Hunky McNeutralColors

It’s freezing right now, yes.  But picture this: It’s a sunny summer day, the temperature is summer-like, the sun is being all sunny, and you’re right where you want to be—inside your local theater watching Chris Pratt do his best Han Solo meets Indiana Jones impression as Hunky McNeutralColors, the lead character of the newest Jurassic Cinematic Universe.  You want to recapture that sense of excitement you had decades ago, when you first saw Jurassic Park. So you sit through this CGI picnic, and you bite into the plot about a…black market dinosaur auction in a mansion wut. The only thing fading faster than your attention is your nostalgia.

Why do these new ones lack the intensity of the O.G.?  Simple.

These dinosaurs aren’t REAL.

I’m not talking CGI vs. Robotics (although, yeah, that’s part of it).  I’m talking about real in the world of the film.

Let’s think back to Jurassic Park and the first scene where the T. Rex is introduced.  Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) is sitting in the back of the jeep. He hears a noise and looks over to the puddle nearby to see it ripple.  The noise is distant, we don’t see any part of Rexy yet, but Spielberg feeds us this one little ripple to demonstrate that there is something coming.  Not only does this begin to build tension, but it makes Malcolm understand that something is very wrong. And since he is our way into the film’s world at this specific moment, we understand that something is very wrong too.

The noise is distant, we don’t see any part of Rexy yet, but Spielberg feeds us this one little ripple to demonstrate that there is something coming.

Closer than they appear.

Ellie (Laura Dern) and Muldoon (Bob Peck) then run out of the trees to him and chasing them is The Rex.  This is the first time we see him, and my guy is big. He knocks over trees as our three adventurers escape in the jeep.  The trees help define size on Rexster because of how tiny they look in comparison, and how easily he pushes them aside. But really drives us into fearing him is the shot of the rearview mirror that reads “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”

This shot provides the best perspective of how close he is because it puts us inside the car, in the middle of the action.  A typical wide shot here would have deflated that feeling of panic because it would establish us as merely a viewer outside of the action.

The final thing Spielberg does to fortify Rex Ryan’s position in the film’s world is having him run through the tree that has fallen over. It’s a quick, simple shot, but we see Ellie duck as they pass under the tree.  The tree would have easily beheaded her (which really would’ve taken this movie into a crazy turn) but when T. Rex (the dinosaur we’ve been following, not the band) encounters the tree, he demolishes it. He is bigger than giant trees, ya’ll.

Let’s compare this scene to the Indominus Rex’s introduction in Jurassic World. We get a few shots of Indy moving stealthily through the trees, and a close up of his eyes as he watches BDH (Bryce, naturally), but we never get something like the puddle or the rearview mirror or the fallen tree to help actually conceptualize him as really living in and interacting with the environment of the film.  Which makes him less real. Which makes us wish we would’ve waited for Redbox. WHICH MAKES US DUMB.

Oh well.  Chris Pratt is doing okay.