a critiQal film review Jurassic World (2015)

Plot: Located off the coast of Costa Rica, the Jurassic World luxury resort provides a habitat for an array of genetically engineered dinosaurs, including the vicious and intelligent Indominus rex. When the massive creature escapes, it sets off a chain reaction that causes the other dinos to run amok. Now, it's up to a former military man and animal expert (Pratt) to use his special skills to save two young brothers and the rest of the tourists from an all-out, prehistoric assault.

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After Steven Spielberg gave us Jurassic Park (1993), the inevitable sequels lost quite a bit in quality, ending with the downright awful Jurassic Park III (2001). And, that we thought, was that: they had run the interest from the first film into the ground, and milked every last cent. Then, it was announced a new film, Jurassic World, was in the works. With a groan, we waited for this latest one to pass quickly through theaters.

But wait…what’s this? People were enjoying Jurassic World? A lot of them? Could they really have revitalized this series, or were people just getting the nostalgia factor mixed up with decent filmmaking? We saw bits and pieces of the new film, but never got around to seeing the whole thing…until now. Would this new film really be worth all the shouting, or was this just going to be another inferior sequel?

Most of the whole cast has been replaced – but the reason for their replacement actually makes sense. Gone are the scientists from the other films, and so is John Hammond, who has passed away and left his park in the hands of Masrani, played by Irrfan Khan. In Jurassic World, the park is thriving under it’s new name (see the title of the film), and it’s being overseen by Claire, played by Bryce Dallas Howard. While Irrfan is decent in his short screen time, Bryce Dallas Howard is actually a huge disappointment. Supposedly just a motivated career-driven woman, she comes across as cold and unfeeling – even when she’s supposed to melt and be all caring.

Thankfully, Chris Pratt is there to save the day as Owen, a sort-of dinosaur whisperer. After blowing up into super-stardom from his performance in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), he pops up in Jurassic World, and steals the show from his fellow cast members. He’s the life of the film, and easily the most interesting character. He’s what will keep viewers sticking around, in spite of the flaws of this new film.

The kids of Jurassic World, just like in the previous entries in the series, are largely forgettable. They might be a little more groan-inducing than the original kids, but not really by much. Vincent D’Onofrio is wasted as the gung-ho military adversary, while B.D. Wong comes across as more conceited than ever as the main scientist.

Thankfully, while Chris doesn’t have much help from his cast members, he gets a boost from the plot of the film itself. Again, it’s a man-overstepping-his-bounds type of film, but Jurassic World manages to make that interesting again. It’s all about profit, and the scientists have pushed the limit on creating a new genetically enhanced dinosaur to outdo the shock and awe of Tyrannosaurus Rex. Surprise, they get a bit more than they bargained for, and the park runners quickly find out they aren’t equipped to deal with this new threat. Then they toss in the velociraptors (of course, what film in this series would be complete without them). The fact that they manage to use them in a whole new way (twice, which is even more surprising) makes this movie all the better.

The filmmakers know that viewers still have a special place in their memories for Jurassic Park (1993), and they use that to full effect in Jurassic World. The strong theme music is in place, and the entrance to the new park has been created using “reclaimed wood” from the original entrance, plus there is the close-up encounter with a dying dinosaur. But, it’s more than that. In fact, at one point in the film, the characters stumble across the old park’s structure, even using the banner (last seen falling to the ground in front of an angry T-Rex) as part of a makeshift torch. Other props from the original abound in this area as well, and fans will delight in catching another glimpse of these familiar objects.

The special effects have managed to step it up as well in Jurassic World, hearkening back to the more realistic dinosaurs of the original film, rather than the colorful oddities of the other sequels. While the dinosaur they are chasing (which they’ve called “Indominous Rex”) isn’t really exciting, the other dinosaurs (especially the water-based Mosasaurus) are thrilling, and when they appear, the excitement of the crowd in attendance in the film is contagious. Even the scene where they re-create the dying dinosaur sequence from JURASSIC PARK (this time with a brontosaurus instead of a stegosaurus) has been upgraded to showcase the effects of today, even while evoking memories of the original.

And that’s basically what Jurassic World is, in a nut shell. It’s a modern-day update to JURASSIC PARK which manages to keep a lot of the wonder and excitement of the original. With Chris Pratt leading the way, audiences are finally happy to once again venture into this ill-fated park – and the sense of nostalgia just enforces their feeling of a good time.

While Jurassic World is finally a sequel that can match up to Jurassic Park (1993), the fact that there is another sequel being planned has us a bit on edge. Can they really strike this fine balance twice? Well, with Chris Pratt back for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018), we have hope – even if Bryce Dallas Howard is back as well.

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