The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jurassic World

So 22 years have passed since the original Jurassic Park was released back in 1993. Glowing reviews, ridiculous box office, an instant fan favorite and classic, it is a great movie that was fresh and innovative and creative and smart and funny. Now I love a good movie franchise, but this particular one had two okay but definitely not great sequels, The Lost World and Jurassic Park III. For years though, another sequel had been in the works that was supposed to get back to basics, and now we get it. Here's 2015's Jurassic World.

For many years now, InGen has its dinosaur theme park -- Jurassic World -- up and running on Isla Sorna much to the delight of visitors from all over the world. The InGen and park staff though is constantly trying to do bigger and better, to amaze visitors who put down a pretty penny to come and visit the park. Now though, InGen may have gone too far. With the island packed with visitors, the park's operation manager, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), is readying for a visit from her nephews who she hasn't seen in years. That reunion is about to be thrown into chaos though when InGen's and Jurassic World's new genetically-engineered dinosaur goes on the rampage. No one on the island is safe with the park's trainer and quasi-dinosaur expert/specialist, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), one of the few hopes of getting things back under control. Is it too late though? Has mankind gone too far in creating something that simply shouldn't have been created? Let the body count blow up in the meantime!

Yeah, 22 freaking years since Jurassic Park originally hit theaters. I was eight years old! It's an interesting franchise because maybe more than most film turned franchise, 'JP' is a pretty perfect stand-alone movie. It genuinely doesn't need a single sequel, much less three. Still, all three are entertaining, and this most recent venture is genuinely good in that perfect summer blockbuster fashion. From director Colin Trevorrow, 'World' isn't a straight remake of the original, but it's almost the same movie. That's not a bad thing. It is pretty dumb with some questions popping up here and there, but it kept me entertained throughout its 124-minute running time. The 2015 film year is shaping up to be a doozy, and this is a big reason why. Grab some popcorn and sit back and enjoy!

The formula is pretty simple, and those who saw the original or read Michael Crichton's novel know what's coming. Introduce a bunch of people, slightly humanize them, build up unbearable tension about dinosaurs that couldn't possibly escape, let those dinosaurs escape and let the carnage loose! Pretty straightforward, ain't it? I'll delve into the cast in a bit, but the coolest addition to the franchise is indominus rex, a new genetically engineered dinosaur that's mostly tyrannosaurus rex but with some DNA from this animal and more DNA from that animal (Twists as to what are actually pretty good). This is one cool dinosaur, or quasi-dinosaur I guess. It is a killing machine, able to detect thermal signatures while also masking its own. Oh, also, it kills for sport more than for eating so there's that! 'World' doesn't take too long getting this genetically-mutated killer out and about, and the movie's at its strongest when dealing with its newest, most bad-ass character.

Now that's not to say that Chris Pratt's Owen Grady isn't a cool character. He is. Pratt is one of the biggest rising stars in Hollywood right now, and he's clearly having some fun here. Part Dr. Grant, part Ian Malcolm, Pratt's Owen trains the velociraptors or as much as one can train raptors (one of nature's all-time deadliest creations). He is the necessary very cool lead character who must lead the way to survival, being a bad-ass at every opportunity. Case in point? He leads his semi-trained raptors in a hunt....while he's riding a motorcycle. Yeah, it's pretty cool. Howard is the all-business, no-nonsense park operations manager, spending the whole movie in high heels and seemingly always on the run. Give them credit though, through all the chaos I thought Pratt and Howard had some pretty good chemistry.

The rest of the characters are pretty cut and dry. Not too much development, just get to know enough about them to decide if they'll be eaten or not. Irrfan Khan plays the ridiculously rich owner of the park, Vincent D'Onofrio is the InGen security head obsessed with turning the raptors into weapons used in combat, Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson as two brothers visiting the island (Claire's nephews), Jake Johnson (an excellent, funny, scene-stealing part) and Lauren Lapkus as operations room employees who see everything blowing up, Omar Sy as Barry, Owen's right-hand man and fellow dinosaur wrangler, Judy Greer as the boys' worrying mom back home, and returning from the original Jurassic Park, BD Wong as Henry Wu, the genetic engineering genius who created the new and improved dinosaurs.

I did have issues with this flick. None of those issues derailed my enjoyment, but I would have liked some answers. Other than a few clever wink-wink moments, nothing is really mentioned of how the disaster that happened on Isla Nubar in Jurassic Park...well, did nothing. Jurassic World seemingly opened up a few years later with a ton of financial backing, and yeah, nothing happened about all those deaths. I didn't need anything spelled out word-for-word, but I would have liked some explanation. Also, the attempt to humanize the dinosaurs -- especially the raptors -- sounds cool and it does work in doses, but I felt like the script hit the audience over the head with the premise more and more in the second half. Meh, not a huge deal. Oh, look, Chris Pratt is on a throwback motorcycle leading raptors on a hunt!!! Cooooooooooool.

Most criticisms here are going to go belly up. Yeah, I had complaints. Yeah, I groaned a couple times because characters are too stupid for their own good. But this is what a summer blockbuster should be. A ton of fun, a ton of excitement, and some good, old-fashioned dinosaur action. Fans of the original will appreciate some nods in that direction, and also and more importantly, putting the T-Rex back into the hierarchy it deserves, something Jurassic Park III tried to dismantle. Not a classic, but well worth a watch for an action-packed, genuinely fun two hours.

Jurassic World (2015): ***/****


  1. Hated this movie very much. JAWS 3 which was awful put you more into the theme park being invaded by a creature originally directed by Spielberg. This movie, oh man, I was just in hell and I thought it couldn't miss. It missed the mark, and didn't even seem to be aiming for anything. Too simple to be a legit creature feature and too complicated to be a popcorn summer flick. I'm a hater, I know, but I really wanted to love this movie.

  2. That's too bad b/c I felt the same way. Wanted to love it but did end up genuinely liking it at least.

  3. I loved this one. Had a blast with it, not sure what's not to love. Raptor/Pratt relationship made the film, Pratt character was super cool and different than his Guardians chatacter, really fun final battle....