Jurassic World ReviewJoe Shaffer
Jurassic World is the sequel to Jurassic Park we should have received in the first place.
I recall being thirteen and going to the air force base theater to catching Jurassic Park for the first time. Prior to that, there weren't many thrillers that had me on the edge of my seat--literally. I was actually leaning forward, clenching my first, worried that one of the major characters was going to end up dino chow. A few did, of course. The scene that had my stomach turning the most, though, involved the T. Rex just about eating the two kids, especially the moment in which the only thing separating them from the Rex's maw was a sheet of glass. I nearly peed. It was glorious.
I had hoped that The Lost World: Jurassic Park would recapture its predecessor's magic, but I found the film to be lackadaisical in comparison. Sure, it had the Rex running amok in a US city, but it felt like the filmmakers were reaching for anything to outdo the original and weren't above featuring ridiculous material for the sake of ridiculousness. Because of that, I've never given Jurassic Park III a fair shake. Having only seen bits and pieces of the sequel, it wouldn't be fair for me to pass a complete judgment on it--although the Spinosaurus was pretty cool, I must admit.
So as you can tell, I initially wasn't too keen on seeing Jurassic World in theaters. The franchise didn't bear the most impressive track record with me, and I was afraid that World would be another Lost World. Thank goodness it wasn't!
The movie's pace doesn't remain slack for very long. It shows you dinosaurs from the get-go, does a fair amount of necessary exposition, and embarks on the familiar chaotic ride in a timely manner. It helps that this installment showcases likeable human characters, even Bryce Dallas Howard's initially uptight role. You go from despising her all-business attitude to respecting her will to evolve in the face of danger. As always, Chris Pratt provides decent zingers and clever one-liners, and makes a terrific action hero to boot. Then you have the two kids, a pair of brothers who are there to provide a simple melodramatic touch--enough to care about them and the previous people, but not so much you feel like the flick is overly dramatic.
Writing basic but likeable characters is essential to a thriller. The audience receives just enough background on each individual so they can invest in them and grow antsy once the forces of chaos start running wild. Jurassic World also doubles the anxiety by bumping off somewhat likeable "Spielbergian" bit roles in horrifying ways. During one scene, for instance, the genetically engineered Indominus Rex breaks free from its enclosure. One particularly beefy, jovial guard attempts to hide behind a vehicle, hoping that I. Rex's vision is based on motion like the Tyrannosaurus. Nothing doing. The Indominus knocks the vehicle aside and waits off-camera for what feels like eternity while we watch the man pray silently and cry his eyes out.
...and then: CHOMP!
It's horrific, though not quite gory or gruesome. The thought of having your body crushed between those jaws is disturbing enough that you hope the other characters can give the I. Rex the slip before becoming chew toys.
Typically, I'm not big on CG because to me it looks less realistic than some poorly designed practical effects do. Jurassic World's special effects are good enough, but not top notch. Don't expect to watch this film for anything new or mind-blowing. Expect, instead, for the movie to thrill you through action, which it does oh so well.
At some point, the Indominus catches up with the two boys and reenacts the jeep scene from the original film (only with a strange hamster ball-like vehicle). From there, we segue into copious chase scenes, a failed para-military exercise that smacks of the forest scene from Gamera 3: Incomplete Struggle, a smashed-open aviary spilling forth pteranodons and dimorphodons, Chris Pratt riding a motorcycle alongside velociraptors, and a closing fight scene that caps the film perfectly. Sure, Jurassic World may not match Mad Max: Fury Road in terms of excitement, but it's a close contender (and it's superior to this year's Avengers offering).
I'm not saying Jurassic Worldis brilliant. If that's what you're looking for, then know that the movie is pretty formulaic and doesn't deviate much from dino movie or summer blockbuster tropes. It's got cheesy quips, a few explosions, arrogant villains, the US military looking to weaponize something they shouldn't, and scientists who engage in questionable ventures because of money. In all honesty, don't approach Jurassic World if you're looking for a groundbreaking picture. It is a "by the books" piece, and originality is therefore not the reason to watch it.
Catch it because it's exciting. Give it a viewing because dinosaurs are awesome (I would place this film alongside the likes of its predecessor and the classic 1 Million Years BC). See it because it's everything a summer action film should be without all of the "in your face" product placements, ill-fitting jokes, toned down supervillains, and lousy actresses who only land roles because they're Googled several million times a day by horny teenagers. Experience Jurassic World because it proudly carries its franchise's banner, is aware of the kind of movie it is, and plays greatly to its strengths, mostly thanks to its human characters and tightly-paced script.
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