If it’s any indication by my “Jurassic Park” review, it’s pretty clear that I am a big fan of the original film. I actually do enjoy it’s less beloved follow up “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”. However it’s third entry, “Jurassic Park III”, is a huge misfire. It’s not just disappointing it’s just a plain bad movie and a clear sign that the franchise was really running thin on ideas; where the plot felt a b-movie instead of something grand like “Jurassic Park”. I remember waiting for years for “Jurassic Park IV” to make it to thearters. Much to my dismay the project was derailed, but the franchise would get some life breathed into it (and after the big 3-D rerelease of the original classic) in the form of “Jurassic World”.
There was much to be worried about with “Jurassic World” (the 4th entry in the franchise), but the way I looked at it is it can’t get much worse than “Jurassic Park III”. “Jurassic World” however turned out to be a movie worthy of the “Jurassic Park” name. While the characters are a little hit or miss and I wish the film developed the story a little better all in all “Jurassic World” is absolute fun with heart pounding action sequences; grand (albeit a little overused) special effects, some magic, and intensity. This isn’t the most original movie out there but among some of the most fun.
Set 22 years after “Jurassic Park”, “Jurassic World” is the culmination of John Hammond’s dream. Now renamed to Jurassic World, this new park has been open and fully operational for a few years now. The park has had great success with the public and keeping the animals contained. However it seems people are growing bored with the Dinosaurs and the InGen company has wanted (quote), “up the wow factor”. To “up the wow factor”, scientists have created their first genetically altered hybrid; the merging together of two different Dinosaur species. Creating a superior beast, the Indominus Rex breaks out of containment and runs amuck across the Island.
It is surprising when I looked at the runtime of this movie, to find out that this film actually clocks in at 124 minutes (only 3 minutes shorter than the original). It was to my surprise because of how fast the movie flew by, but also because it felt like “Jurassic World” wastes nearly no time at all to get into the mayhem. Perhaps my time estimations were off but the movie felt a little rushed getting into the chaos. “Jurassic Park” took it’s time and built up all its characters and plot slowly but surely. In “Jurassic World” the characters are very scattered across the film doing different things and the script is a little weak on strong characterization. Many of the characters are clichéd and the story is a bit too familiar. The movie is pretty predictable for the most part and that is in no small part because it follows very similar story beats to the original.
Yet the movie makes up for its weakness with sheer spectacle. Director Colin Trevorrow would make Steven Spielberg proud with his great attention to creating atmosphere and tension in his scenes. Some scenes are filled to the brim with great excited and awe and wonder. Colin certainly learned a thing or two from Spielberg in being able to balance out the horror of the Dinosaurs carnage with also the child-like wonder of seeing these animals on the big screen again. The last 30 minutes of this movie is nothing but pure Dino fun. Fun that I used to have all the time with Dinosaurs as a little kid.
Colin Trevorrow (even though he comes from a indie background) shows he is very capable handling big budget special effects. The movie is gorgeous to look and exuberates imagination (similar to “Tomorrowland”). The Raptors look stunning on screen while the Mosasaur (the giant Marine reptile shown on all the posters) is massive in scale and grander. I do believe that there is a bit of over reliance on the CGI in the movie, with far more of it than in any previous “Jurassic Park” movie. It’s great CGI and there is a few good uses of practical effects as well. Those practical effects however are used more sparingly. Perhaps it is because in the original “Jurassic Park” there are far less Dinosaurs (or there is a better balance between the Computer Generated and the Practical) but I felt the original still has a small leg up on this one. Still that’s not taking away from the great job the special effects team did on this movie. If this movie isn’t up for Best Visual Effects at the Oscars towards the end of this year then there is an issue.
Taking over in the starring role is Chris Pratt. By now we’ve seen his popularity soar to new heights, but it’s only going to increase with this film. Chris Pratt owns every moment he is on screen. Although he is able to throw in a few sarcastic remarks here and there, Pratt is restrained as the film’s chief protagonist. More serious, grounded, Pratt is only a few beats away from wearing an Indiana Jones hat.
The rest of the cast is solid and in the best way possible, functional. Bryce Dallas Howard’s character might be weak, but she is able to elevate it a bit through her warm performance. The children are solid kid actors (Ty Simpkins, and Nick Robinson). Irrfan Khan is decent (but mostly forgettable), while Vincent D’Onofrio is very over the top as the chief evil two dimensional bad guy. And hey, BD Wong is back as Dr. Wu (the only returning cast member from the original “Jurassic Park”). But, he isn’t how you remember him. Here he acts a bit more like he does in the original book. With a slight dark edge to him, Wu appears to have more to him than we originally anticipated (and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing either).
Perhaps I’m more conditioned to be accepting of some of “Jurassic World” faults because of the stench of “Jurassic Park III”. Even if that true, I had a lot of fun with “Jurassic World”. The film is exciting, tense, and a has a little bit of magic in there as well. It can be dumb but if you’re willing to give yourself over to it then you will have a blast. It’s not the best movie ever made, but it’s something that worthy of a theater experience.