Jurassic World

Release: Friday, June 12, 2015

[Theater]

Written by: Colin Trevorrow; Rick Jaffa; Amanda Silver; Derek Connolly

Directed by: Colin Trevorrow

This movie makes me nostalgic for the days of Jurassic Park III and The Lost World. Jurassic World has nothing new to offer, and is more comfortable hugging close to its parent than wandering off on its own and exploring the world it is a part of.

I recognize that I may be one of an endangered few who appreciated the sequels, but at this point I don’t really care. As the story expanded to other islands, sure, the law of diminishing returns certainly applied but I always had time for that weird Spinosaurus, dueling T-Rexes, and William H. Macy’s mustachioed, panic-stricken face as he watched members of his group being torn apart by hungry dinos. What I don’t have time for is a carbon copy of a vastly superior thriller, and Chris Pratt’s irritating ubiquitousness.

I was originally going to make a point about how surprising it is that nary a trace of Colin Trevorrow’s style can be found here, but then I had to remind myself this project is the antithesis of his 2012 feature film debut. Blockbusters rarely allow a director the time or space or whatever you want to call it to inject their personality. Or maybe Joss Whedon should’ve been called upon to helm this creature feature. Somehow he’s had to handle a baker’s dozen of key characters across two different superhero movies and still managed to breathe some of his comic relief into them. Then again, there are costs to making such decisions.

In the case of Jurassic World, Trevorrow is afraid to try. There’s a genetically modified dinosaur (because bringing a species back to life after 60+ million years of extinction isn’t spectacle enough) called the I-don’t-give-a-shit-asaurus because the story takes place at some point well after the titular amusement park has been established à la John Hammond’s vision. Park attendance has stagnated in recent years and corporate policy demands a new gimmick. Apparently raptors are now passé. To put my childish cynicism aside for a second, the Indominus rex is a pretty wicked creation, but it represents the only true distinguishable element this fourth prehistoric picture has on offer.

Park operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the new John Hammond. Pratt’s Owen Grady is a more grizzled, affable Alan Grant minus the degree in paleontology. He may not be good at identifying fossils but he’s got a way with raptors. It’s unnerving and weird and puts raptors just that much lower on the food chain. Unlike what Jurassic Park exhorted, humans can in fact control everything they create in Jurassic World. Claire has two nephews coming to visit her. Zach (Nick Robinson) is the new Lex. He’s got less personality than Alan Grant has tolerance for children. The younger nephew is Gray (Ty Simpkins) and is very excited to be in the park. We are as well, but the script feels the need to beat the concept over our heads at the same time. Jurassic World mimics the same miserable parenting roles, with Claire unable to devote time to her nephews and choosing to name a useless nobody as their temporary guardian.

Similarities extend even to grander themes of corporate greed and excess. Trevorrow claims the Indominus rex personifies (dinosaurifies?) our demand for entertainment on bigger scales with more extravagant budgets. It’s not a point I can argue against. This dinosaur, the catalyst for chaos, lives, eats and breathes humanity’s “worst tendencies.” It’s a killing machine, a vastly more intelligent reptile than anything else in the park; hell, it can apparently evade thermal detection and fake its own escape. We’ve been here before, though. If corporate greed and excess is some new concept, what was the purpose of setting up (and later destroying in spectacular fashion) all that Hammond had dreamt up all those years ago on Isla Nublar? What did that test site represent, merely a wealthy senior citizen’s benevolent fascination with the Jurassic era? Hardly. Hammond said it himself: spare no expense.

Jurassic World plays out on its own terms every now and then. The park looks fantastic and the fact that it has actually been realized is a feat of CGI and great location scouting falling into perfect sync. I’d pay to go to this place and get the crap scared out of me by a feeding Mosasaurus, a lizard that makes a great white shark look like a minnow. And that’s another thing Trevorrow’s work has going for it — size. Everything is bigger but not necessarily more bombastic. In a particularly engaging showdown at the end — the only time where Jurassic World cuts loose, delivering on its promise of offering pure, unadulterated summer fun — we’re treated to a battle wherein a kind of sizing chart of some of the largest creatures to ever roam the earth is put on display. The climactic fight puts even the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex in perspective.

This long-anticipated sequel is difficult to endure for many reasons, but chief among them has to be just how closely it hews to the formula that made a power outage more than just an inconvenience. Jurassic World is of course allowed to revere what has come before; it should. But it does it so much it becomes the overexcited freshman at the mixer who feels it’s an obligation to drink the seniors under the table, only to end up consuming too much and causing a scene. Your older peers may admire your spirit but they also can’t ignore the fact you now smell of vomit. You’re trying too hard to impress. Just be yourself damn it.

Recommendation: As someone who decidedly hated this film, I don’t think I can give an accurate recommendation here. I suspect I’m in the overwhelming minority by saying this film is my least favorite of the series. It has no new ideas and no distinctive personality. I didn’t buy tickets for an award-winning piece of high brow cinema here but I expected Jurassic World to have some life. Fans of the series, no matter how devoted or casual, are seeing this no matter what I say. Good riddance to this one.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 124 mins.

Quoted: “‘Monster’ is a relative term. To a canary, a cat is a monster. We’re just used to being the cat.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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39 thoughts on “Jurassic World

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    • Doesn’t even hold a candle to any of them in my book. Such a shame. It’s great to know it’s doing so well though. I’ll just have to be one of the outsiders! Hehe

  4. Finally seeing this in the next day or two after vacation. I promised my son I would wait for him. To be honest this one hasn’t bubbled me up with anticipation. None of the previews or buzz has excited me. We shall see….

    • You’ve waited for the perfect time Keith. Crowds are sure to have died down a bit now. 🙂 I hope you enjoy yourself. I didn’t, which is weird bc I do regard the original as an absolutely breathtaking film. I even enjoyed the sequels. There is just something about JW that felt completely uninspired, and dare I say it, lazy. People argue in favor of the nostalgia factor. I didn’t see it that way unfortunately. I was nostalgic about certain aspects of it but wasn’t pleased I was basically experiencing deja vu throughout a lot of it. I look forward to your take

      • I like the first one too. But it’s funny, the two sequels that followed never left much of an impression on me. In fact, I couldn’t tell you anything about them. So I don’t know what to expect my reaction to be after this one.

        • There are some elements recycled in JW that maybe will remind you of the sequels, but perhaps not. For me, JP3 was memorable for the pterodactyl attacks, the spinosaurus (which was awesome in the same way this new dino was to me), and for some odd reason, William H. Macy’s inclusion in the cast. Lol.

          The Lost World I will always remember for the dueling T-rexes and the pretty ill-advised idea to transport one of them to the States. That was the part of the film that really didn’t work for me. It surprised me that Spielberg did something like that.

    • Yeah the score is definitely harsh but I can’t overlook how shitty a movie this really was. I didn’t even get into the nitty gritty about its shameless product placement. I know I’m in a very small minority with my experience but oh well. C’est la vie

  5. “dinosaurifies” – I freaking love your word creations in reviews, truly a thing of beauty.

    I loved this review. It was hilarious, and refreshing to see another take on the film aside from pure praise.

    Anyway, didn’t rush to see this in cinemas (it isn’t Mad Max or Spectre or Mockingjay) and I do love the Jurassic Park movies, don’t get me wrong, but I feel this movie has been overhyped. I expect it to be alright, but nothing amazing.

    • I really didn’t like it much. Which is sad to say bc I love this franchise! So much of JW just comes across as lazy and uninspired though, so I couldn’t help letting the film have it. Haha! I’m happy to be able to provide some joy for my dear readers! I would hope this is about as harsh a review as one might come across for this film. It’s a major box office success.

      • Yeah, but box office success doesn’t always mean it is a good movie (Fifty Shades *cough cough*). Ah well. Maybe I will check it out in cinema, otherwise I wait. No biggie for me.

    • Yeah, it was unfortunate for me. I know so many have loved this one even while acknowledging its flaws. I just can’t forgive it for being almost a replica of JP. I had so many moments where I had deja vu. And the script and characters just weren’t that great. But thanks for reading this anyway, it probably isn’t the kindest review anyone has ever read about it! Haha

  6. Yeah, sounds like we are in the minority Tom, I’m not a fan of this either, despite some fun parts. I actually think I’m being too generous w/ my rating!

    And THIS: “Chris Pratt’s irritating ubiquitousness” I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way. He seems likable enough but I don’t think he’s a particularly strong actor or a versatile one. So all the roles I’ve seen him in is pretty much the same.

    • No, I don’t either. He definitely is a likable guy, and I don’t mind seeing him in things he’s properly suited to. For instance, i think he was perfectly cast as Star Lord. Indiana Jones, however? He’s in the unfortunate position of trying to replace Harrison Ford lol. At this point, may as well put Pratt in Star Wars as well.

      Jurassic World might have been a bit better than my final rating indicates but I couldn’t help myself here. This was hugely disappointing for me. It’ll make a Digibread Awards list of some kind for sure, but not a good one. 😦 Good to have someone else on my side! 🙂

  7. Love your thoughts here sir, as always. I did enjoy this more than you did, but I love the points you make about this being not much different than the 1st, I made it a point in my post to say that this is really more of a remake than people may be realizing.

    Also like the point about Isla Nublar and why this still exists if it was torn down previously. I know this is getting sequels, and I know it does set itself up somewhat with the events at the end, but I honestly do not know how many times the corporate greed storyline can be done here without becoming extremely redundant. To be honest, I don’t think a sequel is needed after seeing this.

    • A sequel is almost guaranteed based on Jurassic World’s record-breaking opening. I’m still game I suppose, but it will still be pretty soulless.

      As for the comment about Isla Nublar, I was referring more to the fact that it seems redundant to make this film centered thematically around corporate greed and excess when the original film had established that so well with john Hammond’s idea to even test out this concept. We all saw how that worked out. As Ian Malcolm succinctly put it, “Yeah John, but when Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down the pirates don’t eat the tourists.”

  8. I’ve just got that Simpsons scene playing through my head – “stop, stop, he’s already dead”. Ha! 😉 It’s oddly satisfying that the thing you seem to hate most about this (its penchant for the past) is the thing I love most about it! Cinema, eh? Amazing. Really well-reasoned review mate!

    Adam.

    • This review I’m ashamed to say is pretty rant-worthy and more unfocused than I meant to but in the heat of passion I just had to post it!!! Hahah.

      I remember your review. It got me excited for seeing it, along with a lot of the praise it received prior to debuting. The records-shattering B.O. opening weekend proves that this did well for the majority. I just can’t forgive Trevorrow for not being able to put a personality to this thing.

      • I kind of see where you’re coming from regarding the lack of personality. I guess if you’re not initially swept away by the whole nostalgia factor, then there’s not much else on offer. Have you seen Safety Not Guaranteed? I’ve heard it’s good.

        • Safety Not Guaranteed was one of my favorites from 2012. So good. So indie. So unlike his new film. Trevorrow is such an odd choice for blockbuster director when u have images of that film in your head haha!

  9. Watched this at the weekend and had fun with it, but on reflection it’s a case of the Emperor’s new clothes isn’t it? I have to say I enjoyed it more than yourself, but it really doesn’t do anything new.

    • This is one of the harshest pieces I think I’ve put up here; I don’t know why I came down so hard on it especially given I had my expectations adjusted rather well beforehand. There was no way this was going to equal JP. However, I just couldn’t get past how many instances of deja vu I experienced. Watching Claire take the road flare and lure the dinosaur away; the raptors jumping and attacking the Indominus. The fact that every major character here was a shade of gray of the original cast.

      I can certainly see where this has been such a success with people though. It is what it is, but I just wished it had separated itself more from the original. The Lost World and JP3 had personalities of their own, even if most people didn’t get along with them. 🙂

  10. Wow. Great review, Tom! Is it evil of me that I was happy to see a negative review? I just have zero desire to see this for some reason. (But I’m going to it anyway as I feel it’s, like, my duty as a blogger. Lol). 🙂

    • This is definitely one of the harshest reviews I’ve ever written, but I’ve never been someone who tries to lie. Haha. Maybe I was brutally honest here, but oh well. I was really cautious going into this. And then I had really crappy seats bc this movie is like the 3rd highest opening weekend of all time….!

  11. “What I don’t have time for is a carbon copy of a vastly superior thriller, and Chris Pratt’s irritating ubiquitousness.”

    Ouch! lol

    Personally I wish Chris Pratt was more “ubiquitous”. After waiting 20 minutes for him to be introduced, we don’t actually see him again until the 2nd half of the film. Bryce Dallas Howard was a lot more present in the film that he was.

    There is one significant difference that makes Jurassic World not a carbon copy and it’s that the park is now finally open and operating. It’s hard to believe it took 4 films to finally present the idea of what the original film promised. The park is manifested as a stunning reality that hearkens back to the wonder of the first film.

    The audience came to see animals gone wild and that’s exactly what we get. There are at least half a dozen set pieces that play out like mini roller coaster rides. Did you see the reference to Jaws during the Mosasaurus feeding time? There are several little winking nods to Spielberg and I found those amusing. You mention the showdown of a final fight that includes an aggregation of dinosaurs. The climax really pays off.

    True, Jurassic World isn’t deep. I’ll admit the narrative frequently references Jurassic Park to tell a tale that is slavishly devoted to the blueprint of the original. Critics might deem it uncreative. Fans will call it nostalgia. I side more with the latter obviously.

    Cheers! 😀

    • Undoubtedly this is one of the roughest rides I’ve given a movie since ‘Project X.’ Haha. I don’t necessarily regret it but maybe I went off on a tangent more than I meant to.

      As for the comment about Pratt, I probably should clarify a bit. I think he was used well enough heree, but I’m referring more to his high profile these days. He’s just taking all these iconic roles and it’s just crazy to me. Yeah, he’s charismatic but he’s not *that* amazing.

      Jurassic World was a bit of fun but I couldn’t forgive how many times I had serious deja vu watching the way certain scenes played out….I think there were a couple that were identical to things in the original. I didn’t consider those paying homage. I called it lazy filmmaking. This is by far one of the biggest disappointments of 2015 for me, I’m afraid.

  12. I think you’ve summed up mostly how I feel about it. Way too much repetition (of characters, situations and even actual scenes and shots) and it comes off like a pale facsimile of Spielberg’s film (and his more crowdpleasing, family-oriented blockbuster work in general). I still had fun watching it, but couldn’t bring myself to recommend it either.

    • Right on man. I gave this one a scathing review because it really really shouldve stood on its own. I loved Trevorrow’s feature film debut, but there’s absolutely no reason why I can see why he was tapped to do this. I’m not sure how much of an effect Spielberg would’ve made going from exec producer to director on this but my gut tells me the film would’ve had a distinctive feel to it. Much like The Lost World and JP3 did.

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