REVIEW- Jurassic World: On nostalgia, running in heels and the theme park of our dreams

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1993’s Jurassic Park was a game-changer for film-making. CGI was in its infancy, and audiences were amazed at the life-like dinosaurs (which were also blended with animatronics) on screen. They had never seen anything like this before. Jurassic Park also proved to be one of the greatest blockbusters of all time, a thrill-ride from start to finish and shortly became a phenomenon. Of course, film-makers wanted to capitalize on that and two sequels were made. Spielberg directed The Lost World in 1997 and Jurassic Park 3 was made in 2001 by director Joe Johnston. Both were critical failures. Now 22 years later in 2015 the 4th follow-up entitled Jurassic World has been released, and it’s the best sequel yet.

Jurassic World ignores the canon of the past two sequels. After the disaster of what happened in the original Jurassic Park, Jurassic World has been up and running smoothly for many years now. Corporations fund the dinosaurs, the park is a giant conglomerate and money-making machine. Claire, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, keeps it all running smoothly. Jurassic World cleverly threads social commentary into the story. Kids are now bored of dinosaurs. Can you imagine being at that point?? But in this instantaneous generation, it’s not hard to believe. They’ve already filmed a T-Rex tons of times on their iPhones. In order to keep up revenue and interest, Jurassic World creates an entirely new dinosaur hybrid. Claire takes Owen, raptor-trainer extraordinaire (it’s not as dumb as the trailer makes it out to be) to take a look at it, named the Indominus Rex. But the dinosaur ends up being smarter than they realized, outwitting them and, you guessed it, escaping. There’s also another side plot with Vincent D’Onofrio wanting to weaponize the dinosaurs, but it’s hard to pay attention to. It’s just a shoe-horned and repetitive plot about man vs. animal that ends up being quite a snooze. Luckily it’s gone through quickly. During all of this, Claire’s nephews are being sent to visit the park while their parents get a divorce back home. But Claire, the busy bee that she is, doesn’t have time for them and they explore the park on their own.

Bryce Dallas Howard is great as Claire, in fact her character is more of a lead than Chris Pratt is. When a clip between Claire and Owen was released before the film, Joss Whedon tweeted that it reeked of 70s-era sexism. I’m happy to say that the film is not entirely like that. The conversation is a bit cringe-worthy, but it would be even more so if their whole relationship was portrayed as that dynamic (uptight bitch vs. fun-loving guy) in their repartee. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard work together the entire time, neither of them usurp the other. Pratt has badass moments and saves the day. Howard has bad ass moments and save the day. (She even has the biggest moment of all at the end!) They both work together in this time of strife, and it was refreshing to see in a blockbuster. Yes, Claire is portrayed as a control freak who is good at her job and has trouble connecting with her nephews because of it. She’s not sure she wants to have children. But this aspect of her character is not necessarily hammered in. In fact, it’s a lot like Dr. Grant’s storyline in Jurassic Park. Jurassic World does not chastise Claire for being who she is. She does learn to reconnect with her nephews, but it doesn’t end like Dr. Grant, with her holding children and giving a knowing smile of the future children she will have. She does run in heels the entire movie, but whatever she’s the HBIC.

The biggest complaint about the film would have to be that the CGI looks absolutely awful (the raptors especially). It’s sad that the effects from 1993 look better than this. The blending of animatronics, puppeteering, and CGI was what made Jurassic Park so great. You couldn’t really tell what was real and what wasn’t. The dinosaurs looked so life-like, that’s what made them so terrifying. For many parts, they were really there interacting with the actors. With Jurassic World, I know what I’m looking at is fake. I know that the actor is really looking at nothing. Tennis balls, in fact. Therefore, I’m never truly scared. Worst of all, they couldn’t even use animatronics for baby dinosaurs hatching out of an egg in the beginning close-up.  A small shot where it’s up super-close and they were too lazy. One of the best scenes in the film was when it was clearly an animatronic. It’s a beautiful scene where Claire and Owen comfort a brontosaurus dying. You could see the dinosaur truly being held in their hands. I know that you couldn’t do everything without CGI, but the moments when they could have, they SHOULD have. Practical effects are truly a lost art that need to come back.

Jurassic World was peppered with nods and homages to Jurassic Park that, for nostalgic reasons, many will appreciate. There’s a center named after John Hammond, with a statue replica of him. You see the Mr. DNA animation. One techie wears a vintage Jurassic Park shirt. (Jurassic World has tried to erase the past with the original park, since people died.) There is one scene that tries to recreate/homage the Jeep scene from the original. Obviously, that can never be topped, but it’s pretty fun. One of the rides lets visitors sit in this glass hamster-ball looking vehicle as they ride in fields alongside dinosaurs. The Indominus Rex catches up with them, turns the hamster ball upside down and tries to chomp down on them. The nephews escape and end up at the old visitor’s center from the first film, ravaged by ruins. They end up re-starting one of the old infamous Jeeps. Just suspend your disbelief to have fun with that sentimental reference.

The best part of the movie is the climax and very ending shot, and I would argue that that alone is worth the price of admission. Fans of the old original will especially love it. Jurassic World gave us the best sequel of them all, the kind of sequel that we’ve been waiting for years now. Most importantly, we finally get to see the park!! The theme park looks wonderful, and the detail that went into it is really enjoyable to see. My favorite is the petting-zoo like area for little kids, where they get to ride triceratops and hug baby brontosauruses. There is an exciting scene, one of the best in the movie, when pterodactyls escape and fly down and eat the tourists. Basically, that’s all that anyone was waiting for when the teasers boasted “The park is open”. Some carnage on the visitors.

Nothing is ever going to be as great as the original Jurassic Park. Spielberg himself couldn’t top it in the sequel, his original has suspense and intensity that can never be matched. Especially when the dinosaurs look so fake in this. There are very few essential scares, nothing you are holding your breath and onto the seats for. With the abundance of CGI, can we ever again reach those simple scares? I fear that getting bigger and better only leads to audiences being desensitized. But for lack of fear Jurassic World makes up for in fun. Yes, it can be silly and cheesy at times, the science unbelievable. But if you think the original didn’t have those moments, you are wearing nostalgia goggles. Jurassic World is the best sequel in the series, with just the right amount of filler, solid action scenes, and roaring climax. Jurassic World is a roller-coaster ride from start to finish.

By Caroline Madden


CAROLINECaroline hails from the home state of her hero Bruce Springsteen. Some of her favorite films are Amadeus, King Kong, When Harry Met Sally, Raging Bull, The Godfather, Jaws, and An American Werewolf in London. Her absolute favorite will always be The Lord of the Rings trilogy. 70s/80s era Al Pacino and Robert De Niro are her faves. She blogs even more about her film obsession at cinematicvisions.wordpress.com.

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