13 June 2015

Jurassic World (Spoilgrrs)

There's been some debate, leading up to this release, as to Jurassic World's treatment of women, given that the trailers made it look like an "uptight Smurfette gets lesson in loosening up" narrative.

This is and isn't true.  In fact, it's a little worse than that.

Jurassic World is pretending the second and third movies in the series don't exist, and thus spends a lot of time making direct references and call-backs to the first movie, including mixing and matching a large similar set of main characters.

Jurassic Park was about:

John Hammond - wealthy guy and dinosaur fan, due for a lesson in hubris.
Dr Grant - paleontologist and dinosaur fan, there to save the day and learn that kids can be okay.
Dr Sattler - paleobotonist and dinosaur fan, there to save the day and make direct feminist points.
Dr Malcolm - chaos theorist, there to snark and be shirtless.
Lex - grandchild, computer fan, with a sibling relationship to work out.
Tim - grandchild, dinosaur fan, looking for a dino-loving friend.
Muldoon - manly man doing manly thing.
The Lawyer - there to be wrong.
Samuel L Jackson - as himself.
Nedry - greedy bad guy, there to get his just desserts.
Scientists of debatable morals.

In Jurassic World we get :

Aunt Claire - Park operations manager, brittle control freak, due to get in touch with her inner Ripley.
Grady - Velociraptor trainer, nature fan, there to save the day.
Zach - nephew, fan of girls, there to remember he should care about his younger brother.
Gray - nephew, fan of dinosaurs, there to tremble and be unhappy about his family.
Hoskins - there to be wrong, and to get his just desserts.
Cruthers - there to snark and to wish he could look half as good as Dr Malcolm shirtless.
Masrani - wealthy guy and dinosaur fan, due for a lesson in hubris.
Barry - there to be somewhat luckier than Samuel L Jackson.
Vivian - there so Claire isn't (practically) the only woman with a speaking role in the park.
Karen - busy guilting Claire about not caring enough about her nephews or about having kids of her own.
Scientists of debatable morals.

Grady is clearly Grant + Muldoon, but Aunt Claire (it was hard to catch her surname at all) is definitely not in the position of Hammond or Dr Sattler.  She is not a fan of anything except control, for a start, and spends her time reciting statistics (ah, KPIs and deliverables, how I dislike corporate-speak).  She's also not ultimately in charge, is answering to people of higher authority, has had vital information kept from her, is never shown to be respected, and is operating two beats behind competency.  Her story arc is about how she should lighten up, spare more time for her family, and maybe think about having kids.

In other words, Claire is an essay on work/life balance.

[Strange timing - I just finished a review over on Goodreads about how Dragonsbane is an essay on magely work/life balance.]

While Claire does morph into Ripley toward the end of the movie - and is given two separate crowning moments of awesome - this story would have been so much more powerful if Claire had started out as effortlessly competent and respected, lauded for the Park's safety record.  Instead, we have someone constantly being lectured on how wrong wrong wrong she is.

A poor foundation for any character arc.

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