Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rewatching Jurassic Park...

28 March 2009

I try to avoid watching films I know I won't like (I want to emphasise the personal pronoun here). Sometimes, however, one slips in usually by accident. So I decided that I would write about them here on occasion. The Horror, the Horror.

Yesterday (27 Marc!h 2009) I watched Stephen Spielberg's and Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park and it was awful, so awful I was yelling at the screen (don't worry it was all in the privacy of my own apartment). I was rather surprised by my reaction to the film since I had seen it once before on TV and kind of liked it. What I learned was that unlike the films of Hawks and Hitchcock and Mankiewicz and Bresson and Rohmer and the Dardennes, films which are worth repeated viewings, Jurassic Park gets worse with repeated viewings. Its flaws (so massive you could drive a brontosaurus through them) become more apparent with each viewing. This it-gets-worse-with-repeated-viewings seems to be a trait common in the new "new Hollywood".

My first thoughts about Jurassic Park was that this is Spielberg increasingly in Lucas territory. Spielberg has always had an element of childlike wonder in many of his films but this film isn't childlike it is simply childish in the worst way (hence the Spielberg in Lucas territory comment),. This tendency toward the ever more childish is one, by the way, I find, increasingly in Spielberg's work as it "progressed" over the years.

In so many ways Jurassic Park embodies all that is wrong with contemporary Hollywood. There are great special effects yes. Presumably that is where most of the megabucks went. But at the same time there is the childish script. Presumably the filmmakers must have thought that the arguments about messing with nature would appeal to the adult crowd, or did they? Do kids find these discussion intelligent? I don't know. I know that I as an adult didn't find them intellectual stimulating. To me they were more like debates between subdummies). There is the simple minded manicheanism and simple minded redemptions. There is the childish acting (presumably the actors were told to portray childlike wonder. They all, save perhaps Neill and Dern, do so superbly...and disastrously. There is the studied and cynical demographics. Presumably the kids are there for the kids to identify with. It is the kids, of course, who help save the day. Can you say target audience and kiddie hubris?. There is the pointless camera movements that seem to mimic nothing save advertisements, rock videos, and amusement park rides. I am not going to even mention the insidious cross marketing strategies the Jurassic's promoters used nor that Jurassic Park epitomises the triumph of hyper commodity aesthetics (oops I guess I did). And it's all put together in a way that would make even Walt Disney die of sugar poisoning. Man did I waste 8 bucks.

Oh and as for childlike worlds of wonder I will stick with films and television programmes like The Secret Garden, The Black Stallion, Fly Away Home, Carrie's War, and The Railway Children.

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