I saw Jurassic World on opening weekend alongside 4.6 billion others. Not quite opening night, because that level of commitment is reserved for more sacred stuff like Star Wars. (175 more days. But who’s counting?)
Chris Pratt playing with raptors? Riding alongside them on a motorcycle? Some sort of big bad hybrid dino? Even though the trailers did practically nothing for me, I still wanted to see Jurassic World sooner than later.
Because hey, it’s Jurassic Park — er, World. And now that it’s the year of our Lord 2015, the latest installation would just have to be better than this:
Turns out Jurassic World was indeed better than the other two sequels. Far better than my basement-level expectations. But I’ll leave the official Jurassic World recap to my friend, Craven. He knows what’s up, and this franchise is more sacred to him than me.
I imagine most people go see Jurassic World to ooh and ahh at CGI dinosaurs ripping apart humans and other CGI dinosaurs. I’m sure most boys do anyway, boys young and old. I don’t mind the action; I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a few chills at a roaring T-Rex, CGI or otherwise.
But, for me, dino-carnage and ethics of dino-resurrection and the durability of Bryce Dallas Howard’s heels were all secondary details. I’m sure I was in the minority of Jurassic World‘s movie-goers transfixed by something else entirely — namely the film’s two kid brothers, Zach and Gray.
Jurassic World was supposed to be an action movie about dinosaurs. But instead it struck some severe emotional chords in me.
It all hearkens back to a blog post I wrote a couple years ago. Of longing for an older brother. Someone to lead me and protect me from danger and dinosaurs. A steady source of guidance and affirmation regardless of how low I ever get.
For two hours in a darkened theater, I couldn’t stop yearning for that all too fictional brother in my life.
But before the film’s mushy stuff, there had to be a barrage of verbal assaults from older brother, Zach, to younger brother, Gray:
“You’re not 5.”
“You’re gonna cry?”
“There’s a point you have to grow up.”
Boys are rough; boys will be boys. I’m sure I said similarly confrontational things to my younger brother as we grew up.
Because older brothers are for antagonizing.
But I never had an older brother to tell me all those hurtful things. I suppose it’s a strange thing to wish for, but I do wish it. I wish I’d had an older brother who told me to shut up or stop crying.
Eventually teenage Zach stops eyeing the older girls at Jurassic World and gets over himself. He starts having fun with his kid brother in this boyhood’s dream realm of dinosaurs. They laugh and bond from attraction to attraction, even ditching their assigned chaperone in the spirit of reckless abandon.
When Zach and Gray take a ride in their own spinning gyrosphere (after some safety assurance from Jimmy Fallon), an alert urges them to return to the monorail. Eyeing a breached fence, though, Zach turns to Gray with a sinister smile.
“Dude,” he says. “Off-road.”
And though younger brother Gray expresses hesitation over this breaking of the rules with his brother, he goes along nonetheless.
Because older brothers are for adventures.
For all the jabs and insults, they beckon you with a “dude” and a smile and take you off-road whether you like it or not. You may not like it at first…but then you kinda do.
Zach’s decision ultimately leads to the brothers’ first confrontation with the Indominus Rex, but it leads to my favorite moment in the film. Zach and Gray temporarily escape the dinosaur’s clutches and run to a waterfall cliff.
“We have to jump,” Zach says.
Gray shakes his head. “I can’t.”
Meanwhile, the Indominus Rex bounds toward them. Without asking for his younger brother’s approval, Zach starts a 3-2-1 countdown and Gray leaps with his older brother into the water below. They swim to a muddy shore, and Zach looks over at Gray.
“You jumped,” he laughs.
Gray laughs, too. Zach puts his arm around his younger brother, pulling him close as they catch their breaths facedown in the mud.
Because older brothers are for believing in you.
Throughout the rest of the film Gray often reaches for his older brother’s arm, his strong hand, and Zach does not push him away.
When a fallen pterodactyl spears toward the younger brother, Zach puts his hand over Gray, willing to suffer the puncture himself.
When the Indominus Rex claws for Gray in a confined space, Zach pulls him back, a feverish determination in his eyes.
Zach reminds Gray about a time he was there for him in the past. And he assures Gray with a hug that he’ll always be there for him in the future, too.
Because older brothers are for protecting you.
It’s an extremely dramatic (and, yes, fictional) situation, I realize. Most brothers don’t have to endure an amusement park that goes the way of a metaphoric meteor shower.
But brothers have to endure other disasters. Divorce. Death. College and separation.
I don’t have an older brother, and I had to learn boyhood as I went along. I always felt like a black sheep among other boys, and I wish I’d had someone two or three years older to guide me along. To tell me nothing’s gonna get me. Not while he’s around.
He’d tell me to shut up and leave him alone sometimes. Maybe most times. But whenever danger loomed, he’d grab my chest and step between me and the dinosaur. He’d take a bullet or a bite over his younger brother’s life.
I’d reach for his hand, and he wouldn’t shove me away.
I’d look at impossible waterfalls and be too terrified to jump, and yet I would. Because of him.
He’d look me in the eye and tell me I’m stronger than him. And our brotherhood would only grow greater with every passing quake.
Or, at least, that’s how I hope it’d have gone.
Even now in my late twenties, I still wish it could go something like that.
Have you ever yearned for an older sibling? What’s your sibling dynamic?