Twenty-two years ago, a little movie arrived at the pop culture doorstep, and it was loud, fierce, and would become an icon of cinema. That movie was Jurassic Park, based on the science fiction novel by Michael Crichton, which inspired a film franchise, theme park rides, and more. Now, in 2015, the latest entry into the Jurassic series, Jurassic World, is stomping into theaters. Is it as classic like the original? Or does it sit just as awkwardly on the shelf as The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3 does? Let’s open the gates and see how this nostalgic park of dino-fantasy is doing.
Jurassic World begins with a similar set up: Two kids are about to go on an adventure, to a land filled with dinosaurs. But instead of the free range island of Jurassic Park’s past, Jurassic World is a full fledged theme park resort, with hotels, restaurants, and rides throughout. It’s Disney World with a prehistoric feel, with a bit of Sea World thrown in for good measure. But as these sorts of things usually go, people are looking for a new attraction, and just as the boys arrive, a new dino is set to debut: Indominus Rex, and she is one lean, geno-spliced, killing machine. And as you can expect, she isn’t too keen on staying in her cage. Thus its up to Owen, a Raptor Trainer (Chris Pratt) and the rest of the Jurassic World team to save the park attendees, and themselves, from her mighty terror.
As you can expect, Jurassic World is a movie that breathes the nostalgia of its own franchise, and the fandom surrounding it. Each frame has something to gasp at, filled with tributes in every corner. From popular theme park attractions, to Jurassic Park characters of old, this is a fan’s nerdy dream come true for sure. For instance, if you look at one shot, when the camera looks over Lowery’s (Jake Johnson) desk, you’ll notice a certain book written by a specific character from Jurassic Park‘s history. Fun nods like this add an entertainment value that is worth the ticket price just on its own.
The same care can be seen in the casting of Jurassic World, especially when it comes to Chris Pratt. This man is a movie star, and if Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t prove it, this movie certainly does. He has the kind of unique charisma that hasn’t been seen in male action heroes in quite some time, with a 1940’s serial protagonist charm that is unmatched to his cinematic comparisons. And yes, if he was handed the torch to play that iconic character you are thinking of (whips and snakes come to mind), he’d do the role justice.
As for the rest of the cast, they do the best with the material that they can. The two young boys (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson) are cute, but no where near the iconic charm of the original dynamic duo of Tim and Lex. Jake Johnson is fantastic comic relief, bringing a nice breath of fresh air in a franchise that isn’t usually too known for its laugh out loud humor. Vincent D’onofrio does an acceptable job as a slightly more shady park employee, and BD Wong makes a fantastic return to the franchise – possibly leading us to believe this won’t be the last we see of him and his “scientific genius.”
Now, considering the site you are reading from, you’re all probably curious about the character of Claire, our lead female protagonist. Bryce Dallas Howard has some huge shoes to fill in this role, continuing a legacy that was started brilliantly by Laura Dern, and seemed to plummet in quality ever since. Though Howard is no where near Dern’s level of true kick-butt heroine perfection, she is definitely an improvement over Julianne Moore’s and Tea Leoni’s involvement in the Lost World and JP3. Claire actually is probably the closest character to Sam Neil’s Alan from the original film, who both share a similar issue with their views on bonding with children and their lack of personal skills. But sadly, Claire doesn’t get the overall transformation that Alan gains in his Jurassic Park adventures, and as much as the movie would like you to believe she is the next Sarah Conner, she never makes that dramatic change in her story, nor takes off her undamaged high heel shoes for that matter.
Jurassic World also shows new talent behind the camera, with the addition of new director, Colin Trevorrow, and screenwriters, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. There have been many arguments among the team of who truly owns the script, since Trevorrow did many rewrites on the original version. But considering what the final result was, I’d have to say it really isn’t a script worth fighting over.
Though there are some great moments sprinkled throughout, this is definitely no masterpiece of screenwriting, especially since there is never an explanation of how Jurassic World even exists after the events of the last three movies – one of the handful of problems that this script suffers from. For example, a B-Plot line with the two boys is introduced, but because we have only begun to get used to them within the Jurassic Park universe, we as the audience have no emotional investment in this subplot. Thus this conflict unnecessarily drags the movie down, and you can almost hear your audience member next to going “When will the “wambulance” go away?”
But when you dash that issue to the side, what makes Jurassic World the first sequel in the franchise to stand close enough to the golden child that was the first film, can be described in one simple word: Fun. This is a cinematic thrill ride at its best, with some carefully placed throwbacks that makes it a worthy successor, along with being a truly entertaining summer blockbuster. It might not be the logical cup of action tea you could be searching for, but at the end of the day it’s a monster movie, and one that is worthy to be placed in the genre. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I got to get on my motorbike – I have some raptors to train.