By Steven Biscotti
The long anticipated Jurassic World released in theaters this Friday and looks to energize interest in new fans, while providing a nostalgic walk for theater goers such as myself. I grew up with Jurassic Park on VHS, saw The Lost World opening weekend, and watched Jurassic Park 3 more times than I can remember. I have the Kenner action figures and I’m positive my mini Ian Malcolm is somewhere in the house. I was among the first people to see Jurassic World at 7 pm on Thursday, June 11 and two days later, I’m still talking about the fourth film. If anything,Jurassic World has proven that my interest in big, entertaining, dinosaur filled adventures have not gone extinct.
The Colin Trevorrow directed film primarily serves in the grey territory of reboot and sequel. Jurassic World, taking place in the not too distant future, 20 or so years from the first, shows John Hammond’s dream of a fully realized and operating park. Think San Diego Zoo, but on a much larger scale, and with dinosaurs! Attendance is high, people are satisfied, but the attractions could have more “wow.” Trevorrow, along with writers Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, and Derek Connolly present a surprisingly eerie and haunting statement on today’s generation with their park. When audiences seem more focused on texting and caught up with their own personal worlds, more so than to watch the latest Mosasaurus attraction, or any dinosaur exhibit for that matter, we begin to wonder how long does our disconnected existences last when thrown into a world that existed 65 million years ago. To keep the excitement on their animals and less on everything else, Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) has dreamed up even more creatures for the park; good thing Dr. Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm aren’t around. The latest creation is something more terrifying than the Spinosaurus of JP3 and more dangerous than the T-Rex of JP 1 & 2. As expected, she breaks free. In the words of Goldblum’s Malcolm from The Lost World, “Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and um, screaming.”
As entertaining and fun Jurassic World is, it does fall into an issue of being original. So much of the 2 hour and 10 minute film is built on the shoulders of the first three films. “You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now…” It’s hilariously ironic on just how much of Goldblum’s lines from the first film represent the issues with Jurassic World. Colin Trevorrow has created an impressive film, entertaining always, and one of the more genuinely pleasing films this summer, but so much of it is built on the work of Steven Spielberg and JP3‘s Joe Johnston. Trevorrow is consistent with his thorough knowledge of the series and pays several visual tributes to the original trilogy. But in moments of new creation, there’s a legitimate sense of “been there, done that.” Sadly, we’ve grown desensitized by dinosaurs running free, people being eaten, and heroes in peril. There’s also an issue with our heroes and villains. While everything conceivably works for Jurassic World‘s sake, it seems as if the studio is looking to present an experience we all had with the original and repackage it for today’s generation. They don’t request the more mature audience members to forget what came before, but simply hope we’re brought back to our more youthful days, and enjoy a nostalgic walk through their new park.
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady is in full action mode here and, if he isn’t the next Indiana Jones, I’m not sure who else could possibly do it. Owen is your typicalJurassic Park hero. He’s an adventurer through and through. Pratt as Owen is perfect. He’s likable, believable, and a bit of a mixture between Sam Neill’s Grant and Goldblum’s Malcolm. He’s cynical of the science and weary of the world, but loves the creations Let’s not forget that Owen has a pack of four raptors that he’s bonded with – Charlie, Delta, Echo, and Blue. Oh, and if you think you’re cool, just know that you’ll never be as cool as Chris Pratt riding a motorcycle next to raptors cool! We also have a reliable Vincent D’Onofrio as one of the film’s villains, Vic Hoskins. He’s the head of InGen security (yup, they’re back) and wishes to use the dinosaurs as weapons. D’Onofrio plays Hoskins as an amalgamation of all previous Jurassic villains and he’s great. Jurassic World also gives us two children, Ty Sympkins and Nick Robinson – they play brothers visiting Isla Nublar and provide the most Spielberg-ian elements of the story. Amidst a family riff, their parents are getting divorced and they have a strained relationship with their aunt, it’s a safe bet that by the time the last dino roars, the family will be back together. A buffed up Bryce Dallas Howard perhaps is the most interesting character as her intentions aren’t fully clear and she provides the most growth for a film that could have easily presented her operations manager Claire Dearing as a one-note character. Howard’s Claire, much like Pratt’s Owen and D’Onofrio’s Hoskins, seems rooted in the DNA of players we’ve seen in Jurassic Parkand The Lost World, but spins wildly out of the expectations we think we have of her over the course of Jurassic World.
Jurassic World is an entertaining movie and a very enjoyable one. I loved every second of it and Trevorrow stages the film well. In a third act fight, we get one of the most rousing of fights between the T-Rex, raptors, and the Indominus Rex (the new dino) and if you walk out of the theater not liking that scene, well, you might just be a zombie. The effects are what you’d expect from a big-budget picture by Universal, and it’s gotten harder to tell what exactly is animatronic and what is CGI. Michael Giacchino scores JW, with themes based off of John Williams’ majestic score and delivers another hit soundtrack. It’s also worth noting that Giacchino scored The Lost Word: Jurassic Park video game and for die-hard soundtrack fans, there are a few notes that pay homage to his original work. Jurassic World is a movie that works in every way, but in every way it works for a newcomer, it could serve as a criticism for original fans. I want Colin Trevorrow, cast and crew to succeed with their movie. I’d also like to see director Trevorrow develop his own visual style for future films, but for now, Jurassic World deserves to win and people should flock to their movie theaters in the same capacity attendees did nearly 22 years ago to the same weekend. By the closing moments, while your phones are hopefully off (or silent), just give in to the magic of movie-making and remember that this is the dinosaurs world, not ours. Roar.
Jurassic World gets four out of five stars. The cast highlight the 2 hour and 10 minute film, particularly Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and New Girl’s Jake Johnson as the theme park’s resident tech nerd. It’s a big summer film that should be seen in theaters. Jurassic World is now playing everywhere.
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