The Park is open!
It’s time to go back to Isla Nublar to take a look at the latest update to the world created by Steven Spielberg (who serves as Executive Producer), and author, the late Michael Crichton. And while it is fun to see dinosaurs on the big screen again, there is only so much you can do within the established universe, and the rules that govern the stories set in that universe. As such, the three films have pretty much been iterations on the theme that dinosaurs escape and things go bad.
Is Jurassic World any different?
No. But it doesn’t want to, and it doesn’t have to be. These films, by their very nature, are designed to be summer thrill rides, and I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t get giddy at the thought of seeing dinosaurs.
And while the first film set the benchmark that every dinosaur movie made since will be measured by, with the late Stan Winston and Phil Tippet’s incredible physical creations, combined with CGI creations bringing these marvelous creatures back to life, this film relies more on the computer-generated creations, and not so much animatronics to interact with.
So in that case does the story part of the movie pay off?
There’s not as much as their could be – there are hints… but of course, when it comes to these films, it seems lots of story isn’t required, or at least, they don’t want to saturate it with a lot of plot…
That doesn’t mean it’s not a fun ride, though, I was a little unsure of the aftermath of the final showdown, and thought it should have played out differently…
Chris Pratt, who is just fun and likable in the role of Own, and Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire, who isn’t given enough to do and is somehow made to look bad for focusing on her career (running the park) instead of having a family and a love life, lead this film’s victims… err… cast and they do a decent job as the cardboard cut-outs that we need to guide us through the film, both of them have one note story arcs, but you don’t want to weigh the film down with characters and story points when you have dinosaurs.
Despite that there are tons of things I loved about the film. The physical reality of the park’s Main Street, it’s a real place, and seeing the park in action, with all the things you’d expect to see in a theme park, actually brought a big smile to my face… of course there would be a petting zoo, and ‘educational’ displays, monorails, merchandise everywhere. Watching the park like that, is actually pretty cool, Hammond’s dream truly brought to life. (There’s also a book seen a couple of times in the film – watch for it on a computer station, it made me smile!).
Also making me smile was composer Michael Giacchino incorporating John Williams’ themes into this film. You couldn’t have a Jurassic movie without those iconic themes… In fact the film is filled with direct nods, shots and homages to the first film, but on the whole it never really elevates itself above the level of thrill ride (and if that is what you want, you’ll be suitably entertained) rocketing from one set piece to the next.
The threat comes from a hybrid dinosaur created (sponsorship pending), the Indominus Rex, a mean, smart, bigger and scarier dinosaur than has been seen before. Surprise, surprise, it escapes and chaos ensues!
The story threads I would have wanted more of included the idea of commercializing, and sponsoring nature (or man-made animals), as well as the weaponization of it. Man trying to control nature (including those man-made) instead of living with it. Pratt’s Owen knows these creatures need to be respected, and knows that whether created in a lab or not, they will behave according to their instincts. And honestly, I was anxious about his stuff with the raptors, but it actually works really well within the context of the story…
On the flipside, Claire, initially, and the company, not to mention InGen, who is still at work within the Park, see the dinosaurs as nothing more than assets and attractions, and treat them as nothing more than that… consequently, most of them get what they deserve through the course of the film.
InGen causes enough of a problem that I imagine they will tend to be the focus of the sequels that are bound to follow.
It’s a fun ride, a popcorn rollercoaster, wonderful summer fare, but if you’re looking for something more of substance, you won’t find it here.
What did you think?