If Zara Young, Bryce Dallas Howard's dark-haired assistant, had survived and become the hero, Jurassic World would be a thousand times better.
Hear me out.
Enough time has passed for us, as a nation, to finally have a serious conversation about Jurassic World. I'm going to be upfront with you right now: This article isn't for everyone. Some of the things I'm going to say are going to be controversial. Feelings are going to be hurt. If you're the kind of person who thought the movie was perfect and becomes enraged when you're proven wrong, then you won't like what I'm about to say. But if, like me, you thought it was fun but messy, inferior to its predecessors, and kind of a garbage piece of shit hack movie, then this article might be right up your alley. Because I think I know exactly how to fix it.
So here's how it's going to go: On the first page, I'm going to lay out all the issues I had with this summer's biggest blockbuster. Then, on the second page, I'm going to explain how Zara could've fixed literally all of it. Are you ready? Come on this journey with me, you bunch of fuck-knuckles.
Let's go through Jurassic World's supposed heroes and explain why they're the kind of people I'd like to kick out of my birthday party. First we have Chris Pratt, whose name in the film doesn't matter (it's Owen). He trains velociraptors for a living. He should've died. I can't take credit for that observation. I stole it from Paul McCartney:
Or John Lennon; who cares.
Now, I get why people think Owen is a cool character. I have no philosophical objection to a man riding a motorcycle through the rainforest flanked by velociraptors. Anyone who says they hate that idea on its own is not just insane, I would argue, but actively evil. Get off my planet, evil one, for this is a land of dreamers, and we have no place for you.
But context is still a thing. You can't just throw raptor bikers into any movie that involves dinosaurs and/or motorcycles and expect it to just work. They would make no sense in Easy Rider, for example. And it definitely makes no sense here, because the entire point of Jurassic Fucking Park is that the dinosaurs can't be controlled.
Pictured: One of Spielberg's more subtle shots.
Owen should've either been killed or at the very least learned the error of his ways at some point. But instead, the movie ends with him and the raptor practically fucking fist-bumping before cheerfully going their separate ways. Never mind the fact that he is directly responsible for every death in the movie, because it's his fault the Indominus rex escapes in the first place, because he decided to go investigate the rex's cage before being absolutely sure that the animal wasn't still in there.
Remember? Remember that ridiculous decision he made?
The other hero is Bryce Dallas Howard, whose name in the movie also doesn't matter (it's Claire). She is, again, responsible for every death in the movie. Her first comment when Owen says to evacuate the island is:
Her first instinct is to prioritize money over human lives, and her arc has nothing to do with unlearning that. The only lesson she learns in this movie is that maybe her career isn't as important as being motherly -- not "maybe it's not cool to play god with dinosaurs," and not "maybe human life matters more than money," which are both lessons she badly needs to fucking learn. She just learns that she's supposed to pay more attention to kids, because that's lady-work. And, again, it's worth noting that it is her fault the Indominus rex escapes.
"What? You're saying I should've used the tracking device to find the dinosaur before
I issued a state of emergency?
Again, let me be absolutely clear: A velociraptor and a T-rex teaming up to fight another dinosaur is very, very cool. I have no problem with any of the action sequences in this movie on their own. But the action in Jurassic Park, despite its inferior CGI, meant more because it had interesting characters and meaningful arcs providing the context. We want Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler, and those stupid kids to escape. But in this movie, everyone is dicks. More on that in a second, but first:
Hey, you know those scenes about how Zach and Gray's parents are getting divorced? Remember those? It's fine if not, because they don't matter. You could cut them out of the movie and the only thing to change would be the runtime. It's the closest thing we get to a human moment (I'll maintain that the older brother/younger brother interactions in this movie are the closest thing to a depiction of actual human beings that this movie has) but it's ultimately pointless. We don't even know if the trauma of almost losing their kids makes the barely-fucking-qualify-as-characters parents get back together. Nothing matters! None of this is real!
There's a scene in this movie where Claire is talking to her sister on the phone, and the following exchange happens:
Sister: "You'll see when you have kids."
Claire: "Yeah, if."
Sister: [scolding] "When!"
Meanwhile, Claire is skipping out on her nephews to get her job done, while Sister (Judy Greer) is ignoring her office duties to talk to her sister. The message is clear: Greer represents a woman devoted to her family, while Claire represents career women. But don't worry: Claire gets taught to let her hair down by Owen, who makes fun of her stupid outfit and shows no respect for her as a human being for the entire fucking movie.
Then there's Zach, the older brother who apparently hates his girlfriend ... ? When we meet him and he's getting ready to go on his Jurassic World trip, she's like, "I love you!" And he's all, "Whatever." Then he spends the entire movie trying to cheat on her, but his only game is to glare at women until they act creeped out. That's his "move."
It doesn't work.
Which is a fine character trait to start someone with, but "the compulsive urge to cheat" is such a mean-spirited and selfish character trait that it's insane that the movie doesn't do anything with it. Being creepy is a flaw, not an endearing trait. Jesus Christ, movie.
The other career woman in the movie is Zara Young, Claire's assistant (played by Katie McGrath), who is asked to look after Zach and Gray, the movie's kid characters. She's also career-driven and assertive, so she dies the most horrific death in the movie, which is shot with the frantic splashing and screaming that, when combined with comments about how these animals raised in captivity have their development stunted, invokes the deaths of Tilikum the whale's trainers at SeaWorld, as documented in Blackfish. Poor Zara gets tortured more than the movie's actual antagonist.
Yeah! That's what you get for being briefly short-tempered in one of the five scenes you're in!
Why? The worst thing she says is an offhand comment about her fiance's bachelor party, which means literally nothing out of context. And when we hear her talking to Claire on the phone about how her nephews are missing, she seems genuinely concerned. Call me crazy, but "genuine concern for other living humans" is something I like in a character. It's something I find heroic.
So how could Zara fix all these problems? I'm glad you asked, tiny man who lives in my mouth. My explanation is over on Page 2.
As an audience full of thinking, feeling human beings, we can't help but root for someone getting married, because marriage represents commitment, a new future, and a lot of growth and exploration. It's easy for us to empathize with young people and easy to forgive their mistakes -- like, say, taking an administrative job at a company that is evil and trying to play God. And speaking of humanizing character flaws:
There's no getting around the fact that Zara doesn't like the kids she's tasked with caring for, but hey, where have we seen that character trait before?
Zara doesn't hate the kids -- remember, she is genuinely concerned that they're missing. She's just an impatient and controlling person, which is part of being the type of workaholic who gets hired into the fast-paced, cutthroat company that runs Jurassic World.
Basically, she's an uptight person who's being given the opportunity to learn how to accept that life can't be controlled. Huh -- that sounds pretty familiar too.
Zara is a valuable employee, hard-working and detail oriented. When Claire is trying to schedule her evening with her nephews, Zara is the one who remembers her appointments. When she watches the kids Claire dumps on her, she also spends most of her time on her phone, because she's trying to do her normal job in addition to looking after the kids. Also, she looks like she's in her mid-to-late 20s, but she's a personal assistant to Jurassic World's park operations manager. I'm impressed, because she's my age, but her job involves dinosaurs. So she's better at life than I am. Does your job involve dinosaurs? No? Then she's better at life than you too.
We like ambitious people in Jurassic Park. Dr. Grant, Dr. Sattler, Ian Malcolm -- all people who are in love with their jobs. Of course, Hammond (the founder of Jurassic Park) and Gennaro (the blood-sucking lawyer) are also ambitious, but their fatal flaw is that they're not deep-thinkers. They aren't considering the morality of what they're doing and are utterly uninterested in doing so. So where does Zara fall on this divide?
That's Ian Malcolm's book, God Created Dinosaurs, and no way it's light reading. Do you remember how that motherfucker talks? That book is going to be a pretentious, condescending slog, and it's going to be critical of everything Zara does for a living, but she's reading it anyway. She's drawn to the difficult questions at the heart of her career. Even now, as she glares at Gray for no reason, we can see the potential for real growth, should she be thrown into some kind of life-threatening adventure that strips away the bullshit and forces her to discover who she really is. Ya know, maybe one involving escaped dinosaurs, or something.
I'm convinced that, like every great protagonist, Zara wouldn't have just learned. She would've taught, too: She could've taught Zach how to not be such a creep to ladies by showing him that women were capable human beings, and maybe Zach gets an arc where he actually gives a fuck about that girl back home who dares use the L-word on him in the opening scene. Her upcoming marriage would've dovetailed nicely with Gray's concern about his parents' divorce by giving him a different perspective on marriage, maybe teaching him some complexities, and teaching him the lesson that for grown-ups change isn't always bad. There could've been a great scene, maybe while they're hiding in a tree trunk, where they bond over that shit and give the kids the strength they need to pull through. Ya know. Character shit.
But, mostly, our heroes -- Owen and Claire -- would've represented nice foils for her: If she stayed too focused on her career, she would've ended up a soulless demon who cares about profits over human lives.
But if she went too far the other way, she'd become like Owen and just be an intolerable, self-centered, arrogant fucking asshole.
Don't you see? Zara was the key. The key to everything. The key to making this whole big mess of an adventure make sense. And she's dead now, because none of us appreciated her. It's all our fault, guys. It's all our fault.
Goodnight, sweet princess.
Based on the cast and crew, we assumed that Jurassic World would be a comedy. See how a comedy would make perfect sense in 4 Signs 'Jurassic World' Is Supposed To Be A Comedy. Also read 7 Movie Plot Holes You Didn't Notice Due To Editing (Pt. 2), and try to figure out how a T-rex can squeeze through a window in Lost World.
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Most rich kids just want to be pop stars.
How did these hyper-specific tropes spread so quickly?
The Hollywood rumor mill has been playing games with celebrity deaths for at least a century.