(Spoiler Alert: You Have Been Warned)
I fell in love with Jurassic Park when it was first released. In fact, it was one of the first movies I remember seeing opening weekend as a kid. My parents took a ten-year old me to watch it at a drive-in!
So it was with great anticipation that I mused over the trailer last December, after having exposed my love for the first Jurassic Park film earlier last summer.
And I watched Jurassic World, along with many others on opening weekend, helping to make it set box office records to become a blockbuster hit! But when I emerged from the dark theatre into the summer heat, I was both elated and disappointed at the same time. So here, with all my fandom is a look at the good, the bad and the ugly from the now record setting blockbuster hit; Jurassic World.
I think it’s best to start with what I liked and the things I think the movie did marvelously.
First and foremost, there were lots of callbacks to both the original movie and the original park! The two nephews made their way into the old Visitors Center. And it was great to see the banner “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth,” again, although I wasn’t happy to see it burned, I was still happy to see it.
It was also a nice touch to include the old Jurassic Park Jeep Wranglers, and at the very beginning for a brief moment, Mr. DNA appeared to get some screen-time. They say that the gates for Jurassic World are the same, or at least I think they did, but even still, I doubt it based on their location on the island. It’s great to see similar gates used as the Park’s entrance, at any rate. And the flare homage that Claire does, is another great callback to the movie that started it all, only Claire fares better than Malcolm did.
The more corporate InGen, with monetary and possibly military inclinations was great to see, as it’s much truer to the InGen of the books, a company that was behind much of the first movie, which barely saw any screen-time in that film, except for as an emblem on one of the helicopters in one scene.
If you want to know more about this corporate greed, look no further than the fact that their first attempts at recapturing Indominus Rex was with non-lethal weapons. They wanted to capture the asset, worth billions of dollars, rather than put it down in the first place to save the lives of those trapped on the island.
Another bright spot was the character development of the two nephews, visiting their Aunt Claire. Zach, played by Nick Robinson and Gray portrayed by Ty Simpkins are the only real characters with any real depth at all. And they are brilliant throughout the introduction to the new park and through the chaotic end, as well.
In truth, their characters appear to be the only characters within the movie that have any development at all compared to the rest. Zach the older brother, comes around to be a hero to Gray, his younger brother, as they go through the park, while at the same time dealing with their parents’ impending divorce and the lack of attention they are receiving from their Aunt.
Lowery, played by Jake Johnson, as good natured, non-evil Nedry type character is brilliant (and he was wearing an original Jurassic Park shirt), as is Chris Pratt as Owen and his co-stars the Raptors; Echo, Charlie, Delta and Blue.
Though the technology that brought the original Jurassic Park to life is basically ancient as special effects go these days, the technology used to create the dinosaurs of Jurassic World does justice to the series. That goes for both the normal dinosaurs and the hybrids, of which I was oddly shocked at some of their choices.
The big baddy being Indominus Rex; part T-Rex, part Velociraptor, with that frog and pufferfish DNA added for good measure was good, but their was also what appeared to be another hybrid of pterosaurs with T-Rex heads. Even though that latter looked a bit ridiculous to me, they still looked good on the screen.
And all of those hybrids, and many more we probably didn’t see, or that I didn’t notice were the work of one, Dr. Henry Wu, who was a part of the lab in the first Jurassic Park. You know him, the one who nonchalantly told Dr. Grant that they were breeding Velociraptors.
The new park as a whole is beautiful, despite the main tourist area looking very cramped and only taking up a small portion of the island.
And of the good, if you take out the next two sections I’m about to write, without being a fan of the books and other movies, and without being part of the Jurassic Park fandom, this is a great action “popcorn” movie, that leaves you no wonder why it made and will continue to make bank at the box office and in homes, when it comes out for purchase.
When I mused over the trailer back in December, I thought that Owen, played by Pratt, would be a Malcolm/Muldoon hybrid of a character, but in truth, there wasn’t really a Malcolm character within the movie. Which was unfortunate, because the commentary on if they should be doing what they were doing was lacking.
Another thing, and again this could be me, was the baby dinosaur petting zoo, where they showed kids riding baby Triceratops and hugging and feeding other little dinos seemed a bit in inappropriate to me. Again, I think a Malcolm-type character would have had something to say about that.
Outside of a few scenes, and most of Owen’s dialogue, the scripted dialogue seemed to be missing any real depth. There just wasn’t much discussion and unlike the first movie, the science of everything is just kind of glossed over.
And with the lack of great dialogue, there is also a great lack of development and depth to all the characters, with the exception (as state earlier) of the nephews. All the good lines go to Starlord himself, Chris Pratt. The rest of the dialogue is really short on any real quality quotes, except for Simon Masrani, played by Irrfan Khan, who says on first seeing Indominus Rex, “this’ll give the parents nightmares.”
Three of my five ugly points are related to the script and plot of the movie itself. First, the missing link of explanation between Jurassic Park and Jurassic World is glaring. How did they get from Drs Grant and Sattler, Malcolm and even Hammond himself “not signing off of the park,” to rebuilding the island and opening it’s gates to the world 22 years after the events of the first movie? How?
Second, InGen’s involvement isn’t explained much either, and third, company man Dr. Wu who must have overseen some of the process of rebuilding the island or at least the dinosaurs on it, isn’t given much backstory. I guess knowing he was part of the initial team was supposed to be enough… It wasn’t.
The fourth point of ugliness shows just how geeky I am. The score seemed to come up short of any real symmetry. The music by Michael Giacchino may have been based upon the original, basically flawless John Williams score, but it lacks continuity. I refer you to the first movie, after the big score plays when Grant, Sattler and Malcolm see the dinosaurs for the first time, the score fades into a small transition before basically disappearing.
But in this film, the main score seems to fall away and fade out to nothing, without a transition of any kind. To me, the only explanation for this is that no one can fill John Williams’ shoes when it comes to movie scores and he must be toiling away on the score for the new Star Wars trilogy.
And last, but not least, they literally “jumped the shark.” The last and final battle scene ends with the Mosasaurus jumping out of the water to pull the wounded and cornered Indominus Rex down into the depths to be eaten. Really? It would have been a much better end to see the tag team of T-Rex and the lone remaining Velociraptor take down the hybrid together without any sea monster interference. All in all, it just seems like a lack of imagination.
The Bottom Line
This movie requires a second viewing, which I probably won’t get until I buy the movie for my collection. But the bottom line is that for hardcore fans of the series, the books and original film, the movie leaves a lot to be desired. The dinosaurs were great, but the rest… I hope that there is an extended edition or even just a few deleted scenes that fill in the gaps, I was hoping not to still have after the first viewing of Jurassic World.
Again, I will reiterate that this is a great “popcorn” movie, but it just leaves too many gaps in the scenario that this takes place on Isla Nublar, the same island home to the original Jurassic Park. The callbacks were nice, and again the dinosaurs were brilliant, but the script let me down, leaving me feeling a little cheated.
By all means, go see the movie. I’ll buy it in a heartbeat when it comes out on Blu-Ray, and that’s for two reasons; one, I want to keep my collection complete, and two, I’m hoping that the holes in the plot were just due to editing for time and not because the script was that poor to begin with.
What did you think? Maybe they’ll cover all those holes in the Jurassic World sequel Chris Pratt is signed on to do? Maybe…