I remember watching Jurassic Park at the cinema 22 years ago and being amazed by the special effects. OK, the fact that the film had Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum was also a bonus, but overall I really enjoyed it.
We saw a trailer for Jurassic World when I took the boys to watch Avengers: Age of Ultron. We were all keen to see the film, so last night we paid a visit to CineWorld Telford to watch it on its opening night. But I left the cinema feeling that I’d gone back in time and not in a good way!
Jurassic World is set in the same location as Jurassic Park was, all those years ago. The park has been revamped, relaunched and is now a theme park hosting thousands of visitors every day. But visitor figures have been dwindling and so the park commissions the genetic engineering of a new ‘asset’ – the Indominus Rex. It is bigger, cooler, and has more teeth.
Meanwhile Zach and Gray have been sent to visit their aunt Claire, who manages Jurassic World. Two young boys staying in a dinosaur theme park with a new genetically-engineered dinosaur. You can probably see what’s going to happen…
So before I start my moan about the film, let’s get the positive bits out of the way. Visually, Jurassic World is a really impressive film, with a beautiful location and good CGI. When you see humans interacting with scarily realistic dinosaurs, it’s sometimes easy to forget that it’s just special effects.
The first half hour of the film drags on a bit, as the scene is set for the inevitable disaster. Let’s face it, we’re all at the cinema to watch Jurassic World. We know that at least one dinosaur is going to be on the loose, followed by a mass escape, and that humans are going to get eaten. Let’s just cut to the chase and get on with it.
The last 45 minutes get more exciting, there are several moments of high tension and a pretty impressive final showdown. Without giving away spoilers, part of the story of the Indominus Rex is held back until quite late in the film, and that was quite a good reveal. But other than that, it’s all business as usual with no major surprises.
So why didn’t I like this film? Quite simply, the way that the film portrays women is awful. I haven’t watched Jurassic Park for a long time, but from what I remember the children in peril were a boy and a girl who were both as scared and as brave as each other. One of the visiting researchers was a female scientist, who was suitably dressed for running around in the heat and escaping from dinosaurs.
There is no female child in peril this time – it’s two boys in Jurassic World. I can’t see any reason for this at all, the younger geeky boy could quite easily have been a female dinosaur fan. Or the older brother could have been an older sister who is able to protect her younger sibling and get him out of danger.
So let’s take a look at the few women who are in Jurassic World. Obviously there is Claire, the manager of the park – when we first see her, she is impeccably attired in pure white and a pair of stiletto heels. My first thought when I saw her was ‘That’s not going to be practical for this scenario’ and sure enough it wasn’t. She gets sweaty and grimy but her mascara never budges – I need that mascara.
Claire doesn’t seem to know very much about dinosaurs really, and she’s a bit emotionally uptight. I bet she needs rescuing by a big, burly, handsome dinosaur expert…
Actually, she doesn’t seem to do a lot that is useful in the film, other than drive fast and provide an homage to Jeff Goldblum’s flare moment in Jurassic Park. Oh, and she can run really fast in stilettos – seriously, I can hardly walk in the things, how does she run so fast without losing a shoe or turning an ankle???
Apart from Claire, the only other women in the film are Zach and Gray’s mother (who is only in the film to provide a reason for the boys to visit their aunt), Claire’s assistant Zara (who is totally useless, and only in the film to provide a reason for the boys to be able to slip away) and Vivian in the Jurassic World control room (who doesn’t do very much at all, apart from cry a lot and have one mildly awkward scene with a co-worker).
Every other main character is male. All of the dinosaur handlers, the scientists, the board members, the control room staff. Anyone who has a major part in this film is either male or helpless, and it feels like a real step backwards. Especially considering that the last film that the boys and I saw at the cinema had some really strong, feisty female characters in it.
Jurassic World really does feel like a step back in time, and not in a good way. I give it 5/10, and those 5 are for the location and special effects!