Given the cinematic mile-stone that Steven Spielberg’s original 1993 masterpiece was, and the box office clout of the over-all series (yes, including the lame-ass 3rd one), another entry to The Jurassic Park Franchise was pretty much inevitable. I first heard rumblings about this one a couple years back and got a wee bit concerned, since the proposed script idea (or at least the ‘leaked’ concept art) of Human / Dinosaur Hybrids sounded pretty stupid, especially for the attempts at SOME tiny semblance of scientific merit in the previous flicks. This new idea sounded like something better suited for a low-budget SYFY channel ‘Direct to VOD’ feature, probably featuring Tara Reid and Ian Ziering. The next thing I heard was that, like the case of the 3rd movie, Spielberg wouldn’t be planting his highly-profitable ass into the director’s chair again. Instead, the reins were turned over to a newbie director with only one feature credit to his name, which happens to be Colin Trevorrow. I have yet to see Trevorrow’s debut film ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ (2012), but after learning the quirky premise, I’m intrigued. Especially since I just walked out of his second film, ‘Jurassic World’. I wonder how badly it’s going to hurt when the horseshoe drops out of his ass, because being hand-picked by The Man Himself Steven Spielberg, to take on a project of this magnitude, is friggin incredible. Not to mention sliding into the Summer Box Office race with an absolute destroyer of an opening weekend total. Of course, once the choice of director was revealed, the logical next question was: How good will it be? Especially compared (unfairly) to the first two movies, ‘Jurassic Park’ (1993) and ‘ The Lost World: Jurassic Park’ (1997). SO…how’d Colin do?
Actually, not bad. Pretty damn well, all things considered. Is it as good as the first one? Not a chance in hell. How about Number 2? Not for me, despite that one’s obvious short-comings. Numero 3? Absolutely. And that really is the important thing. ‘Jurassic Park 3’ is mostly garbage…particularly when you consider the first two films. On it’s own, it COULD be viewed as a passably entertaining ‘monster movie’. But when put into league with the others, no goddamn way. It WANTS to be a genuine Jurassic Park sequel, but…just…doesn’t…make…it. SO, using THAT as our ‘barometer’, ‘Jurassic World’ is a resounding success. That being said, opening Box Office totals, impressive though they may be, don’t equate a genuinely good movie. Luckily, in this case, the movie IS a good one…but definitely not a great one. It certainly pales when stood up next to the original, the one it’s using as it’s artistic spring board.
As you probably know, the Story goes like this: John Hammond’s dream of a fully functioning theme park brimming with genetically-created dinosaurs has become a reality, since his ‘passing’. It’s now known as Jurassic World and is host to 14 different species of dino-critters. Unfortunately, the park has been in operation long enough for paying attendees to have become somewhat blase’ about these Miracles of Science, and the bean-counters are beginning to express concern. SO…the good ole InGen Science Team has decided that the smart money’s on creating a brand-new dino-monster; a terrifying hybrid creature named ‘Indominus Rex’. Well, this being a Jurassic Park movie, we all know how that shit’s gonna go down! Oh, and of course there’s a couple of annoying kids thrown into the mix. Cue the running…and screaming.
We had fun with this one, in 3D. Is there anything that could’ve been improved upon? Absolutely. First off, the subplot involving the two brothers ‘Gray’ (Ty Simpkins) and ‘Zach’ (Nick Robinson), nephews of Bryce Dallas Howard’s Park Director ‘Claire’, could’ve easily hit the Cutting Room floor. It didn’t bother me as much as some of the previous ‘children in peril’ scenarios, from ALL the previous films, but it just felt too much of a ‘been there, done that’ situation. Secondly, some of the characterization was a bit flat. Chris Pratt’s ‘Owen’ character worked for me, partly because he didn’t just turn in a slight variation on his ‘Guardians of the Galaxy – Peter Quill’ character. Here, it actually seemed like he was trying to bring a lil something different. Sure, some of his characteristic Pratt-isms slipped through but they were welcome. Bryce Dallas Howard was ok in her role, but in truth, the role could’ve just as easily been played by any number of sexy young actresses, due largely to how one-dimensional it was. Vincent D’Onofrio (‘Daredevil’) popped up as a near-mustache twirling antagonist named ‘Hoskins’, who naturally just wanted to provide the military with dinosaurs-for-weapons. He’s good with what’s given to him, as he usually is, but it’s a fairly flat character. Everyone else turns up and turns in a collectively decent performance, one that does a middle-of-the-road job in service of the script.
But dialogue-spouting ‘talking heads’ are NOT why you go in for a Jurassic Park movie. Nope. You go in to see wonderfully-rendered and scary-ass dinosaurs chasing and chowing down on all the silly little humans running around these isolated locales…while said silly humans try to evade and conquer their wayward Frankenstein creations. This is where ‘Jurassic World’ succeeds, in my opinion. There’s some genuinely cool shit going on in this flick. I’ve heard some other reviews make the inevitable comparisons to the effects in the first couple films and the gripe has been sounded that those one’s look better than these ones, even after 22 or so years. Yeah, I didn’t really find that to be a problem. For the most part, everything looked pretty sweet here, definitely better than in Number 3. The Indominus Rex is a crazy beast and I wish that we could’ve seen a bit more ‘cat n mouse’ with her, especially if some more of her cool genetic aspects were expanded upon (thermal cloaking, adaptive camouflage etc). Her design is impressively intimidating. Some people’ve been skeptical about Chris Pratt’s Biker Gang of Raptors, but in the context of the movie, it actually worked well. The mannerisms and sounds they had ‘Delta’, ‘Charlie’, ‘Echo’ and ‘Blue’ make and do, especially when they were interacting with Pratt’s raptor-rangler ‘Owen’, did bump up the ‘cool’ factor for the already ‘cool’ velociraptors. There’s also the huge aquatic motherfucker Mosasaurs which, despite the creation of which NOT fitting into the ‘science’ of the film series, was awesome to see in action. And then there’s the pterodactyls. A fun-loving swarm of murderous pests who crash the party in Jurassic World and lend to a rising sense of pandemonium as the shit hits the fan.
The Cinematography is solid and it’s clear that Trevorrow did some homework regarding the past works of his Executive Producer Spielberg, as many of his shot compositions mesh nicely with The Bearded One’s visual aesthetic from the first two movies. The action scenes, of which there are a good number, are all easy to follow and lend nicely to the 3D presentation we saw.
The music score, not written or performed by the Spielberg go-to guy John Williams, works well for the story we’re told. Composer Michael Giacchino was wise to make sure the iconic Jurassic Park theme was included. It’s too bad that the first time we hear it, it’s for a scene that is REALLY undeserving of the grandeur of the piece.
All in all, ‘Jurassic World’ is a solid but flawed entry into this franchise that definitely stomps on the unfortunate legacy of the deservedly lambasted 3rd film. The dinosaur effects were cool, the carnage was impressive, some of the characters worked, the numerous ‘shout-outs’ to the original movie didn’t come off as desperate or gratuitous (as some other reviews have noted) and overall, my girlfriend and I had fun with it. In some cases, the 3D added to a shot or a scene, but I think you’ll have just as good a time if you see it in 2D. This is a ‘not perfect but worthy’ entry into the Jurassic Park Franchise, and I’m genuinely curious to see what else Colin Trevorrow will tackle after this, as you know the keys to Hollywood were tossed into his lap with the powerhouse opening of this one. I do recommend this movie; even if for no other reason than it’s nearly the definition of Big Summer Popcorn Flick, and is a fine excuse to turn your brain off in the air-conditioned darkness of a movie theatre.
PS-Given just how many times things have gone REALLY wrong for InGen and the theme park concept, I hope that Spielberg and Co. split from the whole program and try something new with the genetically-engineered dinosaur motif, since it’s very much pushing the Bounds of Believability that the park would EVER be allowed to open after all the past death, carnage and terror. MAYBE…it’s time for Human / Dino Hybrid creatures. Just saying.