I was around six-years old when I first watched Jurassic Park, and there was something inherently special about the whole experience that resonated with me in a way few movies had before. I was young, to be sure, but the movie captured my childish imagination and creativity in a way that made me immediately and hopelessly fall in love with it.
While the sequels have been mostly disappointing in comparison, I still found myself waiting on Jurassic World with high hopes. I was apprehensive, to be sure, but I clung to the ideal that maybe, just maybe, this would be the sequel to capture at least a bit of the magic that made the original Jurassic Park such an enduring piece of my childhood.
After watching it opening night, I am happy to report that, for the most part, Jurassic World does exactly that. While it is undoubtedly a flawed movie, it’s everything a summer blockbuster should be and managed to catch just enough of the original’s spark to make it work for me in a way the previous two sequels did not.
This is primarily because Jurassic World feels like a very natural extension from where Jurassic Park left off. Where The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3 had to pull some heavy strings to get their characters back with the dinosaurs, Jurassic World takes an easier route, and almost reuses the same ideas from the original to build its premise.
While some could view this as a bad thing, it works far better than I had expected it to. It’s been twenty-years since the end of the first movie, and in that time, the late John Hammond has sold his company, and with it, his research, to Simon Masrani, played here by Irrfan Khan. Masrani is a seemingly well meaning businessman, and has taken Hammond’s dream and expanded it into a successful enterprise.
However, much like in the first movie, ambition gets the better of him, and due to pressure from investors and audiences desperately waiting for the ‘next big thing,’ Masrani approves of a plan to develop a genetically modified dinosaur that he hopes will re-energize his business and keep his beloved Jurassic World directly in the public’s eye.
From there, you can probably imagine what happens, as it doesn’t take long for Masrani and his researcher’s attempt at ‘playing god’ to go horribly wrong. While the themes present in Jurassic World are very similar to those seen in the original, their inclusion here works, especially since the rest of the movie does a very good job at standing on its own.
The story follows Claire Dearing, the primary park manager for Jurassic World, as she, along with Velociraptor specialist and trainer Owen Grady, try and track down Claire’s two nephews after the genetically modified Indominus Rex escapes its cage and wrecks havoc across the park. It’s straightforward, to be sure, but it works in the movie’s favor as it allows the focus to remain on the characters and their increasingly frightening run-ins with the dinosaurs.
Jurassic World is the sequel to Jurassic Park I’ve wanted since I was a kid. It’s bigger, more dynamic in its action pieces, and features more dinosaurs causing even more mayhem. Despite a simple script and some occasionally bad dialogue, Jurassic World is the kind of summer thrill ride I’ve been craving, and has just enough of the original in it to make it succeed where previous sequels have failed.
There were moments in Jurassic World that made me feel like I was six-years old again, and left me on the edge of my seat with a giant grin on my face. The visual spectacle in the movie is downright incredible, and the first real view we get of Jurassic World easily ranks up there as one of my favorite movie moments of the year so far.
As is typical for a summer blockbuster, Jurassic World is full of expensive special effects that work like they’re supposed to almost all the time. The visuals are often spectacular, but there were moments where it all became a little too extreme, making the special effects cross the line from smart to distracting a few times too many.
In almost every other case though, Jurassic World was breathtaking to look at, and the sheer joy I felt at getting to see dinosaurs on the big screen again far outweighed any occasional flaws I noticed in the special effects. The design of the many different dinosaurs was great, and I loved seeing the movie prey on what we’ve come to expect from these creatures and use them for something new and unique.
It also doesn’t hurt that Jurassic World is very character focused, and never becomes so intent on upping the ante that it forgets about its cast. That’s not to say that the characters are as memorable as the ones we met in the original film, but they play their parts well and are interesting enough that I enjoyed my time with them.
While the marketing may look like Chris Pratt’s character Owen Grady is the hero, it’s really Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire who steals the show. She may not have the action hero persona of Owen, but Claire is by far the most developed character in the cast and I enjoyed watching her grow and evolve as she was forced to overcome greater and greater threats.
Chris Pratt also fares well, and plays Owen with a sarcastic, cocky charm that’s as close to an Indiana Jones imitation as you can get. He’s not the most complex of characters, but Pratt gives his undeniably cheesy character a gruff kind of charisma that makes him easy to root for and fun to watch.
The best part of his character, however, is his relationship with the raptors, which play a part in Jurassic World that is markedly different from anything we’ve seen before. For a large portion of the movie, it seems like the raptors are almost friendly toward Owen, but as we all know, a vicious hunter can never stay docile for long, and once the raptors turn on their masters things get even more intense than they had been before.
The action as a whole is really well done, and I was consistently impressed by how well director Colin Trevorrow was able to choreograph such exciting, and even frightening, set pieces. Jurassic World is full of tense, edge of your seat moments, and while not all of them pay off as well as others, they never stop being fun and Trevorrow’s great sense of pacing ensure that you never see the same thing twice.
The music is another of the film’s better qualities, as Michael Giacchino’s score is able to create a wonderful sense of atmosphere and suspense for many of the movie’s best moments. His use of John Williams’ iconic themes are also well used, and appear in both subtle and powerful ways in order to help recapture the spirit and feel of the previous movies.
My major complaint with the movie, however, comes in the form of some seemingly unnecessary side plots that ultimately just distract the audience from the material that really matters. This is most prevalent in Vincent D’Onofrio’s character Vic Hoskins, who is such a boringly cliched villain that I nearly groaned every time he opened his mouth.
The kids in the movie thankfully fare a bit better, and Ty Simpkins gives a good performance as younger brother Gray, and it’s through his eyes that we see some of the film’s most inspiring moments. However, older brother Zach, played by Nick Robinson, spends too much of the movie playing the ‘bored teenager’ stereotype, making it harder to root for him when he does come around closer to the end.
Some of the dialogue is also distracting, as characters will either make poorly timed one-liners or just come across as glaringly stereotypical. It’s not the norm, but happens enough that it’s impossible to miss. The climax of the movie, as awesome as it is, also borders on fan service, as does the ending, which came across as endearingly tacky in the best and worst of ways.
By the time the credits began to roll, however, I had already had so much fun with the adventure that it was easy for me to look past its shortcomings. Even amidst its problems, Jurassic World was a fun and refreshingly tense action movie that captured just enough of Jurassic Park’s magic to leave me satisfied in the end.
The movie will no doubt draw some split opinions amongst fans, but I think it easily surpasses the previous two sequels, although it still can’t compare to the original. Is Jurassic World a flawed movie? Absolutely, but I walked out of the theater with a giant grin on my face, and when it comes to a good summer movie, I can’t ask for much more than that.