Jurassic Park opened on June 11, 1993. It wowed audiences in a way that had never been done before and set a new a standard for what a summer blockbuster could aspire to. I LOVE summer blockbusters and personally credit a large portion of the origins of my enduring appetite for big budget, theater worthy movie experiences to Jurassic Park, as I’m sure do many of my generation.
Here comes Jurassic World: released 22 years and 1 day later, after a couple of sequels that fans and critics alike generally agree are deeply flawed or lackluster in comparison to Jurassic Park. The excitement and expectations surrounding the release of Jurassic World have been very high. People have high hopes that this movie will redeem the franchise in a big way, and I count myself in this group. So the question is, does it?
First of all, I was a bit worried that the copious trailers and featurettes for Jurassic World gave away too many plot spoilers. Unfortunately, this was a well-founded concern. Chris Pratt as a Velociraptor Wrangler was awesome. However I cannot now objectively say whether I would have found the plot less predictable as a whole if Pratt’s relationship with the raptors had come as a pleasant surprise to me. The unfolding of events surrounding the “villain” of the movie, the spectacle of corporate greed and opportunism that result in disastrous handling of the crisis, and the movie’s resolution were not particularly creative. Most viewers will see it coming.
Predictable plot devices aside, there are several things that make this movie worth a trip to the theaters. There are dinosaurs after all!! And the design of the park is breathtaking. You know terrible things will start happening in about 20 minutes, but you still wish you could go to the park. Jurassic World is high-tech, interactive, and allows the visitor to get very close to the dinosaurs. It “spares no expense”. There are several tasteful throwbacks to the original Jurassic Park, but it isn’t overdone, nor are there any cameos of characters that wouldn’t choose to be part of a bigger, grander, more commoditized version of John Hammond’s vision. I must admit though, I was hoping for someone to say “Hold on to your butts” or “When you gotta go, you gotta go”.
Chris Pratt’s character has tons of flare (as expected) and great chemistry with Bryce Dallas Howard’s. I’ll be surprised if we don’t start seeing more of her after this. She was dynamic and interesting even if her presence didn’t push any boundaries. Let’s hope they’ll give her more reasonable shoes to run through the next jungle in. The child actors are decent, their age gap and relationship dynamic adds some dimension and comedy to their scenes. The rest of the characters are dinosaur fodder.
Corporate sponsorship and product placement is everywhere. This is not Universal Studios being desperate. The director, Colin Trevorrow, sculpted the scenes very deliberately. You are supposed to be distracted (and annoyed, in my case) by Samsung and Pandora in the midst of your awe over dinosaurs. The theme has no subtlety, but given its inherently commoditized nature, why should it? I respect the director’s decision, who is relatively unknown by the way. An interesting choice for such an important franchise re-boot.
We saw this film in 3D Imax, which I highly recommend. The 3D was well done, and I don’t often find that 3D adds much to my viewing experience. Overall, Jurassic World is super entertaining, suspenseful, and fun. Don’t expect anything else this summer to top this as a movie experience. That said, I was hoping for something akin to “The Dark Knight” of the Jurassic Park franchise and it just doesn’t reach that bar. Perhaps my expectations were too high. Or perhaps the producers could have spent a bit more time on the screenplay, which was allegedly written in 3 weeks. Oh, and you can thank me later for saving you ten minutes of credits. There isn’t an after-credit scene. Many feel that after credit scenes are gimmicky, but whatever your opinion about them, about half our sold out theater waited hopefully to see a last glimpse of dinosaurs. This was a great example of the overall positive reception of the film, as well as our enduring sense of wonder over the previous residents of our planet.