Twenty years after the Isla Nublar incidents, someone was just dying to make the same mistake as John Hammond. Except this time around it’s not a group of scientists that is in danger, it’s 20,000 people; and the biggest threat is not T-Rex, but Indominus Rex (you know what, they were right, I didn’t even have to google it), a new dinosaur hybrid that is bigger, scarier, deadlier. The park’s newest attraction is part T-Rex, and I’m betting any Jurassic Park fan can guess what the idiots mixed it with – because hell, let’s give it a brain, just for fun.
Like its 1993 predecessor (I didn’t want to draw comparisons but the movie really invites you to, you’ll see), Jurassic World has stupid characters that do stupid things – always the fat guy who snacks – and it fully acknowledges that. And they always have excuses: this time they do it because no one cares about dinosaurs anymore, at least not the ones on display – something quite cleverly illustrated by having Zach, our 21st century Lex, boringly accepting a call from his mom while the T-Rex is fed a very innocent little goat (one of many nods to Jurassic Park). Whereas two decades ago that helpless animal was part of a pivotal moment, now he is reduced to an act that is growing old, just like his predator.
Seeing the world’s scariest animal locked in a cage, observed by morons behind a looking glass… it completely strips him of his grandeur, and there’s something incredibly sad about that. But as I was watching the movie I wondered: would we have been content with just another showdown between man and T-Rex and little raptor action? And I surprised myself by thinking no, I don’t think we would’ve. As much as I love Jurassic Park (and you know I really do), that story has been told, and the movie was right in innovating. But did it succeed at that?
The answer is not entirely clear to me and here’s why: Jurassic World is a movie of highs and lows, of confronting dualities – on one hand, it is a tribute to Jurassic Park, fan service all the way; on the other, it tries to separate itself from it, to stand on its own. While the latter was necessary, the former works both in favor and against the movie. It was great to be reminded of something we truly love, but the constant evocation of Spielberg’s film, either explicitly or subtly, had me asking how much is too much? It’s like that aunt who can’t stop talking about a family member who died years ago – it’s good to reminisce, but after a while it gets uncomfortable. And by the end of it, I got the sense that Jurassic World stood far too long in the shadow of its predecessor.
Ultimately, that’s what clouded my judgement, because all it took was John Williams’s theme to make me feel warm inside, regardless of what was happening onscreen – so you can imagine my reaction when they found the old Jurassic Park building. I half-expected Malcolm to be laying shirtless in a dark corner, but I’m guessing he never wants to set foot on Nublar again. Do you think any of them would visit the park?
God, I’m starting to sound like that aunt. Let’s talk about those Jurassic World highs and lows. The first thing that seemed off was the lack of build-up to a couple of dangerous scenarios – like how Pratt in the pit with the raptors screamed time for some action, now! – not very smooth. But once it was in full-blown disaster mode that stopped being an issue. The other little thing that annoyed me happened further down the road, when Claire and Owen are looking for the kids: as far as they know, the children are about to be eaten by Indominus, but hey, for the sake of Claire’s character development, let’s stop to pet a dying dinosaur.
But bottom line, they overdid it. At first it seemed like that was kind of the point, like an action-movie meta thing, but then along came Zara’s death and by god, what the hell was that? It looked like something straight out of Piranha 3D: it just when on, and on, and on, her suffering never ending, and me just desperate to look away, until after being half-eaten by a dino-bird she and the flying thing are devoured by a dino-whale?! And the worse part is that they did it again in final battle, because of course Indominus had to be killed by raptors, a T-Rex, and that ugly whale.
Then there was the romance. Nothing against it, always up for a good love story, but I can’t help but look at it as a distraction, and that ultimately it was just not necessary. Anyway, at least it was well made – good chemistry, sexy banter – and they did try to break certain clichés, like when he offers her his hand and she just runs right through him, or the fact that their first kiss comes from her saving him. Small details, but I appreciated it.
Plus the movie itself is, again, aware of the find-your-soulmate-while-everyone-dies-around-you routine, with that hilarious bit between Vivian and Lowery. And that is really another strong suit of Jurassic World: the humor. It is smart, subtle, and on point. It truly works – if nothing else, this movie is hilarious. But there’s actually one more thing they really nailed: the thriller moments. Indominus creeping behind that first team sent out to kill him? I adequately whispered oh, fuck…! Yes, I cursed in the theater with a lady sitting right next to me, and I apologize. Because I did it again. When he creeped behind the globe vehicle.
Which, by the way, was a great idea that reminds us of the car scene in Jurassic Park with the kids inside, and that was equally well made. Prolonged moments of eminent danger are a trademark and always welcomed – except Zara’s killing, again, that was ridiculous.
And then there was the glorious sequence of the raptor pack hunt with Owen, by far the coolest thing in Jurassic World, and not just because it’s my ultimate fantasy, erm. When I first saw Pratt in the pit controlling the raptors I thought it was silly, but then Grant also had a connection with the raptors. And being them born in captivity, if Owen did imprint on them the minute they were born, like he said, the whole concept is not entirely preposterous. Plus, the clash with Indominus’s dominance was quite clever.
Really I loved the whole thing, especially that they made the three female raptors actual characters. They’ve always been the star species of the franchise, but this was different, giving them names and all – I felt for them. If you told me the whole movie was made because someone envisioned that hunting scene and the raptor connection, I’d believe you and tell you it was worth it. In fact I wish it were longer, but I guess they had to make room for that stupid whale.
Jurassic World is not amazing, but it’s highly entertaining and so I’m glad it got made.
I’ll definitely host a double feature session of it and Jurassic Park.
– All around fantastic cast: Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus were hilarious, BD Wong and Vincent D’Onofrio were appropriately hatable, and Bryce Dallas Howard was funny and sweet and fierce and so beautiful. Special love for Irrfan Khan and Omar Sy. And of course, Chris Pratt’s charisma knows no limits, I hope he continues getting leading roles.
– On that note, thank you on behalf of the female population for the male objectification: it was much easier to accept Howard’s progressive nakedness and that particularly strategic pose on the ground when you counterweighted it with shots of Pratt’s back and biceps, doing the whole alpha thing with close-ups of his gorgeous face, a little loose button here and there… well done, though I still think you owed us a little skin, it’s tradition.
– As great as the acting was, the characters were still hollow, and on that World also pales in comparison to Park.
– So she spent the whole day chasing dinosaurs in those shoes? No one believes that.
– We got a DO NOT SCREAM moment, classic.
– Okay I’ll admit that kids hugging little dinosaurs is cute, but still it’s a liiiiitle disturbing.
– So was the fact that it was winter – did I dream the Christmas jingle or did you hear it too?
– Random, but I loved that little smile on Owen’s face when he’s riding with the raptors.
– Can’t believe I forgot to mention the epic moment when Claire leaves to get the T-Rex and he emerges from the darkness like a freaking GOD to save the day. I was getting depressed thinking we wouldn’t get that glorious, nightmarish roar.