Up this week is the highly anticipated and box office hit, Jurassic World. Directed by Colin Trevorrow and staring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, the film is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.
Set 22 years after the events of the first film, Jurassic World takes us back to the Isla Nublar, which now features a fully functioning theme park called Jurassic World, having replaced the failed Jurassic Park. After years of successful operation, attendance has begun to drop. In order to pick up interest, Claire (Howard) leads the establishment of a new attraction, one that ends up backfiring horribly.
6.5 out of 10
A little over 20 years ago, Jurassic Park hit theaters and became an instant hit. In those 22 years since its release, it has become one of the most iconic films of all time. One of those films that if you haven’t seen, you can’t call yourself a movie fan. Or a human being for that mattered. Jurassic Park’s sequels, however, were not as successful. I admittedly haven’t seen them, but I’ve heard plenty. Despite the futility past the original film, there was plenty of excitement regarding Jurassic World because, man, its 2015! The graphics have to look awesome (which they did). And its got Chris Pratt, the modern day King Midas. Ultimately, Jurassic World stands up as a decent film, but an unworthy sequel to Jurassic Park, though it is a bit much to expect that.
Let’s start with the good. Jurassic World is chock full of easter eggs, a little feature that I really appreciated. From the casting of B.D. Wong (who as also in the first movie, and has not aged a bit) to the countless references to the old park, I was really able to appreciate this film’s sentiment towards the original.
Chris Pratt, who is slowly ascending to the top of my list of favorite actors, was excellent as he has shown us of recent. He was awesome in both The Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy and has proven that he is bonafide Hollywood gold. Jurassic World only cements that status. He is what makes this movie exciting, fun, and a solid action movie. He is a badass, which is all we need as an audience to stay interested. People say he’s only good because his character is written that way, but I can’t think of anyone who could have done this better. Fingers crossed that he is the next Indiana Jones.
Bryce Dallas Howard, on the other hand, has ascended to the top of my least favorite actors list. There’s just something about her that annoys the hell out of me. Spider-Man 3, 50/50, The Help. It doesn’t help that in half of these movies she’s supposed to be despised, but it doesn’t change anything. She is just not a convincing actress. I can’t tell if we were supposed to like her in this movie, but considering she is really the main female protagonist, I think the answer is yes. Could have easily fooled me.
Don’t even get me started on the child acting. The scene where Nick Robinson (the older brother) talks about how he will always be there for his brother… *shudder*. Whether it’s immature acting or poorly written dialogue, the scenes with the brothers were not enjoyable. Their entire storyline, which tried to teach us good family values, was also not enjoyable. More dinosaurs and Chris Pratt, please!
At this point, the film would have been solid. It had good action, good effects, and a nice climax. And usually, I would judge this film independently of its predecessors. However, I can’t overlook the fact that the premise is almost a carbon copy of Jurassic Park. Using genetics to modify the creatures, a massive dinosaur is on the loose, a competitor tries to steal from the par; It’s way too similar for my liking. Talk about a breath of fresh air, this isn’t one.
Overall, Jurassic World is a successful action film. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough of that. There was too much focus on genetics, business, and family values. I’m not saying the movie isn’t successful because of these areas of focus, the focus on this just failed to actually contribute to making the movie enjoyable. The writers should have stuck with its gut and focused on what people came to see: the dinosaurs.
7.5 out of 10
Jurassic World was thoroughly entertaining. Sure, it wasn’t as ahead of its time as Jurassic Park, nor was it as layered or as chilling. It was, however, exactly what it was supposed to be: a summer popcorn blockbuster poised to make billions.
In fact, last weekend Jurassic World became the fastest movie ever to gross $1 billion across the globe. It had a massive domestic opening weekend gross of $208 million and followed that up with another $100 million dollar showing. It’s performed exceptionally well overseas as well. Many have it pegged to surpass Avatar as the world’s highest grossing movie of all time. Unfortunately for World, though, any records it creates will undoubtedly be shattered when Star Wars hits theaters.
Alas, much of Jurassic World’s success capitalizes on the legacy of the first movie. Jurassic Park is one of my favorite movies of all time, despite the fact that I first saw it just a few years ago when it was re-released in theaters. It was thrilling, deep, and it featured exceptional animatronics and special effects. It was a wild ride and a box office success, but differentiated itself from its sequels because of its depth and originality. Subsequent movies in the series, including Jurassic World to an extent, were mere rehashings of the original with prettied up special effects.
Jurassic World features the fulfillment of John Hammond’s vision: a fully functional Jurassic theme park. Unfortunately, he is not there to see it, and Bryce Dallas Howard’s character has taken his place. In many ways, she is very much like him, and in fact, many characters in this film are modernized versions of characters in the original. There are two kids exploring the park, one very enthused about dinosaurs; there is a naturist, cautioning against the attempt to control potentially deadly dinosaurs; and there is the slimly, greasy villain, attempting to manipulate events at the park to serve his own monetary goals. Many, including some of my friends, have protested that the characters in the film are wholly flat and unlikable, that they mean nothing to the story. And sure, in any Jurassic Park movie, the characters are not center stage, but rather they play a supporting role to the big, teethy, and deadly creatures stalking the park. What the original did so well was that it combined the dinosaurs with an exceptional supporting cast of eccentric humans. Personally, I enjoyed the characters in World, perhaps simply because I consider myself a Chris Pratt fan and Bryce Dallas Howard was, in my opinion, very convincing. Still, there was definitely something missing without Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, and Sam Neil.
Many have also attacked the concept of the movie. Frankly, I think it was inventive and clever. In the film, in order to raise attendance levels and interest in the park, Howard’s character, the director of the park, okays the creation of a new dinosaur, part T-Rex and part a smattering of other creatures, both dino and not. Working genetic modifications into the plot is a real win, in my opinion, especially because of the rising calls against GMOs in our foods. It was an interesting next step in the series’ continuing cautionary advice against the advancements of modern science.
Others have stated that certain elements of the movie, ones into which I cannot delve into too much detail without revealing key plot elements, are gimmicky and ridiculous. And yeah, that’s true. Dinosaur alliances are a little bit dumb and gimmicky, and are really just a way to bring out all the big dinosaurs at the same time. The brilliance of Jurassic Park was that it never got so ridiculous that it brought you out of the trance and thrill. Sure, there were living, breathing dinosaurs stalking around an island near Costa Rica, but within the basic constructs of the film it all felt logical. Jurassic World seemed to make up its own rules as it went, and didn’t bat an eye at making two vicious, killer dinosaurs team up.
While Jurassic World many not recapture the magic of the first film, it is undoubtedly an entertaining and thrilling, albeit ridiculous, ride that just might make the most money out of any move, ever. It’s worth a watch.