Many people have pointed out the satirical element to Jurassic World that I also mentioned in my review. How the park’s manager complains that people are ‘no longer impressed with dinosaurs’, now wanting ‘bigger, louder, scarier and so on’ creatures to put on display. This results in the film’s primary antagonist; the Indominus Rex, a genetic hybrid made of parts of T-Rex, Raptor, Cuttlefish, Frog and other unspecified animals’ DNA.
This is supposedly to make it ‘better’ than any of the other dinosaurs from an audience satisfaction point-of-view. It also gives the dinosaur more advanced powers than anyone seen before; it can camouflage itself, it can alter its body temperature at will, it can communicate with other species and is smart enough to know that it has a tracking device in its back, how to remove it, and how to use it to trick the humans hunting it. In the movie world, this beast is supposed to be ‘what the people want to see’.
However, Colin Trevorrow apparently wishes us to know that he does not like this notion, having characters, most notably Jake Johnson’s tech guy, vocalise their disdain for this manner of creating entertainment. It’s worth pointing out that Johnson was the star of Trevorrow’s previous movie Safety Not Guaranteed so it’s quite likely that his lines were written specifically for him. Johnson is seen wearing a t-shirt for the original Jurassic Park and pointing out how that one was “legit”, unlike the one in Jurassic World.
As is happening more and more frequently nowadays, Trevorrow is a young director who was hired to make a huge franchise movie off the back of just one successful low-budget indie film. I’m sure very few aspiring filmmakers could resist such an offer, but did Trevorrow accept it and then try to spend the movie telling us about how much he dislikes working in the modern studio-controlled environment? Indeed, it’s been speculated that studio control is part of the reason why young inexperienced directors keep getting these jobs. Is Trevorrow just trying to have his proverbial cake and eat it? At one point, Johnson’s character bemoans product placement while listing actual products that surely paid to be name-checked in the film.
There is something admirable about Trevorrow attempting to take the corporate elements he’s forced to include and actually do something interesting with them, but to hit this one out of the park, he has to make his big studio movie something that transcends the products he’s wishing to ridicule. Several smart critics have already pointed out that Jurassic World itself seems cobbled together from bits of other movies, and others have gone so far as to call it a ‘self-loathing’ film.
To that end, the Indominus Rex represents Jurassic World the movie, but the I-Rex is the villain, so this interpretation offers an interesting reading on the movie’s climactic battle, in which the beast is ultimately defeated.
I saw the ending of this movie coming for a while, and kinda wish it had been a bit more subtle in setting it up. Our heroes find themselves trapped by the Indominus Rex, in a scene reminiscent of Jurassic Park‘s climax. The flip-side is that this time the velociraptors there are helping the humans. However, they’re not powerful enough, and as one of the kids points out in a line that I truly wish had been cut out; they need “more teeth”.
Bryce Dallas Howard has an idea, she runs out to a large gate and instructs Jake Johnson to “open paddock nine”. By this stage, everyone should know what’s about to happen.
She lights up a flare and draws out the T-Rex contained within, luring it to the Indominus for a showdown. The ensuing kaiju battle is a pretty darn great fight scene, which climaxes with the I-Rex defeated. Even though the T-Rex had some assistance from a raptor and the Mosasaur (something I had no problem with; it’s introduced eating an apex predator after all) it’s clear we’re intended to see the T-Rex as the triumphant victor.
Now the T-Rex is the iconic dinosaur of the first movie, so much so that Steven Spielberg re-wrote the original ending of it after he realised the T-Rex had to appear one more time. If the Indominus represents Jurassic World, then the Tyrannosaurus is Jurassic Park. It’s an idea that’s been used in the series before. The Lost World upped the ante by having two T-Rexes, while Jurassic Park III introduced its big villain, the Spinosaurus, by having it fight with and defeat a T-Rex, establishing it to the audience, and Dr Grant as a bigger threat. However Jurassic World takes this notion a step or two further.
Unlike the first two sequels, which took place on Isla Sorna (“site B”), Jurassic World takes us back to the original film’s location of Isla Nublar, meaning that for the first time, this T-Rex is the same T-Rex we saw in Jurassic Park. And it is what ultimately kills Jurassic World‘s would-be iconic dinosaur villain.
It’s in keeping with the film’s theme of criticising impure artificiality, the original dinosaur returns to destroy this genetic hodgepodge we’ve been dealing with. But it’s also a telling idea on a meta level; is it Trevorrow admitting that his movie will never be as good as the first? A pure, original movie with a directorial vision behind it will always be superior to a cobbled together sequel like this. It’s hammered home by the film’s final shot, as the still-living T-Rex roars triumphantly over what remains of the park.
Unfortunately, in many ways, Jurassic World proves this notion true, it’s not anywhere near as good as Jurassic Park. It does leave me wondering whether Trevorrow should have just tried a little harder to focus his attention on making a better movie. If he had managed to deliver a rare blockbuster on the level of The Dark Knight or Fury Road (or indeed Jurassic Park) this sub-text may well have been roundly celebrated. As I concluded in my review of the film, it’s ultimately not of great importance to one’s enjoyment of this movie; Jurassic World is best viewed as a more basic, dino-action thrill ride, but as it stands it at least provides an interesting conversation.