'Jurassic World' Review

'Jurassic Park' is one of my favorite movies of all time and one of the key movies I remember growing up with. It's brilliant and literally groundbreaking, but of course you already knew that. I also actually find 'The Lost World: Jurassic Park' to be an underrated gem and not a bad film at all (but I do see where everybody is coming from). The only bad film in the series for me is 'Jurassic Park III'. So being a fan of 2/3 of the movies and holding one of them to such a high regard that it could easily crack my top 10 favorite movies of all time list... how well does 'Jurassic World' fit in?

Chris Pratt is a hot dude right now, both literally and figuratively. Starring in critical and box-office successes like 'The LEGO Movie' and 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and of course the TV-Show 'Parks and Recreation' (which I haven't seen), it seems he's being considered to play possibly every single famous role ever, from Indiana Jones to Han Solo, so is it really a surprise he's a main character in 'Jurassic World'? From a performance standpoint, he's good here, but I worry it could be an early sign of typecast. For now though I can't deny that he's fun to watch. Bryce Dallas Howard is also very good, definitely the strongest character in the film because her performance does the most to prevent the character from being a total archetype.

When I saw it, it was the only movie I'd seen directed by Colin Trevorrow (I only decided to check out 'Safety Not Guaranteed' almost immediately afterwards) and I must say I was quite hesitant when he was first announced. It's a very clear trend in Hollywood right now that a director makes one low budget movie and is then immediately thrust into big tentpole blockbusters. For the most part though, I may have been proven wrong as he handles the visuals and pace pretty well. The cinematography is sleek, with composition that clicks nearly every shot. The problem though is a lot of the scenes in the film needed more excitement and thrill to it as nothing in here even comes close to matching anything in the original 'Jurassic Park'. I'm not saying 'Jurassic World' should've tried to top 'Jurassic Park but it doesn't even come close with the thrills for even a second. When you hear the theme in 'Jurassic Park' you are truly filled with awe and wonder, with goosebumps all over your body because the buildup is so perfectly handled and the payoff is so satisfying. In 'Jurassic World' the buildup is barely felt and the payoff is a dull establishing shot of the park (with no dinosaurs in sight). Lame. The action sequences are mostly fun though as the movie doesn't hold back on the death count. Quite a lot of the redshirts get axed off and for the most part, the blood is there.

Moving on though, I hinted about the characterization earlier but it requires its own section because it is easily the weakest aspect of the whole movie. All the characters are generic archetypes and because of this, none of them are particularly memorable. The kid likes dinosaurs, so his room is filled with dinosaur toys and he never shuts up when talking about dinosaurs. That's his character. The big brother is a millennial stereotype who doesn't care about the dinosaurs and spends his time on his phone and never really pays attention to his brother. He also has a girlfriend he can't say "I love you" to in the first act as he leaves for the island. You already know what kind of character this is and exactly where this is going. Although you would think that last bit would come back in the end because it was such an obvious setup and he spends a lot of the first act checking out other girls, but that never gets mentioned again. Bryce Dallas Howard's character goes from being an uptight business woman who doesn't have any free time to spend with the kids (who are her nephews) and by the end she's a less uptight business woman who decides to spend more time with them. Chris Pratt is a badass chav. That's it. The older brother even says once, "your boyfriend is a badass" to Bryce's character and they never develop him beyond that. Irrfan Khan's character is basically the new John Hammond, he cares more about the people and the dinosaurs than making money. Because they realised, maybe they should do something else with him, he's also practicing being a helicopter pilot. Yes his character is so poorly developed that one of the biggest things we know about him is that he can almost pilot a helicopter, and guess where that goes. Look I am not saying that the characters in the first film were masterfully written - but they were at least memorable. Who doesn't remember the childlike wonder attitude from John Hammond? Or Ian Malcolm's cocky and smarmy but still grounded nature, Dr. Grant, Ellie Satler... these are truly unforgettable characters with a lot of charisma thanks to the performances. Meanwhile in 'Jurassic World'... the only reason I keep referring them as the actors is because I've already forgotten their character names. I can't say they are bad characters though, I didn't neccessarily want to see anyone get eaten by the Indominus Rex, I was just hoping for characters I could properly root for.

Another subplot in this film that gets completely dropped after a few mentions here and there is the kids' parents getting a divorce. We never see the parents actually discuss it so all we are left with is the kids talking about it. The older doesn't really care seeing as he's soon moving out of the house and the younger is sad that his family is kind of breaking apart. On paper, it's proper Spielberg stuff, but on the screen there's not enough to complete that story or have it actually mean anything. We get a little resolution to the brothers' relationship but the parents getting a divorce is dropped entirely and ultimately feels pointless because it didn't help us care about these people any more than we already did, and we barely cared to begin with. BD Wong returns from the first film (he is the asian scientist) as the same character, and surprisingly he's got things to do here - until unsurprisingly, the character's dropped and don't see a resolution.

The advertised Indominus Rex is a great creation, very creepy dinosaur and in my opinion a welcome addition to the Jurassic Park franchise. It's a natural progression, but I do wish we had spent a little more time on the other dinosaurs as they sort of take the backseat this time in order to show the full glory of what the I-Rex can do. To be fair, it's fun to see them to go all out and explores the possibility of the technology they have available to them instead of pointlessly trying to make it seem as realistic as possible.

At times they mention the original park and every single time it takes you right out of the experience because it's like they're just poking us with a stick, saying "Remember 'Jurassic Park'? That was a great movie right?" instead of focusing on making this movie great and stand on its own. I don't want to come down too hard on it because I still had fun watching it, I just wish the four(!) credited screenwriters actually spent a little more time developing the characters and the story to make it worthwhile. Delve a little more into on an underlying theme and a clear moral that we can take home with us. There are no layers to this film so there is really no use to seeing it multiple times. The moment I truly accepted they weren't even gonna try to make this stand the test of time like the original managed to do is when Jimmy Fallon appeared on a video screen as himself, just to make sure this movie is a product of its time and nothing more. As a summer blockbuster popcorn movie, it's fine. As a 'Jurassic Park' sequel, it's still got a long way to go.


- Lucas


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