Welcome to The Stinger! Named for a film’s post-credits scene, this is a new column for all the topics surrounding a film that couldn’t fit into the review due to spoilers. First up is Jurassic World! Read my review here.
I’m still packing my bags to visit Isla Nublar.
I’ve thought a lot about this since the premise of the film was announced, but even after a disaster like the one depicted in the film, I would still go to Jurassic World. So the park had some trouble in the 90s, and a couple people died? There are lots of ways harm can come to you, but given the park’s excellent safety record, with this the first large scale incident since opening in 2005 (per the film’s website), the odds seem pretty good for having a really fun visit. There are plenty of activities (BASE jumping?) that are much riskier than visiting a theme park. And the small risk would totally be worth it to see living, breathing dinosaurs! Seriously, when can I leave?
Is the film’s treatment of Bryce Dallas Howard’s character sexist?
While I think it would be valid to read the film in a way where Claire is depicted in a sexist light, it’s not something that rings true for me. The film certainly has issues when it comes to defining its characters. Some of the issues stem from a choppy feeling script and/or odd editing choices that leaves a lot of arcs (matches, divorce) remaining only as vestigial references. But reading the film itself leads me to decide that while Claire is underwritten, it is far from sexist.
For one, none of the characters question Claire’s competency at her job, or anything else because she is a woman. While she may be out of her element when it comes to being an animal (dinosaur) behaviorist, she was hired to run a theme park. Not design dinosaurs or decide how to raise an animal in captivity. The film makes it abundantly clear than InGen delivered the Indominus without a lot of disclosure concerning what went into the genetic cocktail and that Owen (Chris Pratt) works for InGen, while Claire works for Jurassic World. He’s treated as an outside contractor of sorts by the park, as he works directly for Vincent D’Onofrio. Irrfan Khan seems to be the intermediary between the two, while Claire seems to have little involvement with the parts of the island that are not a part of the theme park.
As for Claire’s story arc, her apparent transition from a self-serious, if cold, businesswoman who has little time for family to the softer, looser woman at the end of the film is actually a stereotypically male arc, at least within Spielberg productions. It closely resembles that of Robin Williams’ Peter in Hook as well as shades of Sam Niell’s Alan Grant from the first Jurassic film. I also don't think the film chastises Claire for not wanting kids, nor does it make it clear whether she wants them or not, even after her change of heart towards Own. The biggest change the movie shows between Claire and Owen is a mutual appreciation for their 'opposites attract' pairing. She doesn't make an itinerary for their next date and he'll wear pants. It's silly, but a close match for the attitude the film takes towards their relationship on the whole.
And as for her much maligned heels, as Katey Rich points out, she’s the Ginger Rogers of the film, doing everything that Chris Pratt does, but in heels and impractical clothes. And of course Claire doesn’t stack up to Laura Dern’s Ellie from the first film, but there isn’t anything this film does better than the original. Jurassic World is not a paragon of feminist ideals, but it’s more of an issue of script than sexism. Let's face it, there really isn't a single character in the entire movie that is well-rounded so why single Claire out?
The way that Jurassic World treats the raptors
In my look back at Jurassic Park, I questioned InGen’s reasoning in continuing to breed velociraptors. And while I wrote that before seeing Jurassic World, I was especially impressed that the film picked up on this thread. In a move echoing how Terminator 2: Judgement Day brought back Arnold, it makes the raptors friendlier, a tense ally rather than outright antagonist. While much of the film retreads familiar ground from the first film, this storyline gives the film an injection of newness that might otherwise be lacking.
Is Jurassic World a reboot?
Sort of. The franchise obviously needed a way to reinvigorate, and Jurassic World certainly fits the bill, making more in its opening weekend than Jurassic Park 3 made its entire theatrical run. And while ScreenCrush’s Matt Singer bemoans selective sequels which ignore less loved entries in order to pick up where the last “good one” left off (Superman Returns being the most obvious example), I am not sure if Jurassic World fits in this category. Singer compares it to The Fast and the Furious:
There is something beautiful about a franchise that can make all of its parts fit together. The Fast & Furious series treats every sequel, good and bad, as equally important, and the movies are more satisfying to longtime viewers for it.
However, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, the third entry, ignored everything that came before, except for a tiny cameo, and then went back to incorporate Sung Kang into the original cast for the following film. Who says we won’t see Jeff Goldblum working alongside Chris Pratt in Jurassic Park 5? Which brings me to...
Jurassic Park 5
It’s inevitable that we are going to get a fifth Jurassic Park film. No way do we get a sequel that grosses this much and we don’t get a followup. So what do I want from Jurassic Park 5? I’m not sure yet, to be honest. While it would be interesting to me to see how the park could be rebuilt and the dinosaurs brought under control again, I am not sure that it makes for a compelling two hour movie. One aspect of the first film that Jurassic World doesn't return to is corporate espionage, with an InGen rival (BioSyn) trying to steal embryos to make their own dinosaur park. It's an interesting theme, and could fit the action/thriller vibe the new film adopted. Maybe a Russian company that brings back mammoths? Thankfully, World is refreshingly light on set up for the future, just telling its own story, leaving us with wide open possibilities.