Jurassic World Review
THE PARK IS OPEN
(AND THAT’S A GOOD THING)
Welcome…to Jurassic Park” is the famous line uttered by Richard Attenbourgh’s character John Hammond from Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur adventure movie Jurassic Park. Released in 1993, this movie, which was based upon the book by Michael Crichton, was highly regarded for its cinematic technical achievements in both practical and visual effects, bringing to life dozens of prehistoric dinosaurs to the big screen in ways that other movies only dream of. Jurassic Park went on to become a classic blockbuster film, hauling in (including several re-releases) over 1 billion dollars at the box office and sits currently at #17 in the highest grossing films of all time. Its identity became famous as well, producing a marketing frenzy of products (toys, games, etc) including two sequel movie spinoffs with 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park and 2001’s Jurassic Park III. Now, after a lengthy gap, Universal Pictures, Steven Spielberg (as executive producer), and director Colin Trevorrow return to the world that began back in 1993 with the fourth film in the franchise titled Jurassic World. Does this long overdue sequel resonate with nostalgia from its illustrious past or should this up-to-date summer blockbuster go extinct like the dinosaurs?
Twenty years have passed and much has changed on Isla Nublar since horrific events at Jurassic Park. Billionaire Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) has taken the late John Hammond’s idea of a dinosaur theme park and turned into a fully functional reality at Jurassic World. With thousands of guest shuffling in and out the theme park daily, Jurassic World has perfected the trials of dinosaur containment as the park’s operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) keeps a vigil eye over the exhibits and attractions. When her nephews, Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson), arrive at the park, Claire has little time to share with them, making the boys experience Jurassic World on their own (with an assistant chaperone). Claire’s attention is elsewhere as the theme park is gearing up to debut its first genetically engineered dinosaur, Indominus Rex, bringing onboard ex-military man and alpha raptor trainer, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), to consult on this newest exhibit. Unfortunately, things go terrible wrong as the deadly Indominus Rex escapes from captivity and starts to rampage, forcing Claire, Owen, and a squad of InGen soldiers, led by Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), to stop the menacing creature before it reaches the park’s tourists, which includes Claire’s two nephews.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
I remembered when I was first saw Jurassic Park back in 1993. I was scared out of my mind and had nightmares about dinosaurs chasing me for months. As grew older, I often returned to watching Jurassic Park and fell more in love with the movie after each viewing. I’ve watched the other two movies (Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III) and found them to be just okay with the original film still as my personal favorite. Even if the film is dated in comparison to today’s movies, Jurassic Park is still a phenomenal movie that has captured iconic movie history moments with a blend of cinema magic and technical / visual achievements found its feature presentation (something that’s hard for current movies to capitalize on). Like most out there, I heard the news that Jurassic Park 4 (which became Jurassic World), I geeked out, but was still cautious on how it would size up against the classic first installment of the franchise. After viewing it, I found, despite a couple of hiccups and minor flaws, Jurassic World to be a exhilarating movie that captures the spirit of the first film and refreshes the movie series for old fans and new audiences to enjoy.
Colin Trevorrow, who has directed the small indie film Safety Not Guaranteed, helms Jurassic World and succeeds brightly at it. Tasked with bring an new entry to the screen in a more profound way than previous chapters, Trevorrow seems to honor the magnificence Steven Spielberg’s vision, choosing to ignore the past two sequels, and treats Jurassic World has a extension of the first film. Trevorrow also has the opportunity in the movie to showing off the park (Jurassic World) to viewers in spectacular fashion. Pulled from the disaster and transformed into a thriving dinosaur mecca, the amusement park of Jurassic World is a sight to behold that features a monorail system, a dinosaur sea-creatures show (similar to Sea World), triceratops rides, a petting zoo, jungle safari tours, educational exhibits, and viewing areas for visitors to watch and interact with the prehistoric creatures. It’s a fully functionally theme park that will certainly make you (the viewer) wish that you could step into that fictional movie world and experience the thrills of this dinosaur fantasyland theme park. The movie evens showcases the corporate mind mentality of an amusement park with the need of expansion of bigger and thrilling attractions.
Like its predecessors, disaster does eventually strike as the movie itself goes into full throttle action mode with dinosaur chases and encounters that are on par with the rest of series. Trevorrow does a good job in building up momentum over the course of the film with showdown with the Indominus Rex that’s a highlight of the feature. Cinematography director John Schwartzman must be mentioned as Jurassic World is a vibrant world of majestic colors and usage of both obstructive camera angles to build intrigue and sweeping camera angles to view imagery vistas. The visuals are also amazing with dinosaur (both large and small) come alive on-screen with the usage of CG and practical effects. The Indominus Rex, Owen’s Velociraptors pack, Pterodactyls, and the Mosasaurs, are just a handful of prehistoric dinosaur showcased in the movie and are fantastically rendered. The 3D aspect of the movie is not really necessary, but to fully immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of this movie world, Jurassic World is best seeing on an IMAX screen. As a warning, the movie is rated PG-13 for a reason and younger viewers, while probably fascinated with dinosaurs, might be a little scared of these CGI creatures as they viciously attack fellow dinosaurs and humans.
Jurassic World is littered with references from Jurassic Park in the form of Easter eggs. I won’t mention them all, but places and objects are mentioned from the first movie and even an old dinosaur adversary makes a grandiose appearance. To me, the best Easter egg comes in the form of musical score. Michael Giaccchino creates his own score for Jurassic World, but also blends John William’s classic Jurassic Park theme into his score, creating an original music sets that’s dotted with William’s iconic Jurassic leitmotifs. Thematically speaking, Trevorrow also keeps Spielberg and author Michael Crichton ideals in Jurassic World by further elaborating on the idea of dinosaurs being viewed as property. It’s an interesting notion, but sort takes a back seat in comparison to the action and special effects of the movie.
While the movie was heavily marketed with Chris Pratt as the central character, Jurassic World’s true protagonist falls upon Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire. Her character is not only the most prominent female in the movie (with other two females in smaller supporting roles), but is the most diverse of character of the entire feature. Claire starts out as the aloof business manager of operations and reluctant aunt to her two nephews that slowly evolves throughout the course of the film. Yes, it’s derivate in a sense of the classic “Hero’s Journey”, but its works for what Jurassic World needs and Howard pulls it off. As for Chris Pratt, he does a good job as the Indiana Jones-esque (tight-jawed and no-nonsense) character of Owen Grady. Pratt, who swiftly became a rising star in Hollywood last year, brings his charisma to this dinosaur feature and further solidifies his acting ability as a male lead. The only downside is Pratt isn’t as comical in Jurassic World as he was in his past endeavors. Those expecting to see a character similar to Pratt’s iconic personas like Andy Dwyer from the television show Parks & Recreation or Peter Quill from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy will be slightly disappointed with his more serious portrayal of Owen Grady. Personally, I’m a huge Chris Pratt fan, so, of course, I liked him in this role, regardless if it is a little bit of a departure from his past theatrical personas. Additionally, the relationship between Claire and Owen channels that spirit of Indiana Jones or Romancing the Stone with semi-romantic pocket moments amidst scenes of witty banner and high adventurous thrills.
The support cast in Jurassic World is mixture of classic archetypes and retooled characters from the original film. Claire’s two nephews, Ty Simpkins’s Gray and Nick Robinson’s Zach, give good performances and are similar to the siblings (Timmy and Lexi) found in the original Jurassic Park. Irrfan Khan’s Simon Masrani is a wealthy and eccentric entrepreneur, who made Hammond’s dream a reality, but feels a little haphazardly flippant between comedic chatter and authoritative CEO. Jake Johnson plays Lowery Cruthers; a quirky but likeable tech operator who does bring laughs in the scenes that require comical levity. Vincent D’Onofrio’s Vic Hoskins, InGen’s belligerent representative who has ulterior motives, is little clichéd as the de facto “human” bad guy. Lastly, BD Wong returns as the geneticist Henry Wu from the original movie, but while his presences bring continuity to the series, his motives and egoistical persona are ambiguous and never fully explained. All these actors perform well in their roles, but aren’t quite as memorable as past Jurassic side characters and could’ve been fleshed out to leave a more prominent mark of the movie.
The park is open in Jurassic World, bringing all its nostalgia nuances, prehistoric attractions, frenetic mayhem, and dinosaur glory to the silver screen. Colin Trevorrow does an excellent job in continuing the franchise with a film that’s big, lavishing, and (above all else) a very entertaining rollercoaster ride that will surely be a top contender for 2015’s “Best summer movie”. While it still can’t we beat out the original Jurassic Park, Jurassic World does trump the other two sequels, making the fourth film in this cinematic dino franchise a solid entry in movie entertainment and cinematic escapism. To me, despite some flaws here and there, Jurassic World is a thrilling summer popcorn movie that’s definitely worth seeing (and perhaps multiple times). If your a longtime fan of the series or never seeing CGI dinosaurs comes alive on the big screen, Jurassic World is well worth the price of admission. Here’s to hoping that the franchise continues forward, offering more dinosaur romps into the amazing movie world of Jurassic Park.