For many people, myself included, the original Jurassic Park is forever tied to memories of childhood. I remember everything about my first experience, right down to the smell of the pastry I was eating at the time. Not even the sequels could dull that thrill, though I must admit I have never actively hated either of them until later re-viewings.
Going into Jurassic World was like going into Star Wars: The Phantom Menace again. Would the nostalgia overshadow the flaws? Would it at least be better than the sequels? Short answer: Yes, and HELL YES. If you want explanations to go with that, read the review, which has minor SPOILERS.
The park is open! Never mind how a park like this could possibly be profitable unless every visitor pays millions for the privilege. Never mind the world allowing it to happen after a T-Rex rampaged around a city. The look, the rides, the dinosaurs – I wouldn’t have minded if the film had consisted of a walkthrough of the park. I loved every frame of it. The shock of wonder and nostalgia when we first see the overview of the park surprised me, and I hoped that the film wouldn’t go downhill from there.
My fears were, mostly, unfounded. Jurassic World is an entertaining movie. I got sucked right in and my brain rarely spoke up to point out plot holes or flaws. But let’s look at a few of those flaws just to have something to write about…
The characters aren’t as good as the original group, but I think some of the criticism I’ve read has been a bit harsh. My own major gripe is that none of the main characters are scientists (Dr. Wu has like two scenes). Chris Pratt’s character, Owen, is an “expert”, but exactly what his field is or how he got this expertise is a mystery. The kids are fine, and apart from the well-acted but weirdly placed crying scene, I found them much more tolerable than the original two. I know Ty Simpkins (the kid from Iron Man 3) could have done a lot better if allowed. He had this one great look when they’re stuck in the back of the ambulance and the raptors are about to reach them. It was a look of terror that I wish had been plastered on his face throughout the film. It was equal parts hilarious and genuine.
Claire, Bryce Dallas Howard’s character, very good despite the absolute cringing cliché of “professional woman lacks children to complete her life”. They didn’t make her a complete bitch, which so often happens with those types of women in movies. I liked her banter with Chris. I liked her (tiny) emotional arch from seeing the dinosaurs as assets to living creatures. I’m not sure how I feel about her doing the whole thing in high heels. I poised for a scene that addressed the issue, but none was forthcoming.
But I was writing was about flaws! The fact remains that the characters do lack backgrounds and real journeys. The brothers grow closer and have a rather touching scene, but the information about their lives is forced and sticks out like a sore thumb. Claire is the only one who has to be brave and help save the day despite having no background in ass-kicking.
The characters are basically doing the same as in the first film, which is staying alive and getting off the island. But, because we don’t know them as well, the film has less of an impact emotionally. That doesn’t mean it has no impact or that what we get is worthless or bad. There are scenes that add depth of character, but perhaps the film is structured in a way that makes it hard to piece together all the personalities.
And that is my other slight annoyance. At its core, Jurassic World is just a romp through the park, but when I think back on it I find it hard to think about the plot in a cause-and-effect sort of way. Jurassic Park isn’t the best franchise to demand logical explanations from, but Jurassic World leaves a lot of questions about relationships, motivations, backstories and outcomes. What exactly was the raptor program, who ran it, who payed for it, and why did it seem so removed from the rest of the park? If they were training raptors, why not try to make them smarter (and thereby easier to train) instead of going with an entirely new species? Why doesn’t the guy who owns the park know anything at all about what the science division does? In fact, how can they classify stuff away from the guy who pays them to do shit? Why has Dr Wu changed loyalties? How far was it from the park’s main street to the pier, and why didn’t the T-rex just stroll down and eat all the people waiting to be rescued? Maybe all these questions were answered and I was just easily distracted by awesome dino-battles.
I could go on and on. But none of these questions change the fact that I had so much fun watching this movie. I constantly got chills from the Indominus Rex. I was holding my breath when the guy fell into the raptor enclosure. When the woman babysitting the boys was killed I – well, I didn’t know what the hell to think other than: I don’t think Spielberg would have filmed it quite like that. But then I laughed because it was also funny.
The first Jurassic Park film was an iconic summer blockbuster, and while this one is far more divisive and won’t become iconic, it is enjoyable. It is well-made and looks great, and it’s a great ride. And if nothing else: we can finally have a Jurassic Park marathon that will be fun at the start and end.
Dice roll: 5