Dinosaur Whisperer: Jurassic World

“ROAR!”, goes the genetically-engineered dinosaur.

I just watched Jurassic World last night at the behest of my boyfriend. I have to say, I was initially very reluctant because I’m not really one for sudden jumps and all that gore. Jurassic Park had apparently traumatized me to no ends, even though I don’t recall when was the last time I watched it, but apparently the scarier scenes had only lain dormant in the recesses of my memory, rudely revived last night by all the homage scenes in Jurassic World.

(Spoilers ahead!)

So the movie was essentially about how Jurassic Park has been closed down, but in its place, a new dinosaur-themed amusement park with actual dinosaurs roaming around (did they learn nothing from the adventures of 22 years ago?) has sprung up in its place, funded by an Indian (?) millionaire. The theme park has been running successfully for 10 years now, but in order to maintain public interest, the on-site lab scientists genetically engineer a new dinosaur hybrid and breed it for its new attraction. Unfortunately (and obviously), things go wrong.

So let me just talk about the first thing that comes to mind, and that has been a topic of much discussion and debate since the movie came out: Claire running around, and possibly outrunning dinos, in those heels. My first reaction was: what the hell? Personally, I have problems even walking around a whole damn day in heels, so much less running for my life in them IN A JUNGLE. I could believe a woman being so used to heels as to be able to run effectively with them (though she has got to have some skills if she could manage it without spraining her ankle at some point), but she was running around in muddy grassland and soil, it’s rather a miracle that her heels didn’t actually get stuck and make her dinosaur chow. The stark non-realism of this issue at first grinded my gears but, well, I guess I am watching a movie with dinosaurs brought back to life.

Some have argued that she was disrupted in the middle of a business meeting, in fact a sales pitch, before the rogue dinosaur turned up missing, and therefore she was wearing appropriate clothes, just caught at the wrong time. That makes sense. They have also argued that if you’re going to be running around a jungle, even painful footwear is preferable to no footwear at all. That makes sense, only in part. I agree that getting stabbed through the foot by a dinosaur shell or claw would be a less appealing prospect than running around the jungle in heels, but heels would severely impair walking and running speed, as well as increase the chances of a sprained ankle – also not good. But hey man, why are we even taking this so seriously? It’s just a movie. Furthermore, there have certainly been other kickass heroines running around in urban jungles in heels before and no one’s complained.

Another controversial topic about this movie is the gender roles assumed by the two main characters, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing. In this day and age, and in the current atmosphere of American pop culture, gender roles that go against the norm are more “acceptable”. In Jurassic World though, gender roles are pretty much as they usually are. The testosterone-oozing, macho, fearless man who is also sweaty and gross, and controls a pack of velociraptors. Then, there’s the heroine (with heels) who holds a somewhat high corporate position in the theme park business, and initially appears in a modest long white dress at the start of the day, but steadily gets more and more undressed as the day progresses. I get it, you need to show some chest area shining with sweat (I remember the same happened in Jurassic Park as well), and your long pencil skirt miraculously has a really nice high slit at the side. Although this may grind the gears of some feminists, let’s just remember that Chris Pratt’s character is a similarly exaggerated stereotype of a masculine man, and served as some damn good eye candy himself.

On to another piece of reflection about the movie. There was some part when Claire was explaining to the rest of the sales team that, “the public wants bigger, scarier”, and that normal dinosaurs to the public are as common as an elephant – as a justification for them genetically engineering this dinosaur-monster that ran loose. This somehow made me take it in a meta way. In the movie, they were talking about the theme park attending public, but isn’t it the same for the cinema-going public watching this movie? We’ve been numbed to the idea of normal dinosaurs ever since Jurassic Park made the subject cool in our pop culture (in a meta sense, also introducing dinosaurs to the public in the movie’s universe), so now they need something “bigger, scarier” to reinvigorate interest in the Jurassic franchise. Hence, the introduction of the Indominus Rex in this movie.

I enjoyed Owen Grady’s little titbits about animal breeding, and the message that you need to treat dinosaurs (or in the real world context, any animals in a zoo, especially those typically seen as wild, dangerous and threatening the lives of humans) as living things rather than simply “assets” as Claire calls them in the movie. It’s an interesting way of looking at dinosaurs, typically seen as simply hungry-ass creatures used to chomp down on humans in a spray of red gore. At least to me, it invoked a sense of sympathy and pity for even this “villain” dinosaur. As Owen Grady said, being raised in isolated containment has given the creature no chance to hone its social skills and to figure out its place in the food chain, which caused its frenzied rampage throughout the island when it (very cleverly) broke out of the cage.

Jurassic World felt more like a homage movie to the original, with so many scenes that paid tribute to the 1993 movie, than a stand-alone movie on its own. If those scenes from the original hadn’t already been branded in my brain since the last time I watched it, I may not have enjoyed it half as much. So, I will be ending off this review with this hilarious quote from a comment section:

“So nobody is going to acknowledge that [Claire] saved the day by bringing the freaking T-rex out while Chris Pratt was playing Dinosaur whisperer with the raptors???”

– Aadithya Prem


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