I Didn’t Like Jurassic World

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There’s been a Word document open on my computer for two weeks now. It’s a 4,000-plus word behemoth of a document that grows every time I tab over to it and read what I was last writing. It’s the sum total of two weeks of thinking about Jurassic World, and trying to parse through everything I didn’t like about the film, everything that I think is hopelessly broken about the film, and everything that I think worked but failed to salvage the film.

4,000 words is excessive. I’ve written 8,000-word reviews before, but those often have some grand point to be made, like “Frozen is structured like a Shakespearean tragedy with musical numbers placed at act breaks which is dramatically efficient and brilliant.” With Jurassic World, I really don’t have a grand point to be made other than “I didn’t like this movie, at all.”

That post has sort of languished, ultimately because I am not convinced I was writing it for the right reasons. I didn’t have something to say, and that’s immediately a red flag when you’re writing – why write for an audience if you have nothing to tell them – so I started to consider why I was writing it. I came to realize that I was writing it to defend my reaction to the film.

You know what? I don’t need to defend it. I didn’t like it, and that’s enough.

I didn’t like the film. Not because I want to sound smarter than a general populace who by and large are enjoying the film. Not because I want to be contrarian. Not because I expected it to be something it’s not. But because I sat in that theater, watched the film, and was bored by it. I didn’t care about the characters, I didn’t feel a sense of awe, and the dinosaur action sequences weren’t particularly thrilling to me. Without anything to really pull me in, my analytical side turned on and I started to pick apart the film’s structure, visual language, shot design, blocking, dialogue, and all those component pieces. This was in part a way to try and understand why this film wasn’t working for me, but it was mostly an effort to keep myself entertained, as I on principle do not walk out of movies.

If you walk up to me tomorrow and want to talk to me about why I didn’t like Jurassic World, I am all too happy to engage you in that discussion. I want to know why you liked it, what about it you think worked that I missed. That’s in part a professional curiosity – what about the film is reaching people that I can learn from – but mostly a genuine curiosity. I love movies and I want to like them, so learning what other people like might help me see new perspectives and like more movies in the future. I am very interested in that discussion.

But I am very uninterested in defending my opinion. Because I think I deserve the modicum of respect it takes to assume my opinion is offered genuinely, rather than as some attempt at posturing.

It brought me no joy to call that movie terrible. Despite all the trailers, despite all the bad press I had seen and heard before the film’s release: in those few seconds between the last trailer and the opening titles of the film, all the cynicism melted away. I sat in that theater and felt tremendously excited for what I was about to witness: a true blue, new Jurassic Park film in a theater for the first time in 14 years! All of a sudden, all of those childhood emotions came roaring to the surface. I was so pumped.

So imagine my disappointment when I didn’t like it. It might be fun to write snarky sentences that disparage a film – I sure had a lot of fun writing those in the 4,000-word behemoth that still lies open on my PC – but it’s never fun to dislike a movie.

Unless you approach me and specifically ask to talk about Jurassic World, I’m not going to talk about this movie anymore. There will be no big blog post, no Facebook statuses, no long speeches about how much I didn’t like this movie. In large part that’s because everyone seems to be enjoying it so I’m gonna shut up and let people have their fun. But it’s also because I’m tired of being told one of two things.

1) “Just turn your brain off and enjoy it!”

2) “You just wanted it to be Jurassic Park!

Ugh. No thank you, and yes, I did want it to be a well made film that inspired awe and terror in equal amounts. But neither of these statements leads either of us to a better understanding of the film or ourselves, and that’s really just as boring as the film.

So going forward, let’s please be more constructive? I’ll promise not to post 4,000-word takedowns of movies that most people are enjoying if you will collectively promise not to assume that anyone’s stated opinion is informed by anything other than the film in question. Accept people at their word. Don’t doubt their sincerity. It’s not constructive, and it’s not fun.

Now go see Inside Out already.

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