The Wednesday Four (07/08/15)

That Oliver Sacks article might make you cry, FYI. Also, if you’ve never read one of his books, you totally should. He’s an excellent author.

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This is a African Fennec Fox, The Cleveland Zoo has one of these. They just had one of these on a local morning tv program. The zoo handler said they are about 3lbs. They have the big ears because it keeps them cool in Africa. (photo & caption (c) yvonne n)

The Wednesday Four (07/01/15)

A lot of these are depressing. Apologies in advance. To make up for it, there’s a picture of a kitten at the bottom of this post.

  • Split Image: On Instagram, Madison Holleran’s life looked ideal: Star athlete, bright student, beloved friend. But the photos hid the reality of someone struggling to go on. (ESPN)

 

Our new kitten Shetti

Our new kitten Shetti (c) Merlijn Hoek

 

Movie Review: Jurassic World (2015)

Spoilers for all of Jurassic World. But it doesn’t matter, because you shouldn’t see it (at least in the theater — seriously, don’t pay for this movie) and also, you already know what happens (and you haven’t even seen the movie yet).

Chris Pratt, Raptor Wrangler (Whisperer)

Chris Pratt: Raptor Wrangler/Whisperer

There were many, many reasons I wanted to see this movie. The biggest of them being the fact that I love the original movie, Jurassic Park, endlessly. Not just because of my huge crush on Sam Neill, but also because it’s a surprisingly feminist movie. Laura Dern’s character, Dr. Ellie Sattler is pretty awesome in every way (what a great person to look up to!). She doesn’t need Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) or Alan Grant (the aforementioned Sam Neill) to save or rescue her. She’s smart and also quite a badass. And then you have Ariana Richards’ Lex Murphy. She’s afraid of the dinosaurs (but, be honest, who can blame her? They’re SCARY, they’re dinosaurs, they’re supposed to be dead and many of them want to eat you!), but when it comes right down to it, everyone left on the island would be dead if it wasn’t for Lex. She’s the computer nerd, the hacker, the brains and she saves her brother from those raptors, too. There are a hundred more reasons why Jurassic Park is a fantastic movie, like the dinosaurs, the music, all the characters, Jeff Goldblum … I could go on. But I won’t. Instead, I’m going to tell you why Jurassic World failed me in basically every way.

I wanted to love Jurassic World and, failing that, I wanted to enjoy it and perhaps even like it. And, of course, that was my mistake. You see, I thought I had low expectations for the movie, but they weren’t low enough. I should’ve had no expectations and then, maybe, when it broke my heart from the very start, I wouldn’t have been quite so upset. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.

I originally wanted to see it because of the picture at the top of this post, Chris Pratt and the raptors. We’ve all seen the trailer, where he’s riding his motorcycle with those raptors, it’s pretty great. That and the fact that there were dinosaurs and it was a Jurassic Park movie that was going to follow in the footsteps of the first, meant that I was stoked, though apprehensive. I should’ve known better, of course I should’ve. But when you have movies like Jupiter Ascending, Mad Max Fury Road and a few others where the female characters are strong, well rounded individuals who are actually people, I was, you know, expecting something more. Those movies ruined me because for a moment I forgot we were in 2015, you know, the present day where ladies aren’t people and was expecting and hoping for something different, something better, something as good as the original.

Oh, Jurassic Park, you spoiled me. Why couldn’t Jurassic World have been a bit more like this? (source)

But me and Jurassic World, we started off on the very wrong foot. The movie begins with a family (why? I don’t know, it just does, we’re supposed to care about them, but instead they are awkward, at least the family stuff in the new Godzilla made us want to know more about those character instead of less, even if the result was less than interesting) and we find out later (I guess? they were so boring I didn’t pay attention) that the parents are getting divorced and the easiest way to do that is to send their kids to visit their aunt who runs this dinosaur theme park. The first thing I thought, though, was where is the girl? Why is it two boys? Why are they two white boys? And then I thought to myself, what have I gotten myself into and how can I get out of it?

There was a moment, standing in line waiting to go into the theater, when I noticed that the theater we were across from was playing Mad Max Fury Road, I turned to my friend and said we should just skip out on JW and go see MMFR again. She said she’d already watched it and plus, it was half over. I said, I didn’t care. Man, I wish I’d gone. Then I wouldn’t have had to watch this movie. Ugh, regrets.

Ugh

Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) — seriously, she wears that outfit throughout the whole movie. And look at how sensibly dressed Owen is. He’s a man, a real man, and he’s going to save her. Are we in really 2015?

So, the movie is already rubbing me the wrong way and we’re only ten minutes in (give or take). I’m trying to give it the benefit of the doubt, but it’s failing me. The kids get to the island where we meet their aunt, who should’ve been an awesome character because it turns out she’s the main character. Bryce Dallas Howard plays Claire, who basically runs the park. There are actually a lot of issues with her character and Chris Pratt’s, many of which didn’t occur to me while I was watching and I’ve provided a bunch of links at the bottom of this post if you want more information. What I did think was that I wasn’t going to like her character because she was the biggest stereotype I’ve seen in a long time (but not the biggest one in this movie! #gross).

You see, the writers of JW proved that everything I said about what would happen if Speed was made now true. Seriously. Claire was dressed in business attire, high heels, and she was shrill. She was every stereotypical frigid female character and she spent the whole movie being rescued by men (specifically one man, who I will talk about shortly) and running around in high heels. She has no agency, her only purpose is to supplement her nephews and Chris Pratt’s character. I really, really wanted to like her. I mean, the movie is basically about her. But it was really hard because the stuff Howard was given to work with was crap. I will say, though, that toward the end of the movie we see who Claire could’ve been — a no-nonsense badass lady who is smart, sexy, AND awesome. We could’ve had it all, Jurassic World.

But now we have two boys I don’t care about, plus their aunt, who I don’t care about … which leaves me waiting for Chris Pratt.

Jurassic-Park-Gifs-jurassic-park-28760595-500-260

This is what you should — run away from Jurassic World. Run far, far away. Listen to Alan Grant, he knows what’s what.

First, a couple of things. Chris Pratt is really hot in this movie, but basically that’s his job. At this point, I was like, just put Chris Pratt and those raptors on the screen because I want to at least enjoy something. And so, that happened. And when it was Chris Pratt, the raptors, Vincent D’Onofrio, and the super great (and hot) Omar Sy, I was happy. And then, um. Claire goes to visit Chris Pratt’s character, Owen, at his weird house (does he live on the island, does everyone live on the island? I want to know more about this, why couldn’t we have a movie about the building of the park and … sorry, I’m distracted by what this movie could’ve been), I suddenly realize what this movie is about.

You see, Owen is also a stereotype. You don’t really notice it at first, it sneaks up on you and then he meets Claire and we realize he’s a macho man, he’s the hero (even if he’s not really the main character). You feel safe now that Owen’s around. And that’s because, Jurassic World, I’m sorry to say, is basically a movie about Owen and Claire developing a relationship. He’s going to save her, from the dinosaurs and from herself. The movie isn’t about dinosaurs, it’s not about the park, it’s not even about Vincent D’Onofrio’s crazy ideas about using the raptors as weapons (wtf, but maybe that movie would be interesting, too? We didn’t get that, though — I mean, they try it but the outcome is obvious.) — instead it’s a stupid story about Owen and Claire and honestly, we all know how this movie was going to end. Which brings up another point — this movie is predictable.

Of course, most movies are predictable, it’s partly because we’re always remaking things, partly because most stories have already been told in one way or another, and partly because very few big budget films take risks. JW is predictable in the worst possible way — everything I expect to happen, happens and it happens in basically the exact way I expected it to happen. There are things that startle me, but there’s no tension, no shockers. My only gleeful moments involved the raptors and the appearance (and the very end) of our favorite Lady T-Rex.

Which brings me to another thing about JW that completely disappointed me, the dinosaurs. I didn’t really like the hybrid dinosaur idea, but that’s what they were going with, so they did. Unfortunately, it seems they forgot that the point of dinosaur movies is, you know, the dinosaurs. JW is a dinosaur movie about people no one cares about and money. But it’s not even about corporate greed or the problems of meddling with animals that should have long stayed dead. JW doesn’t have a moral compass of any kind, which you know because there are hundreds of character who die terrible, un-Jurassic Park like deaths.

Alan Grant

Alan Grant see the dinosaurs for the first time. They’re amazing. They’re dinosaurs! Sadly, Jurassic World doesn’t know it’s a dinosaur movie.

This is because Jurassic World wants to be a monster movie. It wants to be a monster movie like Godzilla (the originals and the new one) and Pacific Rim. Like Godzilla, it gave us characters we didn’t care about and like Pacific Rim, it gave us the cheesy humor, but it failed at those, too. The humor was dumb, not clever (like the original movie and Pacific Rim) and we all cared even less about the characters than we did in the new Godzilla movie. The monsters weren’t scary, not even the realization of what the dumb hybrid dinosaur-monster-thing was spliced with (spoiler: raptors), and I certainly didn’t care if any of the characters were going to die (spoiler: only one of the “main” characters dies she and she’s a woman (Claire’s assistant, who was treated unfairly the whole movie (and is also a stereotype) and I still haven’t forgiven the movie for this). In trying so hard to be a monster movie Jurassic World forgot what it was — a dinosaur movie. We had no wonder, no awe, nothing that made us realize that we were in a theme park full of dinosaurs. There were a couple of moments, but they were few and far between, when the move briefly attempted to awe us. But unlike Jurassic Park, no one was impressed — not even the kids (who should’ve been) and not even Owen — and he even tries to get us to believe that he thinks that dinosaurs on their own should be impressive enough. No one’s buying it, dude, because you haven’t shown us anything, it’s all tell tell tell.

I wanted to love Jurassic World and that’s what doomed me. I set myself up for failure. After watching the movie, I was trying to explain why I didn’t like it but didn’t hate it to my sister. I wanted her to go see it so we could talk about it. But now … the more I think about it, the more I hate the movie. It wasn’t a waste of time (but man, I would’ve rather seen MMFR again), not really, but it wasn’t good. I probably enjoyed some of it (like the raptors, to be honest), but everything else was so bad that I can’t say that I enjoyed it.

So, should you see this movie? No. Not at all. Maybe in DVD, if you’re desperate to know what people are talking about.

Instead, go see Mad Max Fury Road if you haven’t (or again if you have), that’s money well spent. If you have to see a dinosaur movie, dust off your copy of Jurassic Park. But if you simply must go see Jurassic World (please don’t give this sexist movie a cent), please find the cheapest ticket you can possibly buy.

But I cannot, in good conscious, recommend this movie because it’s awful.

REMEMBER HOW AWESOME THIS WAS? Dr. Sattler is headdesking somewhere. She cannot believe this movie. And, you know what, neither can I? Go watch Jurassic Park again. You won’t regret it. (source)

Further reading on sexism in Jurassic World:

Friday Links (aren’t feeling very newsworthy)

Today’s links are mostly a bunch of pictures/videos, but I suppose that’s the way things end up. I’ve been watching more Wimbledon than anything else, to be quite honest. But we’ll start with a few blog posts.

    • In a lot of geekish circles I read/travel in, gaming and women has been a pretty hot topic. There’s been a lot of drama about women playing video games, about who the audience of games are and so on. Skepchick has a really good article about the lack of women characters in World of Warcraft, but the article is more meta that just that. I recommend giving it a read.
    • Phil Plait, of Bad Astronomy always posts really good time-lapse videos (which I really love) and the other day he posted a great one by Tor Even Mathisen, filmed in northern Norway, it includes auroras and snow — the perfect thing to watch since SE Michigan is under a heat advisory at the moment.
    • I recently finished a great Korean drama (tv show) called Hero (2012/OCN). I plan to review the whole show (it’s only 9 episodes) eventually, but if anyone is interested in what it is I like, you can watch the whole show on Hulu. Also, be sure to check out the kdrama City Hunter on Netflix Instant, it’s also good.