Colin Treverrow's Jurassic World returns the mighty hand of the Marshall/Spielberg peak decade of Amblin. The themes are recurrent and so are the steady readmission rates that shot this one to number three. Teen and preteen together face divorce and death defying events (see E.T. through War of the Worlds). Here the romance of the leads carries across other plot points, no less absurd than any other film this summer, yet deadpan nimbleness alternates hysteria, like a Warner Bros 1930s adventure, and the film never let's off. Droll teens played straight. Heroic outlier. Villainous privateer. By the numbers Jane. Billionaire fantasist who does his phoenix. All get their five minutes of emotional resonance, and however diagrammed it is, Treverrow manages to convince us to at the very least, not hate them, he's a humanizer, and no one is mean for means sake. It's more under the surface romantic than even Spielberg, with divorced parents getting one last postcard in before the credits roll, yet he's generous to his characters, nothing is in itself threatening because we're always being taught through the basic biological tale. Death is pointed, not abstract, and continual. And the other side is he manages to instill a slight amount of characterization to the dinosaurs. "You can see it in their eyes." says billionaire Masrani, and we can. They behave, at moments, cognitively. And they communicate. The Jaffa/Silver pairing naturally follows the retooling of Apes, here suddenly aware and subtly realized prehistoric reptiles work in coordinated ways, and Treverrow and his team instinctually know how to build this without lecturing or explaining too much. Visuals make the case and gesturally he's got the Spielberg deontic down, maybe a little too eeirly exact. When Hammond successor Masrani takes a good look at his Indominus Rex, he realizes it's chameleon-like "You didn't tell me it's white." Cut to a hazy, defocused Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) whose ghostly face materializes in the security glass's reflection who does her best coy voice: "is that bad?" and we've just been visually cued to the buried motif: the monster under this all is the white-girl. Her spreadsheet efficiency, her servicing the goals for bigger and better of everything. (Later on ghost stories are retold). Clever visuals punctuate the story non-stop; a birthing I-rex punctures its eggshell with its tiny talons followed much later by one of them piercing a clear transporting sphere. The first full screen glance at the unleashed I-rex's jaws is metaphorically juxtaposed against the familiar logo's T-rex, on a jeep's door, upside down and black and white. Action is built out of descriptive structure rather than the typical explanatory lecturing that afflicts most blockbusters nowadays. A junk food crunching watchman is crunched himself seconds later, you start to realize every act has its follow-up, it's the clever rube goldberg yellow-pages of kinetic antics Spielberg can deliver, now somehow coming out of a late protogee gangbusters. He's learned his lesson well, the audience wants to laugh. So he does to World what Carl Gottlieb brought to Jaws. A humanizing sense of humor. When meeting Claire, we see her reciting descriptions of the people she's about to meet. It's a tour de force from all involved. We meet her rehearsing the meeting of other people, and she describes the two men by their appearance and the lone woman by her experience, she subtitles advice she'd never tell her to her face. "Deserves more." Here's the student it took Spielberg three decades to find, with the master's comparative skills down cold. The elder teen has the biggest arc; he says goodbye to his girlfriend who's a dead-ringer for his mom, then he spends the film eyeing other girls at the theme park, triggering his brother's fears of the divorce. Cleverly the writers have already explained dad's probable behavior through his son's. Then they go flip-mode, sacking anxiety for thrilling fear, leading to an Indiana Jones decipherment scene (students of his) in the ruins of the first film's Lobby setting. They reverently touch an image of a raptor, offering it like a religious icon. Using a plastic dino bone, for its torch, they set fire to the banner that ended Jurassic Park; later they'll hurl a pressurized air tank, a la Jaws, at pursuing Raptors. For a finale, the triumphal T takes in the view from the same spot villain Hoskins (Vincent D'Onofrio) did mid-second act. The whole flick sprouts visual structure and breakneck characterization, more so than even the series's first film. The star here is the genetic hybrid, the mosaically defined Indominus Rex, who always seems to have a plan running. Worse than any reptile, the I-Rex (clever, aint they) plays Jurassic World as slaughter videogame, inflicting maximum carnage by prompting the zoo to revolt, only to have the zookeepers and members restore order as a team. It's a dark tale told swift enough, nobody has to fell the weight of its choices. Corporate abuse, rank commercialization and environmental issues play the greek chorus of warning, but it's mostly ignored. Why? We know a sequel is inevitable to a film this tight, those warnings are all directed to the moviegoers, challenging them to ignore the dual corporate/studio-speak mantra: the audience always wants bigger things...and besides, the sub-rosa monster chick has escaped. She's just paired off with the film's hero. She'll be back for more carnage they'll both be taming. Everyone may be romantically attached to Jurassic Park for sentimental reasons, but this is the better film. It's got the nightmare down, and he's got us laughing at it and with it.
As a mythology, the Marvel Universe is theraputic. It's here to help us (the U.S.) process the aftermath of 9-11 and the subsequent wars we sought vengeance through. Nobody really misses the point with a group of security obsessed, tight-wearing superheroes proclaiming themselves "Avengers." What are they avenging?
In mythology, murder and destruction are taboos made sacred by the sacrifices of the protagonist: with the primary scarifice being isolation. Nolan's Batman is the only comic book character in motion who enacts this violence as ritual. He is a loner by nature and though he's rescued by sleight of hand by the end of Rises, we believe he dies alone. The Marvel Universe, however, has its lead serial Iron Man announce his identity as a mission statement. These heroes aren't going to hide, nor will they brood too much. M.U. insists on blending 1950s values of family (Guardians and Avengers, Parkers vs. the Osbornes) and sex-roles with taboo carnage and death so that none of the outcomes can be read as sacred. Instead a false family is born, a criminal family not unlike other families that practice violence in myth (like the Corleones). They are somewhat empty tales, usually ignoring the psychic role violence plays, and so they erase the sensations of collective responsibilities from audience minds. Why are they here suddenly, and why are they so successful? The films are essentially mental degaussers that absolve resposibilities for the carnage we've turned loose on the world under the guise of liberating dictatorships in the past 15 years. We are the empire, share this moniker with the other world powers. We practice warfare without sanction, kill chosen by drone. And we seem to be unaware of how this is perceived on the world-stage. And the Marvel Universe might help us to remain blind to our self image. Certainly the last Avengers was a 'world-stage' battle.
Time for new mythologies before it's too late.
Some back-up: Damien Straker's Ultron review http://www.impulsegamer.com/avengers-age-of-ultron-3d-film-review/
This groomed tomboy of a film has a conceptual framework trapped in 50s ideologies (as Guardians of the Galaxy traps itself in the 80s) coupled to a digital techo-necrophilia amped for 12 second attention spans. It flows rhythmically.
The effect is a synthetic blockbuster pooling post-modern access to primal race-war. We laugh at it through culture schlock like this, but the ethnic conflict finds its calling in cinema. One was designed here stateside during the early years of the film industry, though Birth of a Nation is a motion-picture calling-card of bad repute, countless one-reelers preceding it were laced in ethnic slant. There in 1915 Griffith (born in Kentucky where Vaughn's climax erupts) stared seriously into his crystal-ball 1860s and found a socio-political nightmare to scare audiences into the first features. Here in 2015 Vaughn cryptically evokes the 1950s merged with British winking into the present. Both netherworlds conjuring anything goes. Here cameras access the most prescient things and happenings, excitably playing sputtering guide to all that Vaughn can conduct. Sure better card tricks, but in a manner of filmmaking that does your thinking for you: a visually straight-no-chaser. Though technically brilliant, the effect is muted. Like Herbert Ross's Pennies From Heaven, which sent up musicals by going hard R and killing its hero, Vaughn takes Bond into hard R violence to make 'fun' of it gleefully. Hows about that for laughs. We need severed limbs and spraying blood to get a rise out of the crowd. Lots of gags erupt, but they're mostly loops. The wit of the Airplane movies played somber. No doubt it's strange and clever and demented the way 5-10 beers are. Here though, the hangover is forgetting the ploys, the baits, the slicing. Deciphering the plot is not part of the visual essence, the vital stuff is spoken, in the usual threats and promises. A must see for anyone interested in what might really be layered into here with the right story, techniques in search of mastery...
Big Q: Why isn't this a videogame? It would make 10x the amount it's going to make in theaters.
Masterwork pop-up, printed and bound in Cali, Columbia, 1984. Out-of-print.
The sit-com seems to descend from this key screwball comedy, a comedy of errors and manners, with switched identities and classes, with a chorus of domestics who provide the narrative mortar. Writer-on-a-fishing trip Aherne shows up looking for a phone to use and is lured into becoming the chauffeur for a daffy, wealthy family who happens to have a senator arriving for dinner. Hal Roach, whose early Our-Gang series provided filler for TV's early open scehdule, delivers a powerhouse comedy to MGM, leading to laughs, box-office and Academy Awards nominations.
Strangely, almost nothing. Both propaganda by death are desperate yet well-planned attempts to lure the West into a multi-regional war. A first and second attempt to set off WWIII, acts of provocation very similar to the assasination of Archduke Ferdinand one hundred years ago this year. The progression here is from dispersed terror group guest to an Islamic state, to claimed state-level government, however fleeting on these geographic terms, it has a source. The question becomes, why be lead into the first? And was it a feint, was the invasion of Iraq a distraction from the true targets? Fundamentalism within Saudi Arabia, Militancy from Pakistan. Strange, no? We attack a country that enforces sexual equality and religious secularism, true it is a Sunni totalitarian state (Iraq) yet so is a Sunni kingdom with oppressive laws for women and a legal definition of witchcraft that sometimes ends in a death sentence. Diplomacy increases in complexity, are the coming wars symmetric? If not, admit them, assign the internal conflict a name. The east-west divide between Saudi Arabia and pre-invasion Iraq. Something like detente or lynch-pin.
A recent incoherent op-ed by the distant architect of multiple military coups over democratically elected officials (including Pinochet over Allende), Kissinger now writes as if converted to the fantasy view of democracy of Bush 2, not the strern real politik he practiced when in office. The facts are: most world state borders of the 'developing world' are arbitrary, many designed for external colonial concerns, in the aftermath of war. To enforce most of them one needed enforcers, and that's what the West backed, not democratic or parlimentary systems. Each state, no matter its origins, needs a central bureaucratic authority. The fragmenting of power in Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and now Libya caused their collapse since they lacked properly defined transitions to power. It's time to teach global realities. A bureaucracy comes before all other realities. If one is shattered, then the country may shatter. Colin Powell's mythic words to his President have come true: "If you break it, you own it."