Film Review: Jurassic World

Written by Aaron Sarnecky

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JURASSIC WORLD PLOT SUMMARY:

In the fourth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise, InGen Corporation successfully opens a new park on Isla Nublar, Jurassic World, years after the catastrophe in the first movie. Business is booming, but when the Indominus rex, a hybrid dinosaur fiercer than a T. Rex, breaks free, it’s up to park manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to stop it before it kills everything in its wake.

It might be hard to believe for some, but it’s been 14 years since Jurassic Park III. In fact, it’s been 22 years since the debut of the first movie. That means many people going to this new film have never known a world without the franchise. So does that mean seeing dinosaurs on-screen won’t captivate audiences like it did in the ‘90s?

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This is a question Jurassic World sets out to answer, both as a movie and within the story itself. Computer generated creatures are so common in film and television nowadays that they border on appearing ad nauseam. Similarly, seeing a Tyrannosaurus rex just doesn’t excite tourists visiting Jurassic World like it did before. They, like audiences who saw the previous three films, want to see something different.

It’s because of this that we have the Indominus rex. It, or rather she, was created to give tourists something with “more teeth.” Now, many moviegoers will remember that Jurassic Park III had a similar dinosaur, the Spinosaurus. But while the Spinosaurus looked arguably cooler than the Indominus (and disregarding how easily the Spinosaurus killed a T. rex), the Indominus has a lot more tricks up her sleeve and fits a lot better into the story. I’m not saying she could beat the Spinosaurus, because I don’t know, but if you didn’t like the Spinosaurus, you’re more likely to like the Indominus.

While there are definitely other notable aspects to the Indominus, her intelligence is her key feature. There are a few moments where you do have to question how the dinosaur knows certain things, like how she knows that she was implanted with a tracker. But overall, the Indominus is a worthy foe for our characters that’s just as terrifying as a Tyrannosaurus.

Speaking of characters, they’re not the strongest part of the film. The duo of the dinosaur-savvy Owen and uptight Claire is beyond cliché, even if Claire does grow in a manner similar to how Dr. Alan Grant did in the first movie. And that’s not to say that neither is likeable; Chris Pratt puts all of his charisma into Owen, so he’s easy to root for. Other characters like Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) are pretty one-dimensional, though that’s always been a problem with the series when it comes to antagonists. He wants to use Owen’s raptors in warfare. That sounds kind of silly, but it makes sense when you think about it; he’s trying to minimize casualties. But while that seems like a somewhat noble cause, the movie makes every effort to get you to dislike him, showing his arrogance and how he doesn’t understand the dinosaurs.

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Despite the weak characters, the movie remains harrowing, having some of the best action sequences of the whole series. Besides the climax at the end, the scene in which Owen hides from the Indominus and the pterodactyl attack on the tourists prove to be the most exciting. Because this is a park full of people, we get some of the most unique sequences since a T. rex trashed San Diego in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (one of the better scenes in that lackluster sequel). It’s all just enough to merit the existence of Jurassic World.

Still, let’s get it straight that, compared to the original, Jurassic World is kind of a stupid movie; it doesn’t address almost any of the interesting ethical questions posed in the original, the characters feel more like caricatures at times than real people, and some of the plot is ridiculous. It’s all focused on big, dumb effect-driven scenes. But that’s actually okay because it does enough different from the previous three movies. It’s easily the best sequel the series has had, even if it can’t touch the original Jurassic Park.

To paraphrase The Dark Knight, it’s the sequel the original deserved, but not one it really needed. It’s worth seeing in theaters, though you should at least watch the first if you haven’t seen it (it’s been playing on TV non-stop recently, so no worries).

As for potential sequels, apparently Chris Pratt has already signed up for one, and I’m a little skeptical about that. But that’s a review for another day.

RATING: 7.5 OUT OF 10 (GOOD)
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