Summary (Warning: This review contains minor spoilers)
Jurassic World, the fourth film in this dino-saga, stars Chris Pratt as dino-wrangler and trainer Owen, Bryce Dallas Howard as the theme parks director and supervisor Claire, and Vincent D'Onofrio as the duplicitous military contractor Hoskins, and a slew of other characters including the two boys Gray and Zach played by Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson respectively.
The film opens 22 years after the tragic failure of the first Jurassic Park. Over that time, we are to assume that InGen managed to iron out all of the kinks that plagued the first three films, and finally manage to set up the theme park in a safe manner.
This is where Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), director of the new them park, comes in. Ever the savvy business woman, Claire wants to maintain Jurassic World as a main attraction the world over. But due to waning ticket sales, she has brought in private investors. The thing is, these private investors will only fund the dino-research and park if they can get bigger, better, and scarier dinosaurs. As such, InGen has disembarked with the traditional development of bringing extinct dinosaurs back to life but has since began experimenting by mixing dino-DNA to get new hybrid creatures.
Out of their mad science comes Indominus Rex, a mashup of dino-DNA. Indominus Rex, however, proves to be much more intelligent than anyone anticipated and it escapes its confines and goes on a park wide killing spree, killing everything it finds, whether human or dinosaur. In essence, they didn't bring back a dinosaur, they invented a monster!
At this time, Claire's two nephews, visiting the theme park, get lost off grid when they take a wrong turn in their gyro "hamster" ball.
Enter Owen (Christ Pratt) a handsome ex-Navy Seal who now trains a pack of velociraptors as part of a joint InGen military program designed to see if dinos can be trained to obey humans and thus weaponized.
Enter the zealous Hoskins, who wants to see a field test so he can then make millions selling dinos as weapons to the military.
Just as people begin to die, Owen, along with Hoskins, set out to stop Indominus Rex's rampage once and for all. Meanwhile, Claire, along with Owen, must find her missing nephews before its too late.
What I Liked:
I took my 5 year old daughter to this film and, being a fan of the first film, she loved every moment of it. It's scary, but not too scary. I'd say Jurassic Park 2 is actually far darker and scarier than this film. This film is more reminiscent the first Jurassic Park, with some light hearted banter, likable characters, and dinosaurs everywhere.
I especially liked the numerous nods, winks, and homages to the first film. There are holograms of dinosaurs in Jurassic World that are just clips of the first movie. There are locations from the first film that the characters go to that have since gone furrow, but links the two worlds together nicely. I like that the explanation for the new theme park isn't overly complex. We just sort of go along with it. After all, it's been 22 years and a lot of what has transpired since then is hinted at but, at the same time, left largely up to the audience to decide.
I like that this was, ultimately, a monster movie.
As in, there was a REAL monster in it.
I liked that the monster here was a real monster, a genetic freak made in the labs, and the product of humanity's over eagerness to play God.
Although many critics panned the film for having an overly simplistic plot, I thought the simple plot played well and acted as a nice re-introduction to the Jurassic Park universe.
After all, I am a Junior High school teacher, and not a single one of my 13 and 14 year old students had even seen the first Jurassic Park film. That's how outdated the franchise is. So, to me, it made sense they went with a new story and a new cast instead of getting bogged down by an outdated mythology that nobody knows about because they simply haven't seen the films.
That said, even with a simple A to Z plot, and with pretty standard characters, there is a lot to like about this movie. Its pace is fast, the movie never lags, the sub-plot ties into the main film perfectly, the Indominus Rex truly seems like the villain of the film and it works great as an entertaining monster movie. If you were expecting more from it, however, you might be dissapointed -- because, really, that's all of it.
Perhaps the thing I loved the most, however, is that the director Colin Trevorrow shot the film with a Spielbergian romantic eye. This means that nearly all the shots are done in the style of Steven Spielberg. What is surprising is how well Colin Trevorrow can employ Spielberg's style and techniques yet still come up with artistic and captivating storytelling of his own.
There are just some standout scenes that stick with you, such as Claire's standing with an orange flair in her hands, trembling in fear as the large doors open to reveal the only thing that might be capable of defeating Indominus Rex. The two boys getting knocked about in the hamster ball felt very much like the car in the tree scene with Dr. Grant and lil' Tim in the first movie. Little scenes between the actors and the dinosaurs, such as the scene where Owen and Claire find a whole heard of Brontosauruses slaughtered, only to lay the last one to rest in a teary eyed scene was very reminiscent of the Triceratops scene in the first movie. Every interaction between Owen and his raptors is fun to watch. Overall, the film hits more than it misses.
What I Didn't Like:
I have several issues with Claire. Not that she was a bad character, I just felt she was underdeveloped. She had more time on screen than all the rest of the cast combined, but she's not at all memorable. The only thing that stood out about her was that she ran through the jungle, fought dinosaurs, drove heavy SUV vehicles, and fought her way through all the mayhem in high heels. It wasn't at all realistic.
It was so blatant and in your face though, even going as far as to zoom in on them at the end, that I swear it had to be an in-joke or a spoof on pulp adventure stories of the Jane in the Jungle type character. But no, it seems it was really just a needlessly stupid bit of film making. A whole movie fighting dinosaurs through the jungles of a tropical island in high heels? Blarg! Stupid.
While some people have criticized the InGen military subplot as not being necessary to the film, you could take it out and essentially have the same plot given a couple tweaks -- such as the velociraptor program being an in-house InGen project that has nothing to do with the military -- I actually didn't mind it. To me, it seemed like a little bit of world building, and it lays the ground work for them to go in a different direction with the inevitable sequels that will follow this monster blockbuster (the highest grossing film of the summer!). Also, after all that happened in the first three films, can we honestly say the military wouldn't get involved a fourth time around? So, I can excuse the military subplot, even though it wasn't entirely necessary.
Maybe in the sequels the story could revolve around the weaponization of dinosaurs. Maybe the technology gets stolen or is being sold on the black market and suddenly dinosaurs are found being used to terrorize innocent lives. Maybe it could be the Marines getting called in to fight dinos in the vein of the movie Aliens. Who you gonna call when your dinos get rowdy? Owen, ex-Navy Seal and dinosaur wrangler / trainer extraordinaire. Also, they could bring Claire along for her expertise, since she dealt with it all the first time around and is at the top of her class in battling dinosaurs in high heels. In my opinion, they should leave the kids out of it the next time around.
One last little gripe I had is that, although containing a solid, straight forward story and being a very well made film, the characters fell flat.
Even Hoskins, your stereotypical mustache twirling villain, felt rather bland. He had nothing to do but stand around looking smug. I mean, they could have had him try to kill someone at least, even just to save his own neck, but that didn't even happen!
Meanwhile, our lead Owen was your down to earth, get the job done, kind of man, and he did everything required of him -- such as look majorly badass on a motorcycle in a raptor pack, but with a kind of emotional detachment that made him feel rather blah.
At the same time, Claire was your straight up one-dimensional business woman, too busy to bother with family or things like being caring. And speaking of caring, even though its hinted at early on in the film that she and Owen had a past romance, there is no flirting or romantic banter between them for the rest of the entire film. It's as though it never happened or they simply moved past it -- but this film could have used a little injection of something extra -- and a nice little unresolved romantic sub-plot actually would have worked well here.
The kids, although the most three dimensional of all the characters in the movie, really didn't have much to do except run around and try not to die. Even the "funny guy" in the office, played by Jake M. Johnson, although extremely likable, didn't have very many funny lines.
No pun intended, but all these characters just seemed to be along for the ride, but not much else.
What Bothered Me:
The high heels thing. I just can't let it go. It's that annoyingly bad! So stupid.
Anyhoozit, onto my final two cents.
Final Two Cents:
I had a lot of fun watching this film. After showing my daughter the first three films this year, her excitement for this film was over the top, and I was pleased that she loved the movie as much as I did. It's a fast pace, action-adventure, on top of a monster film. I am still a little disappointed that the characters fell so flat, but the action was fun and, besides, the dinosaurs stole the show and had the best scenes anyway.
Overall, Jurassic World plays as one big homage to Jurassic Park on top of its being a solid action / monster film. So who am I to complain? And if you loved the ending of the first Jurassic Park movie, then you'll definitely love the ending of this film (albeit somewhat predictable, I still thoroughly enjoyed it). But that's all I'm going to say.
I personally feel this is the strongest installment in the franchise after the first film, and I would definitely recommend watching this movie to the avid movie goer and feel it is a solid entry in the once thought extinct franchise.
By day I am an educator and a cultural ambassador. By night I entertain notions of being a literary master. In reality I am just a family man and ordinary guy who works hard and loves writing just about as much as I love my family. Just about.