Picture yourself on vacation. Not a road trip or familial obligation. A real treat. A doozy. You're dressed to the nines with an expensive drink in hand. You've paid a pretty penny to visit an exclusive luxury resort that promises to fulfill your wildest fantasies. But as soon as you start to enjoy yourself, one of the attractions rips you to shreds.
Welcome to a Michael Crichton thriller.
Would you rather be disemboweled by a cowboy or a dinosaur? The choice is yours this summer. "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" is in theaters, and the second season of "Westworld" just wrapped up. The movie sequel and TV remake are like fraternal twins who made drastically different life choices. Dino used to be the life of the party, but now he just yells about the glory days and punches holes in the drywall. And Wesley, voted most likely to end up on a protection order, went from class creep to Che Guevara.
"Westworld" has been criticized for being excessively gory and difficult to follow, and rightly so. The series isn't for everyone, but overly convoluted robot revolution stories are my kryptonite. This show requires the patience and analysis you'd need to complete a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. A puzzle shaped like a maze and full of scalps.
The big change that distinguishes TV "Westworld" from its film forefather is that it asks you to sympathize with the androids instead of the human characters. This isn't difficult, seeing as the show's humans are all obscenely wealthy, entitled sadists, and because people have been known to bond with Roombas and Furbies and rocks that look vaguely like faces.
I finished the season over the weekend and chased it with "The Iron Giant," which is a combination I recommend if you enjoy crying over fictional robot feelings.
If you prefer monster porn over philosophy, the "Jurassic Park" movies have consistently delivered ever more spectacular beasts, even as the quality of the plots and characters have declined like the value of a new car driven off the dealership lot. This undead horse has been beaten into a thick paste, but nostalgia and the lure of Jeff Goldblum are difficult to resist. Not to mention the big-ass murder birds.
But here's the catch: They're not even proper dinosaurs. The latest flicks feature weaponized mutants and oversized velociraptors. Plus, no one has feathers! The creature designers could have dazzled us with theropods decked out in rainbow-hued plumage, but instead they gave the entire park alopecia. Truly a cultural and artistic loss rivaled only by the destruction of the Library of Alexandria. Or the time "Spider-Man 3" wimped out on the chance to film a space shuttle crash landing on the Manhattan Bridge.
So skip them both and watch "The Iron Giant" again. Go on. You know you want to.