Seeing Jurassic World is like going to Disneyland as an adult. First you are afraid it won’t live up to you expectations. Then once you arrive you realize how expensive everything is and that the rides are all just made of metal and wood. But the magic is still there.
The original Jurassic Park is one of my favorite films of all time. (It is also my time machine movie.) I went into Jurassic World with my usual Marvel level combination of excitement and fear. This was a film I had been waiting to see for a very long time and I was scared my expectations would not be met. 124 minutes later I left the film with a face that hurt from smiling so hard. Jurassic World is not perfect, but it combines a potent mix of nostalgia, dinosaurs, and action which makes for a fun viewing experience.
I was hooked from the very beginning. As the camera panned over the island of Isla Nubar, I was transported back to my very first time in Jurassic Park. There were kids digging for fossils in the sand and a helicopter flying over the ocean to the lush tropical island and sweeping views of dinosaurs running (in herds!) through fields. It felt like coming home, just with everything a bit flashier, a bit brighter and newer. But the feelings remained. Director Colin Trevorrow gives the audience the sense that this theme park could easily exist outside the film (crazy genetics aside). There are beautiful exotic creatures in their “natural” glory, but there are also petting zoos and Sea World style shows. We see the T-Rex for the first time behind a glass window crowded with people taking pictures on cell phones. The website for the film looks like a page belonging to an actual theme park with animal info pages and ride wait time updates.There is a Starbucks and a Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville, and an IMAX Theater. The rides have sponsors! Jurassic World is a completely immersive experience, one that “spares no expense” in order to put the viewer into the world of the film.
This world also plays an incredible homage to the first film. There is a John Hammond memorial statue, a Mr. DNA cameo, Bryce Dallas Howard says, “Welcome to Jurassic World”. The best tribute to the first film is Michael Giacchino’s score which combines new pieces alongside John Williams’ iconic original theme. There is one particularly wonderful scene that references the first film in a way that gave me goosebumps (but I won’t spoil it for the 5 people who haven’t seen the film yet).
The experience of just looking at the screen and absorbing everything is so engaging that it was not until the end of the film that I realized I didn’t care about any of the characters. Sure I wanted the boys (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) to live. And I did really liked Irrfan Khan as Simon Masrani, John Hammond 2.0. But the only reason I liked Owen was because he was played by Chris Pratt. Chris Pratt is a likable person/actor and therefore I have to like him in a movie where he is friends with a velociraptor. But his character lacked development besides the fact that he is the Hero who must be laid back while still getting the job done.
I am usually not a Bryce Dallas Howard fan, but in Jurassic World she did a good job running and yelling and generally looking scared. It was just that her character wasn’t written very well either. She is The Business Woman; she doesn’t have kids or care about animals and worst of all she makes plans for dates! Her romance with Owen was unnecessary and unbelievable. There is also a vague sense at the end of the film of Claire’s character needing a male/children in order to be happy/fulfilled.
The best characters in the film were the dinosaurs. They had personalities. The camera spends a lot of time on close ups of the dinos’ eyes where you can really see the (awesome CGI) emotion shine through. These are creatures with feelings and intelligence. They are loyal. They form bonds. We grow attached to these dinosaurs and are rewarded at the end of the film with one of the most satisfying fight scenes in recent memory. Maybe it is because there were no robots or cities getting destroyed that I enjoyed it so much, but by the end of the film I was cheering along with the rest of the theater.
While Jurassic World has average characters and a sometimes silly story, it makes up for all that with the engaging, well crafted world full of action, adventure, and just the right amount of product placement.
- I really hope it was extra who made his own decision to run back for those two frozen margaritas while the pteranodons were attacking.
- Dinosaurs as soldiers/weapons? Okay plot.
- The songs on the soundtrack have some great titles including, “Love in the Time of Pterosauria.”
- If you haven’t seen Colin Trevorrow’s first film Safety Not Guaranteed, I highly recommend it.