Movie Review: Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic World, to many, is the sequel we’ve been waiting to see.  Following the footsteps of the first movie (and retconning the 2nd and 3rd out of existence), we see the park back and better than ever after rebuilding from the disaster that happened 20 years ago.  However, the park is bigger and better than ever, being more so a theme park than the original model.  Attractions and shows operate throughout the theme park, but yet the crowd demands more.  The result is a superior hybrid called the “Indominus Rex”, the ultimate hunter.  Through some adept cunning, it gets loose and mayhem is wrought on the park soon after.  So, how does it stack against the classic?  Is it one for the records or is it better remaining buried deep?  Let’s have a watch and find out!

While many titles have been hyped to enormous ends, few have received as much anticipation as Jurassic World has.  While the 2nd and 3rd movies had a couple fans, I can imagine the joy among future viewers that this reboot-sequel would explore the universe in a totally different way.  And to the film’s credit, it has! Instead of being a private viewing, the park is a thriving business that receives countless customers every year.  Budget and technology have massively increased since the first park’s inception.  Overall, the park and the movie expand upon what has happened before.  While the first film explored the first attempt to create a Jurassic Park, it wasn’t quite ready for public viewing yet and things went horribly wrong.  In this film, the owners of this new park have taken enough precautions to avoid that happening.  The dinosaurs are safely detained and under heavy watch and very few incidents have happened leading up to the current film.  Though, it’s safe to say that Jurassic World doesn’t learn from the mistakes of the past.  There’s even several scenes with the crumbling ruins of the old location, neglected and forgotten.  Although, that could be more so a reveal that World takes place on the same island, rather than a metaphor for repeating mistakes.

In terms of atmosphere, this film certainly has it!  In the arcs before and after the Indominus attack, we see a living, breathing parkscape.  Even without the 3D glasses, the dinosaurs feel as alive as the people within the world (save for the gyrosphere operator who clearly represents legions of miserable millenials in retail work).  While some of the attractions, such as the Mosasaurus feeding exhibit, seemed a little bit hokey, that might have been the point.  However, other scenes like the vibrant displays and informative voices in the information center and the vast fields and wandering dinosaurs in the gyrosphere ride captured the amazement and wonder of the original film.  That said, while it made sense that people were desensitized to dinosaurs (with it being over 20 years after Jurassic Park), it slightly took away from that wonder, adding to a comic “mundane fantastic” sensibility to the movie instead.

In terms of action, the film certain is packed with it.  Whether it be the Indominus going on a bloodlust filled rampage or the park itself slowly descending into chaos, there was something visually interesting to distract the viewer with.  The scenes from beginning to end had a wide variety of tension and mayhem, whether it be hiding from the Indominus after it tricked the staff into freeing it or it fighting off raptors (and even a T-Rex) in the central hub of the park itself! In the case of the T-Rex, it was unfortunate they used it as both an expectation and plot device, rather than a cool part of the world that was set up to happen in the big fight against Indominus Rex.

To the Raptor’s benefit, they had the most complete character arc out of the entire cast of the movie.  Their beginning where they established their rocky yet respectable relationship with Owen, the Raptor training was established through a pretty visual means (with only hint of exposition.)  Later, they were conflicted between the powerful presence of the Indominus Rex (who had Raptor genes/powers for plot reasons) and Owen (who they imprinted on).  During a final scenes, Owen used the tricks he used to train them with in order to help them realize who he was, as they jumped into action against Indominus.  Plus, they looked pretty sweet in their modified headgear used to track down the Indominus Rex.

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“Si!”

I honestly wish I could say the same about the other characters, to be honest.  While most of the actors did a fantastic job at portraying their respective characters (especially in the case of Pratt as Owen, Howarde as Claire, and Simpkins as Gray), the characters themselves had pretty weak arcs or just little character.  The arc between the two brothers would have been more profound if either the divorce already happened or moments of the impending divorce were more developed upon (but not enough to detract from the movie experience.)  This made the emotional moments in the beginning and even middle mostly invalidated by the end.  Claire had the potential to be both a caring character and an action hero in her arc, but both fell heavily flat.  In the end, she seemed just as hollow and kinda lame as she did once things were starting to spiral out of control.  Also, Owen seemed like a generic action archetype rather than an ex-Marine trying to deal with day to day life outside of the force.  Sure, we got moments with Owen as well as his makeshift camp on the edge of the property, but nothing really stuck out.  Security Officer Hoskins himself felt overly focused to the point of being two dimensional in his pursuit of weaponization of the dinos, though he lacked a top hat and twiddly ‘stache to go with that cheap cliche villain status.  Now, if it was lightly implied (rather than hammered into our skulls) and payed off later, that would be fine.  To be honest, the only characters I felt were the most memorable were President Masrani and Jake, and the former of the two was killed off in a helicopter accident (even though they sort of set that up by saying he wasn’t that experienced with flight yet.)  Now whether or not angry bloggers are right about character criticisms, it’s safe to say that the characters pretty much sucked in general (especially after a promising first act and decent second act too.)

The film in general had bits of weirdness to it, as well as some quirks I wasn’t a fan of myself.  As I mentioned before, the part where the kids manage to jury rig 20 year old jeeps that are somehow not rusted out, as well as find a functioning battery blew my mind.  I’m not a car expert, but I’ve had my share of helping with “fixing my grandpa’s car” much like the characters did… and that’s total nonsense.  Also, when the gyrosphere was attacked, it would be easy to say that the kids would be pretty badly hurt even before escaping.  Same goes with Claire and Owen jumping a waterfall.  I know it’s an old trope, but one that breaks the mundane.  Now, I’m a guy who can accept some silly sci-fi.  I do it all the time with stuff like Doctor Who.  But, when the regular/mundane stuff breaks down, then I have a problem.  Now, one thing I would have loved this movie to do is give us a more of a tour of the original building.  Sure, it’s dilapidated, but I felt like the film could have gotten away with that for a little bit before it would have dragged on.  Another thing I would have personally loved is hearing the wonderful sounds of Jeff Goldblum.  But in all seriousness, a small cameo of him criticizing Jurassic World would have been a wonderful thing and completely in-universe too, if not a set-up for the Jurassic Park reveal scene as well.  What annoyed me the most was that terribly forced romance.  The characters didn’t like each other and nothing in the movie implied they’d get back together, thus there was no need to make them do so.

That said, there were plenty of moments I loved.  As I’ve mentioned many times, the bored worker was something magnificent to behold.  The fight between the T-Rex and Raptors versus the Indominus was awesome and the movie knew it was!  While the set up made me want to hate it, I genuinely couldn’t have hated it!  The bone-crushing action was simply too cool to look away from.  From the moment the beast is loose to its demise by a minor dinosaur character we only saw for a couple scenes (and an unintentionally hilarious death scene involving assistant lady.)  Also, I really loved the “safety video” featuring Jimmy Fallon.  While the characters rolled their eyes, the audience chuckled.  When they brought the video back after the gyrosphere was destroyed, it provided some lighthearted relief to an otherwise very tense scene.

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The only thing more intimidating than massive dinosaurs? Massive calories!

In short, it was a really fun movie.  The human characters sucked, but you probably came for the dinosaurs anyway.  In a sense, you and the movie both knew what was going to happen and what people came to see.  In a sense, you’re a patron of the park itself.  Sure, the plot was wonky, but tons of amazing visuals made up for it pretty decently.  And ya know what?  This movie makes me thankful that the prototype for Jurassic Park 4 was never rolled out!  By the cosmos, that would have been an awful movie!  But, let’s get back on topic here.  Overall, Jurassic World receives 7 dinosaur-hybrid eggs out of 10.  It’s my problems with Godzilla all over again!

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