Director Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World opens in less than a week. One of our most anticipated June releases, the return to Steven Spielberg’s celebrated Jurassic Park universe is expected to top the box office for its opening weekend, even as the franchise’s longtime fans remain cautiously optimistic that this update can live up to the iconic original.
As we’re given more insights into the incredible advancements of the movie’s science, worries about the dynamic between leads Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard were thrust to the forefront after The Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon called out the film’s first released clip as “sexist.” Colin Trevorrow responded by explaining that, essentially, the clip was taken out of context and that Howard’s character – Jurassic World’s operations manager Claire Dearing – is actually the protagonist of the story.
Evidently, Whedon’s criticism left Trevorrow “distraught,” as described in a new profile of Bryce Dallas Howard in The Telegraph. One of the pivotal ideas behind Trevorrow’s approach to his decades-later reboot was to build the story around Howard’s character, who she describes as “incredibly accomplished, but also flawed and myopic, and who reconnects with her humanity” following the escape of hybrid dino Indominus rex and the ensuing chaos.
Howard reiterates her director’s position that the clip Whedon saw as “70s-era sexist” was misunderstood, saying:
“Part of me wanted to scream, ‘No, no, please don’t misunderstand!’ Joss Whedon is a hero of mine, and what he’s done for women in film and television, particularly when it comes to writing female roles that would typically go to a man, is awesome. But the tricky thing with movies is, you release these little bits without the larger context. And that scene only shows my character at the beginning of her journey.”
The clip’s release and the subsequent firestorm led Howard to wonder if her role had indeed been whittled down in the editing phase to a mere love interest. Trevorrow laid rest to those fears with an email which read, “Don’t worry, you’re still the hero.” Claire Dearing, more than Chris Pratt’s dinosaur wrangler Owen Grady, appears to be the character who changes the most by the end of the film.
As the daughter of Ron Howard – director of Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind and a Hollywood mainstay for decades – Bryce Dallas Howard had a behind-the-scenes view of the magic of filmmaking from an early age, but describes Jurassic Park as leaving her “shell-shocked,” saying of her generation: “’Jurassic Park’ was our ‘Star Wars.’ ”
Howard describes what Jurassic Park means to moviegoers of a certain age, saying:
“Chris, Colin and I are all in our 30s: it’s our generation’s movie. We were on set humming the John Williams theme song. You can’t help it! It’s iconic. We viewed everything through the lens of people who were first and foremost fans.”
Howard also heaped praise on Colin Trevorrow, saying that while other directors she had worked were not exactly detail-oriented, Trevorrow was the opposite. According to Howard:
“Whereas with Colin, he had so thoughtfully planned out every single moment of this movie, and pre-animated every sequence in which there were dinosaurs, so we all knew our role in those scenes and what our characters were seeing. And I didn’t have those insecure moments on set where you think, ‘Is this too big, is this too small?’ Because he was so clear with his vision.”
So with Jurassic World‘s release right around the corner and Universal’s marketing onslaught entering overdrive, this attempt to squelch any residue of controversy surrounding Joss Whedon’s comments – which he has since apologized for – also places Bryce Dallas Howard’s character as the film’s clear protagonist. None of the trailers have done so, framing the movie’s rampaging-dinosaur adventure story as the main draw (which is fair).
Still, if Howard’s character was always meant to take center stage in Jurassic World, why shy away from this? Context or no context, Whedon’s criticism actually seems to be accurate, at least when it comes to how a major Hollywood movie studio chooses to present this major summer release and reboot of a venerable franchise, which happens to be a touchstone of popular culture.
Jurassic World opens in U.S. theaters on June 12th, 2015.
Source: The Telegraph
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