I just watched both Jurassic Park and the original in the past couple of days and I realized something about these films; they are absolutely full of smart people acting dumb. Brimming. Jurassic World starts with two young boys traveling to the brand new and highly successful Jurassic Park, which has been open and incident free for some time now. Their aunt, Claire, runs the park and is supposed to watch them but quickly pawns them off to her assistant and goes about her day; which is spent mostly getting the parks newest attraction, an brand new creation called Indominus Rex ready for viewing by the public. Meanwhile, Owen is training and bonding with four Velociraptors by playing games with them and acting as the alpha in their pack. Things spiral out of control; the Indominus Rex breaks out and due to it’s isolated existence, it goes on a killing spree. When it finds something alive, it kills it. Claire and Owen oversee an evacuation while also trying to deal with the serial killer dinosaur and higher ups in InGen who have their own motives. Eventually the two of them, the raptors and a Tyrannosaurus Rex face the Indominus in battle and force her (I think it’s a she) into the islands’ lagoon where a giant Mosasaurus (not actually a dinosaur) eats it.
There is a lot to like about this movie, but overall the movie kind of fades away as you walk away from the theatre. The power, fear and wonder of the first movie don’t really stay around with this movie and I think that is as much because of the modern era of movie making we are in as much as anything else. This movie feels just a tad more generic then it should, just a smidge too much like a superhero film or an action film for it to leave the impression that it’s predecessors did.
The story works, but I think it’s overstuffed and all over the place. There is simply too much going on; story points get dropped right and left; the children’s parents are getting a divorce and it’s mentioned once and then never brought up again. InGen has the most confusing corporate structure I’ve ever heard of; half the InGen employees don’t seem to answer to the CEO while the other half are just allowed to keep corporate secrets from the corporation itself. There are to many characters running around and to many agenda’s that have to play out for anything to feel fully fleshed out or developed. There’s Claire’s goals to increase profits seemingly no matter what, Owen is both trying to develop the raptors and protect them from the shady corporate guys who want to train them as weapons of war, the brother’s don’t seemingly have anything on their minds besides wondering around, and the head scientist is weirdly secretive about how they make their dinosaurs, it’s all a bit much for a single movie. I think that a lot of these ideas and plotlines are interesting on their own, but how the movie deals with them is less then stellar. Nothing feels completely developed.
The actors try their best to hold the movie together and while I think they do an admirable job, I don’t think anybody really shines here. Chris Pratt seems stuck; he can’t be as funny as he is capable of being but at the same time he doesn’t pull off the much more serious action movie hero thing either. The movie also just puts him out there, labels him “likable” and expects us to role with that. Which we certainly can up to a point but without any context for his character he’s a little hard to ever connect with. Similarly, we get almost nothing about Bryce Dallas Howard. She is a capable woman who runs the park but we get little bout why she is in charge, who she is, or what she actually does. I’m not even sure why she is qualified to run this park, though clearly she is. Her character got a lot of flack for being an unsatisfactory female character and I agree with that criticism up to a point. But I think the real problem is simply that she is undeveloped. I’m not even going to talk about the kids who are forced into this movie; they are equal parts annoying and unmemorable.
What is memorable, and makes the movie at least fun, are the actual dinosaurs. The raptors especially are great. The way they move and hunt is extremely entertaining and more then a little scary; their running animation is especially nice. Similarly, the Indominus Rex is a very imposing adversary that takes the teaming up of some very erstwhile dinosaurs to finally defeat him. That being said, the Rex is kind of silly as well; for some reason it was given a host of what are essentially superpowers; it has infrared vision, it doesn’t get picked up on thermal cameras and a couple other abilities push the beast and the movie a lot more closer to Avengers territory then I would like. I also would have liked it if the dinosaurs looked more like how scientists now believe they look, with feathers and color and whatnot. I kind of understand keeping the same look, especially since the T. Rex is supposed to be the same one from the first movie, but seeing what dinosaurs are supposed to look like would have been a lot of fun. Part of what made the first movie so special is that it showed me living, breathing and moving versions of the things I’d bee playing with for years.
I liked this movie but I just didn’t love it. There are some interesting things going on in the movie; the idea of weaponizing the raptors is very interesting and has a lot of potential, but the more interesting stuff like that mostly overshadowed by the averageness of the rest of the film. On it’s own, this movie is fine, but when you consider it’s heritage, there is just a little something missing from it that makes it mildly disappointment. I don’t know if that’s fair, I don’t see how a sequel could capture the magic of the first one, but the ten year old boy in me who saw Jurassic Park a dozen times that summer in 1993 desperately wanted that.
Also, did you see the box office for this movie? They are going to remake everything now.