PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

'Jurassic World' Revists Monstrous Corporate Greed

Piers Marchant

For obvious reasons, Jurassic World can’t directly call out corporate titans, but it does in a subversive way. The dinosaurs aren't the only ones with claws, here.

Jurassic World

Director: Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, B.D. Wong, Judy Greer, Lauren Lapkis
Rated: PG-13
Studio: Universal Studios
Year: 2015
US date: 2015-06-12 (General release)
UK date: 2015-06-11 (General release)

Blockbuster sequels fail more often than they succeed, and too often they end up being faint, distressed copies of the original document. In the case of Jurassic World, the challenge is multiplied by its original's formula; that is, the setting on an island, the necessity of dinosaurs, and the audience's knowledge ahead of time that everything will go horribly wrong.

Jurassic Park (1993) was schlocky and shameless Spielberg-lite, the director locked into vapid blockbuster mode, but it at least toyed with the idea of chaos theory and the risks of pushing the genetic envelope. Director Colin Trevorrow certainly has memorized the highlights from that movie -- the sweeping cameras, sentimental kid interplay, visual puns, and relentless anthropomorphism -- but he doesn’t conjure anything new, here.

Neither does the writing team (following a credits dispute, listed as listed as Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, along with Trevorrow and Derek Connolly). Almost everything that happens in this film happened before in the previous installments. That said, Jaffa and Silver have also slipped a bit of an Easter egg into the dinosaurs-will-be-dinosaurs plot, one that cagily suggests the futility of making such a film in the first place, while taking some pokes at their corporate overlords in the process.

Early on, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), this park’s workaholic director, laments the difficulty of keeping the public’s interest, “No one is impressed with dinosaurs anymore,” she sighs. Under the leadership of a new owner (Irrfan Khan), her team's solution is multi-faceted. They seek specific corporate branding for their different attractions (velociraptors powered by Verizon Wireless), use the genetics wizardry of the renowned Dr. Wu (BD Wong) to create exciting new dino hybrids that are “bigger, badder, and more teeth”, and market their existing dinos to the military, led by the conniving consultant Mr. Hoskins (Vincent D’onofrio), as a potential super-weapon. (This even though it’s pretty unclear how an army of raptors would fare against a hail of armor-piercing bullets.)

Naturally, encouraging the smug Dr. Wu to create a new, ferocious super-dino -- dubbed the Indominus rex -- out of spliced-together DNA strands from different creatures, leads to a serious problem. The Indominus rex escapes its confines to menace the 20,000 visitors stranded on the isle along with it, a gigantic Frankenstein monster amidst a veritable smorgasbord of smaller dinos, park workers, and fat, tasty tourists.

Blaming corporate malfeasance, greed, and callousness for such calamities has been standard-issue monster movie polemic ever since Jaws and my beloved Alien. In this regard, Jurassic World again offers nothing new, but we might credit its impressive, rather comic use of corporate marketing garble. Dr. Wu is instructed to “up the wow factor” of the park, dinos are relentlessly referred to as “assets”, and when the Indominus rex destroys the aviary, sending hundreds of bloodthirsty pterodactyls into the sky, the tourists are informed via loudspeaker that there has been a “containment anomaly.”

Even as the movie levels these familiar charges against such corporate exploitations, it deploys them. The retooled island park is also festooned with exactly the kind of cheesy, soulless franchise chains (including a Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville) and parade of expensive tchotchkes that Disney and Universal both proudly display at their own parks. For obvious reasons, the film can’t spend a lot of time directly calling these corporate titans out (presumably, Verizon paid for its brief product placement opportunity), but the fact that it does so at all suggests that some of the film's claws aren’t attached to the feet of rampaging, prehistoric behemoths.

Of course, by the end, even the subtle meta-distress of the screenwriters has been subsumed by the needs of the Summer Action Spectacle (as improbable as this sounds, a group of enraged dinos essentially team up against the indominus rex bully, which makes about as much sense as you would think). But the writers do manage to get in a few digs along the way.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."


50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.


Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.


The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.


Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.