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jurassic-world

Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Vincent D’Onofrio

The Film

Over two decades after we first visited Isla Nublar in a failed attempt to bring humans and dinosaurs together in a zoo to stun the world, we revisit that stunning yet horrible idea in the revamped Jurassic World theme park. Bigger, better, and actually open, it’s everything Jurassic Park founder John Hammond could dream of (except maybe with more corporate sponsorships), yet as Ian Malcolm so eloquently put it all those years ago, “life finds a way.”

This movie was an incredible roller coaster. From the start, Jurassic World attempted to be what the Jurassic Park sequels couldn’t, and that is to be its own movie instead of a weak rehash of the original. It hit a lot of familiar beats while forging its own path. Instead of revisiting the mistakes of the first film quite literally in the sequels, Jurassic World shows us that they can learn from their mistakes to make a truly successful dino theme park, and then it breaks out all new mistakes.

Chris Pratt as Owen the velociraptor trainor is definitely a worthy successor in the line of experts saving the day, while being a different kind of character over Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm. This guy isn’t a scientist, but instead basically a ranger who has practical experience with these creatures. He’s definitely more of a gung-ho action hero, but not so much that it’s out of place. Bryce Dallas Howard’s park manager Claire is a pretty typical emotionally-distant love interest character, super focused on work instead of family and love, but Howard manages to shine through bits of charm that makes her eventual opening up believable. More believable than her running around the jungle in heels, anyway.

As with every Jurassic Park film, this one has to have two little kid characters: brothers played by Ty Simpkins as Gray and Nick Robinson as Zach. Not too unexpected, they’re a bit annoying to follow at the beginning with stupid kid decisions to move the plot along. Once they’re in the thick of things though, they’re surprisingly capable and still manage to add some necessary brevity into the situation.

One of the most surprisingly impressive aspects of the film is its science. Genetic and dinosaur knowledge have come a long way since the early ’90s, and this film makes a point to address some of that. B.D. Wong returns from the first film as head geneticist Dr. Henry Wu, who goes from a small bit role into a more expanded character deeply invested in the science of playing god.

There are numerous references to the original park, but not enough to dwell too much on. My geekiness wants to know more, like what’s going on with Grant and Malcolm and the Hammond grandkids, but that would probably bog the film down in its own history and alienate new viewers. We get enough of the history of the park through small mentions and context to know what we need to, and the parent company InGen is still pretty dubious in spite of its altruistic bosses. It’s simple enough for fans to get what they want and new viewers (especially the children in my audience) to roll right along.

I was initially worried about this film. The initial trailer did nothing for me, until of course for the Chris Pratt velociraptor army bit at the end. That shows new territory, but the possible campiness that short scene in the trailers could imply also had the opposite effect for others of turning them off as a departure from the serious and reverence this franchise has strived to maintain for dinosaurs, even in spite of itself. It didn’t take long into the movie for that to all change and put all fears to rest.

Dear lord, the dinosaurs. Jurassic World combines all the best/worst parts of a petting zoo, a safari, and Sea World. If anything, I wish there was more shown of the majesty of these creatures, similar to the first time the original casts sees the brontosauruses. Not that it wasn’t there though, and it is hard to recapture that magic. At first, the dinosaurs are simply background and set pieces, but as the plot gets going and the big bad is in play, we get some stunning dino action. This new dinosaur is a great successor in recreating the feel of terror that the T-Rex and raptors gave us in the first film. They all look great, and the 3D of this film actually adds an extra pop to them that was decent but not all together necessary to enjoy this film. The climatic finish was exactly what I could have hoped for, and it’s a perfect follow up to the climax of the end of the original. Everyone in my audience applauded when it concluded.

This film sets up enough to continue in this world. Part of me would love to continue this high of excitement I’m on right now, and another part worries that we’ll just get The Lost World 2. But if we can keep the same creative team that seems to have so much affection for the original on board, then everything might be alright.

Life did find a way. A way to make a nostalgia throwback still feel fresh and thrilling without losing its heart and its connection to its past.

8.5/10

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