Monday, June 15, 2015

"Jurassic World"- the ultimate summer blockbuster

Last Sunday we helped make history. A friend and I decided to see "Jurassic World"  during the first weekend of its run. We now know it's the biggest global opening in history. We were not sure if we'd enjoy ourselves, but we had a blast. It may have have helped that we kept our expectations low, but it was a fun ride from start to finish, an ideal popcorn flic. The critics hated it, but I wasn't bored for a second and the movie felt very well put together.  I wasn't a particular fan of the original "Jurassic Park" film although I did see it when it was first released in theatres. I loved the thought-provoking Michael Crichton book for its characters and moral complexity. I believe I read it twice. To me it was yet another example of the movie that couldn't hold a handle to a novel, but I think it was entertaining. Yes, the special effects were nice, but the plot felt very linear and it never seemed like we got to see enough of the dinosaurs and what a park. I missed the third one entirely and I saw the second one at home when I bought it as a box set DVD after it patiently waited on a shelf for a few months. I don't remember it too well, either. I seem to recall a Godzilla like vibe toward its third or fourth act, when a dinosaur destroys some harbor town. I do remember it was different from the second Crichton book, but in contrast I don't think I even finished that one. By the time the third movie came along, with Spielberg handing the franchise off to another director which signaled to me that "Jurassic Park" the franchise was suddenly relegated to a B-movie status. I've had my reservations about this one as well. Primarily, because once again it wasn't directed by Spielberg- and it's not because I think of him as an amazing and irreplaceable director necessarily,but it's a good indicator of how invested the producers are to give the movie its every fighting chance. Secondarily, because the last two movies were not that good,  they didn't do that well at the box office, the franchise has been dead for many years with very little interest in it and last but not least what story could there possibly be left to tell. 20-something years ago I was there for the first one. My brother and his then-girlfriend took me to see it, after weeks and weeks of crazy promotion from Universal.

Perhaps it's because getting me in a movie theatre sit in early 1990's Poland was complicated. My brother had to pull my wheelchair up the stairs and then pull me under my arms to walk with me to the right spot, so by the time I arrived I've already had enough, but I liked it so much better. I don't do the whole big movie-theater experience very often. Once a year, perhaps if that. I mostly see films at a local arthouse cinema and those are different films all together or on campus, where the films may be mainstream but the experience is different. I also go to a lot of previews, sneak peaks and advance screening- so getting to enjoy myself without having a security guard checking my bags for recording devices was very refreshing. Many people speculate about the reasons for JW sudden success and credit nostalgia. I like it because it was an enjoyable film of a blockbuster scale. It wasn't a superhero film, which I don't particularly like and all seem alike to me, and it wasn't playing up the "this is a blockbuster, so it needs to be very long and impressive until it wears everyone down" aspect to those movies that try to outdo each other every year.  I got to see what a working park with dinosaurs would actually look like and the moral dilemmas of cloning explored a bit further. The plot summaries made this one seem like it would be part Species part Predator but it's still at its core the good ol' Jurassic Park, and it works. It didn't drag in in its third or fourth act on a thin plot, the cinematography was crisp and the music made it feel epic. In fact, some people felt it was a bit rushed. First and foremost I got to sit with a big bag of overpriced popcorn and a Cherry coke and relax.  Yes, I'm sure my acid reflux will thank me later but I needed it.

It felt like such an all- American experience. For the last week I was cooped up at home writing contracts, worrying about my father's health and then- the bar with my wheelchair back support snapped. There are very few movies that don't try to be too intellectual without being stupid and to me that was it. The last time I had this much fun was when I was watching  "Guardians of the Galaxy" a surprise gem of which I've heard nothing prior. Another film with Chris Pratt- an actor who's becoming a household name and watching him get there is fun in itself. Fun. I think that's what made this film for me. It seems too often blockbusters are too occupied trying to amaze us, rather than keeping us entertained

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