In 1993, director Stephen Spielberg and science-fiction author Michael Crichton were responsible for one of the most influential cinematic experiences ever put on the big screen, Jurassic Park.
Using a balanced combination of practical effects and CGI that still looks good by today’s standards, the filmmakers were able to bring dinosaurs back to life in a way that no one had ever seen before and became a monster at the box office.
Sequels were made, but neither could capture the magic of the original with their mediocre storytelling, lack of memorable characters and not utilizing the dinosaurs to their maximum potential.
After the failure of Jurassic Park III, the fourth installment was put into development hell for over a decade, but the wait ended up being worth it for Universal Studios as Jurassic World made over one billion dollars and has become one of the highest grossing movies of all time.
But did this overdue sequel deserve that money, or do we still have to wait for a good Jurassic Park sequel?
Over twenty years after the original Jurassic Park, John Hammond’s dream is fully realized in the colossal theme park, Jurassic World. Feeling that the charm of witnessing dinosaurs in real life has taken its toll on the attendance, operating manager Claire Dearing (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) and her team decide to genetically engineer a new dinosaur called the Indominus Rex.
She goes over safety procedures on the weekend her nephews come to visit the park as their parents are going through a divorce.
As expected for the audience, despite the characters insisting that they are safe, hell breaks loose as the Indominus Rex outsmarts the humans and escapes into the park.
To save her nephews and the citizens, she enlists the help of raptor trainer Owen Grady (played by Chris Pratt) to stop this overpowered force of science. Unfortunately Owen’s got problems of his own, as Vic Hoskins (portrayed by Vincent D’Onofrio) uses the opportunity to try and convince everyone that his plan of weaponizing Owen’s raptors for military use is a good idea.
Unlike the previous two sequels, Jurassic World has a fresh idea in exploring what would happen if the park was fully completed.
The concepts for rides (albeit highly questionable) were entertaining to see in motion. The film captures the idea that humans are not easily satisfied with what they are given even if it involves bringing the dinosaurs back from the dead.
Even though Claire is an annoying character to watch at first and her character arc is very predictable, it is entertaining to watch her actions evolve as the film goes on. Chris Pratt also brings his charm to Owen’s character similar to how he did for Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Owen’s subplot involving his bond with the raptors and his attempts to train them were also a highlight, as the surreal showing these terrifying creatures be treated like zoo animals. The park even has its own Shamu that makes some great kills amidst the chaos.
The best part, without question, is the movie’s climax, where the gloves come off to take down the Indominus Rex for good, including the return of an old friend (which I will not spoil). Unlike Godzilla there are some interesting characters and ideas to keep you slightly invested before the final showdown. As far as the special effects go, they are hit and miss. Aside from one scene, they rely more on CGI than practical effects and while some of the designs are cool, some don’t feel as believable as the 90s dinosaurs did.
As good as some of the ideas and moments in the film are, there are characters and sub plots that either felt unnecessary or just not thought out well.
The brothers themselves are carbon copies of Hammond’s grandchildren in the original (one’s a dinosaur fanatic and the other can fix stuff), and the only purpose they serve is to make Claire worry about someone and get some shots of dinosaurs chasing them.
They try to have this emotional subplot where the boys are dealing with their parents getting a divorce, but aside from complaining about it in one scene, it goes nowhere and just serves as temporary mood swings, as if they didn’t have anything better to talk about during the vacation.
While Vincent D’Onofrio portrayed a compelling villain in Daredevil earlier this year, his plan and overall character in Jurassic World is laughable. Maybe they needed some excuse for the shot in the trailer where Chris Pratt rides a motorcycle next to some raptors, but they didn’t need to push this character and his insane idea so much.
If anything they could have just cut him out and had the characters resort to Owen’s raptors as a last resort without the push for one of the dumbest military ideas ever put on screen.
Sure, it’s likely done to echo the “dinosaurs are not tools” theme, but they could have gone with a different villain with a motivation that makes more sense.
As with most movies containing killer animals, plenty of head scratching actions are made, such as when the CEO chooses to fly a helicopter during an emergency situation despite there being plenty of more qualified people to fly the chopper.
As it stands, Jurassic World is a fun popcorn movie. Even if it suffers from having some pointless and poorly thought out characters, it still had decent acting, special effects, and had a fresh feeling with its concepts while blending in a bit of nostalgia.
It doesn’t capture the charm of the original, but then again, it’s nearly impossible for sequels and remakes to do that these days. At least it is more or less the Jurassic Park sequel I’ve wanted after the bitter taste of Lost World and Jurassic Park III.
Here’s to hoping the sequel will put the characters to better use.