This is to follow up on our lunch today. Sorry I stormed out but I was upset and you know the last thing I want is to rip your head off. And I mean that literally.
I wasn’t mad at you, Mur, I hope you know that. You’ve been my agent from, well, it seems like the Mesozoic Era, and you’ve always looked out for me. I know you were excited getting me the Jurassic World gig. I was, too. “It’ll be different this time, Tiffany,” I said to myself. Especially since I’d be playing “Blue,” the lead velociraptor. I may be a ruthless carnivore but I do try to look on the bright side.
I don’t know if I ever told you this but my parents met on the first Jurassic Park ‘way back in 1993: They were stand-ins for the lead raptors. Sure, that movie about a theme park where humans genetically exhume extinct dinosaurs and then screw it all up is one of the reasons the public has such a low opinion of the raptor community—but it was 22 years ago, and as my therapist is always telling me, the world evolves and I’ve got to evolve with it.
I figured that since the first three movies had pretty much bled dry the theme of human greed outstripping human innovation, the writers and director (and executive producer Steven Spielberg) would try something new. But as I sat at the screening last Friday my temperature just kept rising and rising. Which is amazing when you consider that I’m a cold-blooded reptile.
I know you humans are always looking for more violence, more blood, more explosions. (And yet it’s velociraptors who are described by Wikipedia as vicious and cunning killers!) I sort of expect that from your kind. The injustice of World is that even though dinosaurs are supposed to have brains the size of a walnut, every human in this movie is dumber than a stuffed and mounted wooly mammoth.
The theme park of the title is set on an island where people come seeking bigger thrills. But if you ask me, it’s where they go to recuperate from lobotomies.
Shame, Murray. That’s what I felt as this movie unspooled—utter shame.
In the first 15 minutes we find out that some of the perimeter fences aren’t functioning, the park owner is two days away from receiving his helicopter-pilot’s license, and the scientists in the Jurassic lab have created a dino that’s bigger, uglier, and more evil than any previous dinosaur.
You think that doesn’t hurt a lizard’s pride? Regular dinosaurs aren’t enough for you people. No, you’ve got to splice our genes, picking and choosing our most lethal traits, and throw it up on the big screen! How would you feel if I combined parts of Justin Bieber, Octomom, and any one of the Kardashians, and then paraded that in front of the cameras as the ultimate in humanity?
I’ll tell you what, if I traveled to a vacation spot and heard that the security fences were down, the owner of the island was flying above me without a license, and somewhere out in the bushes a lethal eating machine was rampaging … you wouldn’t find me in the gift shop buying a plushy toy, Mur. I’d be on the first boat back to civilization.
But the people just keep on coming—including the two teenage brothers the filmmakers have hung this story on. They’ve been sent to “Jurassic World” alone, which means their parents haven’t been to a movie in the last 30 years. The older boy is a surly, moronic slacker who can’t stop texting during the whole vacation. Once the dinosaurs get loose and everyone is told to go back to the main compound, this idiot, driving through the dino-pasture with his kid brother, says “Oh look, there’s a hole that’s been ripped through that 40-foot fence! Let’s go there instead.”
As you know Murray, it’s not my place to fix Homo sapiens sapiens, but would it be a crime to remove such a twit from the gene pool? We’re supposed to be rooting for these mammalian morons yet at every turn they reject safety measures and take the path leading right into the back molars of this über-lizard. (Who, and I’m not making this up, is dubbed “Indominus rex.” Imagine the shame of putting that on your resume! I know the lizard cast in the role; he used to do a lot of Shakespeare in the Park and came out of retirement for this. Totally lovely and, as a vegan, wouldn’t hurt a fly. How he suffered every day on set having to wear that dreadful Indominus drag. It must have weighed a ton!) Meanwhile, in between narrow escapes, big bro finally comforts little bro by saying he’ll never leave him. Of course, that might be because Indominus has crushed his smartphone and he has no one else to talk to.
Bad security, villainous monsters, repugnant children …
I thought to myself: “How can it get worse?”
Say hello to the boys’ aunt. She’s the managing director of “Jurassic World” and, as played by Bryce Dallas Howard, would have trouble running a PTA meeting, let alone an amusement park with killer attractions. She’s supposed to be looking after her nephews, but instead hands them over to her assistant because, dammit, she has a park to manage and shareholders to appease. With her blunt cut and excessively tailored wardrobe we know she’s lost touch with her femininity, and—evolutionarily speaking—that can’t be good. One wonders if she purposely screws up every management decision so she won’t hear the ticking of her biological clock over the screams of the guests.
Howard has her priorities, however, and even when running through field and forest away from Triassic period predators she’s not going to take off her 6-inch spike slingbacks. Imminent death is one thing, but good pairs of Manolo Blahniks don’t grow on prehistoric trees.
But there is someone to rescue Howard from the dinos, the danger, and her disregard for female biological imperative. It’s Chris Pratt playing John Wayne playing Marlin Perkins playing a zookeeper at the park. He’s in charge of, you guessed it, me and the three other velociraptors. He’s supposedly bred us from eggs and now we’ve become his posse. (And by the way, Murray, I don’t like to judge but where did they find those three amateurs? What dinner theater production of The Valley of Gwangi did they come from?)
I got to know Pratt pretty well during the shoot and he’s a totally cool dude. Even he was slightly embarrassed having to pretend me and my supporting players were nothing more than a bunch of nasty cocker spaniels. It is Pratt’s job to tame not only velociraptors but Howard as well. He takes her to see a dying Brontosaurus and there, in the dappled sunlight, she starts to cry when she realizes that as a woman it’s her job to care for the less fortunate, not bark out orders to the men in her charge. From that point on, she moons and simpers at Pratt, even, I think, throwing away her shoes.
Vincent D’Onofrio shows up as some sort of Colonel Kurtz-like military nut job who hopes to turn Pratt’s pack into a fighting force on the field of battle. (If they think I’m signing up for that sequel, they’ve got another think coming.)
Finally all this nonsense comes to a head, and what do you know?
It turns out they need me to rescue them from two hours of bad choices, like I’m Lassie with PMS. They even pair me up as a sort of crime-fighting duo with a T-Rex. (Incidentally she was played by the same artiste from the original. I’m not one to complain, but not only is she 20 years older, she’s also a few stairs short of her 12 steps.)
Honestly, these people are so stupid it seems a cosmic injustice that a giant meteor wiped out my ancestors, not theirs. I wouldn’t save these characters a seat on the bus, let alone risk my life to interfere with what is clearly natural selection at work.
So, Murray, what I was trying to tell you at lunch today is that I’ve decided it’s time for me to get out of the business. Please don’t take it personally. You’ve done what you could but it’s become apparent there is no place in L.A. for a dromaeosaurid theropod with any sense of artistic integrity. I’ve saved up some cash and am hoping to open a little scented-candle-and-soap boutique out in Marina del Rey. It’s not too late to find some sort of inner peace. Don’t be mad, Murray—
Or I’ll bite your head off.
Ted Hoover is a Pittsburgh based writer and critic.