Pop quiz hot shot: How do you resurrect a franchise as extinct as the dinosaurs they feature (or the movie I just quoted)???
Answer: Take one part King Kong, one part Frankenstein, a dash of Mark Schultz’s master work – Xenozoic, a sprig of Aliens, add a Guardian of the Galaxy, sprinkle in made-for-tv-movie subplots, inject a healthy dose of nostalgia, and top off with a mouthful of Jaws 3D. Throw the ingredients in a Dino DNA Recombination Chamber, crank the action meter to 11, add soda and popcorn and VOILA! You’ve got Jurassic World!
Following this summer’s theme of taking an existing franchise, reworking the best bits and pieces and leveling up the action and excitement (looking at you Mad Max and the soon to be released shameless Terminator cash-in), Jurassic World takes its IP (that’s “intellectual property” to you and me) into a new era.
Even though the franchise has a fresh coat of paint and the hindsight of a 20 plus year lifespan, the film is far from perfect. Make no mistake, just about everything you’ll see in Jurassic World, you’ve seen in the other Jurassic Park movies. They aren’t shy about it either. They ape several of the famous shots from the series’ past – Giant, terrifying dinosaur trying to break through protective glass to eat two children in a disabled vehicle … “yeah, that worked pretty well for Steven, let’s use it again.”
The character archtypes and situations are well-worn and predictable to the movie going public as well. It’s totally obvious that Vincent D’Onofrio’s evil
Brian Dennehy paramilitary character is going to be a raptor chewtoy before the end of the flick. It’s so obvious that I didn’t bother to put a **NOT A SPOILER, WARNING** before telling you. But when it finally happens, it happens out of the blue, catching you off guard and lasting long enough for the audience to think “it’s finally happening, now he gets his!”
Despite the well trod ground, there is plenty of tension and excitement. There’s also genuine humor. The movie is so self aware that you half expect Samuel L. Jackson to show up shouting “Get these mutha-bleepin’ dinosaurs outta this mutha-bleepin’ park!!!” Chris Pratt continues to crush it with his funny/tough guy character,
Star-Lord Owen. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast puts in a so-so performance weighted down with some crummy direction. Bryce Dallas Howard plays Pepper Potts Claire, the buttoned up exec running (literally running in 4-inch heels from a T-Rex …) the park and estranged aunt to the otherwise nondescript McGuffin brothers. Irrfan Khan comes so close to playing an eccentric and charismatic billionaire that owns the park.
There are plenty of nods to the original movie from props, to sets, to music. My favorite nod is a book written by Jeff Goldbloom’s Dr. Ian Malcolm that makes a few appearances in the background of scenes. In other news, BD Wong reprises his role as Henry Wu, chief science guy.
For all of the movie’s flaws, it refines the Jurassic Park formula and turns the fun up enough to make for an exciting summer movie experience. This time around, the chases are more intense. The dinos are bigger and meaner. The stakes are higher. The presentation is slicker. To quote the movie, it has “more teeth” and is flat out fun to watch!
Jurassic Park was revolutionary while Jurassic World is evolutionary (see what I did there :)?). As an audience, we may be too jaded to get that sense of awe we got the first time we watched digital dinosaurs walk on the screen back in 1993. But it’s still fun. It’s still exciting. It’s still worth the price of admission. In my opinion, this is the best Jurassic Park. *Cue T-Rex roar*
Pros: Hot dino on dino action! Great multi-species battle royal finale. Nostalgia. “It’s Star-Lord … man”.
Cons: Mediocre directing. Plays a bit like a Jurassic Park series greatest hits reel.
My Take: 51 out of 60 T-Rex teeth!