There is a conversation in Jurassic World that sums up the entire movie. Bryce Dallas Howard’s character states, “Corporate felt genetic modification would up the ‘wow’ factor.” Chris Pratt’s character then responds with, “They’re dinosaurs. ‘Wow’ enough.”
But are dinosaurs enough anymore? In the 22 years since the original Jurassic Park was released, we have been bombarded with robot wars, superheroes and alien invasions. Summer blockbusters are only getting bigger (and rarely better) than that classic Spielberg film. The magic of seeing dinosaurs on screen just isn’t what it used to be. At least, that’s what the screenwriters seem to be saying in the subtext.
Jurassic World retcons the JP sequels – Lost World and JP3. Rightly so. Now, I can have my memory erased of Jeff Goldblum’s gymnast daughter and talking raptors. “Alan! Alan!” <shudder> I still have nightmares…
Instead, this direct sequel to Jurassic Park follows 20 years after the original disaster. The management of the park did a massive PR campaign to recover and eventually opened the park on a grand-scale called Jurassic World. This theme park seems to be without flaw and would be a blast to visit. We are introduced to the park through the eyes of two brothers, Gray and Zach (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson), as they visit Isla Nublar to be watched by their aunt, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who just happens to oversee park operations.
On the other end of the island, Owen (Chris Pratt), who has a history with Claire, is busy training a small group of captive raptors (Great band name). He has worked with them since birth and has a shaky relationship based on how much food he can give them and if there’s a cage wall between them.
The mayhem we all know and love is introduced when Claire shows Owen the new dinosaur they’ve created to boost attendance rates. It seems that consumers and sponsors have become bored with dinosaurs in the past 20 years and only something with “more teeth” can create excitement. They get more teeth with the Indominus Rex, which is spliced with a variety of animal DNA. As we’ve come to expect, things go bad. The I. Rex gets out of its compound and the entire island becomes a feeding ground for the new hunter.
The major problem with this series is the formula. It’s so much fun to see dinosaur anarchy in a seemingly-controlled environment. But how much can we see the same plot again and again and not expect more? I see Jurassic World as a soft reboot to the series, so it’s okay to see a nature-fight-back movie, but the only big difference, this time around, was the addition of trained raptors.
This is going to sound like a slam, but Jurassic World is a dinosaur movie for Marvel fans. Overall, the majority of people will be pleased. However, it’s a constant action scene with very little cinematic magic. The action is fun while it’s happening, but the effect is quickly forgotten.
I’d argue that Chris Pratt is not quite ready to lead this type of movie. He cannot take the place of Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum. Though, his chemistry with Bryce Dallas Howard is quite good. She’s purposely wooden through the majority of the movie, but ends up being the only character with a story arc. The designated kids in peril are a necessary evil, because this series (as scary as it can be) is meant for children. Jake Johnson (of New Girl fame) plays a glorified IT operator. He provides the only genuine funny moments. He needed far more scenes.
While this movie has a really unbelievable villain, shoddy dialogue and forgettable action, it all comes together in the final 20 minutes, which will appeal to your inner 11 year old. It’s a fantastic finish that will have you clapping awkwardly at the movie screen.
Jurassic World is easily the second best movie in the long-running franchise. There isn’t a lousy scene in the movie. It absolutely has more teeth, but it just feels like it’s trying to compete with every other summer flick. B-