of the second film was that it was King Kong, only with a Tyrannosaurus. About the third film, the less said the better. The whole experience was an exercise in cruelty.

So I wasn’t exactly all that eager to watch this one, but people who did told me it was good – better than the last two, and more like a continuation of the first film of the series. Also, it seemed to have got fairly good ratings, though I would have wanted to see what Roger Ebert – the only reviewer I’ve ever consistently trusted – would have said. Ebert, of course, is no longer with us, so I didn’t bother with the other reviews anyway.

I can tell you one thing; this is one hell of an educational film. Who says you can’t ever learn anything from the movies? Being generous, like you all know I am, I’m going to share all the knowledge I picked up from it with you, at no charge. I’m nice like that.

So, in no particular order, here’s what I learnt:

The more indispensable you are to the plot, the more guaranteed to survive you are, the more you can get away with being an utterly dislikable character. I mean, I thought the kids from Part One and the kid from Part Three were people whose necks I’d cheerfully wring, but, you know what, they were nothing compared to the two in this one. One was older and sullen, and one younger and whiny, and that was the sum of their character development. I couldn’t even have the satisfaction of being able to wonder whether one or the other would be killed off during the film – because from the first thirty seconds you knew they weren’t.

Not that any of the other lot was any better, including the leading lady and the, for want of a better word, hero.

Even though it’s proved to have failed again and again and again – three times ! – allegedly hard-headed capitalist concerns thinking only of profit will once again try the dinosaur theme park route to riches, instead of, I don’t know, using all their fancy genetic technology to solve world hunger or sickness or something.

And though anyone can tell you that people soon tire of seeing the same old thing, they’ll be astonished that attendances drop off unless they keep coming up with fresh monsters every now and then.

If you’re the hero, you can instantly think of the right thing to do – however utterly unlikely the course of action – while everyone else is losing their minds. For example, if a giant predatory dinosaur is knocking over cars with its snout to get at people hiding behind them, and you’re under a car, take a convenient knife and cut a fuel pipe which is as conveniently just above your head, so that you get soaked in fuel and the dino, no longer able to smell you, passes you by. This is true even though you have never encountered this dinosaur before, you have no idea if it hunts by smell, and it has never given any indication of hunting by smell.

Also, if you’re the hero, you can lean your gun against a car and the dinosaur can butt that car around, but the gun will stay exactly where it was, undisturbed.

DNA can be extracted from fossils. In the earlier flicks they needed mosquitoes to drink dino blood and then get stuck in amber, which was bad enough. But now we don’t need them skeeters any longer. Hallelujah!

Now, a fossil, if you don’t know, isn’t an actual bone or a shell or a leaf or anything of the kind. It’s the reproduction, in stone, of a bone or shell or leaf or whatever that once existed. An equivalent would be if I stuck a piece of bone in clay, took it out, and poured concrete mix into the impression. The cast of my bone that would remain is all that a fossil is.

Try and get someone’s DNA from a statue of them if you would like to try.   

Sharing DNA means you’re able to communicate and influence those you share said DNA with, even though they’re from different species altogether, even if you’ve never met them before, and even though you only share a little DNA with them. Going by this logic, since humans and chimps share approximately 98% of their DNA sequences, any human – even an Innuit or a Maori – should be able to speak fluent Chimplish and order them around too. What a pity that if he tried, the chimp would more than likely bite him to ribbons, smash his head into the ground until he was unconscious, and then throw faeces at him.

Chimps should totally watch this film.

When making a reboot of a franchise, with massive marketing and guaranteed hyper-profits, do not take any risks with the plot whatsoever. Just regurgitate the story of the first film, with more violence and action to cover for the similarities, and add a healthy amount of ripped-off material from Avatar. You know, that other blockbuster which is also headed towards becoming a franchise, with sequels in the works.

I mean it – they weren’t kidding when they said this film would carry on the story of the first film. In fact, it’s just a copy-paste of the story, with some things being repeated pretty much frame-by-frame.

You’ve got a sea monster people are waiting to see fed? Give it an endangered, real life predator for dinner, even though that real life predator is obviously dead and could be substituted with a hunk of meat or really any other acceptable food whatsoever. And also, this sea monster, though it’s in a giant aquarium, surrounded by stands filled with people, somehow stays invisible until it bursts forth in a huge leap to grab the Great White Shark dangled over the tank. It stays invisible even though the water is obviously perfectly clear, and it, being an air-breathing mosasaur, has to surface regularly to breathe.

Also, given the amount of water it displaces when it jumps, spraying everyone in the stands, I wonder how their cell phones and cameras keep working. Watching mosasaurs eat sharks makes your camera waterproof, I think. That’s another thing you learn from this movie.

Then again, cell phones only seem to work when plot-convenient in the flick, so perhaps soaking them wasn't such a good idea.

If you’re a huge predatory dinosaur, you can eat two humans in something like sixty seconds, leaving not a scrap of cloth behind, and still be hungry enough to go hunting for more. This is even though, in all your life, you’ve never eaten anything but your own sibling and blocks of meat dumped into your enclosure by crane. You’re highly intelligent, enough to be able to plan an escape involving manipulating your captors’ behaviour, claw out the tracker device implanted inside your body, and execute an ambush from hiding – and yet you don’t apparently pause a moment to check to see if the humans you’re chasing might actually be inedible or poisonous before you swallow them whole.

Also, when being chased by humans with guns, a group of whom you’ve just annihilated by ambushing them inside a forest, your preferred next step is to run to open ground where you can be easily seen, and hunt giant dinosaurs which you kill for fun, thus marking yourself out as the villain of the piece for whom the audience should have no sympathy whatsoever.

While hunting a giant, vicious predator, which has killed several people already and wiped out a group of professional troops sent specifically to track it down, you can stand in its killing ground arguing loudly, and nothing will happen to you. And then, when you find a group of animals it has massacred so recently one of them is still alive, you can sit by its side comforting it in its last moments without the slightest fear that the killer will return in the meantime.

Also, when you discover in the middle of a massed aerial attack by pterosaurs that your new love interest is alive, the correct response is to stand boob-to-chest with them and snog.

If you’ve got a huge predatory carnivore chasing you, a convenient waterfall will be handy for you to jump off. And this will always thwart the predator, which will never simply climb down by the waterfall to finish you off. Or a high wall will do instead of a waterfall, as in Part One.

Note: This will only happen if you’re a Guaranteed Plot Survivor. If you’re a disposable character, don’t even bother running. You’re screwed.

Hey, it worked for Jake Sully running from the Thanator in Avatar. You want to argue with success or something?

If you’re being chased by a huge vicious predator along a path, with forest with thick undergrowth on both sides, the correct response is to keep running down the path instead of hiding in that undergrowth where the predator will find it hard to follow. Just like if you’re a teenage girl in a slasher movie inside a house with a serial killer at large, you’ll run from him upstairs into the attic where he can find you, not down and out by the door.

If you’re a capitalist theme park owner who wanted your geneticists to make an attraction to draw the crowds, and only monsters draw the crowds, and he makes a monster for you, you must be shocked and say you never wanted a monster. You can then atone for your sins by riding off into action, even though you clearly aren’t qualified for it, and dying in a ball of fire.

Before you go, you can also gratuitously compare yourself to a military general, in case nobody got the point already.

Car batteries can stay charged for twenty years, and in perfectly usable condition, even if in a damp garage overrun with weeds and fast being reclaimed by nature. The vehicle this battery will power will also work, with no flat tyres or corroded wires, even though nobody’s touched it in decades.

I’m sure the militaries of the world would love to know about this.

You can spend the film sprinting around in grass and forests, rocks and debris, wearing white stiletto heels. And these stiletto heels, despite being specifically mocked by the hero, will gather not a smudge of dirt all the while!

Hell, a former girlfriend of mine twisted her ankle going down a corridor in stilettos, and once walked home barefoot after breaking a heel in a hole in the pavement. I’m sure she’d want to know about these.

Pterosaurs of many different species, from eras tens of millions of years apart, can live peacefully together in the same enclosure with no conflict. This enclosure, which has no obvious means of feeding its inmates or even of safely viewing them, will be of glass so fragile a running predator can smash through it with no effort or damage.

And then, if these pterosaurs of different species get out, they will always head off in immaculate formation to the nearest human gathering to dive bomb them in massed attacks, rather than scatter in all directions as quickly as they can.

You can always depend on the animal predator star of the movie to turn up at the climax, even though there’s no reason for it to, and nobody knows where it is. Happened with the Tyrannosaur in Part One, and happens now with the “Indominus rex”. Whatever that is.

Dinosaurs/“dinosaurs” of several different species, none of which have ever had any kind of contact with each other, and one of which (being a water dweller) has no obvious way of knowing the others even exist, will band together to eliminate an “unnatural” freak which does, the audience has been led to believe, not belong in this world. This is even though all those other dinosaurs and “dinosaurs” are explicitly called manufactured products that look nothing like what they would in nature.

We can now safely say that if Frankenstein’s Monster was ever created, he wouldn’t have a chance. Knowing he was “unnatural”, everything from fruit bats to star-nosed moles to jackals to killer whales would band together to take him out.

Also, as a bonus:

You can create herbivorous dinosaurs which lived at a time when grasses and other modern plants were unknown on earth, and without any obvious source of feed of the kind they evolved to consume – ferns and cycads, for example – you expect them to thrive. The first film actually had a triceratops fall sick owing to this, but I suppose fossil DNA can solve anything.

This isn’t meant as a review, but if it were one, I’d give this flick minus five stars out of five. If it hadn’t been for the special effects, which were good, I’d have given it minus ten.

So that’s what I’ve learnt from watching this film. Educational, wasn’t it? For me, and now, for you?

You’re welcome.


  1. Amusing review, thanks.

  2. Hollywood has been blatantly monstrist since its earliest days. I wait hopefully for the day when anti-monster bias is no longer socially acceptable.

    Also, I don't like to advertise the fact, but I speak fluent chimplish.

  3. Haven't seen it, but then, I haven't seen Avatar or Lord of the Rings, either.

    Years ago, Siskel and Ebert were on Letterman, back when the first movie came out. They both liked it. Letterman asked, "If you take away the liizards, do you still have a movie?"

    "No," they both said in unison.

    "THAT," said Letterman, "is why I'm not going to go watch it."

  4. I haven't watched Lord of the Rings, either, but that is because I couldn't even read my way through the book. Early on I had an overwhelming impulse to fling it against a wall, and that is never a good sign where a book is concerned.

  5. See? Told you it was good! :-))


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