It’s finally here! The sequel we’ve been waiting for for what feels like has 65 million years! I’ve been thoroughly following the news for this movie ever since March, watching all the TV Spots and breakdown videos on YouTube, re-watching the movies, and buying Jurassic Park T-Shirts. I even read Micheal Crichton‘s 1991 novel in preparation for the movie. I know most people were not quite as excited for the movie as I, but the main question in deciding how well Jurassic World succeed is: did it live up to the hype, and was it a worthy sequel of JP1? Well, that’s difficult to answer. If you watched all the trailers and TV spots as I did, you spoiled yourself. You largely knew what you were getting; so you weren’t very surprised. Despite this, JW managed to surprise many JP junkies.
Jurassic World takes place 22 years after the catastrophe on Isla Nublar in the 1993 classic. John Hammond‘s dream of opening a dinosaur theme park has been implemented by billionaire capitalist Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), the CEO of Masrani Global, the international corporation that bought InGen and runs Jurassic World. Director Colin Trevorrow and Spielberg decided to cut out The Lost World and JP3 from the Jurassic Park timeline to make JW a direct sequel to the original film. When I first heard this, I was a little disappointed that all the events in the two sequels were rendered obsolete, but it’s probably for the best. After all, no one would allow Jurassic Park to be re-constructed after the San Diego incident.
Now that the park has been open for over a decade, the public is not as wowed by dinosaurs as they were 20 years ago. Kids who have grown up during the park’s existence aren’t fascinated by dinosaurs. To them, a Stegosaurus isn’t much more interesting than an African Elephant. This is why to increase park attendance, park administration, organized by Park Operations Manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), and the biological team, lead by Chief Geneticist Henry Wu (BD Wong), decides to create a hybrid theropod called the Indominus Rex. Not fully knowing what the Indominus is a hybrid of, the park staff underestimate the dino’s intelligence and are unprepared for its containment. Before you know it, she has escaped her paddock and ravages through the northern section of Nublar. Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a Velociraptor researcher employed by Jurassic World and the main protagonist of the movie, helps Claire in finding her nephews, who are riding among the giant herbivores in the gyrosphere attraction when the Indominus escapes, unaware of the park evacuation. The brothers, Zach (Nick Robinson), a stereotypical teenage boy who would rather look at girls than dinosaurs, and Gray (Ty Simpkins), a 9 or 10 year-old boy who is fascinated by dinosaurs, bond together in the pursuit of survival.
Throughout the film, Trevorrow surprises us with certain parts being better than you would expect, with other aspects of the film lacking. The film isn’t just a dinosaur disaster movie like so many have been quick to label it as. For an Sci-Fi action-adventure flick, it isn’t completely dominated by grotesque violence, though it does take up most of the second half. The themes of the movie, such as control of nature, animal rights, and the bond between “man and beast” which are brought up in the beginning recounter us in the escalation and climax through subtle hints. It’s always the message of the Jurassic Park, which becomes seemingly more important every year, that always reinvigorates my love for the series.
Character development is definitely one of the most apparent weaknesses of the film, though not for all the characters. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard play their characters, Owen and Claire, almost perfectly. We are quickly attached to Owen and immediately have respect for him through his first scene, in which he commands the Raptor squad flawlessly. Being the park manager who is obsessed with profits and thinks of the dinosaurs more as products than animals, Claire is not a very likable character at first, but as she bonds with Owen and her role as a heroine strengthens, we enjoy her a lot more. The chemistry between Grady and Dearing is good overall, especially when they are searching for the Mitchell brothers together, but some of the more intimate moments just seem forced and others straight awkward. The same can be said for the bonding moments between the Mitchell brothers. Some of the dialogue is so corny that it’s almost unbearable, but nevertheless, their relationship is relatable for siblings. Vincent D’Onofrio‘s character, Vic Hoskins, the story’s main human antagonist, is a little overdone by being made more of a villain than expected or needed. By the climax, the audience is eagerly anticipating his death like the vain person in a horror movie who you know will die. Jurassic World‘s Henry Wu is quite different from the original book and movie version of the character. Though he still maintains his cheery persona at first, shortly after the Indominus escapes, Wu is revealed to be a mad scientist who will stop at nothing to continue playing god. If there’s any character with parallel personalities, it’s Simon Masrani. One second, he’s a laid-back charismatic billionaire whose only concern is if his park’s guests are having fun, and the next (particularly after the Indominus escapes), he can be incredibly serious. However, all these character mess-ups are washed away by Jake Johnson‘s performance as Lowry Cruthers, the new Ray Arnold. He’s the comical computer geek who the audience falls in love with the moment he delivers his first line. He may even be my favorite character of the whole movie.
Some people are upset that Act 1 of the movie is practically littered with homages to the original, but as a big Jurassic Park fan, I really loved them. Its these types of throw backs that you can anticipate but can’t really be featured in any of the previews so that audiences are surprised. As someone who has seen all the previews and talked about the ending online, these subtle homages were are fitting touch. Others were afraid that the film would be so focused on being a sequel to Jurassic Park that it wouldn’t be it’s own movie, but Jurassic World succeeded in creating an interesting story that plays out well on the big screen. Like the original, its not only a summer blockbuster but a film that family and friends can watch together over and over again. It’s experiences like that that made us all fall in love with JP1.
It’s hard to live up to John Williams’s iconic masterpiece, but composer Michael Giacchino created a phenomenal soundtrack for Jurassic World. 22 years later, Giacchino fills us with the same wonder and excitement as Williams did when we first saw the Brachiosaurus walking for the first time. Giacchnio’s variation on the JP theme is thrilling, but the main theme of the film, “As the Jurassic World turns“, is amazing as well. I definitely intend to buy the soundtrack, and I suggest that every Jurassic Park fan should do so too. Overall, the JW soundtrack beats the original in performance. With no disrespect to Williams, but he knew that his theme for the film was so incredible that he centered the rest of the soundtrack off of it. Giacchino offers a greater variety of melodies through his music. Throughout the film when listening to the soundtrack, I thought to myself: “Wow, that really has a Jurassic Park and Dinosaur feel to it!” or “Oh my god! That sounds amazing!”
Many of those who have been critical of Jurassic World have justified their criticism by holding it accountable for not being a cinema masterpiece like the 1993 classic. I think those people are being overly cynical. I walked into the theater knowing that JW probably wouldn’t live up to all my expectations or all the hype. To be honest, no movie, no matter how much money is poured into it or how good it is, can live up to a fourteen year hype. I suspect that in December, Star Wars Episode 7 will be receiving these sample complaints and for the same reasons. Its too often that people harshly criticize the sequel in a series whose first installment was a cinema legend. When analyzing Jurassic World by itself, one will realize that it is a great movie. It might not be as good as JP1, but it’s still pretty damn good.
JW combines all the elements of the Jurassic Park series that we love, adds homages to the original, gives us characters we can relate to and messages we should all take home, and manages to create an interesting plot that will entertain all. It’s a real tribute to the series, and a movie that I could watch over and over and over again, with family and by myself. That’s why I’m giving Jurassic World a rating of 8.7/10, a B+ grade.