By Bonnie Anderson and Dan Webster
Prepare your senses, but leave your imagination at home if you plan to see ‘Jurassic World.’ Like American fast food this film is oversized, from the humungous GMO dinosaur to the record breaking profits with the highest ever opening weekend in the US ($208 million) and two weeks after opening, its worldwide gross was over a half billion dollars. But, did it sate our appetite for adventure, dinosaurs and “jungle chases”? And how about the lens of faith? Were we able to go beyond looking through the glass darkly? Kind of.
There is something to be said for films where prominent heroes are women and children. While the dinosaurs and raptors are baring their teeth, a family that seems distanced from themselves and each other carries the sub-plot. Mom and Dad send their two sons off to Jurassic World, a dinosaur island park, to be shepherded by their aunt who works there. Although Aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) hasn’t seen the boys in 7 years, she has sent her executive assistant to meet the nephews (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins). It seems that Claire is more interested in her job than her nephews.
Predictably, the nephews (no girl-child hero) become the major focus of a search and rescue after the dino gets loose in the park. Out of 20,000 visitors in the park that day, perhaps the nephews look particularly yummy to the hybrid dinosaur? At least the situation gets Aunt Claire’s attention, which she divides between the nephews and a lost-but-want-to-find-again-boyfriend, Owen (Chris Pratt). Owen is a “raptor whisperer” of sorts, giving the 4 raptors clever names and training them with a clicker. The raptors almost buy it.
The film’s overt product placement is tiresome: Coca Cola, Mercedes, Jeep, Apple, Verizon. Don’t concern yourself about putting your imagination to work as you watch. Everything is all right there, done for you and you can guess everything that happens without trying too hard.
For all the growling, snorting, chomping, running, pounding, big teeth and a musical score that pokes through to give some brief relief, the film is a box office smash hit. Perhaps so because the public misses dinosaur flicks, kids like dinosaurs, and, after all, it is summer.
But if you want to snatch a glimpse through the lens of faith, squint one eye shut and see the redemption of a family, the love of two brothers, Genetic Modification gone awry, and the truth of the importance of relationships put into perspective.
Bonnie Anderson is a very active lay leader in her parish, diocese and in the wider Episcopal Church. She is an experienced community organizer and lives in suburban Detroit. Dan Webster is an Episcopal priest in Baltimore, Maryland and a former broadcast news executive. But don’t expect only east coast urban perspectives here. As it turns out, we both grew up in Southern California. They blog about films and faith atFaith Reels.