So I recently posted about how Jurassic World put a hole in my soul with its awfulness, mean-spiritedness, and almost insulting disregard of the original movie. Well, a friend of mine took a bit of umbrage with that entry, even though he didn’t disagree with my fifteen-minute summary. He said the entry sounded like the reason I disliked the movie so much was because I was in a fandom rage over the departures from the source material. He likened my reaction to those people who said the rebooted Ghostbusters was the worst thing in existence and it ruined their childhoods.
So I figured I’d better set the record straight.
I won’t deny my fandom for the original movie influenced my watching of this one. But no piece of media can leave a hole in my soul if I have no emotional investment, which is why my bad movie guide includes emotional investment as a criterion for scoring. Time also plays a roll in how painful I find a piece of media. For example, the original Jurassic Park sequels are bad. Really bad. But I didn’t get around to watching them until several years passed and I was prepared to make fun of yet another inferior sequel. Jurassic World was supposed to reboot the franchise and erase the mistakes of the past (“Alan!”). I kind of bought into the hype, although my skepticism kept me out of the theater. I knew it wasn’t very good, but I thought it would just be in an over-stuffed, muddled mess sort of way, and I hoped it wouldn’t be bad in a soulless-pandering sort of way. Sadly, I was wrong.
But let’s consider a moment another big-budget reboot revival of a beloved ’90s action movie – Independence Day: Resurgence. I liked the original ID4, I really did. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of a reboot revival any more than I was for Jurassic World. But the ID4 sequel didn’t even have Will Smith. At that point, I realized the reboot revival may be a bad movie, but not put a hole in my soul because there was no possible way to make me care about the characters without Will Smith. Jurassic World smartly decided to start with all new characters and cast generally likable/bankable actors. This reboot revival would maintain the continuity, but not continue the story, whereas ID4:R was pretty much a straight sequel.
My friend had a better idea for a plot of Jurassic World. I agreed that even if the movie didn’t end up any better, it probably wouldn’t put a hole in my soul. His idea for a plot was have Vic’s character there the whole time to try to force the raptors into some kind of crisis that would prove they could be used for military operations, and the events would be traced back to him (such as opening the I. rex paddock). It still seems kind of stupid because of the enormous risk of civilian casualties, but to a crazy person a “real life” test might be best and damn the consequences. Anyway, the original movie’s plot depended on an inside traitor doing the worst possible thing at the worst possible time to make a quick buck (and for that he got eaten by the karma-saurus). At least that would have explained the presence of InGen and Vic’s character to begin with, and also redeemed Claire and the owner’s characters because that would allow Vic to make it impossible for them to shut the park down instead of their cold corporate calculation that cost the lives of more than five people.
Get rid of the subplots and streamline the movie so there is time for character development. Make me care about the characters. I don’t like using gendered insults for a lot of reasons, but Claire couldn’t have been more of a stereotypical cold bitch. Likewise, Owen was pretty much just a macho smug dick. “Alpha male” (over a pack of females no less) is in his job title! Zach is one of the most obnoxious, moody teenagers I’ve ever seen. And what the hell was up with Simon? The heroes don’t have to be flat, white-hat cartoon characters, but they should be likable or at least relatable.
But I think what really turns a movie from just bad to a hole in my soul is – is the bad stuff because of ignorance of the source material or outright disregard? A hole in my soul feels like an insult, but again, is tied to how much I like the original (although I feel sympathy with any fans of Jem because even though I wasn’t a fan of the show that movie may be the most pointlessly and knowingly insulting adaptation I have ever seen).
If the film makers just didn’t get it, well, that’s unfortunate, but if they got it and decided, “Nope, that’s garbage let’s do it our way,” that’s a whole world of hurt.