Ok. So. This is obviously not a movie review blog, but…my veteran readers know full well the depth of my Jurassic Park fanaticism, and I promise you that this post is about both dinosaurs AND multiple sclerosis. Just stay with me here, and let me get this review/rant out of the way first, and then we’ll connect it to MS.
I’ve always loved dinosaurs. I asked for a plush brontosaurus for Christmas when I was three years old and Santa delivered! 🦕 Anyone who knows me at all knows that my favorite movie of all time is Jurassic Park. I saw it in the theater with my elementary school best friend when I was nine. For months, we’d pretend we were genetic biologists. We used Battleship game boards as our computers and we’d draw crude outlines of dinosaurs on the “screen” with the pegs (red pegs and white pegs represented different types of DNA). This enthusiasm for the JP franchise has continued (and increased) into adulthood, so you can imagine my delight upon hearing that the Field Museum in Chicago was hosting a Jurassic World exhibit for a limited time. Problem was, I broke my leg a week after the exhibit opened and wasn’t really wasn’t able to walk for the remainder of 2017. But, as the great Dr. Ian Malcolm said: “Life, uh, finds a way.” 🦖 And so did I. Last weekend was the final weekend of this exhibit, just a week or so after confidently shedding my crutches. This isn’t at all MS-related, but I thought I’d share a couple video clips (a la Snapchat story) of my day exploring the museum and GETTING TO SEE DINOSAURS AND CLAWS AND TEETH AND RAAAAAAAR #ripheadphoneusers #jurassicpark #jurassicworld #fieldmuseum #fieldmuseumchicago #chicago #chicagofieldmuseum #dinosaurs #jurassicparktheme #elephant #sue #trexskeleton #trex #tyrannosaurusrex #indominusrex #becausethePissilent #bison #dadjokes @fieldmuseum @jeffgoldblum
*WARNING: Movie spoilers ahead.*
So, I finally saw Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. I was skeptical, well aware that the Jurassic World franchise will NEVER compare to the original Jurassic Park film and its plot pacing, character development, dialogue, and treatment of ethical dilemma. 2015’s Jurassic World didn’t offer much more than teeth and claws and explosion porn.
And Fallen Kingdom followed suit.
Here’s what did work:
- Unpopular opinion: I loved that J.A. Bayona shot this movie as a horror film. Because it is a horror story. The cinematography was gorgeous, a couple jump scares were easily appreciated, and tension was built and released mercilessly. Stunning. Beautifully directed.
“Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay to mould me man? Did I solicit thee from darkness to promote me?” The first Jurassic World film was laden with Easter Eggs, and Fallen Kingdom did not disappoint in that department, with nods to the previous installments in the forms of audio clues and scene recreation sprinkled throughout…but did you catch my favorite Easter Egg of all? You saw the portrait of John Hammond in the Lockwood mansion, yes? But did you catch a glimpse of the portrait of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus, as well? Clever girl.
- Biblical role reversal. I liked the idea of taking a rib from the female Indominus Rex to create the male (Yes, MALE!!! Dr. Wu refers to it as “he!”) Indoraptor. Interesting take on the theme of playing God.
- “They’re alive. Like me.” All of the Jurassic Park/World movies, for whatever reason, involve children as major characters, all of which make critical and catastrophically careless decisions (including, but not limited to: turning on a flashlight, pounding on an office chair instead of handing adults a gun, stowing away on a boat headed for an island full of dinosaurs, stealing dino eggs, and off-roading in a Gyrosphere). In Fallen World, however, I found my crunchy vegan ass not internally screaming at Maisie when she hit that button, but rather imagining myself taking the same action. Fight me.
- The spirit of John Hammond’s dream lives on. Remember in Jurassic Park how the park’s visionary and creator used a cane and walked with a limp? And how the consequences of his hubris manifested in the form of leg injuries or ailments (see: Dr. Ian Malcom, Tim Murphy, and Ellie Sattler)? I noticed a little bit of this in Fallen World with Benjamin Lockwood’s inability to walk (despite toting either Hammond’s amber-topped cane or a duplicate cane), Blue being shot in the leg, and Claire Dearing taking an Indoraptor claw through the thigh. And I may have imagined it, but I could have sworn Henry Wu was limping at one point during the auction scene.
Here are (some) things I wasn’t crazy about:
- The casting of Bryce Dallas Howard (again).
- Chris Pratt. Again.
- Under-utilization of previous (developed) characters. Dr. Henry Wu and Dr. Ian Malcom were merely whispers in Fallen Kingdom. Dear everyone concerned: Please fix this in JW:3.
- Questionable CGI. The first Jurassic Park film has undoubtedly withstood the test of time…but it’s 2018. Why does 1993 triceratops tongue look way more realistic than 2018 triceratops tongue? Thankfully, effects gaffs seemed to be limited to the first act, most noticeably in the movement of lava.
- The score. The soundtrack seemed to outpace and overpower this film, going from 1950s sitcom cheese to ostentatious overture. And where was the iconic theme we all know and recognize? Did I miss it, outside of a hint at it during the end credits? ***Edit: I just read that the famous melody was played during THE SCENE (if you’ve seen the movie, you know which one), but I must have been too busy sobbing into my husband’s shoulder and mourning the death of my childhood (see item #10).
- Easter Eggs. Yes, I realize I included this in my list of positives, but I’m putting it here too, because I felt like some of the scene “recreations” were forced and bastardized a bit. For example, witnessing a brachiosaurus upon arrival to the island, as well as the stampede scene in Fallen Kingdom just didn’t have the gravity or charm that made the original iterations so impactful.
- Now what? Where is this going? Planet of the Apes scenario? World war fought by dinosaurs? Stahp.
- The Indoraptor. The time spent getting to know this new hybrid was short-lived. There wasn’t enough build-up to make me care about him. And after a single, albeit intense and beautifully-shot, chase scene…it was over.
- Maisiosaur? This is going to sound really crazy, but come along on this journey with me real quick, ok? So the whole cloning bombshell was kind of glossed over quickly, and at first I just shrugged it off as more lack of character development…but…there were rumors of possible human-dinosaur hybrids during the making of this movie. Hammond filled holes in dinosaur DNA with frog DNA. But what did Lockwood use to fill in the holes of his deceased daughter’s DNA? What if……..no, that’s TOO crazy…right? What if that’s what Maisie meant when she said, “They’re alive. Just like me.”? And maybe that’s why the scene in which she watches video of Owen teaching Blue empathy is so important? Was the moment when Maisie’s face was combined with that of the Indoraptor’s reflection some foreshadowing of what is to come??? IS YOUR HEAD EXPLODING LIKE MINE IS???
- RUINING MY CHILDHOOD. My favorite dinosaur is, and always has been, the brontosaurus. And hey. Guess what? Brachiosauruses look a lot like brontosauruses. It was traumatic enough for me to watch one take its final breaths in Chris Pratt’s arms in Jurassic World, but even that couldn’t prepare me for THE SCENE. That was just cruel. A piece of me died on that island, Mr. J. A. Bayona, and I hate you for that. I will be forwarding you my therapy bills.
Alright. Thank you for indulging me.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, lets talk CRISPR. CRISPR, or Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, is real life gene-editing technology that claims to be able to “precisely modify, delete or correct disease-causing abnormalities at their genetic sources.” Simply put, this technology could prevent or even cure serious diseases at the molecular level. The cost, financial and physical, is yet to be determined.
My questions to you, my beloved readers:
- If you knew you had a gene mutation that could potentially, but not definitely, cause a serious disease or illness down the line, would you edit your genes? What percentage of likelihood would prompt you to consider it?
- What possible side effects are you willing to endure?
- How do you think technology like this would affect population control?
- Where does one draw the line at gene modification, as it relates to human DNA?
- Has an illness, such as MS, given your life new positive meaning or perspective that you may not have gained otherwise? Would your post-diagnosis growth deter you from genetically editing out that part of you?
Perhaps Dr. Ian Malcom said it best: “Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
*cough* …(Same could be said about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom 😉)