June 18, 2015 by Zack
In 1993 we were treated to one of the most spectacular action adventure stories ever put to screen in “Jurassic Park”. While the plots involving the human characters were a bit thin, and Spielberg’s trademark “family” storylines were a bit skewed, it seemed OK to forgive all that due to the absolutely astonishing dinosaurs he and Stan Winston & Co. brought to life. The film was based on Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel of the same name, although there were some major differences between what transpired in the novel and what happened in the film (the most obvious was the fate of Ian Malcolm, played by Jeff Goldblum). The film did have a certain charm about it, even though it was about people being chased by dinosaurs. It was a bit like “Jaws”.
The film has now been classified as a classic, and for good reason. It did spawn a few sequels that I found unworthy of the first film’s greatness. “Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World” had a great premise, but the execution wasn’t satisfying. “Jurassic Park 3″…let’s move on.
Now, 22 years later, we have “Jurassic World”, which seems to want to forget about the sequels like we do, and remain the true spiritual sequel to the first film. The film stars Chris Pratt as Owen Grady, a friendly trainer of a new breed of Velociraptors, and Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing, the aunt of two boys who have been shipped to the amusement park (now called Jurassic World) to hang out with her while checking out the island. The boys, Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins respectively), are at two different times of their life. Zach is a teenager, saying good-bye to his clingy girlfriend in the beginning of the film; Gray is elementary school age, and both are disturbed by their parents seemingly impending divorce. We come to find later that the trip that the boys take was initially supposed to be a family trip–but now they just want the kids to enjoy the park (how many parents have done this to their kids for Disney World I wonder?).
We also have the always appealing Irrfan Khan as Simon Masrani, the head of Masrani Corporation who owns Jurassic World. In his vision, he sees a dangerous ancient world that is also about having fun. He is much like Hammond, except executives at Jurassic World (including Dearing) believe Masrani’s dinos are going to be a much bigger success. I was asking myself–you know they never officially opened Jurassic Park to the public, how do they know World would succeed where Park failed?
But of course, Jurassic World has opened, and just like Hammond’s Park, this “spares no expense”. The tourists get to travel around in little hamster bubbles (guided by…well, you’ll see–it’s a very amusing cameo for a few different reasons) and really experience the World whereas Jurassic Park would just show you dinosaurs behind guarded fences while being in a jeep. And how fun would that be? Well like I said, no one ever really got to find out. But it seems as though the Park would’ve been safer.
Of course, problems arise when the latest dinosaur, a genetically altered (heh heh) beast of a thing called the Indominus rex supposedly escapes from its cage. Owen is brought in, after arguing with a militaristic security official at the company that dinosaurs can’t be used as a weapon for the US military, to see if he can talk some sense in Indominus. But he soon realizes this dinosaur has a high intellect, and fools everyone until it can legitimately escape, leading to a potential disaster with a dinosaur on the run.
Meanwhile, the kids take a detour in their hamster bubble until they come face to face with the dinosaur, and Claire teams up with Owen to go and rescue them.
From the point that Indominus escapes, we are just watching “Jurassic Park” again. However, the stakes are definitely higher since the park is open, and there is potential for some eye popping dinosaur fodder. The film really makes the most of its budget, although I can’t help but think there would be far more fatalities in real life. But this isn’t real life, this is the movies–and this movie delivers completely as a monster movie, as an action film, and a breathtaking adventure. Chris Pratt shines as the lead, always charismatic and doesn’t necessarily let the dinosaurs steal the entire show here. His pack of Velociraptors become integral parts of the film’s climax and are even, in a way, kind of cute. Bryce Dallas Howard is impressive as well, and even the kids are interesting instead of annoying (which is so typical of teenage/kid characters in these kinds of movies).
Though Spielberg did not direct this film, some of his trademarks are all over this too, and there are some nice homages to the original film. For a summer blockbuster, this will certainly satiate your appetite like a T-Rex in a crowded gift shop.