2015 has been a great year for long-awaited sequels to major franchises (not you, Road Chip, go away). Star Wars, Mad Max, James Bond (ok not much of a long wait for that one), and of course Jurassic Park. Jurassic World, the fourth film in the Jurassic Park franchise, has been in development for a LONG time, which definitely helped it out, unlike the previous sequels, and that’s saying something.
Now, this is just my opinion here, and I don’t know if others feel the same way, but if there’s anything that’s a weakness for the Jurassic Park franchise , it’s the characters. Yes, you get standout ones like Alan Grant, Ian Malcolm, Robert Muldoon, and a couple others here or there, and they’re portrayed greatly by the actors playing them, but something just seems off to me about them, like they’re cardboard cutouts or stereotypes that just simply go through a transformation. I know that’s standard of any characters in a story, but that’s just how it is for me. It’s no different here in this movie. Here, you got Owen (played by Chris Pratt) the charismatic “always knowing what’s coming” hunter/trainer/former solider/lead male , Claire (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) the stiff corporate lady who later realizes family is important and stuff after everything goes to shit (despite that being responsible for countless lives at a park that could easily turn into a human buffet is also important), Vic (played by Vincent D’Onofrio) the obviously evil guy who wants to use the dinosaurs as weapons (which is a stupid idea), Zach and Gray (played by Ty Simpkins, who was the annoying kid sidekick from Iron Man 3, and Nick Robinson) the two brothers whose parents are getting divorced for some reason (way to have some happiness in there, movie!) and must learn to bond after things go to shit, Dr. Henry Wu (played by B.D. Wong) from the first movie who for some reason is making dinosaurs again despite what happened years ago (ya know, dinosaurs killing people) and trying to establish a connection with the other movies, Simon (played by Irrfan Khan) the nice CEO, and Barry (played by Omar Sy) the first black guy to not die in a Jurassic Park movie (take that, Samuel L. Jackson; apologies to Jackson, you are awesome), as well as some other characters here or there with their own quirks or stereotypes.
Yes, the actors do great here, but the way they’re portrayed just seems kinda cliched and while there are some interestingly awesome turns, like Claire mowing down some dinosaurs with a friggin machine gun, it feels kinda one-note. They also do some pretty stupid and random stuff, like the CEO flying a helicopter to stop the dinosaurs even though he’ll obviously die doing so (which he does btw) and Claire and Owen making out randomly, though that did make a nice Bruce Campbell “hail to the king baby” moment, since Claire killed some dinosaurs and saved the kids, ungrateful little shits who want to stick with Owen instead of Claire who actually saved their lives.
But that’s not what the JP movies are completely about. It’s the dinosaurs of course, as well as the park. The first movie was groundbreaking in its special effects portrayal of the dinosaurs, both practical and CGI, and the previous sequels followed suit in maintaining those effects. With all the advancements in CGI and motion capture, not to mention practical effects getting a resurgence of sorts in certain movies, the dinosaurs would look awesome, right? Kinda. Don’t get me wrong, they’re impressive to look at, but at the same time, I can’t help but notice how fake they look, especially in some of the petting zoo scenes when kids are riding on dinosaurs and the raptors that are held by muzzles before hunting the Indominus Rex. I mean, seriously? How fake is that? The way the park is portrayed is impressive though, all the advancements in technology and even the product placement (yes, product placement being GOOD in a movie) showcase how “big” the park is and it feels like a legit park, though of course has some obvious safety defects (kinda like real-life theme parks lol) like an OPEN FENCE for kids in a giant hamster ball to go through.
While this movie does evoke a lot of nostalgia for the first movie, not just in the premise but also in the way the story pans out (as well as literally going through the ruins of the old park from the first movie; did no one check that out while building the new park?), I think it’s more in common with Michael Crichton’s Westworld (can’t wait for the HBO show btw), and not just in the name. Jurassic Park, while it has its own similarities to Westworld in premise and being written by Crichton, was about a couple of people going to the park before it’s open for the general public and all Hell breaks loose. Jurassic World is about the park finally being open and then all Hell breaks loose, only on a massive scale. And yes, there’s plenty of dinosaurs eating out from the human buffet, but I think Nostalgia Critic was right in that there was potential for mass slaugtherhouse stuff, however the movie is PG-13 so it probably had to keep the casualties to a minimum (again, kinda like real-life theme parks lol). I also do like the themes this movie evokes, that being excess and consumption, among other things, and how they’re portrayed through the creation of the dinosaurs in the park, the park itself, and how a lot of people are finding dinosaurs in a theme park to be just meh and want bigger and better things. I mean, seriously? How could people get bored with real-life dinosaurs?
And of course we get to the main reason for all this chaos and a sorta standout feature for the movie, the Indominus Rex. Kind of a stupid name, but if the people making the dinosaurs want to show off their egos somehow and go nuts, fine. The Indominus Rex does kinda look meh, though, since it’s part raptor, part T-Rex, and whatever else is in it, even though that was kind of an obvious setup from the get-go and not much of a twist later on. But thankfully this movie does learn the mistakes from Jurassic Park III, in that NOTHING beats, as Nostalgia Critic coined it, the “motherfucking T-Rex”. I mean, holy shit, that fight was awesome. And that raptor helping the T-Rex fight the I-Rex, even more awesome. It’s a huge payoff at the end and I had that “Motherfucking T-Rex” awesomeness stuck with me.
So is Jurassic World a good movie? Kinda. Is it a good sequel to the franchise? Yes, much better than the previous sequels, and that’s saying something. The first one was a landmark film, the other two were not as great and just felt like bland movies instead of breaking new ground. This one is kind of a retread, but it’s a good one, yet it does need to step up just a little bit. There’s already new movies being planned, so hopefully that’ll happen in those. Maybe even bring in more actors from the previous movies like Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and even Jeff Goldblum (I mean, he’s doing Independence Day 2, so why not Jurassic Park 5?). Until then, I’ll feel welcome (and cautious, since there’s dinosaurs eating people lol) at Jurassic World, where they “spare no expense” lol.