Jurassic World. 2015. Directed by Colin Trevorrow. Screenplay by Derek Connolly, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, and Colin Trevorrow; based on the writing of Michael Crichton.
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, BD Wong, Judy Greer, Lauren Lapkus, Brian Tee, and Andy Buckley.
Rated PG-13. 124 minutes.
★★1/2Personally, I was not thrilled with the idea of Jurassic World. I’m not against remakes. There are tons out there now because that’s just the way industry works – and though there are plenty of us who don’t really care much about these remakes, there are tons of people out there paying to see these movies. If not, they wouldn’t be made. Some of them bomb, others are hugely successful.
Personally, I’m just such a huge fan of the first Jurassic Park, and I even enjoyed parts of the sequel, though it’s nowhere near as good as the first. The original is a classic adventure film with such a perfect science fiction element, it all works so perfectly.
So when I heard Colin Trevorrow, who I’d never seen anything by (I plan on seeing Safety Not Guaranteed one day though), was going to make this new Jurassic World, I sort of rolled my eyes. I don’t bash films until they come out and I can see them; I don’t even bash them then. I just decide how I feel about them, judge them by what I think is a good film, and every genre is different. So I waited, and finally went to see it. While it’s not all wonderful, I did enjoy a few things about Jurassic World and had a little fun at times.
The plot of Jurassic World is nothing too innovative, other than the fact the park in the film is actually open, people from the public can not only watch attractions (similar to SeaWorld type events with big pools and stands of paying customers) they can also go in a gyrosphere which takes them out into the park where they can move around, see the dinosaurs up close and personal, and enjoy a very firsthand experience. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the director of the new park, Masrani (Irrfan Khan) took over the project from John Hammond. Owen (Chris Pratt) is the resident “animal wrangler” fresh out of the Navy awhile back; he builds relationships with the raptors, basically training them to take commands, however, a new employee almost dies at their hands and it’s clear that they aren’t exactly ready to be commanded.
Jurassic World offers the ability to build a dinosaur – almost like the newest fad for rich people with nothing better to do with their millions and billions – and so Masrani himself has asked for “more teeth”, creating the vicious hybrid Indominus rex. While Claire is trying to get more big corporate sponsors for the park, using Indominus rex as a ‘marketing tool’, her nephews Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) get sent to spend time with their aunt; she is the typical obsessed with work type, and sends the two off with her assistant until she has time to be with them.
Soon, the Indominus rex proves to be more sophisticated than all the other dinosaurs, a true threat, and it escapes the paddock in which it is kept. Even worse, Zach and Gray are out in one of the gyro spheres, and while the whole park is evacuating Claire can’t track them down. She and Owen head out to find the boys, and the adventure begins.
I thought the scene where Owen (Pratt) and the two employees went into the Indominus rex paddock was a really dumb kick off. I mean, wouldn’t they take all precautionary measures to make sure their dinosaurs – especially new genetically enhanced ones they cooked up in the lab – could not get out of those paddocks? It makes no sense to me why Claire (Howard) couldn’t just call up the control room immediately and confirm whether or not the dinosaur was in there. Did I miss something? Maybe I did, but I doubt it. To have Owen head out into the paddock like that was, to me, a huge lapse in common sense. It’s fine for a writer to assume characters, real ones, will do stupid things in the heat of the moment, those sorts of situations. However, this guy Owen is “building relationships” with the raptors, and he acts like he knows so much in general, he is former Navy – I just don’t see why he’d head out there like that without knowing fully if the dinosaur was gone or not. Even so, Claire should be the one following protocol to the letter. Owen actually berates her for not having her shit together, but that’s still not enough. I can’t believe that a few employees, along with this know-it-all Owen, would just go into a dangerous hybrid dinosaur’s paddock like that, so quickly. Just really made me wonder what the hell was going on from the get-go, hoping the movie would turn around sooner than later.
Problem is, when you kick off a 2 hour film with a really dumb sort of catalyst within 35 minutes, it gets hard to change the tide. I couldn’t help wonder how these dumb people made this park work to begin with if this is how they handle their business. I can suspend disbelief when it comes to the dinosaurs, because who knows – I mean, just awhile back they’ve claimed scientists might be able to genetically recreate a woolly mammoth in two or three years time. So it isn’t hard for me to use my imagination and enjoy the dinosaur aspect. That has nothing to do with reason or logic, or common sense. The blunder of this movie’s setup has everything to do with common sense, and I couldn’t wash its taste out of my mouth. It doesn’t matter that the dinosaur hid from thermal detection because the control room picked it up a few moments later, so why didn’t they just relax, use all the technology at their disposal first, and then send people into the paddock when they could absolutely be sure there was no savage hybrid dinosaur roaming around in there? I’m sorry, that’s just bad writing.
I did like Chris Pratt, and I’ve got to say I’m not even that sold on the guy. Not that he isn’t good, he certainly has a lot of charm, he’s a good actor, and at times has that old classic movie star sensibility about him. Very good choice to play the “hero” here. However, that’s where my problem comes in. I like his character and all, but it just feels tired. I’m not saying that Bryce Dallas Howard, who is also pretty good here, needed to be the more heroic one, nothing like that. My problem is that this feels so much like Jurassic Park, so much so that it annoys me. The characters aren’t underdeveloped or anything, although I could’ve used much more character development in the early parts of the film before the action started. I feel like they took the pre-made template of the original film and instead of remaking it, they tried to “reimagine” things. Yet it’s a little over twenty years after the events of the first film, all those things happened – Hammond, Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler – so it confuses me why they decided to carbon copy the characters so much. Even the boys, they’re such an emulation of Lex and Tim (Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello) from Jurassic Park, only with a new story.
The characters are not perfectly the same, they’re different, but it feels like it’s lazy writing. They just took the original film’s outline, tossed it in, gave all the characters new stories, and went with it. I can’t be the only who feels like Owen (Pratt) is a younger, more adventurous version of Sam Neill’s Dr. Alan Grant. Sure, they’re different people – Owen came from the Navy, Dr. Grant is a paleontologist – but the bits of banter between Owen and Claire (Howard) just feel like reheated elements. It’s actually like they reversed the roles of Dr. Sattler and Dr. Grant, by making Owen the more adventurous counterpart like Sattler was and Claire designated as the uptight and composed type the way Grant had been early on in Jurassic Park. Then to add the two boys on top of it all – why? They could’ve easily done this without having to put these two kids in there. I know it made things more personal for Claire. What I fail to see is why that needed to be an aspect. They could’ve simply put Claire in danger somehow, she and Owen could still go on their journey into the park, but yet the writers felt they had to emulate the original too much, they jammed those kids into the plot, and it doesn’t serve too much of a purpose. For me. Perhaps Steven Spielberg wanted that gyrosphere so bad and Trevorrow couldn’t figure any other way to get it into the movie other than to have those two kids be in the park. I don’t know, but it’s real tired. I guess the entire franchise has kids in it, one way or another, so they had to follow suit. I may have enjoyed Jurassic World a lot more if they stuck with the adults instead of feeling the need to include the two boys.
It isn’t a completely terrible movie. That being said, I can’t exactly say it’s great, in any way, shape, or form. Jurassic World, for me, is about a 2.5 out of 5 star film. The plot is almost non-existent, but that’s only because it’s such a rehash of the first movie. We already got Jurassic Park, and this not only recycles plot elements it really just mashes characters into the script, it reverses character roles from the first to make it seem like they’re new, and it does not work for me. The action is a bit of fun. I can’t say some of the moments with the dinosaurs aren’t great. Still, there’s something about the dinosaurs I didn’t get thrilled over either. The Indominus rex is made out to be a hybrid, and it does look different than most of what we’ve seen before or anything else in the movie, yet I wasn’t amazed. It looks like a different sort of Tyrannosaurus rex, some changed features. I hate to rag on the movie completely, but it’s as if I expected a lot from this, and it absolutely did not deliver. The performances, mostly Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt, were spot on – though, I do feel they really wasted Vincent D’Onofrio, a favourite of mine, in a minor, half-assed written part. Also, I have to say that Ty Simpkins does a great job with his performance – even while I feel like the brothers’ inclusion is one of the reasons I don’t particularly like the movie. I can still admit he gave it his all, he’s a wonderful child actor; hope he continues on to great things.
Ultimately, I didn’t enjoy a whole lot about Jurassic World. I wish they could’ve really done something fresh, innovative, and more fun, but they did not do anything of that. Some people will say “yeah well what did you expect?”. To that, I would reply: I expected a decent script and new characters, not slack writing and an attempt to recreate the first film but a new movie on its own. This is a lacklustre effort, and I’m not particularly thrilled with Colin Trevorrow’s directing, but I’m willing to give him a chance in the future (still need to check out his previous work as well).
For now, though? Jurassic World isn’t recommended, except for the completist amongst us. The upside: at least once you sit through most of the movie, the last half hour is action and you can enjoy a bit of weird raptor excitement. The finale overall sucks, and it’s mostly just such a rip-off of the first film that I couldn’t stand it. Sad way to end things.