Jurassic World and the Lost Potential

Jurassic World BannerWell, I’ll give this movie that it has dinosaurs, and dinosaurs almost always guarantee that a movie will be awesome. That is no exception here. Jurassic World was all kinds of fun, but it unfortunately didn’t quite capture the nostalgic feel of the first movie and it was certainly a step back in terms of representation. Jurassic World is the most sexist installment in the franchise and it’s very clear that the writers didn’t know what they were doing with their female characters. It also doesn’t help that its main bad dinosaur is completely nonsensical.

Spoilers ahead.

In Jurassic World, our dinosaur theme park has been running smoothly for about ten years now, with about twenty-thousand visitors a day. Not only do they have the T. rex exhibit up and running with great success, Chris Pratt’s character has trained the velociraptors to listen to him and his commands—he even uses his raptor-whisperer abilities to save a worker who falls into their pen—and the larger herbivore dinosaurs don’t mind or freak out about humans taking rides through their exhibits and getting up close and personal. This is probably because all the herbivores spend their infancy in a petting zoo and giving piggy-back rides to children, so they’re used to the presence of humans. I will never forget the two seconds we get to see a small child giving a baby apatosaurus a hug. It was the cutest thing ever and I want one.

I want to be there. I want this to be a thing in future installments. Let the baby dinosaurs continuing giving piggy back rides to children forever, damn it! (gif via buzzfeed)

I want to be there. I want this to be a thing in future installments. Let the baby dinosaurs continue giving piggy back rides to children forever, damn it! (gif via buzzfeed)

In fact, the first so many opening moments of this movie prove that it is possible to run a park with dinosaurs without things going horribly wrong—and I was much more invested in watching Chris Pratt train velociraptors than I was watching something tear up the park and ruin a child’s moment with a baby apatosaurus.

In order to keep interest in the park, the owners like to dole out a new dinosaur every year, and they’ve tried for a hybrid, called indominus rex. So… they made a T. rex-sized velociraptor-esque creature that can camouflage itself and hide its heat signature from sensors. And somehow, someway, no one noticed that it had either ability until after it escapes. Because it’s not like they were observing it for its whole life or something. Also proving that it’s possible to run a dinosaur park without shit hitting the fan, the only reason the indominus can escape in the first place is through sheer luck. First, it was lucky that no one noticed its superpowers. Then it was lucky no one noticed or heard it scratching up its cage to make it look like it somehow climbed out, something it couldn’t actually do, that they knew it couldn’t do. And then it was lucky that Chris Pratt and two other idiots entered its cage before someone could check where the damn thing was through an implanted tracking device. The fuck, guys?! Our indominus rex escapes through sheer unbelievable stupidity on the part of its owners, and because it also knew things it couldn’t possibly know. For instance, how did it know it needed to hide its heat signature to get a bunch of dumbasses to come into its cage? Did it learn to understand English? Did someone explain to it, in detail, how the hell they’re able to know where in the cage it is?

Jurassic World IndominusAnother thing about the indominus rex, when a bunch of characters get the bright idea to hunt it with the velociraptors—because releasing more man-eating carnivores into the park is such a great idea—the weirdest thing happens. This is when we find out the indominus is part velociraptor—the velociraptors betray the humans and take the indominus on as their new alpha. And the indominus almost immediately accepts them as its pack, even though the movie establishes that it wants to kill everything that moves and even ate its own sibling. But what the hell, I guess.

Thankfully, in the end, the velociraptors remember how much they love Chris Pratt and turn on the indominus to save the day. Our characters also release the T. rex to fight it when velociraptors can’t handle it on their own. Sadly, only one velociraptor survivors, and it and the T. rex only manage to defeat the indominus by backing it up near the mosasauraus exhibit. The mosasauraus jumps out of the water and eats it. Then the T. rex lets our remaining velociraptor live for being its buddy that one time, and they go their separate ways. I was actually sad for the last living velociraptor, because it lost its pack, and it doesn’t even get to keep Chris Pratt around on the island for all its troubles. Because Chris Pratt is human and will probably be leaving now that things have gone to shit.

This movie was fucking sad. I was sad for the velociraptor and I was sad that the petting zoo was destroyed (though we see pteranodons attacking the petting zoo, we don’t actually see any baby dinosaurs or children die). Going into the movie, I honestly thought only one velociraptor would die and that it would be a big deal, because they’re pack animals and they belong to Chris Pratt who raised them from infancy, so why wouldn’t it be a big deal? I am actually upset that only one lived. I love the velociraptors, damn it!

Jurassic World RaptorsOverall, this movie’s weakest parts are the indominus rex and its female characters. While the indominus rex could certainly be scary, it was unbelievable. A dinosaur that size shouldn’t need superpowers to be interesting, and its killing spree through the park—attacking any and all dinosaurs just for fun—was unnecessary and superfluous. We watch the Jurassic Park movies for dinosaurs, not to see them all slaughtered indiscriminately. The indominus rex isn’t some animal trying to survive and mistaking people for food, which is scary enough on its own; it’s evil, which is boring.

Then we have Claire, our main female character. She is not the only female character. We actually have four, and one of them is the first woman to be eaten on screen by a dinosaur in the whole franchise. Yay? I honestly wouldn’t have minded the mosasauraus eating Claire’s assistant (I can’t remember her name), since dinosaurs are eating people all over the place, and there are certainly other women who are eaten off screen. The park has twenty-thousand tourists, after all. It’s how the movie handles these characters and the assistant’s death that bother me. What’s so upsetting is that it didn’t need to be as bad as it is. After all, Claire is a young woman who has managed to run a park filled with tourists and dinosaurs for ten years with nearly no incidents. These characters had potential. And you could say that the movie passes the Bechdel test through Claire and her sister. They end up talking about Claire’s nephews (so they do talk about boys), before they have an insulting conversation about Claire’s future that is not about boys (it’s about Claire settling down and having children, even though she doesn’t want any). You can take from that what you will.

Jurassic World ClaireTo be honest, the sexism in this movie really deserves a post of its own, and the Mary Sue has an article already that illustrates perfectly what’s so wrong with Claire’s characterization. Pretty much, Jurassic World demonizes her for not wanting a family and choosing work. It gets on her case for not being close to her sister and nephews, even though she agreed to take the boys for a week on probably short notice so her sister and brother-in-law could work out their divorce. And because, lo and behold, Claire’s busy since she has a damn park to run, she’s demonized. She plans to take a whole day off work—which is a big fucking deal for her—to spend time with her nephews, but the movie tells us that’s not good enough, because she didn’t spend the first day with them. Never mind that Claire literally runs around a jungle in heels with an indominus chasing after her in order to save her nephews’ lives later on, she’s a bad family member apparently.

Hell, Claire’s dead assistant is also used as a prop to further Claire’s demonization. Because it’s the assistant that picks the boys up from the ferry and spends a whole day watching after them, and not Claire. And we’re supposed to not like the assistant for reminding Claire about important work meetings that take away her time with her nephews—so we’re pretty much supposed to not like her for doing her damn job. That’s the main reason her death is so upsetting. She didn’t need to die, she didn’t need to be demonized in such a way, and she most certainly didn’t need to be used to further show that Claire’s character, a woman, should settle down and have children instead of running a theme park. Because what women secretly want above all else is children, amirite? We are a hivemind that craves children bursting forth from our wombs.

On a positive note, the token Black guy lives. Though the fact that we have a token Black guy at all is pretty questionable. Almost all the other characters of color die, though, including the park’s CEO, who was the most developed of all the characters of color outside the token Black guy, and who also should have lived. B. D. Wong also shows up in the movie, working as the head scientist. While that was certainly fun to see, he’s the guy who’s responsible for creating the indominus in the first place and giving it special powers that he then didn’t tell anyone about, and he’s kind of evil too. Furthermore, I should point out that when shit hits the fan in this movie, of the two workers who enter the indominus pen with Pratt, one is overweight, and the other is an ethnic minority. So just to recap, if you ever think about going to a park filled with dinosaurs, make sure the only workers are white, male, and thin, or you may be eaten by a mosasauraus.

Not joking.

Not joking.

Yeah, Jurassic World is not the franchise’s strongest installment. It is still a lot of fun to see, though. Watching the velociraptor training was great, and the indominus did have some really good moments. This movie fails in terms of social justice and representation, and as I said, the indominus plot is hard to swallow overall. But in terms of just about everything else, it is really enjoyable. Visually, this movie is pretty spectacular. I wish Jurassic World had been better than it was, and though I was disappointed with a great deal of it, it’s a movie I wouldn’t mind seeing multiple times. You should check it out and tell me what you think.

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About MadameAce

I draw, I write, I paint, and I read. I used to be really into anime and manga until college, where I fell out of a lot of my fandoms to pursue my studies. College was also the time I discovered my asexuality, and I have been fascinated by different sexualities ever since. I grew up in various parts of the world, and I've met my fair share of experiences and cultures along the way. Sure, I'm a bit socially awkward and not the easiest person to get along with, but I do hold great passion for my interests, and I can only hope that the things I have to talk about interest you as well.