Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing
Vincent D’Onofrio as Vic Hoskins
Ty Simpkins as Gray Mitchell
Nick Robinson as Zach Mitchell
Omar Sy as Barry
B.D. Wong as Dr. Henry Wu
Irrfan Khan as Simon Masrani
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfil a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitors’ interest, which backfires horribly.
Following my rewatch of the Jurassic Park trilogy movies, I also decided to revisit the Jurassic World movies in the lead up to the upcoming new film. Much like the other Jurassic Park sequels, there were some very split reactions to the first Jurassic World, released 14 years after the last film, Jurassic Park III. I liked the movie when I saw it, but also had some issues with it. Having revisited it, my opinion is much of the same but I found much more to appreciate and enjoy.
One of the things I noticed when going back to Jurassic World is that it wasn’t off to a good start with its first act. It begins following two brothers going to Jurassic World and introduces the setting through their eyes, fine so far. Unfortunately its just missing the impact, probably because its missing the dinosaurs. As they enter Jurassic World and see the massive park, it blasts the Jurassic Park theme over establishing shots over the park, but not showing any of the dinosaurs. When we do finally see them, they’re presented without ceremony. Things do pick up however once the genetically engineered dinosaur breaks out. Ever since Jurassic Park III, the series has been determined to have a special dinosaur as the main villain. Nonetheless, the Indominus Rex works well enough for this part, especially if thematically you view it as the outcome of corporate greed and science going to far. There’s plenty of running, destruction, thrills and dinosaurs and I was enjoying the film. Then in the third act, there is a satisfying fight between dinosaurs (T-Rex and Blue against the Indominus Rex), which ends everything on a high note.
While there are plenty of issues with Jurassic World, the biggest for me were the human storylines, I just found them hard to care about. The previously mentioned brothers going to Jurassic World while their parents are being divorced, didn’t care for it. Its almost like they are here since every Jurassic Park movie seems to need to have at least one child in peril of being killed by dinosaurs. I didn’t care for the romantic subplot between Owen and Claire (Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard), in fact I actively disliked many of their scenes together. And then there’s the Vincent D’Onofrio plotline in which he tries to weaponize dinosaurs. It is absolutely ridiculous even by Jurassic Park standards, but for what its worth it is very enjoyable in an over-the-top cheesy way. The humour in this movie is also not very good, bordering on grating. It’s worse when its coming from delegated ‘funny’ side characters. I think the one thing about Jurassic World that works for me is that it leans into the absurdity of the concept and it is very self-aware. The movie even takes time to poke fun that at the name they gave the Indominus Rex. The self-awareness does at least make a lot of the story easier to digest. Also, the ideas that they’re working with like corporate greed are very much on display, showing that they are willing to genetically modifying and creating dinosaurs just for new entertainment. There are even one or two scenes that are actually really good, like when Owen and Claire come across a field of dead Apatosauruses.
For me, the performances were okay, but I really didn’t care about the characters. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard played their parts well enough, but their characters weren’t the best. Pratt is having fun in his part, but doesn’t go anywhere beyond another variation of Chris Pratt. I particularly disliked the scenes between Pratt and Howard. The brothers I didn’t care for as played by Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins. Robinson’s character is particularly hard to like, even if I feel like that was intentional. Vincent D’Onofrio plays the over-the-top villain who tries to weaponize dinosaurs and fair is fair, he does embrace the role, and at least seems to match the movie’s energy. Other actors like Irrfan Khan and Judy Greer really are wasted in their parts, and there are plenty of annoying side characters. However, it was nice seeing BD Wong reprise his role as Henry Wu from the first movie, and he actually has a notable part of the plot.
The direction from Colin Trevorrow was good in parts, it definitely increases the scale over the original trilogy. The action is quite entertaining and well filmed, the highlight again being the final dinosaur battle. With the scale comes the amount of destruction and deaths and Trevorrow definitely goes all in with that. Although there is an infamous death of one character played by Katie McGrath which is very out of place. The death is so over the top and contrived, it actually feels like a finishing move from Mortal Kombat or Injustice. The three Jurassic Park movies had a blend of CGI and animatronics, with the effects in each subsequent movie being worse than the last but otherwise they were still solid, even Jurassic Park III. However, it was 2015, and as you can expect, nearly all of the dinosaurs are CGI. The CGI on the dinosaurs isn’t necessarily bad, but you do feel that it is CGI, if that makes sense. The visual effects could be inconsistent, ranging from pretty good to rather fake, and I’m not just talking about the dinosaurs.
As a dumb blockbuster, I think that Jurassic World works. I think after it passes its rather dull first act, and goes into the outbreak and mayhem, it picks up and is quite entertaining. While its not the highest of praises a movie could get, I do think it could’ve been worse. At the very least, I think its better than Jurassic Park III, and it has its moments.