Saturday, June 13, 2015

Jurassic World – review

When I was in sixth grade I saw the first Jurassic Park movie and it amazed me. It was fun, it was scary, and it was smart. Two sequels later and things were not looking good for the Jurassic Park franchise. Unfortunately, it seems that the series has not aged well. While still being better than the past two sequels, Jurassic World leaves a lot to be desired.

Twenty-two years after the events of Isla Nublar, Jurassic World is a new and fully functioning theme park. Brothers Zach and Gray Mitchell take a trip to the park to visit their aunt Claire, the park’s operations manager, played by Bryce Dallas Howard.  Soon after their arrival one of the newest genetically created attractions, the Indominus Rex, escapes and starts a killing rampage. Owen Grady, played by Chris Pratt, is a Velociraptor trainer who comes to Claire’s aid in stopping the rogue dinosaurs.

Jurassic World uses a distracting amount of C.G.I. Just about nothing looks real and at times it takes you out of the movie to be watching the equivalent of a cartoon. Even the door to the Jurassic World Park looked poorly pasted, like a Photoshop image. It made me nostalgic for the animatronics used in the original Jurassic Park film.

The acting is fine and Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard have a fun chemistry that works to make the movie entertaining. The problem is that the plot is juggling various balls and as an audience member I didn’t know which one to focus on. Throughout the story you have the divorce plot of the parents of Zach and Gray, you have the escaped Indominus Rex, you have InGen hoping to use dinosaurs and military weapons, and you have a romance subplot with the two leads.

If producers come at us with a new Jurassic Park movie I hope that they at least have the originality to make a movie where they don’t need kids in the cast. They borrow a lot of elements from the past movies, which they do seldom enough to not be obnoxious. There was some good build up to seeing what the Indominus Rex would look like. The problem was that the pay off was not worth it.

If ever there was a scene that showed me there was-- at one point-- a good movie idea here let me illustrate the following scene. Owen gets caught in an unexpected chain of events involving his velociraptors. He spies one in the grass and they both catch each other’s eyes. There is a look of momentary understanding between the two of them before a rocket kills the raptor and sends Owen off his feet. Owen then stares silently at the burnt wreckage where his former friend used to stand.  All of this is done without words and it is probably one of the best scenes in the movie.

Jurassic World is not a bad film but it is not a theater-worthy film either. I would recommend it for rental for sure. It is fun on occasion but lacks the story direction of any of the previous movies. There are moments that seem funny and self-aware but they are few and far between. If you are a fan of the rest of the franchise you will enjoy the beast on beast action and insane mad science on display. If you are looking to start the franchise I recommend going back to the beginning before seeing this one.

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