*Potential Spoiler Alert: You have been warned*
I will be the first to admit that I was worried about Jurassic World. I mean, the original Jurassic Park was groundbreaking on so many levels, and the sequels, while enjoyable, were not quite up to par. The Lost World mostly thrived on the pure essence of Jeff Goldblum, and Jurassic Park III tried…a little too hard. So when you’re seeing Chris Pratt riding a motorcycle, calling to velociraptors (my personal favorites) like they’re trained pets, you tend to get a little edgy.
I was, thankfully, worried for nothing. Jurassic World was entertaining, compelling, and an excellent way to draw us back into the world of InGen’s creations. Though the score was not composed by John Williams, whose music is as iconic as the original movie itself, I could rest easy knowing that Michael Giacchino had the soundtrack well in hand (though this was his first scoring of a Jurassic Park film, he was in charge of the score of the PlayStation version of The Lost World).
I was particularly impressed by Chris Pratt’s performance as Owen Grady, who works on bonding with raptors to see if they have the potential to be trained for other purposes than being theme park attractions. Pratt has been cast as the sarcastic type before, so seeing Grady diss on head honcho Claire (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) was nothing new, though entertaining. However, this film focuses a little less on him being comedic like in previous roles (The Lego Movie, Parks and Rec, and even Guardians of the Galaxy to a certain extent) and more on him being a straight-up badass. Previous JP male leads- Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum- who, though tough and in control, are often just running for their lives. Pratt’s character spends a good deal of time actually trying to DO something about the current circumstances rather than just trying to stay alive. Pratt handles the balance between sarcasm and stoicism well and I’m excited to see how his range will continue to grow.
This movie isn’t without its flaws, over course- the main one being its overall predictability. I’m sure we all saw the overall premise coming- company opens a theme park, gets greedy when attendance starts dropping and therefore creates a new dinosaur with genetic engineering, and then is somehow surprised when it all goes to hell (as if we haven’t seen three movies explaining why a dinosaur theme park is a terrible idea).
There are also certain cliches throughout the film, my personal favorite being Claire’s change of heart moment. She and Pratt ascend the hill in search of her nephews to see several dead and dying dinos, killed by their escaped Indominous Rex.
Claire spends a lot of the beginning doing her best to think of the dinos as “park attractions” and “numbers” rather than animals. However, seeing these dying ‘longnecks’ (a friend leaned over to me whispering that he was having Land Before Time flashbacks), Claire starts to realize they are, in fact, living creatures that are beautiful.
It was like a CinemaSins timer went off in my head: Workaholic boss realizes that dinosaurs are more than just numbers and that life is beautiful. *Ding!*
Overall, I have only one big complaint about this film, and that is the dinosaurs themselves. This is the first film in which the animatronic wonders of Stan Winston were not used (R.I.P.), and you can really feel the difference between the dinosaurs from the first film to the last. Though it is just as fun to watch Chris Pratt train the new velociraptors, you can tell they are very much CGI.
One of my favorite parts of the original films is how the dinosaurs seemed real- the animatronics gave them a realistic texture, almost as if you could feel them if you just reached out a little farther. It’s like Hammond said- “I wanted something that was real. I wanted something that they could see and touch” (Jurassic Park). That was the real magic that Jurassic Park spun over us- we believed in the dinosaurs on the screen, believed that they could be real, were swept up in their majesty.
Jurassic World, for all its good points, can’t quite measure up to that majesty with CGI alone, not even when it makes an amazing showing of the Mosasaurs (I am a firm believer that if another JP movie is made, this one should focus on ancient sea monsters- just watch BBC’s special on Sea Monsters to see how terrifying it would be to go swimming, it’ll make you want to walk in Jurassic Park without a gun).
All in all, I wholly support this film to anyone who may still doubt it. Is it everything that the first film was? Of course not, but I don’t believe that anything will ever be that amazing, especially not a sequel that ties itself to the original. Nothing can recapture that magic of first seeing a dinosaur onscreen. This film does, however, entertain and delight even the pickiest of audiences, searching for the magic that once was.
Enjoyable for newbies and Jurassic Park naturalists alike!