It’s been 20 years since we last visited the prehistoric amusement park on Isla Nublar. In that time, the science, technology, and security has gotten better, and Jurassic
Park World is a thriving vacation destination. We find the park in its peak popularity, filled with patrons and dinosaurs alike. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the operations manager for Jurassic World and is on the cusp of revealing a brand new, made from scratch, bigger badder dino. Also arriving that weekend are Claire’s nephews – Zach and Gray (Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson). This new genetic creation is the next bright hope for growing interest and hype in the park, which happens every time they have a new dinosaur debut.
Dinosaur expert and raptor trainer, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), is brought in for last minute security checks and overall ideas about the new Indominus Rex. Unfortunately for all involved, the dinosaur proves herself more of a clever girl than any had expected, leading to the escape of the deadly beast. What follows is a pretty wild thrill ride that, along with its fair share of eye-rolling nonsense, hearkens back to some nostalgia and adventure for a movie that is better than I thought it would – or could be.
The best thing Jurassic World has going for it, is that it is pretty much Jurassic Park 2, wholly ignoring The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3. There is a weight and reverence held for the first movie that feels like a logical jumping off point, not just “Holy shit, more dinosaur danger on an island!” I mean, yeah, there is obviously dinosaur danger in this movie, but it didn’t exactly feel inevitable – even though that’s the whole point of these movies.
Which is probably the hardest part about making this series: it’s such a crazy bananas dangerous idea that it is hard to imagine any government allowing it, much less anyone financing it. Jurassic World allows itself to jump that logic gap by saying “Screw it, someone DID allow it and it’s popular as all heck.” The lack of logic in this sequel comes from the idea that the same head scientist, Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong, recurring his role from the first movie), forgot the ONE thing that caused all the havoc in the first one – unexpected characteristics from patchwork genetics. That’s honestly the biggest problem with the movie. Not the ONLY problem, mind you – but the biggest. Which, if you can get over, can lead to a pretty okay time. There is a pretty lame side plot with Vincent D’Onofrio wanting to make and use dinosaurs as weapons on the battlefield, and a good share of “Godzilla” syndrome – wherein people put themselves in harms way for no explicable reason.
The acting is solid from both leads, even if the dialog isn’t always the best. We’ve seen Chris Pratt being Chris Pratt in every other movie this same way, but heck, it’s still working for now. The kids aren’t jarring and there is good comedic levity from Jake Johnson, who plays the park’s tech operator. Also, a good addition is Irrfan Khan who plays Simon Masrani – owner of the park and self-heralded torch-holder for Dr. Hammond himself, who in the same way, worries less about bottom lines and more about guest enjoyment.
A grand sense of awe is still present, and I found myself getting chills at the big reveal, as I’m sure was intended. The score is still epic and full with the familiar theme, but surprisingly done by the great Michael Giacchino instead of the expected and great John Williams. Dinosaurs are still really rad, and honestly, the raptor training stuff really kindof worked for me. It was a little hammy, but it worked. The busy park felt real, and it seemed like the idea of arms-length danger was always tingling among the crowds. And man, I’m here to tell you: dinosaurs are still pretty dang cool. Jurassic World, as far as the other movies go, felt much more violent. The deaths were much more explicit than it seemed in the other ones. The previous films felt like there were more implied or off-screen deaths, and the ones shown I don’t remember being this bloody. I say this not as a detraction, I guess since, I mean, we’re dealing with living, breathing gargantuan meat eaters, but only as a warning for those looking to take young kids. There was a mother with a 5 or 6-year-old boy in front of me, and I felt like it would be a little too much for someone his age.
It looked really sharp, the actors were good, and the whole thing felt like a respectful love letter to the original and all those who loved it. It’s still stupid in some parts and has its flaws, but for everything that was stacked against it, Jurassic World is a pretty all right time.
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