Sunday, June 14, 2015

Jurassic World Review

Jurassic World Review
If you've been paying attention over here, then you know I haven't been the kindest when writing and debating over "Jurassic World." Its not that I thought it would fail, I just went in with very limited expectations a few reservations. The sequels to the original "Jurassic Park" are just copies of the first movie, the perfect example of mere treading water. Sequels that serve to be just like the original, except bigger and louder. To me, that is the worst kind of sequels. I prefer the type of sequel that expands the story, mythology or landscape it created in the first film. I like a different adventure or obstacle for our characters. Those are the type of sequels I like. But, I should say that sometimes treading water pays off, and I was curious to see what Colin Trevorrow could do in this world. Trevorrow was sixteen years old when the original "Jurassic Park" came out, so to Trevorrow, this like playing with a older sibling's toys, this was playing in someone else's sandbox and I am sure it was a great feeling. I really don't know how I'd react if I was chosen to direct a Marvel movie, or a "Star Wars" movie, but I hope my love for the material would show through.
"Jurassic World" wants to play the reboot card. This is a movie that totally tears the second and third movies from existence. Because let's face it, had the second and third movies existed, there is no way the world would allow "Jurassic World" to ever open its doors. "Jurassic World" references the original 1993 movie all the way through, and it seems Trevorrow wanted to trim the fat off this franchise and make a direct sequel to the 1993 original. I also couldn't help but smile at the message "Jurassic World" creates. Whether Trevorrow meant to do this or not, "Jurassic World" is a comment on blockbusters in general. It seems a big portion of the movie-going public want their sequels to be beefed up versions of the film they saw before. Who cares how the "Transformers" trilogy was taken as a whole when there are Dinobots in the fourth movie. I don't think "Avengers: Age of Ultron" can hold a candle to the first Avengers movie, but Vision and the Twins sure were cool. I even hear people complaining that the astounding special effects used in "Lord of the Rings" looks cheap now. We demand bigger and louder with our sequels, and it seems we are living in a culture where quantity has to supplement quality. In "Jurassic World," Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is in charge of the Jurassic World resort off the coast of Costa Rica. As the film opens, she is about to open a exhibit featuring the Indomius Rex, a huge, hulking, genetically-modified dinosaur which was created because the Jurassic World-goers have grown tired and bored by regular dinosaurs. The world populist is now demanding dinosaurs that are "bigger, scarier, with more teeth." The refer to this idea over and over again. It's tough to not see the real-world parallels in entertainment.
What is ironic about it is that, taken as a whole, "Jurassic World" is a standard summer blockbuster. Everything that I have been worried about over the last five months has been realized. "Jurassic World" is just an excuse to get people running scared on the island, its an excuse to have military security killed off one by one. No matter how much I like Chris Pratt, no matter how cool I think the dinosaur action is, this is just another standard "Jurassic" movie. Nothing new is tried, and it just feels more of the same.
But then again, what else should I expect from a movie called "Jurassic Park." I don't think audiences are expecting anything different than dinosaurs cutting loose on innocent bystanders. This isn't Academy Award worthy material, but Trevorrow sure does polish it well. I can honestly tell you that "Jurassic World" is the most confident and most fun "Jurassic" movie in awhile. The attention to detail is astonishing. Jurassic World the theme park feels like a real place. How organized, and how detailed the theme park is feels very grounded. This looks like a real place, not a film set and that attention to detail was bracing, this movie will make you want to book a vacation to Jurassic World immediately.
Let's talk about the characters some more. So we have Claire running the day-to-day management at Jurassic World. On the same weekend, she has to babysit her nephews Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) who are with their aunt while their parents work out their marriage. its clear Claire isn't a big part of their life, and I am sad to report that this subplot of Claire becoming a responsible family member never really resonates in the movie. But the actors all do a good job. There is just too little time. Especially when we get introduced to Owen (Chris Pratt), a raptor whisperer who becomes vital when the I-Rex breaks loose on the island. There is also a subplot involving Vic Hoskins (Vincent D'Onofrio) who wants to breed raptors and use them as weapons of war. D'Onofrio is great, but his villain is so basic that he might as well twirl his mustache. Had the movie kept it simple and just focused on I-Rex reeking havoc on the island, I think the film might have been stronger, but these subplots never seem to come fully accomplished by the films end. But the actors do their best to sell it. Everybody loves Chris Pratt, and he is once again great here. He makes you believe in some of the absurdity in the film. I love his chemistry with his right-hand man, played by Omar Sy. I also have to give special mention for Jake Johnson, who makes something out of his ultimately convenient, needless character.
For people going into "Jurassic World" wanting a big monster movie, they will not be dissatisfied. That point separates "Jurassic World" from nearly the rest of the series. This film is so confident when it comes to its action set pieces that its hard not to kind of love it. There is a scene involving the I-Rex, a T-Rex and a raptor that is so batshit-cool that it makes the movie a must-own for blu-ray. The dinosaur carnage is so fun, so beaming with energy that it aggravates me that the human side of the movie is so paper-thin. Had the characters been more dimensional and unpredictable, I think the movie would have been stronger overall.
In the end, "Jurassic World" is another blockbuster, but something that is ultimately worthwhile. Sometimes, people just want a good, old-fashion monster movie, and "Jurassic World" is exactly that. There is a lot of fun to be had here, and that is what won me over at the end of the day. I just can't shake this feeling that greater movie got away from Trevorrow, and if he returns to this world, I hope he creates better human characters to follow.

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