Welcome to Jurassic World, Part 7: What Works and Really?

“Really?”

I’m not going to over-elaborate in this section. In prior posts I have discussed some of the inconsistencies in the film. Here I will mention a few that I haven’t yet gotten around to, which leaves about two topics.

The CG is at times an issue, but at times I was surprised it worked so well. Sadly, the reason CG usually doesn’t work as well as it could have less to do with actual computer technology and other film trends. Even more surprising was the occasional actual practical effect like the dying Apatosaurus.

The implementation of the Phase One: Real World order rolls out slower than the execution of Order 66 in Revenge of the Sith, as quite a bit of screentime passes before the last employee (the gyrosphere operator) hears about it.

What Works

Jurassic World (2015, Universal)

In parsing through many smaller moments in the larger sections there are similarly not many elements I enjoyed that didn’t get mentioned. The first thing that bears saying is that Trevorrow successfully transitions from a small film with a fantastical element, Safety Not Guaranteed, to a fantastical story with smaller elements here.

As mentioned above the use of some practicals is greatly appreciated, and of course, I love that this was a film that brought the series back to its roots of a being a park of dinosaurs (which is coincidentally the Brazilian title), which two and three kind of skipped.

The pulse-pounding elements are also there aside from youthful wonder. Many of the at-the-screen 3D-aimed scares worked on me more than once, and the ACU (Asset Containment Unit) members’ deaths being accompanied by the sound of flatlining as they monitored their vitals was especially effective.

Jurassic World (2015, Universal)

Character’s deaths can be among the trickiest things to handle in films. The handling of a death scene, like the genres of horror and comedy, can be highly subjective. The death of Zara (Katie McGrath) in the clutches of a Pterodactyl seems to hover in the gray area between comedy and horror, and it’s not a wonder its received a disparate range of reactions.

The reasons this scene works for me are myriad, among them being the morbid sense of humor, it’s the schadenfreude of taking out an annoying character, but the main reason is that it takes what is not inherently a threatening family of the dinosaur kingdom and really renders them terrifying by the torturous ordeal it puts her through, which ups the stakes for the other chases and battles, namely the one Claire ends, saving Grady, with cool confidence and a flurry of well-placed shots.

This series concludes tomorrow with Part 8: Conclusion.

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Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Dick Moore

Introduction

This is my latest post (fourth overall) for the Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge hosted by Out of the Past. This book fits in a few categories as biographical/filmographic account of Dickie Moore’s work but also counts as an interview book as he spoke to many of his contemporaries later on and compared experiences.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (But Don’t Have Sex or Take the Car) by Dick Moore

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (1984, Harper & Row)

When I was growing up I was a kid who loved movies, movies of all kinds. When there were young characters, of course, I identified with them. Still recalling what it’s like to be of that age, I still do to the extent I can. As I grew, and started to learn a bit more a bout how films are made, separating the fantasy from reality and liking them both; things were really changed for me with one film and one name: Home Alone starring Macaulay Culkin.

As a kid who sought all different kinds of artistic expression it was mind-blowing that a kid could have that kind of success, and at that age I believed a great deal of talent. Following his trajectory there was quite a class of young actors in the early ‘90s I followed: the star of his next film Anna Chlumsky, another talent he teamed with that had more depth and range, and still does, Elijah Wood. It was quite a group of actors in the early years of the soon-to-be-called Millennials.

As I continued to follow film, and created my personal film awards, I wanted to recognize and reward young talents that were often overlooked. Similarly, as I started to watch older films I started find favorites from different eras. One of those is Dickie Moore, who I’ve seen in a number of studio and Poverty Row titles alike.

Blonde Venus (1932, Paramount)

Perhaps the strongest group of young actors came to the fore in the infancy of synchronized sound and the dawn of the Depression. As is astutely covered in Dick Moore’s account the conditions in Hollywood and society as a whole were perfect for this boom crop.

Typically, when I’ve read about film I’ve been most concerned about the material at hand. The film, analysis of it, the construction and creation of it. Having a staunch belief in separating art from artist as much as possible has limited my interest in biographical accounts to an extent. One thing I do like is setting the record straight, which is much of the larger goal of Cliff Aliperti’s great bio on Freddie Bartholomew, which I just read.

However, seeking a firsthand account lead me to this book, and what’s better is that it constructs itself based on the collected experience of many actors from the era. Yes, there is hindsight involved, but the honesty and self-examination and multi-faceted nature of the investigation of their careers, their lives, and how one affected the other is fascinating to read.

The Devil is a Sissy (1936, MGM)

Those Moore talks to are a veritable all-star cast:

Cora Sue Collins, Jackie Coogan, Jackie Cooper, Edith Fellows, Peggy Ann Garner, Lillian Gish, Bonita Granville, Darryl Hickman, Sybil Jason, Gloria Jean, Marcia Mae Jones, Roddy McDowall, Spanky McFarland, Sidney Miller, Kathleen Nolan, Margaret O’Brien, Donald O’Connor, Diana Cary (a.k.a. Baby Peggy), Jane Powell, Juanita Quigley, Gene Reynolds, Mickey Rooney, Ann Rutherford, Dean Stockwell, Matthew Beard (a.k.a Stymie), Shirley Temple Black, Bobs Watson, Delmar Watson, Jane Withers, and Natalie Wood.

The chapters are typically focused on one topic at a time yet linked chronologically so you get versions of:

Life before the movies; stories of parents on set in; how the studio system pressured kids to keep in front of rolling cameras; an insightful look inside the studio school bubble; how these kids related to the adults they work with and around, important as they had few contemporaries; a chronicle of successes, nerves, and stresses; tales of financial woe in the days before regulation and the loophole in the first law to protect minors’ earnings; tales of further imposed awkwardness and arrested development in adolescence; struggling with what happens after the phone stops ringing; and leaving home and/or show business.

Conclusion

In Love with Life (1934, Invincible)

I could go on and citing quotes ad nauseum as I did quite a bit of underlining in this one, but for those interested I’d rather not ruin the surprises herein. There is certainly plenty of food for thought, differing and insights. It’s not an easy book to get anymore, I believe mine was secondhand, unless it really sat around Strand for years and years but if you look around the Internet you should be able to find it, and if interested in any of the subjects you should give it a read.