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Jurassic World Review

"Journey back into the classic franchise with an entry that misses the mark"

I went into Jurassic World with plenty of mixed feelings. While Jurassic Park is one of my favorite movies (seeing the 3D IMAX re-release is one of the high points of my movie watching career), the sequels never really did anything for me. I didn’t dislike them, but they just never had the magic that made the original so great. However, ‘World’ interested me. While director Colin Trevorrow’s freshman film did not necessarily have anything that made him an obvious choice for a Jurassic Park sequel, it was an interesting and well-executed film, the concept of focusing on a fully operational park was a clever way of escalating the franchise, and the casting of the ever-amusing Chris Pratt seemed like a recipe for an enjoyable movie.

But as the marketing for the movie progressed, my interest started to wane. I couldn’t really put a finger on the reason, maybe it was that lackluster first clip they released, maybe it was overexposure to Chris Pratt as his popularity vaulted, maybe advertising fatigue. Maybe something else altogether. Regardless of the reason, I found myself sitting in the theater on preview night to watch a movie that I was intellectually very interested in, but held no real enthusiasm for.

Jurassic World Raptors

This sense of detachment continued through the film. I wanted to be pulled into the movie, taken on an adventure in the world’s most unfortunate theme park, but Jurassic World never managed to sink its talons into me and pull me in. Now it’s not a bad movie, not by a long shot, but it’s just missing something. I am going to try very hard to not compare Jurassic World to Jurassic Park*, because the ‘Park’ is such an amazing film, but it’s hard not to, because it’s such an amazing film. It really should be considered its own separate thing. You have Jurassic Park, and then over there is some films that follow it, but are their own films. The Post-Jurassic Park Trilogy, if you will. But beyond that, Jurassic World really wants to be Jurassic Park, much in the same way that the park in the film wants to be its predecessor. In fact, ‘World’ is really its best when it’s tying itself into and homaging the original. Unfortunately, this just draws attention to how lackluster the more original content is and made me just wish I was watching Jurassic Park instead.
jurassic world
The script feels very clumsily written. The entire first act basically consists of the writers turning to the camera and saying, “Hold on, we’re setting things up, it’ll get interesting in a minute.” In fact, most of the non-dinosaur scenes have the feeling of pieces being moved into position so that they can get to the next set piece, which themselves are far between. Now, there’s nothing wrong with sparse dino-action, remember that Jurassic Park had a total of only 15 minutes of dinosaur screen time. But where ‘Park’ filled the intervening scenes with a rich cast of interesting and complicated humans, Jurassic World’s are so very, very bland. The only characters who come anywhere close to being compelling are Chris Pratt’s Owen (who will forever be known as “Chris Pratt in Jurassic World”), who only manages to be so because of that whole raptor pack thing, as well as Pratt’s residual charm that has not been stripped away by the script making him play the character far too seriously. Really, Pratt should avoid playing straight action heroes, and stick to more fare like Guardians of the Galaxy. While Jake Johnson (New Girl, Let’s Be Cops) is notable playing a sort of good version of Wayne Knight’s computer whiz Nedry.
jurassic world still - pod
Remember the scene in Jurassic Park when they first encounter dinosaurs on the island? That incredible John Williams score swells, the characters’ faces are covered in pure wonder and the camera peers up to reveal the magnificent brontosaurus (or apatosaurus, depending on whom you ask); it’s truly an awe-inspiring moment of movie magic. Jurassic World has a similar moment. The characters arrive at the island, Williams’s theme swells, and we see… trains, crowds, hotels and a brief glimpse of some of the island’s landscape. It’s scenes like this that really showcase how the magic is missing from the movie. Sure, the final fight scene in Jurassic World is cool, but the hour and a half leading up to it is so very dry.

Though all this seems to run counter to my statement that the movie is not bad. For all of the movie’s flaws, it does manage to not add up to a bad movie. Just a movie that so clearly could have been so much better. It treads forward, confident that its brand and the fact that it has a few cool dinosaur scenes will give it enough momentum to achieve success. And, based on the box office numbers, it seems to have been right. Which is a shame, because we could have gotten so much more.

*Hey, I only compared it to Jurassic Park four times. It could have been much more.

  • Dinosaurs
  • Always nice to hear John Williams' theme music
  • Bland characters
  • Bland story

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