MARTHA SEZ: ‘Wait — she just got eaten!’
I just went to see “Jurassic World: Dominion” at the Regal Champlain Centre in Plattsburgh. Ever since the 1993 “Jurassic Park” original, directed by Steven Spielberg, I have made it a point to see all of the sequels, and to my mind the original is still the greatest. It’s a classic, and I love it.
I think its special effects are the best, and its characters create what my English teachers used to call the suspension of disbelief, making the audience follow and accept even the most unlikely plot twists and turns.
I read once that “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” have been satisfying to many generations of children, as well as adults, because they feature both good and evil people, as well as beneficent and malevolent mythological creatures, and the evil-doers are always punished.
While understanding and compassion are no doubt important, even necessary, in real life, a story plot that revolves around good guys and bad guys is far more gratifying than one in which everyone shakes hands and buries the hatchet in the end.
In the original Jurassic movie, the sense of magic the characters feel in seeing living dinosaurs is offset by the terror of being hunted by the Cretaceous carnivores. The scene in which two children are stalked by velociraptors in the Jurassic Park kitchen put me on the edge of my seat. Actually, when I first saw it in Lake Placid’s Palace Theatre, I found myself curled up in a ball, my arms around my knees. The dawning realization that the velociraptors were intelligent and calculating, able to turn doorknobs and hunt in teams, did not make them sympathetic characters, but added to their fearsomeness. All of the carnivorous dinosaurs were simply murderous; there was no opportunity for making friends or getting along with them.
I found “Dominion” disappointing, because of its virtuous stance advocating peace on earth, man and nature learning to live together (dinosaurs freely roaming the globe) and Big Money (Biosyn, with its GMO crops and creatures) learning to feed the planet or self-destruct.
I convinced my friend Aethra to watch “Jurassic World” with me in 2015. In this sequel, the carnivores were still beyond redemption, displayed in an upscale circus atmosphere for the entertainment of the public.
Why is pretty babysitter, Zara, played by Katie McGrath, snatched by a flying pteranodon and dropped into a pool, to be spectacularly eaten by a mosasaurus behemoth-a sort of prehistoric sea monster– early on in the film? There seems to be no good reason for it, either by traditional Hollywood movie rules of who dies, or according to the “Jurassic Park” rules of who gets horribly torn apart by dinosaurs.
My friend Aethra agreed. We had Theatre 8 pretty much to ourselves, so we were free to whisper during the matinee.
“Wait — she just got eaten!” I said.
“Yeah, why did she get eaten?” Aethra said. “She didn’t do anything bad.”
More predictably, an obnoxious loudmouthed guy who wants to put trained velociraptors on the battlefield (“Hey, we coulda used these puppies in Tora Bora,” he chuckles) was eventually killed by dinosaurs.
Also predictably, the stiff-seeming female lead, Claire Dearing, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, ends up with her white suit getting dirty and her perfectly coiffed auburn hair all messed up. She and the male lead, raptor trainer Owen Grady, played by Chris Pratt, just keep getting messier and more fetching during the monster mayhem that ensues. I liked it that Claire wore her high heels right through to the end.
In “Dominion,” Owen Grady and Claire Dearing turn up together in a secluded cabin in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, hiding a cloned girl and Blue, a velociraptor.
At the very end, Blue beams a heretofore unknown look of gratitude and, dare I say it? love at Owen Grady, her trainer. (He saved her baby, which she was able to have without benefit of a male raptor, due to a monitor lizard gene used by scientists to complete her genotype.) All of this goodness disappointed me, because the dinosaurs, however dangerous, are no longer mighty enemies to be vanquished, but just one more thing we have to learn to put up with. Oh, really? It made me feel tired.
Someone told me the main thing about the “Jurassic” movies is the animation and special effects.
“You can’t overthink it,” he said. He is probably right. I guess I’m going to have to watch them again.
Have a good week.
(Martha Allen lives in Keene Valley. She has been writing for the News for more than 20 years.)