Screen Themes – Jurassic World vs Inside Out

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Let’s all go to the movies with entertainment editor, John Turnbull, as he checks out two of the biggest movies to hit the silver screen these school holidays — the animated head-trip Inside Out and the fastest-grossing movie of all time, Jurassic World. Featuring the opinions of age-appropriate critics, Danger and Angel!

Jurassic World directed by Colin Trevorrow

Way back in 1993, a little-known director called Steven Spielberg directed a movie called Jurassic Park, based on the premise that scientists were able to recreate dinosaurs from a drop of blood in a mosquito trapped in amber. Despite the hoary Michael Crichton theme of “scientists playing God”, Jurassic Park was suspenseful, thrilling and memorable and featured a talented cast including Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Sam Neill and the late, great Richard Attenborough.

Twenty-two years (and two forgettable sequels) later, executive producer Steven Spielberg presents Jurassic World, directed by relative newcomer, Colin Trevorrow, whose only other big-screen credit is time travel romp Safety Not Guaranteed. There is no sign of the original cast, with the exception of BD Wong playing Dr Henry Wu, chief scientist and master of exposition.

Leading the new cast is Chris Pratt, who displayed buckets of charm in the recent Guardians of the Galaxy but is reduced to the role of generic action hero in Jurassic World. Ostensible love interest and walking cliché Claire is played by Bryce Dallas Howard, a talented actress reduced to looking harried and running about a lot. The screenplay is attributed to four different writers with another two being given a story credit, and the result is a somewhat confused and predictable experience.

While both Pratt and Howard are able to bring a level of believability and empathy to their underwritten characters through sheer talent, the same cannot be said of child actors Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson. While it may seem harsh to bash young actors at the mercy of an inexperienced director, the fact that I wanted to see these kids violently killed and eaten any time they were on screen is perhaps was not what the film really needed to work.

Despite some truly woeful dialogue, Jurassic World still manages to be very entertaining by following established plot conventions, spending a massive amount of money on special effects and giving viewers what they paid to see: dinosaurs going wild and eating people, then fighting each other in a WWE inspired smackdown. It is during the action sequences that this movie really comes to life, with highlights including the mosasaurus show, the avian dinosaur (pterodactyls, pteranodons and dimorphodons) attack and the epic final battle, which I won’t spoil but had me grinning like a ten year old.

Jurassic World has received heat from some critics about the poor science that underpins the film, the biggest of which is that they failed to take into account all of the new discoveries that scientists have made about dinosaurs since the first film was made. Case in point is the film’s signature velociraptors, which recent fossil findings reveal were actually feathered (as were many other species of theropods). I appreciate artistic licence, but wouldn’t it have been cool for Jurassic World to be the first movie to feature accurate feathered dinosaurs?

The other aspect of Jurassic World (Mercedes!) that may annoy some viewers (Samsung!) is the constant and overt (Coke!) product placement that makes the (Jeep!) film feel like a two hour (Apple!) commercial. Still, this factor hasn’t stopped the film making over half a billion dollars at the global box office, so maybe it doesn’t bother other people as much as it does me.

Last but not least, a note of caution to parents who are considering taking young children to see Jurassic World; there are a few moments of somewhat graphic violence, and the avian dinosaur attack (while awesome) may freak out more sensitive viewers.

Inside Out directed  by Pete Docter & Ronaldo Del Carmen

It is widely accepted that Pixar studios have never produced a bad movie, with the possible exception of the Cars series and Monsters University (all of which were released after Pixar was bought by Disney). With origins in Lucasfilm and Apple, Pixar entered the popular consciousness with the superb Toy Story, and then ascended to levels of near-perfection with films including Finding Nemo, WALL-E and Up, the movie with an opening sequence that never fails to make me cry.

Inside Out is the 15th feature film from Pixar, nine years after being bought by the House of Mouse for a staggering $7.4 billion dollars. It tells the story of a young girl named Riley and the anthropomorphic emotions that control her every move as her life is thrown into turmoil when her parents decide to move to a new state.  

The unofficial leader of the emotions is Joy, played to perfection by Amy Poehler. Joy is upbeat, positive and happy without being cloying or annoying, and Poehler captures the innocent joy of youth with aplomb. Joy’s polar opposite is Sadness, played by Phyllis Smith from the Office, and it is the conflict between these two characters that forms the emotional core of the movie. Without spoiling anything, the scene towards the end of the movie when Sadness demonstrates the value she brought to Riley’s life was beautiful and moving — and once again Pixar was able to bring tears to my eyes.

When Joy and Sadness are trapped outside Riley’s brain, the other emotions are forced to step up and take control. There is Disgust, voiced by Mindy Kaling, who protects Riley from eating anything gross, Fear, voiced by Bill Hader, who keeps Riley safe, and Anger, played by Lewis Black, who chews the scenery and seems to be enjoying himself immensely. Special mention must go Richard Kind as Bing Bong, Riley’s imaginary friend who has been abandoned as Riley grows up.

There is an undercurrent of sadness to Bing Bong that represents the loss of innocence that comes with growing up, and it is here that Inside Out could appeal as much to adults as it does to kids. More than almost any other Pixar film (except maybe Toy Story 3), Inside Out is a moving emotional journey, capturing the turmoil that runs through both kids and parents minds as the challenges of life arise.

While Inside Out is undoubtedly a moving and entertaining experience, it does have a few minor flaws. The “lost rivals become friends” plot feels derivative of the Toy Story series, and the plot slows to a crawl at times, leading to the film feeling longer than its 93 minute running time.

So what did the kids think?

Danger: It was good. My favourite character was Bing Bong the imaginary elephant, and my favourite bit of the movie was when they were in Imagination World, because they had giant chips and that made me hungry.  7/10

Angel:  It was the best movie I have ever seen. My favourite characters were Joy, Disgust, Riley and Sadness, because they’re all girls. And I really liked it when they went into the heads of the dog and cat at the end. That was funny.  2,000,000/10

The Verdict

If you’re after a well written, intelligent family movie that will appeal to both parents and kids, Inside Out is a solid choice. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a massive stupid blockbuster with dinosaur fights and things going boom, then Jurassic World is probably more your speed.

Inside Out is a film of surprising depth that will stand up to repeat viewings, while Jurassic World revels in the shallows, which is precisely the reason that it should be seen on the big screen. Jurassic World is not inherently a bad movie, but the crappy dialogue, predictable plot and wooden acting are more likely to stand out on the small screen when you’re not being distracted by massive prehistoric reptiles beating the crap out of each other.

Inside Out = Intelligent Family Entertainment — 8/10

Jurassic World = Big Dumb Fun — 7/10

Like what you read? John’s books are now available on Amazon and Kindle. For about the price of a cup of coffee you can take a journey deep into the disturbed psyche behind columns including Screen Themes, Think For Yourself, New Music Through Old Ears and JT on NXT. There’s supernatural thriller Damnation’s Flame, action/romance Reaper, black comedy City Boy and travel guidebook Bar Trek: Europe. Check them out!

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