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Note: While most of the writing on this blog is by me (Michelle), my friend John Frost got to see a preview of Jurassic World, and since I often write for his site, The Disney Blog, he is guesting on mine with this review. Enjoy!
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It’s been more than 20 years since the events of Jurassic Park and the world has moved on, apparently failing to internalize the lessons learned along the way. For they finally did it, they built a theme park with living dinosaurs.
That’s the world into which are thrust the four main characters of Jurassic World along with a seemingly unending buffet of extras who exist primarily for the purpose of discovering new and inventive ways of being devoured by the park’s carnivorous inhabitants.
We’re introduced to Bryce Dallas Howard who plays Claire, the theme park manager, and Chris Pratt as Owen, the man who has bonded with Velociraptors. Also along for the ride are Claire’s nephews, brothers Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins, respectively). Each get their moment in the sun and generally do a good job of keeping the audience informed of vital story points along the way while avoiding becoming lunch.
The return of Dr. Wu — played by B.D. Wong (the only actor to return from the first two films) — was a master stroke of plot development. But like with Vincent D’Onofrio’s military minded Hoskins, I never got a clear take on whether Dr. Wu was into it for just the money, if it was all about science, or if he was just pure evil. Probably all three.
In a large way this movie is like an audition for Chris Pratt to see if he’s suited to handle future leading man roles in adventure films. He’s currently rumored to be the prime candidate to be the new Indiana Jones. Pratt shows he has both the acting ability and funny bone to pull off a major role like that. He also shows he can share chemistry with the leading lady. Between this movie and Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt has shown he is a genuine movie star.
But Jurassic World never lets you forget who the real stars of the movie are – the computer created dinosaurs, of course. They’re just like the dinosaurs in Jurassic World, a bit too much like the old dinosaurs at some times. I mean we did have 20+ years of computer graphic advancement between the movies. They pretty much look the same on screen, only this time they’re bigger, badder, and with more teeth.
The theme park and it’s prehistoric assets serve as a proxy for America’s fascination with pop-culture. The movie is oddly self aware that this blockbuster Hollywood culture is unsustainable and makes clear that the efforts to constantly go bigger, more dangerous, more expensive will eventually end in disaster.
But it won’t for this movie – Jurassic World will conquer the box office this summer.
That’s not to say Jurassic World doesn’t have its flaws. Some of the side-stories start and go pretty much nowhere, and the movie failed to deliver as many memorable lines as the previous Jurassic Park films. The script also telegraphs a lot of its plot points. There were multiple times I found myself wanting to shout at the screen as characters were going around saying and doing stupid things around 40-foot killing machines, but I managed to restrain myself. Also, the climatic end battle in the movie, while excellent and superbly directed, is entirely predictable. It really was the only way the movie would end after the set up in the first act.
Fans of the first films will love seeing little tributes thrown about the movie. In fact, huge plot elements of the film are basically fan service. You could almost say the whole film is fan service. But in this case, what the fans wanted makes for great movie going fun!
Let’s talk about shoes. For the entire film, we’re supposed to believe that Howard’s character is running, literally running, through jungle, collapsing buildings, and beneath giant beasts in what looks like 5 inch heels? I can suspend my disbelief that dinosaurs actually exist on an island somewhere, but that I can never believe.
I’m also reading a lot about how Howard’s character is not a “strong woman.” I can see where they’d get that idea from the previews. I think she is more complicated than that. She’s running a one-of-a-kind mega theme park and luxury resort, and is a bit out of her element when dealing with a boss who delivers mixed messages about profitability vs show. Things go bad, but she rebounds and then manages to save her nephews and, yes, even the day. Sure, she does it in high heels, but hey if you can’t look good while saving 20,000 theme park guests, why even try, right? (Hint: it’s a fantasy movie, not real life.)
If you’re a Jurassic Park fan…and you know who you are…be sure to see Jurassic World on the largest screen in 3D if at all possible. Everyone else can probably get by with just a regular screen and maybe skip the 3D, but I liked the extra depth perception the few moments when it became obvious.
Jursassic World opens in theaters Friday, June 12th. It is rated PG-13. After you see the film, visit the website at JurassicWorld.com for some more fun.
[All images courtesy Universal Studios]