|"Stay Back! You must obey for I wear the mighty vest."|
The problem with Jurassic World isn’t just the awful dialogue or its nauseating predictability, it’s Chris Pratt’s vest. Allow me to explain.
In the beginning of the movie, the camera pans high above Jurassic World Park. It’s an aerial camera shot that reveals twenty thousand visitors buying tickets and exiting gift shops in a theme park that makes Disney World look like a Hobbit’s back yard. The scene is set just the way the audience desires it- on a new and grandiose scale.
Then comes a look at the inner operations of the park: the rides, the attractions, and of course, the lab where all dino-life begins. The God-like persona of John Hammond now replaced with morally detached scientists with their own agendas. The tech is cutting edge and the computers and visuals are impressive; again, the scene is set just the way the audience desires it.
Just enough time has passed in the movie that something exciting needs to happen. And it’s at this point that we are introduced to Pratt, standing above four velociraptors, barking out orders like a trainer in a scuba outfit taunting orcas with dead mackerels. Replace the scuba outfit with a leather vest and the mackerel with dead rats and, once again, the scene is set just the way the audience desires it.
Some action has now taken place. Our hero has proved himself worthy by facing off against some menacing dinosaurs and saving someone’s life. Our hero is brave and confident and it’s all because of the vest. The vest gives Pratt superpowers. It tells the audience that he’s a hunter-gather, an Alpha to the power of infinite testosterone. The vest is a garment of strength: it tells us that he can track the footprints of an ant across muddy plains, and give a crocodile a beating yet become friends with it after the fight. Pratt’s ‘Coat Of Many Colors’ is black and made of leather, because, as we all know, black is a man’s color and leather is best at keeping oestrogen out. Our hero looks the part, and again, it’s how the audience desires it.
Now the vest begets more clichés. Pratt, in accordance with his vest, lives in an old aluminum bus converted into a mobile home. It’s next to a river (of course) and, it has a wooden tool shed addendum (of course), which he needs in order to restore his vintage motorcycles (of course!) Nothing rides the muddy paths of a Costa Rican, rainforest jungle quite like a 1956 Triumph. There can be no better dwelling for a vest-wearing hero. He lives alone—Solitary and yet surrounded by nature. Pratt and his vest live the life of an outdoorsman, despite the fact that the hundreds of other park employees probably live in a dormitory-like building. But Pratt isn’t just another employee; he’s an ex-Navy seal, leather vest wearing badass.
Now that we’re midway through the movie, Pratt’s vest needs to see some action. The rest of the movie unfolds like this: The biggest and meanest dinosaur escapes from his enclosure (it kills for sport), some kids get lost in the dino-infested jungle, (Who in God’s name is watching over all these children!), and Pratt, his vest, and the movie’s heroine, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, (She’s wearing high heels throughout the whole movie) save absolutely everyone.
There are other characters within all these scenes but who cares about them.
The visual image of the man-vest has its place in cinema. Bob Peck, in a similar, albeit better role as Robert Muldoon, wore a beige vest in Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Other notable vests wearers include Harrison Ford, as both Hans Solo and Indiana Jones; Brendon Fraser wore one in The Mummy Franchise; Paul Hogan’s vest as Crocodile Dundee is geographically iconic. All of the above-mentioned vests, however, look good on their respective actors. So the question is, why doesn’t the vest figuratively look good on Pratt?
The hero’s vest symbolizes many virtues. Courage and bravery yes, but a hero that wears a vest must also be sensitive and caring. The vest, as all movie costumes do, demand of the hero that he ‘fit the part’. And that’s where Jurassic World falls short: The director and writer of this movie fail the vest. They betrayed a sacred garment. They fall short of giving Pratt what he needs to look better in his costume. Had the storytellers given the hero of this movie all the necessary attributes he needed vis-a vis character development, subtext, and a properly developed love-arc with co-star, Bryce Dallas Howard, Pratt’s vest might have looked better on him. (Another option would have been to omit any allusion of romance all together: if the subtext of romance is to exist, it needs to be developed properly.)
Many people like Jurassic World. Why? Maybe it’s because Universal Pictures had a dino-sized PR budget. A great ad campaign can change our perception of a movie. Or, maybe Jurassic World is a good movie if only I could just see past all the bad acting, putrid dialogue, and lack of proper build up; in other words, maybe it would be a good movie if only I could see past all of what makes it bad.
So many omission and inclusions are supposed intents upon the director’s behalf, but let’s be clear: what’s lacking (character development, story arc) or in abundance of (clichés, computer generated action etc.) in a film like Jurassic World wasn’t done as a clever and sly device on the part of the director, it’s exists because Hollywood knows it needn’t put any effort into catering to our expectations apart from giving the computer generated dinosaurs more teeth and giving the idiot hero a leather vest.