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It takes serious commitment and considerable effort to make dinosaurs boring. I’d like to think the creators of Jurassic World had this as this goal, for whatever inexplicable reason, but I’m afraid the movie was simply slickly designed to hit all the expected clichés and aimed to make money instead of tell a story. If those were the filmmaker’s intentions, then they succeeded to the tune of over a billion dollars.
I saw this in the theatre when it first premiered and had low expectation, since it seems all franchise movies these days disappoint. Somehow, Jurassic World made an even poorer showing. Not much of it made sense. Why would someone from the Navy be recruited as an animal behavior specialist? Did our armed forces suddenly create livestock specializations? Why does the woman running the park have to be incompetent with children? Why does the park owner fly his helicopter around an expensive investment and hundreds of visitors when he’s not even certified? What is their insurance premium on a place like that anyway? Why is there a diabolical arms developer wandering around the animal pens practically slavering over weaponized dinosaurs? At least his ignorance of reality was believable. No one who’s spent even a couple of minutes around large, undomesticated animals would ever consider them fit as weapons simply waiting to do a human’s bidding. Wild animals are indifferent towards humans, or aggressive. Servitude is not in their nature. I’m not even going to start on the surly teenager or the precocious child. They were as one dimensional as sheets of paper.
No, my real disappointment was that in addition to not being able to manage actual characters and believable situations, the writers also made dull dinosaurs. It pains me to type that. The raptors which were so gloriously alive and ferocious in the first film are now reduced to chasing pigs, being clicker trained like puppies, and have cameras attached to their heads like skateboarding tweens with a GoPro. We don’t see my girl T-Rex until the very end of the film when she’s called in to clean up the human’s messes. There aren’t any herbivores to speak of, and the flying reptiles are only menacing due to their large numbers, a la The Birds. The mosasaurus was interesting, but it only appeared for a minute. I did wonder how in the world the park managed to obtain a constant supply of great white sharks to feed it. And the big villain of this piece is the gene-spliced super predator Indominus Rex. Oh, please. They built this animal up to be a bigger menace than a suitcase nuke and when we finally see her, she’s a short-faced, pale creature who hides in the bushes. I gritted my teeth through all the technobabble and faux ethics quandary of combining T-Rex DNA with Velociraptor nonsense. It was as if the writers completely forgot ALL the dinos in the park are the result of blending paleo DNA with modern animal genomes to make up complete strands for viable embyos.
Jurassic World is a pure example of lazy storytelling. There were so many ways to improve this movie, starting with writers who cared about the subject. Make Owen an actual zoologist so I can believe in all the skills he has instead of me constantly questioning how he manages. Make the billionaire owner quirky enough that I’ll care about his fate. Make Claire a good aunt who loves her nephews so I can feel her worry and anguish when they are in peril. I mentioned my disappointment with the story in a FB author group and a writer said she didn’t care if the story was bad, she went to be entertained. How is it possible to be entertained by something so insultingly banal?Read More
I just returned from my comfy local theatre which features all sorts of plush accouterments like reclining seats and iced chai, but instead of feeling relaxed and entertained, I’m shivering and spent. Thanks a lot, Everest. I thought I was prepared, having read Jon Krakauer’s excellent book, Into Thin Air, which details the story, but the filmmakers took the experience to another plain of existence.
For those of you not familiar, Everest is based on a tragic climb of that mountain back in 1996, during which, due to bad weather, poor communication and supply, and a glut of climbers, several people died. Now, I’m not the personality type who gets extreme stuff like mountain climbing or white water rafting or base jumping. My adrenaline rushes just fine when someone cuts me off in traffic or hear a siren coming up behind me as I survive in my dangerous habitat of the Midwestern suburbs. I don’t go out of my way to test myself against nature because I have a very realistic notion of my place in it: it will win, every time. I see enough ice, snow, and sleet every winter right where I live, I have no desire to spend thousands of dollars to travel across the world to have my nostrils freeze shut. So the motivation of the folks in Everest wasn’t interesting to me, but the story of their struggle and the personality of the mountain itself was lure enough.
The actors did a great job with their roles and really shone despite the wild sets and amazing scenery which are normally my catnip. Lots of stars in roles of all sizes, which makes me think well of the motivations of the whole production. Of special note was Jake Gyllenhaal, who popped up unexpectedly and stole every scene he was in with his laid-back, increasingly debilitated characterization of Scott Fischer. And that’s a key to watching Everest, and one hammered home in Into Thin Air, these climbers, no matter their experience level, all suffer terribly on their way to the top, and their physical abilities and reasoning skills take a nosedive when the oxygen gets scarce. It’s a nice antidote to films where the star is a martial arts expert, multilingual, international relations paragon, information tech guru who also happens to be perfectly proportioned and only twenty-five years old.
The real star was Sagar-Matha, what Nepalis call Everest, and the filmmakers put me right there where I could feel the cold, hear the hiss of freezing rain, and curl my toes in my boots in an effort not to lose them to frostbite. The cinematography was gorgeous, with just the right mix of awesome vistas, forbidding clouds, and the messy environs of human encampments. All the herculean efforts of humans in the movie, and there were many shining examples, were as nothing when compared to the implacable mountain shouldering her ice and conjuring her storms.
I went to the theatre hoping for a couple of hours of distraction, but ended up enthralled. It’s a great movie, based on a great book, and it gives me hope for future adaptations of some of my favorite works.Read More
What did I find this week while out and about in the heart of Ohio? The start of a new collection, that’s what. I’ve been on a bit of a bolo tie binge lately and just picked up this copper thunderbird. Initially, my impulse was to look for figural bolos, rather than the disk or concha styles, just because I like the quirkier forms. The bird caught my eye and I liked the idea of copper, so I grabbed it. The bird happens to have been made by Bell Trading Company which was founded by Jack and Mildred Michelson of Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1935. The workmanship is wonderful and this inspired me to keep looking for more Bell pieces. I found a slim stamped bangle at a charity thrift shop this week and am hoping to add a few more to my collection. The warm tone of the copper is a nice change from silver, and much less expensive. Now that I’ve discovered Bell pieces, I can’t wait to spot them in my shopping rambles.
I haven’t added a silver figural kachina bolo tie, my dream piece, to my wardrobe yet, but I’m still having fun in my search.