Going into the premiere screening of Jurassic World, I knew only one thing: by the end of this film, I will want to fuck the shit out of Chris Pratt. While that theme was playing out, though, Jurassic World also offers a dose of animal rights/GMO discussion that competes with Pratt’s dad-bod-turned-Greek-god for the audience’s attention.
I had seen only one of the early trailers, felt I knew what to expect, and was bored enough on a Thursday night in rural Minnesota to go to a premiere of a reboot of a trilogy I was only familiar with through reruns on TNT when I was in junior high. I realize this may disqualify me as a trustworthy voice in reviewing what for some may be considered the second coming, or at least a delayed Lazarus rising; but I imagine the struggle I endured in deciding whether I was more interested in Pratt or Jurassic ethics is not uncommon among viewers.
With a relatively blank palette (besides a lust for a Pratt-led velociraptor gang), I determinedly turned a blind eye to the family dynamic of a moody young teen and his earnest kid brother with parental divorce on the horizon. I did find myself surprised at the film’s critique of the Jurassic World theme park’s corporate personality and lack of sensitivity toward animal rights. What came to mind was Joyce Carol Oates’s recent misunderstood tweet regarding a photo of Steven Spielberg with a dead-looking animatronic triceratops. However sarcastic Oates may have been on Twitter, Jurassic World was completely sincere. Those in charge of the theme park really didn’t care all that much about the welfare of their “assets,” as they’re heavy-handedly referred to.
I’m aware that a cognizance of far-reaching consequences of fucking with nature and all its genomic caveats isn’t new to the Jurassic Park/World/Universe (possible self-promotional sequel title right there, Universal Studios). Still, the suggestion of naming a newly designed dinosaur “Tostitodon” after its corporate sponsor was one of the highlights of the film.
Concern with ethical dilemmas of corn-chip-based reptilians is thrown aside halfway through the movie, however, despite Pratt’s character’s constant insistence that “dinosaurs are alive too, guys,” as the main dino-on-roids breaks out of its pen and starts tearing shit apart on Jurassic Island. From there, an executive of the park—a woman who I thought was Kristen Bell until I just now checked IMDB (Bryce Dallas Howard)—cries over a dead long-necked dinosaur. This spurs her to realize the worth of life, including those of her own nephews, and she begins to think it might be a better investment to kill her multi-million dollar terror-pet after all.
Later, in what is arguably the most arousing scene of the movie, we eventually get to see Chris Pratt ride a motorcycle with some raptors that he’s been training for no reason in particular. Of course, they do come in handy in the off-chance that a giant raptor-relative breaks out on the same island. Despite this veritable SEAL Team Six, the gang still needs to enlist the aid of a T-rex in order to off the GMdinO. The win for Team Pratt and the mostly-natural dinosaurs-reincarnate is a symbolic one, as the “old-school” trumps the flashy and new.
In other words, the film remains true to the Spielberg classics (or what I understand of them, given my cursory experience with them) in its character dynamics, thrill factor, and, ultimately, in the questions it raises but doesn’t answer. Of course dinosaurs reborn with the help of modern technology are dangerous; we knew that when Jeff Goldblum was almost eaten by a Tyrannosaurus over 20 years ago. Jurassic World isn’t debating that. It’s asking if we want to play at all in the genetic sandbox, and what might be at stake if we do.
In this case, though, the remoteness of the sandbox (a Caribbean island) allows us to say “let nature run its course,” not, “How do we fix what we’ve broken?” Though his muscles may suggest he could punch out the Indominus Rex if he wanted to, Pratt’s character instead fixes as much as he can through his sensitivity to the animal intelligence and emotion (though he isn’t averse to killing dinosaurs when he has to). Such subtlety is overlooked by the swath of bazooka-toting henchmen initially called in to save the day. Still, by the end of the film nature is apparently left to restore its own food web.
So, yes, I did leave the movie theater wanting to get up inside Chris Pratt’s cargo vest, or at least to curl up in the warmth of his cargo vest pocket. Not because I would be able to feel the bulge of his toned pectoral through the fabric, but because he’s apparently the only one who will be able to even remotely rectify nature’s balance once we inevitably fuck it up.