First, let me start off by saying it feels great to be back! I haven’t written in quite some time for good reason. Life got in the way. But, much like a phoenix rising from the ashes, I have returned in full effect. So much has happened while I was gone! E3 has started, Bruce Jenner is now a woman and Jurassic World dominated the box office this past weekend. So let’s talk about that.
1993 was a huge year for America. Michael Jackson had been accused of child molestation, Bill Clinton was elected as the President of the United States, the east coast was rocked by a blizzard, and I was born. But, even all of those events combined pale in comparison to the gargantuan blockbuster film released that same year. The film in question you ask? Jurassic Park.
Jurassic Park’s great story, acting, visual and sound effects and overall wonder took the world by storm. It managed to raise the bar for what a blockbuster movie should be with its breathtaking visuals and brand new audio design. Its influence on American cinema can still be felt today.
Like any insanely popular film, it spawned two sequels, which were (for lack of a better term) terrible. But now, 14 years after the craptacular Jurassic Park 3, dinosaurs are back and ready to wash out the bad taste left in our mouths.
Jurassic World has a very interesting premise. It is set 20 years after the events of the original Jurassic Park film and has essentially a “what-if” premise. What if the dinosaurs from the original film hadn’t gone batshit crazy and attempted to eat everyone in sight? What if Jurassic Park had actually opened to the public as an amusement park? The film answers these questions by having the park open to the public…only to have the dinosaurs go batshit crazy and attempt to eat everyone in sight.
InGen, the company founded by Jurassic Park’s John Hammond, creates a new breed of dinosaur by mixing together the DNA of several different dinosaurs along with some modern day animals. This concoction comes to be known as the Indominus Rex. It’s such a silly name that even the film’s protagonist laughs at it. The Indominus Rex is meant to be the newest attraction to the park, but surprisingly the dinosaur doesn’t want to be held in captivity so it cleverly tricks the human beings and manages to escape and wreak havoc on the park.
While the premise is an interesting one, and it is really amazing seeing a fully functioning dinosaur-themed amusement park, it still makes no sense that anybody would allow a theme park with vicious dinosaurs to open, especially after it failed so horribly the first time. The film centers on four protagonists, brothers Zach and Gray Mitchell who are visiting the park, Claire Dearing, the boys’ aunt and the park’s operations manager and Owen Grady, a velociraptor trainer, and their attempt at surviving the ensuing chaos.
My biggest problem with the film is that it seems like it’s trying to recapture the wonder of the first film, while also trying to make something new. The movie is essentially one big wink to the audience saying, “Hey, remember this thing from the first movie? Well, we put it in this one too! Nostalgia!” That works to an extent, but after a while it gets old.
Another issue I had with the film was the campy acting. I know the first film had some hokey moments, but after watching it again for the first time in years, it still held up really well. Jurassic World just has too many cheesy lines delivered terribly by some really good actors.
Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are both really good actors (at least to me) and I feel like they weren’t used to their full potential. Howard is a cookie-cutter emotionally distant workaholic and Pratt is a macho “badass” who spews one-liners that are very hit or miss. Normally, I love Chris Pratt doing that, but it seemed off in this film.
The forced character development doesn’t help the film either, especially between the two brothers. There’s a particularly strange scene where the boys start talking about their parents’ failing marriage out of nowhere, and it is never mentioned again. Ever.
What upsets me so much about the writing is the fact that this film was written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, the two writers responsible for one of my favorite movies last year, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Almost everything amazing about the script and story from Dawn is absent in Jurassic World: realistic character development and relationships. The only thing that transferred over is the great action sequences.
When you think of large blockbuster films, you usually think of giant explosions and special effects, but movies like The Avengers, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Guardians of the Galaxy have proven that you can have lots of explosions with a good story, and unfortunately Jurassic World only has the former.
The Bottom Line:
After 14 years of waiting for a new Jurassic Park movie to be released, I think that my expectations were too high. Don’t get me wrong, there is more than enough action to keep anyone entertained, and the nods to the first film were cute (to a limit), but with the amount of money and talent behind this film in the form of Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, I should have felt the need to watch it again and again. That being said, if you’re looking for a lot of nostalgia, and I do mean a lot, and a big budget, fun movie then I think it’s time to take another walk through the park.