So, I went with friends to see Jurassic World this past Saturday, helping it smash the opening weekend box office record, despite my declaration back in December 2012 that I’m not a fan of the AmusementParkRideIfication of movies.
What can I say? I was in the mood for some unapologetic eye candy.
Anyway, while I knew going in that Steven Spielberg — Director of the first two Jurassic Park movies and Executive Producer of the third — was the Executive Director of Jurassic World, what I never expected was such an explicit thread connecting 2015’s Jurassic World and Spielberg’s second film and breakout blockbuster hit from exactly 40 years ago, 1975’s Jaws.
There are two references to Jaws in Jurassic World (spoiler alert!):
- In a fairly early scene in the movie, we see a Sea World-esque exhibit at the Jurassic World amusement park, where a Great White shark is lowered over the water to lure a gigantic Mosasaurus to burst through the surface, into the air, and swallow the shark whole.
- At the climax of the movie, our heroes are trapped, and the youngest among them, the middle school dinosaur savant, recites the line, “We need more teeth.”
The first reference is obvious enough. They could have used any number of very large animals as bait for the Mosasaurus, but they chose a shark.
The second reference, however, may not be as obvious, but I recognized it immediately, because it refers to one of the most oft-quoted lines from the heavily quoted Jaws.
Both “We need more teeth.” and “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” suggest that more of something is needed for the characters’ survival, and they both foreshadow the climaxes of their respective movies.
In the case of the former, the line gives Bryce Dallas Howard‘s Claire the idea to let the Tyrannosaurus Rex out of its paddock to fight the Indominus Rex, allowing them to escape. In the case of the latter, the boat does indeed prove to be too small, rammed and torn apart by the Great White, killing Quint, and nearly killing Brody and Richard Dreyfuss‘s Matt Hooper.
Coming full circle, back to my declaration about the AmusementParkRideIfication of movies, I’m inclined to stand by that characterization, but I feel like, in the two and a half years since I made that declaration, I no longer feel like condemning such movies outright.
Thoughtful, more cerebral films continue to be made, and as long as the amusement park ride is fun, which Jurassic World decidedly is, why should I complain?