The Jurassic Park series is one that’s seen it’s share of flak over the years. Much of it is rightly attributed too. But one thing too many critics fail to reason, however, is that it’s all in the nature of fun. It’s, at its heart, aimed towards a far younger demographic than most superhero films are nowadays. Jurassic World is no exception. And sometimes it’s really fun simply turning your brain off and watching humans’ vain attempts to regain control of an island overrun with uncaged dinosaurs. For the most part, Jurassic World does it just right. This review does contain spoilers.
The spectacle is pretty much the same tale as told in 1993’s Jurassic Park. The major difference here is the fact that the park is now finally opened. The greedy corporate humans have decidedly not learned their lesson – not all of them anyway. They’re being far more careful with the maintenance of the resurrected dinosaurs than was originally seen in the first film. And interestingly enough the park’s been open for at least a handful of years.
Much of the film plays off the impressive nostalgia factor of the original, and with triumphant fanfare. Early on, one of the children whom we have the pleasure of following around the park as a POV character gets to his hotel room on the island, exclaiming the fact that he can’t wait any longer (in regards to Jurassic World, the amusement park). He rushes towards the window, pushing open the blinds, and John Williams’ classic theme tune from the original roars free. I’m a sucker for classic tunage at powerful moments, and I wanted to tear up there (I’ll be bawling during The Force Awakens). And that scene was done beautifully too, showing you the park’s main entrance, as it’s exactly what you’d expect a resort-type amusement park to look like; what I thought the park could be when I was a kid. Well done Trevorrow.
Another great nostalgic moment occurs in the original foyer for Jurassic Park. You know which one – the place where the tyrannosaurus rex attacked the raptors and knocked down the banner for the park. Well, it’s abandoned – probably hasn’t been touched since the first film. And neither have the coolest Jeep Wranglers in the world. So naturally, the kids fix one up (one of the kids is a genius) and ride it around the park. Never mind the fact that the gasoline is probably waterlogged and the octane content is obviously contaminated, or the fact that the gasoline in the car would have evaporated 20 years ago. It’s cool!
Let’s talk about the kids for a second. Hollywood is terrible at writing the roles of children. Actor Nick Robinson’s character, Zach, is angsty, girl hungry, disinterested, and an all around jerk. Actually, his character isn’t far from reality, as kids in Hollywood films go, but this character type has been done to death. On the other hand, Ty Simpkins younger brother character, Gray, is simply odd. You’d think the people behind the script would be itching to make a character kids could relate to. This kid is a genius, as I mentioned earlier – or at least he acts like one. And it’s really annoying. I don’t know if any kids could relate to him. There’s a point where he is counting in his head, in regards to how many teeth each dinosaur has, because somehow he knows the magical number of teeth to bring down the Indominus Rex – a monster he literally knows nothing about. C’mon.
The indominus rex is a great invention. The idea that genetic breeding exists to create bigger, more deadly dinosaurs than that of even the t-rex? That beathes new life into the series. And as nemeses go, the indominus rex is a doozy. She can camouflage, she has an excellent memory, she can communicate with raptors. She’s got it all. That and she’s huge. But at the end of the day it was awesome seeing the teamup between velociraptor and tyrannosaurus rex (and mosasaurus) as they took down the indominus. That was an awesome godzilla-esque showdown, done right. What I didn’t much appreciate was the fact that the company that commissioned it, weren’t privy to the intel on it’s genetic makeup.
Chris Pratt’s Owen is another great addition to the film. For one, Chris Pratt is everyone’s favorite actor these days. But the character itself was a strong one, proving that at least in this series, the highly intelligent pack mind of the raptors can be harnessed into a unit that can be called upon. And alongside his motorcycle, it’s so much fun. This, however, sparks a heated secondary plot thread with In-Gen, the militant company responsible for the carnage we saw in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (or JP2). They’re still at it apparently. And now we know they wish to use dinosaurs as military weapons.
But hold on. Why are they still allowed on the island? Why are they still such big players? Are they funding the island? Are they funding Owen’s research? We do know they’re funding geneticist Dr. Henry Wu, the turncoat, but why are they given all authority to take over once everything turns to crap at the end? We don’t get many answers. But the fact that they stole all the dino-dna makes it clear they were simply setting up a sequel.
And good on Universal. They deserve a sequel after grossing more money on its opening weekend than any film in history. Brilliant. Guess the world isn’t quite done with dinosaurs just yet!
Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire is a dumb character given a lot of power. She has absolutely no common sense when it comes to dinosaurs, and wears high heels the entire film, including a scene where she knows she’ll be running from a t-rex. What was that about? I would have blamed it on poor writing were it not for the fact that her stupidity was actually commented on by Owen, and she continued anyway. And the fact that she’s a really terrible aunt who can’t spare any time for her nephews? Yeah. Sorry. Didn’t much care for her.
Other characters throughout the film were simply playing roles. Irrfan Khan’s character, Simon Masrani, is the successor to John Hammond, and he even mentioned the fact. I really enjoyed his character actually. It didn’t seem to me he was the corporate tool he could have been, but a fun-loving, and genuinely interesting rich guy. He was cut from the film too soon. Jake Johnson’s Lowery, with his vintage Jurassic Park t-shirt, seemed to me to take the place of Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the original film.
Dr. Henry Wu, played by BD Wong, is the only returning character in the movie from the original trio of films. Which is a shame. I really would have like to see more of the original cast have some part in it – like a news clip of Allen, Ellie, or Ian saying “I told you this would happen,” or something other. But Henry Wu’s reappearance made sense, as they’d need a trained geneticist to do what he did in the first film. And for all the ‘dinosaurs should have feathers’ naysayers, he gets a throwaway line explaining in so many words that he doesn’t “make them like they’re supposed to look.” But what the heck, why were the pterodactyl’s given tyrannosaur heads? C’mon!
The park, for the most part made a ton of sense. I like the fact that the raptors weren’t an exhibit, but merely an experiment on the northern side of the island. What didn’t make as much sense to me were the gyrospheres. I get how they worked, I guess. But are you telling me you have nobody watching over the riders? Over the dinosaurs? It seems to me there would need to be watchtowers stationed every half kilometer or so, making sure nobody rams into the legs of the poor herbivores, and better yet, to keep track of the humans’ safety, in case one of the gyrospheres breaks down.
A lot of times throughout the film the product placement feels like a commercial. Actually, there’s a specific scene which I’m pretty sure must have been used for Mercedes-Benz commercial. Verizon also gets a shoutout. And Starbucks is featured all over. This is pushed in your face, unnecessarily.
All in all though, this is the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in a long long while. If you’re in the minority and haven’t already seen it, you probably shouldn’t have read this far. But go see it. It’s predictable. But not to the point where it isn’t enjoyable. It’s a solid 7.5.