Back in 1993 Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, an adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel of the same name, hit like a bomb. It pulled moviegoers into a world where a dinosaur theme park was a reality, and it made them eat it up; Spielberg’s genius use of mostly practical effects and a story that was decisively human at its core, made audiences fall in love with the film and over the years its status as a classic has been solidified. Jurassic Park is one of those movies that’s near and dear to many people’s hearts, but it’s also a film that spawned two inferior sequels. While Spielberg’s first attempt at a sequel retained much of the original’s spirit, Jurassic Park III was a significant step down from The Lost World. It’s no wonder then that the idea of another follow-up might make a lot of fans of the 1993 movie nervous. The question “Will Jurassic World finally live up to the much-praised original or will it be another disappointment?” is at the forefront of many moviegoers’ minds. Rest assured: Jurassic World is no Jurassic Park III.
Jurassic World pretends it’s the first sequel to Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, and it wants you to accept the fact that the disastrous events of the original didn’t impact the dinosaur theme park plans at all. It’s probably for the best: the movie spends no time on the whys and hows of the matter, but immediately introduces you to the gorgeous Jurassic World, a larger-than-life zoo where families go to gawp at the large and dangerous creatures. The central idea of the film, that people get used to and get bored by everything eventually, is a good one that’s thematically close to the first Jurassic Park, especially because the park’s lab coats now have created a meaner, deadlier and much more unstoppable killing machine in their efforts to devise a newer, bigger and better dinosaur to please Jurassic World’s visitors and keep the money coming in. It’s a tale of human hubris and greed all over again, and when all hell breaks loose the movie’s always entertaining and occasionally even haunting and thrilling. The film’s climax then, much like The Lost World‘s, ups the ante in the action department. But unlike the former, Jurassic World‘s final sequence works in all its ludicrousness: the seeds for this marvelously over-the-top spectacle have been planted throughout and it’s executed flawlessly.
What doesn’t work as well as Jurassic Park or even The Lost World, is the movie’s characters. There are no Alan Grants, Ellie Sadlers or Ian Malcolms in Jurassic World, only certain types that move the plot forward. You know everything about the new cast of characters when you meet them, and they stay like that throughout the film. They’re all terribly one-note and it’s this flaw that keeps Jurassic World from reaching the level of the 1993 film. The actors who portray the characters do make up for the lack of characterization. Vincent D’Onofrio, Irrfan Khan, Jake Johnson and Omar Sy all manage to be compelling and bring some much-needed humanity to the stereotypes they’re playing. Young talents Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson also bring a warmth and likeability to the two brothers who happen to be at the wrong place when everything in the theme park falls apart, even though the way their characters handle the situation is very peculiar. What’s even more strange is that the two main characters are the least convincing part of the entire film: Chris Pratt’s dino trainer is too stern and serious, and the actor comes off as much less charismatic than he usually is because of it. Bryce Dallas Howard then has absolutely nothing to play with, because she’s handed a damsel in distress role that requires her to run around in high heels all the time and be as flippant as badly written female characters come. What certainly doesn’t help is that Pratt and Howard lack chemistry, which makes it hard to buy into their flimsy romance subplot. Additionally some very forced comic relief leads to a couple of downright cringeworthy moments, moments that, frankly, have no place in the franchise.
The dinosaurs are impressive, though. Even though there’s much more of a reliance on CGI in Jurassic World than there is on practical effects, the results are very convincing. To go even further: the central pack of velociraptors is one of the most interesting elements of the movie, and the scenes with these animals lead to the most emotional and well-earned moments of the film. The Indominus Rex meanwhile, the monster the Jurassic World scientists have cooked up in a lab, is another welcome addition; it’s a beautifully designed and ruthless monster that infuses the movie with quite a lot of tension. It’s a creature you love to hate, maybe even pity, and the way the beast is handled plot-wise is comparable to how the T-Rex was handled in Jurassic Park, which is a far cry from Jurassic Park III‘s Spinosaurus handling, fortunately. What’s arguably the strongest part about that third film is the Pteranodon sequence, and Jurassic World borrows heavily from that stand-out moment to create another strong batch of scenes. And that’s maybe the best way to describe Jurassic World: as a movie that cherry-picks from its three predecessors. Because of it, the movie is a greatest hits album of sorts, performed by a perfectly adequate cover band. It’s all entertaining, the right kind of familiar, but it’s still not as fresh or alluring as the real thing.
Jurassic World is a good time, but don’t expect it to live up to Spielberg’s work from 1993. Still, it’s a much better movie than the third film in the franchise was and it lands somewhere near The Lost World. That means it’s slightly dumb but solid entertainment, just nothing groundbreaking. 7/10