Perhaps writer/director Colin Trevorrow put it best in a recent article: Jurassic World‘s very story is a commentary on its existence. Universal Execs wanted to revive their 2nd biggest film franchise (it used to be #1 but has been bested by the sheer number of Fast & Furious films); they wanted Jurassic Park again, only bigger, scarier, more action packed. So, Trevorrow made a film about greedy InGen executives wanting something bigger and more dangerous, resulting in Indominus Rex and the popular synopsis for any film: “things go awry.”
Does Jurassic World live up to its real life mirror? Is bigger, scarier, and more action packed, a film gone “awry,” disappointing fans the world over? Or have the Universal Execs outsmarted InGen’s, creating a new monster that is not dangerous to your Jurassic Park loving self?
I am happy to report, that though no film could ever top the intelligence, heart, and magic of 1993’s original Jurassic Park, Jurassic World is an incredibly worthy sequel; something The Lost World and Jurassic Park III could never manage.
The best way to sum up the movie is that I saw every scene and location I wanted to see! Indominus Rex wrecking havoc? Check! A little bit o’ T-Rex? Check! (Human) Siblings in peril? Check! Chris Pratt continuing to rock the summer blockbuster? Double Check!!!
Most importantly, are the scariest parts of Jurassic Park, the famed Velociraptors (sometimes in the kitchen), neutered pets for Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to control? Fuck no! This is by far the scariest and most vicious the famed raptors have been since 1993’s trip to Isla Nublar.
Jurassic World smartly builds on Jurassic Park with a few fun winks; not so much as to feel like a rehash or a misguided attempt to reference the original as much as possible.
It’s amazing to see that red flares are used to get the attention of the T-Rex to ensure he actually eats the goat at feeding time; Ian Malcolm taught old Rex flares mean tasty treats 22 years ago (it is, indeed, the very same T-Rex that provided the franchise’s best scene when he famously escaped his pen). The events of Jurassic Park are also referenced by the Lowery, played brilliantly by Jake Johnson. He wears a Jurassic Park shirt he found on Ebay for $150, which may or may not be in poor taste. He’s a Jurassic Park groupie in the same way Charlie Day played a “Kaiju groupie” in Pacific Rim. And a hero.
Likewise, contrary to popular theories going into the film, InGen head Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) isn’t a greedy man like John Hammond’s nephew in The Lost World, he is like Hammond himself, reminding us that though Hammond spared no expense (Masrani actually says that very line, crediting Hammond), the Park was always intended the be for everyone, not just for the rich. Masrani believes this should be the fun division of InGen, not necessarily the profitable one.
Of course, other InGen employees tend to disagree, starting with Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), day-to-day park manager who can’t make time to see her two nephews visiting Jurassic World (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) because she is obsessed with creating newer, scarier attractions for the profit of literal sponsorship (her vision is “Verizon Wireless Presents Indominus Rex”). Claire’s own greed puts extra lives at risk, with a scene reminiscent of Jaws featuring Claire refusing to evacuate the park because of the loss in profit and a second where she sends mercenaries/security to track Indominus Rex with non-lethal weaponry, because he is a mulit-million dollar “asset.” Of course, she comes around after the men are all slaughtered and she learns her own nephews are lost in the park.
Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins are the best kids the JP franchise has seen since Lex and Tim in the original film. They don’t ruin the danger of the movie by beating Velociraptors with gymnastics (The Lost World) or by surviving on an island by themselves for weeks (Jurassic Park III). They are closer to the original archetypes of scared siblings lost in the wild, though there is a moment where they are a little too smart and inventive for their own good.
Speaking of Jurassic Park archetypes, Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady is an interesting mash-up of Allan Grant and Muldoon. He isn’t given a ton to do, acting wise, but he brings life and charm in what could have been an overly stereotypical role. And of course he can handle action scenes like the best of them.
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD. Skip the next paragraph if ye’ be afraid.
Like any good Zombie movie, what would a Jurassic Park film be without human villains? (Besides Jurassic Park III which is 100% rotten in my opinion.) Here we seem to have two, Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong), the only returning cast member from any Jurassic Park film, and Vincent D’Onofrio (who is on fire this year with Run All Night, JW, Daredevil, and being cast in the remake of Magnificent Seven… with Chris Pratt) as Hoskins. Between the two of them (Hoskins’ exact role is unknown, is he just a military man, or a former military man who seems to run the shady side of the company?), InGen has begun to look more like The Amazing Spider-Man’s Oscorp. Hoskins has a dream of using Velociraptors to hunt down terrorists in caves, while being involved in some sort of hybrid program with Dr. Wu that goes deeper than Indominus Rex and may even be the strand used to build a sequel.
SPOILERS OVER… For Now.
Finally, let’s talk Dinos. You can tell CGI has come a long way in 22 years, from the new level of detail to classic Dinos like Gallimimus and Velociraptors, to the creation of a new dinosaur; Mr. Indominus Rex.
Indominus Rex avoids the pitfalls of the Spinosaurus, Universal’s bright(?) idea for a scarier dinosaur than T-Rex in Jurassic Park III. He’s bigger, smarter, etc, but he’s also… cooler? Is that the best descriptor? He really gets the best of all worlds, with a size bigger than T-Rex, useful arms for slinging humans into trees to kill them, and intelligence that may surpass the Velociraptor… as well as a bunch of other nifty feature I won’t spoil here. He gets all the scenes T-Rex got back in day, crushing a vehicle with kids in it and leaning close to Owen Grady, nostrils flaring and a mouthful of teeth opened just wide enough to get the point across.
Back to the Raptors… no one could ever hope to top Raptors in the kitchen, or that “Clever Girl” moment, but Jurassic World delivers the best Raptor thrills and scares since the 1st film. It’s great watching Owen train them like dolphins at the beginning, only having to test his Raptor whispering skills when a young paddock worker falls in with the dangerous, intelligent Dinos. But it gets better when greedy Hoskins finally gets what he wants and sets the Raptors free… leading to exactly what you would expect. MINOR MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD.
Before I wrap up this overly long review, I want to express my excitement about one element of the film I was hoping for going in. A look at the OG Jurassic Park buildings from 1993, reclaimed by the jungles of Isla Nublar. Revisiting the original Visitor Center (no pun intended) was a treat, especially the uncovering of a small part of a film-famous banner and the use of an Original “Jurassic Park” labeled Jeep.
MAJOR 3RD ACT SPOILERS AHEAD. Skip to last paragraph if need be.
The finale is probably the most polarizing part of the film. Some people will love it, others may think it is cheesy. Let’s just say it’s T-Rex and the Raptor named Blue squaring off against Indominus Rex… even with an assist by the aquatic Mosasaurus. The fact these three work together to fight off the “monster” dinosaur that shouldn’t exist, could simply be “Life Finding A Way” (again, though technically all the dinosaurs are unnatural “monsters,” built from Dino AND Frog DNA – among other things) or it could be over-the-top action with little sense. For whatever the reason, just like in Jurassic Park,T-Rex does save the day in an almost Godzilla (2014) way; a monster simply bringing balance to the ecosystem and saving “mankind.” The last scene of the film even has the classic King of the Dinos (well, Queen, all the animals in Jurassic Park were supposed to be female) T-Rex, roaring over his domain of Isla Nublar from on high. Still, since the T-Rex only appears in the 3rd act (mostly…mostly), he remains a letdown, no scenes to rival the first film or even Lost World. At least his neck isn’t broken by a Spinosaurus in the 1st act like Jurassic Park III… * Shudder*
Like 99% of sequels, Jurassic World has moments that make you cringe or upset you because it doesn’t play close enough to the original film. But, overall, it is a fantastic film, not disappointing this Jurassic Park mega-fan (JP is in my top 5 favorite movies and JW is my most anticipated movie of the year), becoming the best Jurassic Park sequel to date (you know they want to make another, especially with the one loose thread involving Hoskins and Dr. Wu’s secret work), delivering every scene and dinosaur scare I expected to see.