By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
In 1993, Jurassic Park became my generation’s Jaws; the film that set summer blockbusters in a new direction for years to come. A special effects spectacle, the original film brought dinosaurs to life in a way never seen before, and is rightfully treasured as a generation-defining piece of cinema. After a pair of subpar sequels and a 14-year hiatus, moviegoers have been treated to another trip to Isla Nublar, courtesy of director Colin Trevorrow, with Jurassic World. The box office smash is a renaissance for the long-dormant franchise, channeling what made the original film so great with a fresh cast, an imposing monster and pure summer entertainment.
Realizing Dr. John Hammond’s dream, Jurassic World is open to the public at long last, entertaining guests with exhibits featuring prehistoric creatures thought long dead. However, to battle the impending fear of consumer’s losing interest in the resurrection of pre-historic creatures, scientists at Jurassic World have created the Indominous Rex, a hybrid dinosaur created in a laboratory to provide a new scare for the guests of the park. However, when the I-Rex breaks free from captivity, it creates a domino effect sending the park into chaos.
Jurassic World is a summer blockbuster film at its core, and the filmmakers made the perfect decision in treating the resurgence of the treasured franchise as such. From beginning to end the movie is nothing but entertaining, and it begins with how well the filmmakers did keeping the spirit of the original inside of the new film. Seeing Hammond’s dream visualized within Jurassic World is a sight to see, and although there are several cheesy moments, such as the famous Jurassic Park score hitting upon your first view of the island, any moviegoer over the age of 23 is going to flip out at the nostalgia that this movie holds.
Although the throwbacks to the original are numerous, what makes Jurassic World its own movie is the I-Rex. Jurassic Park III tried and failed to create a dinosaur that could strike more fear in the hearts of moviegoers than the Tyrannosaurus Rex, but the I-Rex is legitimately terrifying. As the film goes on, you will learn more about what the I-Rex is made out of, and every time that a new component of its DNA is unveiled you begin to realize that this is a machine bred only to kill.
Jurassic World turns into King Kong in the third act as the mission of the main characters is to simply bring down the terrifying beast, which is where the trailer’s money shot of Chris Pratt training the raptors comes into play, but that scene doesn’t lack the terrifying punch that comes from the I-Rex breaking free of its holdings or its first attack on the park’s security guards. Trevorrow did a great job building the I-Rex as a legitimate threat, and it shows, as the new dinosaur is easily the most memorable aspect of this film.
The I-Rex is the star, but that does not mean that other dinosaurs do not have their moments. The four Velociraptors, my personal favorite, are immensely well handled, and are supplanted by a strong performance from Chris Pratt. If any doubts linger on Pratt’s ability to play a rough rugged character (ahem…Indiana Jones, anyone?) all one has to do is pop in a copy of Jurassic World.
Although he doesn’t have the tongue-in-cheek hilarity present in Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt brings more than enough to the table in this role and is the primary (human) star of the film. I dare someone to go to this movie and not want a pet raptor when they walk out; the speedy bipeds are simply that cool.
Another star is the Mosasaurus, a water-based, gigantic dinosaur that makes few appearances in the film, but all of which are 2well timed, well used and epic. Many have seen the trailer shot of the Mosasaurus eating the shark as part of the park’s attractions, but not only does the mega dinosaur appear again, he does so with a kill that easily ranks in the top five of the franchise. The coup de grace comes late in the third act, a surprise that I will not spoil here, but a scene that will have fans from the original sitting on the edge of their seat with a massive smile on their faces.
While the CGI characters are fleshed out and Pratt fits well into his role, the other human characters of Jurassic World seem defiantly formulaic. Bryce Dallas Howard doesn’t have much to work with, acting as a park supervisor with terrible juvenile supervisory skills, while Vincent D’onofrio is massively wasted as a cookie-cutter military man.
The two kids in the film, played by Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson, serve as fodder to push the dinosaurs from one set piece to the next, despite Trevorrow’s best efforts to force-feed the audience a sub-plot involving their parents’ possible impending separation. Even B.D. Wong is reduced to spewing exposition and force-feeding the plot lines for the inevitable sequel. This is a movie about the dinosaurs, but to have a little more depth with the characters hurts Jurassic World.
As a summer popcorn flick, Jurassic World succeeds on nearly every level. The dinosaurs are great, Pratt dominates in his role, and the story moves quickly and ferociously, but what holds this box office smash back is the mediocre crop of supplementary characters. As evidenced by the insane amount of money this movie raked in, the Jurassic Park franchise has been definitively brought back to life.