It was a given that I would see Jurassic World. Besides being the latest in a mega movie franchise and huge summer blockbuster, as silly as this may sound, I feel a bit of a personal investment in all things Jurassic.
I spent many years as a Jurassic Park Ride Operator...er, Game Warden.
I will forever have John William's catchy theme music on a loop in my subconscious. I've earned the right to call it J.P., rather than Jurassic Park. I know that a ride malfunction on a hot summer day creates a mob of angry tourists that's scarier than any dinosaur. Despite the headaches and ugly red neck kerchief, it was the most fun job that I've ever had.
On to the movie....
PLOT - Jurassic World takes place twenty-two years after Jurassic Park. John Hammond has left the care of Isla Nublar to a billionaire who has turned the defunct theme park around and rebranded it as Jurassic World. Jurassic World is bigger and better than it's predecessor, boasting flashy attractions and even closer interactions with dinosaurs.
A big part of Jurassic World's success. is its ability to snag corporate sponsorships. Claire ( Bryce Dallas Howard) is the director of the park and she is desperate to find a sponsor for their latest attraction, a mysterious hybrid dinosaur that has been named the Indominus Rex. To complicate things, Claire's nephews, Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) are visiting her on the same day that she has a stressful meeting with a Verizon, who she is trying to woo. To complicate things further, a dinosaur has gone missing. When the Indominus Rex breaks out of her enclosure, Claire enlists Owen ( Chris Pratt), a tough game warden, to help capture the dinosaur. She hopes to keep the tourists and sponsors unaware of the situation, but the problem quickly escalates. The Indominus Rex is unusually clever and Owen's ability to contain the situation is hindered by the secrecy surrounding her genetic composition.
LIKE - I'm going to be up front, this was not as good as Jurassic Park. However, it was substantial better than the other films in the franchise. What Jurassic World got right, is it brought back some of the magic and wonder of the first film.
I loved the creativity with the attractions, especially the gyrospheres and water show with the stadium that moves, so that the audience can get an underwater view of the Mosasaurus. Speaking of the Mosasaurus, that creature was responsible for some of the most bad-ass moments in the film. It was unexpected.
I thought that the idea for corporate sponsors was brilliant. It made sense in the realm of the story, but it also allowed for rampant product placement in the film. It was smart. It also poked fun at all of the sponsorship that does go on at theme parks.
Jurassic World captured the best and worst aspects of modern zoos. I spent many years volunteering at the Greater Los Angeles Zoo, so this aspect of the story peaked my interest. On the negative, Jurassic World showed the animals being miserable, especially the ones in the petting zoo with the baby triceratops rides. It was cringe-worthy. There was mention at the Mosasaurus feeding that it might not jump to feed on a shark, because it might not be hungry. Zoo's work hard to battle bored and overfed animals, but it still happens. On the positive, was the character Gray, a preteen boy who was just so excited and in awe of seeing these magnificent animals. At their best, zoos can be educational and prompt people to care and take action to protect animals. Although the research going on in Jurassic World was beyond dodgy, this is generally another important component of zoos. The character of Owen was constantly reminding other characters that the dinosaurs, even the friendly ones, are all wild animals and must be respected.
Jurassic World was never dull. I was on the edge of my seat during the aviary escape scene. I enjoyed the references to Jurassic Park, especially seeing the old visitor's center in ruins. The John Hammond statue was a nice touch.
DISLIKE - I wondered about the aviary...was it open to the public? If so, why are highly aggressive animals in an aviary? If it isn't open to the public, why is it there? These unanswered questions bothered me. There was also a brief scene showing visitors kayaking down a river right next to enormous dinosaurs. That was such a liability that even in the realm of this fantasy park, something like that would never happen!
I didn't buy Claire's rapid transition in the film. In the beginning, she's cold and just driven by her job. Why would a person like this invite her nephews to visit her for the weekend, especially when she has an important business meeting? The events in Jurassic World take place in about one day, by the end of the day, Claire is a totally changed woman, she is nurturing and in love. A transformation could have worked, but to make it work, Claire would have had to have been less of a cliche at the start of the film. This movie, as with the others in the franchise, tends to run with stock characters. The film is entertaining, but it could have been even better if they had paid a little attention to character development.
RECOMMEND - Yes, definitely. Jurassic World is a big deal. It's not only a huge money maker, but it's a better than average summer release. It's creative, entertaining and a solid addition to the franchise. It's a must-see on the big screen.