Jurassic World

They Saved Hitler’s Brain for This????

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Reported on 26th of June, 2015

Don’t call the internet police. I’m not invoking Hitler. I’m invoking They Saved Hitler’s Brain. Unfortunately Danger 5 has made They Saved Hitler’s Brain hip. Someone call the Internet Police.

Jurassic World

14 June 2015 @ The Gaumont Rennes


-$11.25 or, if one must be quotidian, and one must... 
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

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Being in no way hip, I just discovered Danger 5 (call the Internet Public Defender’s office!), and so to explain: it’s a straight faced Australian parody that involves plots to kill a very saved Hitler and his brain in some nether 1960s Thunderbirds Are Go alternate universe. It is both extremely repetitive and brilliantly funny. See it. The writers of Jurassic World did. Where else but episode 4 of season 1 could they have stolen the idea of Dinosaurs: Warriors of the Future! One might assume that they’re too stupid to know that this idea was a parody, but that’s not necessary. The dialog that they wrote proves this beyond all doubt.

Implausibilities, even those that lead to retrogressive politically motivated neurological break-throughs, are part of film. We’re Indy 500 fans. We didn’t come here to see a bunch of people turning left. We’re here for when things go to shit. Like any good Apple designer, the screenwriters have to make it so things will break. If films were totally plausible, nothing would ever happen.

We know that the military is evil; Mr. Vincent D’Onofrio is playing…it, I guess. And being super evil, Mr. D’Onofrio plots to use the adorable Velociraptors as the Warriors of the Future. Fine. That’s the story. Velociraptors are pretty bad ass. Just ask Jesus. He couldn’t kill them. He had to ask his Dad.

But it’s 2000 years later, so let’s think about this fer jus one sec now. Assuming you want some kind of vague connection with reality in your movies about genetically modified dinosaurs, you have to admit that they are, you know, flesh and blood. You can shoot them with guns. It’s how they killed the terminator.

The title of the piece, then, refers to the myriad of jaw-droppingly stupid set-ups that abound in Jurassic World. They’ve implanted a tracking chip inside the super-dino (the 5000 ton call is coming from inside the house!), but they have to call the main base on the as-per-usual-intermittently-working walkie talkies to find its location. This is the 21st Century equivalent of calling your mom on a rotary phone to find out where your friends are on FourSquare, which having written down, probably happens more than we’d like to admit. There are dinosaur cages without roofs. There are no basements, anywhere. My house is more secure against dinosaurs, which was not a sentence I woke up this morning expecting to write. There is a giant bank of monitors.

Okay, that doesn’t seem so implausible, and God knows we’ve seen it a thousand times: give a group of extras a place to stand up and cheer so the audience will know there was a story beat. And I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought until they show the various surveillance footage as the park attendees run in panic. We can see this clearly in close-up, but when they cut to the group of extras, we realize that they are a hundred feet away from a stack of a hundred monitors a hundred feet high, each showing a different indistinguishable tiny image. From this vantage, you might be able to tell if the screens were off or on, and that’s about it. The characters have as much ability to see what’s happening as an audience might watching the film in 3D.

So. Implausibility. Who cares? Well I think it’s best to think about plausibility as a sliding scale. A guy in a room talking about dinosaurs, which come to think of it, happens a lot in this movie, is plausible, but extremely boring. Random shapes, colors and noises, are equally bland, even to those of us with a dare-you-to-watch-an-Andy-Warhol-film background. Jurassic World tends more towards the shapes and colors side, with which we soon feel annoyed, disconnected and then genuinely confused. It’s okay that the flat thing making noises in front of me doesn’t relate entirely to reality. But it does have to believe its own reality.

Getting back to the Incredibly Vulnerable Warriors of the Future, you can show Raptors chasing Jesus around the Fertile Crescent. This is plausible. What you don’t show is a scene where Mr. Pratt is almost eaten by the raptors he’s trying to control. This means that even within the film, they won’t function as the film’s (one of many) main plot point(s). Having been shown that they have no control over the dinosaurs, Mr. D’Onofrio immediately phones an ominous unseen compatriot exclaiming: ‘We have complete control over the dinosaurs’.

It’s odd. It’s like he’s watching a different movie, a feeling that you get a lot. And an easy fix: just don’t have the character witness it. It’s not rocket science, it’s screenwriting. About rocket science.

There’s a lot of movies here, the feeling you’re watching not so much the edited remnants of a 400 page script, as a normal length script with all the drafts superimposed on one another. One draft is very concerned with letting us know that the park was getting unpopular, and they needed to make the dinosaurs bigger and scarier. It has a bunch of characters say that. Then it has them say it again and again, in many different, prolonged and entirely unclever ways.

Show don’t tell you say? Well then there’s another draft, that wanted so much to have it be all epic. This draft reveals an extremely popular and packed to overattendance park, with loads of excited children having a great time. So every time we hear how the park is struggling, we cut to the toothiest place on earth, and squeals of delight in endless space mountain sized lines. The film has a goodly amount of bland ideas, but lacks commitment to stick to one of them over the other.

The film is simply too inept to suck.

Sri Irrfan Khan’s character represents a kind of triple draft contradiction, with which I am still wrestling. We are introduced to him as the free-wheeling billionaire, who exists to tell Ms. Dallas-Howard how uptight she is, and wackily fly a helicopter after just a few lessons! A lazy cliché to be sure, but a cliché with some connection to film reality.

Sri Khan soon winds up in a protracted conversation about Science Is Almost As Bad As The Military. Introduced as the Hippie Boss, he is mysteriously now Evil Corporate Guy, who is then told by Mr. bd wong, that ‘I’m not at liberty to tell you that no one in real life ever uses the phrase “I’m not at liberty to tell you” something’. ‘Unless they saw a lot of movies’. ‘If we’re characters in a movie, have we seen a lot of movies? I’m pretty confused at this point in the metaphor’. ‘Especially because this is actually text on a website’. ‘You see what I mean then’.

Not being able to tell someone a secret is a stable of scriptwriting tricks. You need secrets. The problem here is that Sri Khan is the head of the company. Who else are you going to tell? In fact, who told you to keep the secret in the first place? In other words, the character that hates corporations runs a corporation that he doesn’t run, and is in charge of corporate conspiracy that he knows nothing about.

Even the helicopter, a fairly mundane piece of real life hardware, is implausible. During the scene in which we are demonstrating how Sri Khan is just learning to fly, we must naturally show wide-eyed reaction shots of the other characters making faces over how scared they are to be in the same aircraft. During this, we cut away to…an extremely stable helicopter, flying very reasonably. It’s like we’re watching the preview cut without even the courtesy of a ‘we’ll make the helicopter all shaky in post’ title card.

The helicopter also provides a screw-up of the classic PBTR (that’s ‘Pull Back To Reveal’, shortened from PBTRNP, or ‘Pull Back to Reveal No Pants’ if you’re a purist). When Ms. Dallas Howard is heard to exclaim: ‘Who’s flying the helicopter?’, we cut to Sri Khan, the last person on earth we would believe would be doing so. It’s weak, sure, but the film fails to even reach that level, as at this point in the film, we have already seen him say he was going to fly it, seen him start it up, and then seen him fly it. You don’t pull back to reveal something you already revealed. The film is simply too inept to suck.

Makes me sad I lost the ticket for San Andreas, and still have the ticket to this.

Makes me sad I lost the ticket for San Andreas, and still have the ticket to this.

Finally, a word about Ms. Dallas Howard. She’s fine. She’s no Ms. Jessica Chastain, though she does have an astonishing moment Chastainity. It’s not that the line was stupid; that a character would express surprise at people running from dinosaurs is something at this point in the film we have acclimated to. This is more an expression of surprise over the editor and director leaving it in. I imagine the following on-set exchange:

– ‘They evacuated the lab?’ No, let me try it again. ‘They evacuated the lab’. Hold on. ‘They evacuated the lab?’

-That’s great Ms. Dallas Howard, let’s move…

-Wait. I feel like there’s a word I could really hit. What’s left?

This only makes sense if you’ve seen the film, but it’s a pretty funny line read. Ms. Dallas Howard is generally tolerable, but the character is wholly repellant, or rather its existence is. I’m not the first person to say this, but I usually eschew the typical if you show a non-empowered female character, any woman who sees it will suddenly give up her identity and start making sandwiches tact. It’s an odd argument, given that feminism got its start, and made its greatest advances, in an environment that couldn’t even show a full-size bed.

My usual schtick is that as hateful as these types are, they ruin the story more than anything else. There’s certainly a case to be made for that here, given that she and Mr. Pratt spend a good portion of the movie looking for the children who wind up finding their way back on their own, meaning that half of the story has no impact on the story. Unfortunately for schticky me, this can be credited more to the mind-blowing incompetence of the writing.

It’s rote that Ms. Dern was fifty times the protagonist in the first, nearly twenty years ago, as was Ms. Weaver in Aliens and so on. We could bemoan and generally be shocked by this slip backwards for female characters, but it’s less a slip than a push. What Ms. Dallas Howard’s character represents might be called a crisis in femininity. As the masculine films of the 1980s had a kind of hyper-muscular shoot-everybody mentality in response to the floppy (sic) unisex 1970s, Ms. Dallas Howard can only be a manifestation of terror that woman could be good for more than reproducing.

The number of times we are reminded that she is a Bad Mother is near uncountable, the only thing the other characters seem to notice about her, despite the fact that she runs a giant park full of dinosaurs. This reaches the point of absurdity when the mother of our irritating moppets, sent to their aunt for family time, remarks: ‘This is supposed to be a family weekend!’ I’m sad that the character in question – the I’m glad she got paid that much Ms. Judy Greer – couldn’t hear me respond out loud ‘Then why aren’t you here, you fucking bitch?’ Also probably glad that the fairly packed theater didn’t speak English as a first language.

It was an amazing moment indicative of Where We Are: mothers don’t have to be Good Mothers because they’re already mothers. Non-mothers are either constantly reminded of their inferior state, or horribly chewed, ripped to pieces, chewed again, and then eaten alive, as with the Bad Mother assistant. As with all gender panic, the terms are a bit hazy, the punishments less so.

I could recount the various moments such as this, but this article does an adequate job. Vis-a-vis plausibility (a ha! I am bringing it back to the movie going experience), it’s off-putting. We live in a world where guns exist; this movie doesn’t. We live in a world of cell-phones and people who don’t have 20-5 vision; this movie doesn’t. We live in a world where when people are shown absolute evidence of something, they immediately change their…okay, went too far. But we also live in a world where women have been considered kinda similar to men in ability for a while now. At least in movies. So in this way, and so many, many others, the lack of reference just makes the experience feel disconnected and dull.

That being said, there is a movie here. For the most part, you feel like the pitch was ‘It’s dinosaurs…in a park’ and they just kept shopping it around until no one said, ‘Yeah, but then what?’ But this could have been, and wasn’t, a film about our relationship to animals. Not having the heart of a Good Mother, I was moved to real tears when Blue, one of the adorable Velociraptors, saved the humans who in no way deserved to be saved. It’s even cute when they eat treats. Blue is, depressingly, the best sketched character. It doesn’t hurt that he didn’t have to speak any of the risible dialog.

On the other hand, maybe its shocking terrible-ness and commiserate success will lead somewhere. If repressive clothing and non-representation inspired the suffragettes, it’s safe to say that Jurassic World could conceivably install a matriarchy in about two weeks. The policies will be the same – they always are – but maybe we’ll get more Russ Meyer movies.

Profits!
The viewmaster, in 3D is a solid bit.
$0.50
Like all the animal moments, Mr. Pratt comforting a dying dinosaur was genuinely moving…
$3.00
Total Profits
$3.50
Losses!
…until it turned into a lecture over Ms. Dallas-Howard’s lack of maternal instincts. I’ll spare you the repellant litany of such remarks, let’s just say they total:
$7.75
It’s just badly filmed. The camera feels always too close, far, left or right from the action.
$2.00
Should have said, walking out felt like walking out of Aliens3, a franchise killer. Given the box office, I suppose I’m wrong. Or right, but about humanity.
$5.00
Total Losses
$14.75

-$11.25

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