Jurassic World is on track to enjoy a big opening weekend at the U.S. box office – though, whether or not the Jurassic Park film will live up to audience expectations, that’s another matter. The movie was co-written by Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow (the latter also directed), and features several new characters – played by the like of Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Jake Johnson, among others – in a story about a fully-operational dinosaur amusement park.
Point being, it has the makings of a new beginning for the Jurassic Park franchise, following after two sequels (The Lost World: Jurassic Park in 1997 and Jurassic Park III in 2001) that certainly didn’t kill the series – but which did in part help to deplete the goodwill generated by Steven Spielberg’s original 1993 installment. Hence, every development concerning Jurassic World has gotten a lot of attention to date, even something as simple as Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon calling the first clip released from the movie (a scene between Howard and Pratt’s characters) “sexist” on Twitter.
Whedon has since gone on record saying he regrets his Twitter comment, having called it “bad form” on his part. What’s interesting, though, is that when Italian site Bad Taste asked Trevorrow about Whedon’s criticism, the Jurassic World co-writer/director said that he doesn’t altogether disagree with Whedon’s complaint – with regard to how the scene in questions plays out between Owen Grady (Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Howard), without any additional context.
Here’s the relevant comment from Trevorrow (via Coming Soon):
“I wasn’t bothered by what he said about the movie and, to be honest, I don’t totally disagree with him. I wonder why [Universal] chose a clip like that, that shows an isolated situation within a movie that has an internal logic. That starts with characters that are almost archetypes, stereotypes that are deconstructed as the story progresses.
“The real protagonist of the movie is Claire and we embrace her femininity in the story’s progression. There’s no need for a female character that does things like a male character, that’s not what makes interesting female characters in my view. Bryce and I have talked a lot about these concepts and aspects of [her] character.”
It’s worth noting that Connolly and Trevorrow’s critically-acclaimed feature debut (as writers/directors) Safety Not Guaranteed featured a multifaceted female protagonist (as was played by Aubrey Plaza) – meaning, there’s all the more reason to believe him when he indicates Howard’s character is the one in Jurassic World who undergoes the most dramatic arc over the course of the film. Howard, in the past, has also likened Claire’s journey in the movie to Ellen Ripley’s in Aliens, and we’ve seen proof of just that in previously-released Jurassic World footage (showing Claire in fighter mode once dinosaurs get loose and chaos ensues at the Jurassic World establishment).
Howard also discussed Whedon’s Jurassic World comment recently, during an interview with The Huffington Post:
“He’s a hero, he’s an amazing guy and a champion for women in this industry. Marketing for a film is tricky because you release stuff without context. Of course there was a part of me being such a fan of him that was like, ‘Nooooo!’ Especially because when you see the movie it’s not at all like that, but we make movies and it’s out there for public opinion and I hope he likes the movie!”
There’s certainly reason to wonder how characters like Claire and Owen will compare to Jurassic Park characters like Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Alan Grant (Sam Neill), and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) – but in an age where more and more filmgoers are willing to proudly demand (and praise) better gender representation in their blockbusters, Trevorrow’s comments here are encouraging, if nothing else. The filmmaker also praised Whedon for his part in helping with that cause – arguing that the backlash to Age of Ultron (over its Natasha/Bruce love story) was blown out of proportion.
“[I] was upset about people’s reaction to his film. Joss recieved an incredible amount of anger and vitriolic comments and he doesn’t deserve that, because if there is someone who has always paid due respect to the women of his movies that guy is Joss. I think he should be the last person in Hollywood to be accused of sexism and if you’ve seen something like that in his last movie it’s not his fault. We all know that Joss is too kind and polite to rise up and tell people to screw off, so I’ll do it on his behalf!”
Constructive criticism of major tentpoles like Age of Ultron and Jurassic World (based on how they handle issues like gender) is certainly healthy and should be encouraged, but what Trevorrow’s talking about here is (obviously) not that. It will certainly be interesting to see how the moviegoing masses ultimately take to not just Jurassic World, but to how it portrays characters like Claire and Owen. There could be lots of thought-provoking discussions to have afterwards, as we’ve seen with the other big-budget releases of Summer 2015 (such as Mad Max: Fury Road).
Jurassic World opens in U.S. theaters on June 12th, 2015.
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