Chris Pratt: Dinosaur Whisperer
Before I get into my thoughts on Jurassic World, I think it's relevant to know about my relationship with it's great-grandfather, Jurassic Park.
In 1993, as a 12 year old, I was not able to go to see Jurassic Park in theaters because some kid down the block went and had to be taken out of the theater because he was 'too scared'. Thanks, kid - this was a real bummer to a person who loved dinosaurs as a boy. We got it on VHS about a year later and I was mesmerized. Spielberg had created a masterpiece. I've seen it at least 20 times by now (the last being when they re-released it in theaters in 3D a few years ago) and it still holds up today. The dinosaurs had to be amazing to sell that movie, and they were. I LOVE Jurassic Park.
Now surprisingly, I have never seen the two sequels. I remember seeing the trailer for The Lost World, seeing dinosaurs out in New York City or something and thinking, "Nope, I'm good." The third went back to the well, but I was already out by then. I didn't feel I needed to get back to that world, I mean...Jurassic Park was just so perfect.
22 years later, Jurassic World was here, and I decided it was time to get back to that world. I was excited for two reasons: Colin Trevorrow and Chris Pratt.
Everyone knows who Chris Pratt is by now - he was in two of the best and most popular movies last year in The Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy - but I've been following him since 2009 as the lovable loser Andy Dwyer from Parks & Recreation. He's charismatic and hilarious, and I can't help but root for him. Trevorrow is a bit more under the radar. I became a Trevorrow fan after seeing his first (and only) feature, Safety Not Guaranteed. It's a fantastic little film about time travel that deserves to be seen. He has talent.
Anyway, on to the movie. The setup is that Jurassic World is an evolved version of the original - more attractions, more dinosaurs, and more money. In an allegory to the series, the people who run the park know that they need bigger, scarier, cooler dinosaurs to keep audiences coming back, so scientists on the island create a hybrid dinosaur. Predictably, things go wrong. It's up to a park manager and a dino-trainer to help save the day.
We follow a child through a crowded monorail as it approaches the park, introducing us to Jurassic World. He nears the window to see the monolith and the classic Jurassic Park theme song swells...it was amazing. I felt like that kid, coming back to the park. The following 90 minutes were really great. The dinosaur effects were brilliant - particularly the I-Rex - and blended in with the scenery. There weren't any eye-rolling CGI moments like in San Andreas. The actors did a fine job with what they had to work with. The climax is thrilling.
The movie isn't perfect. The 'military' aspect of the movie is uninteresting. The writing is awful and some of the setup is just plain weird (you're telling me that a giant sea dwelling dinosaur can jump stories into the air to snatch a shark off of a string, but it can't turn a bit to the right to eat all of the people watching it?). The characters are very one dimensional, have weak dialogue, and are almost weak carbon copies of people in the first Jurassic Park (person who doesn't like kids but realizes how cool they are by being surrounded and responsible for two of them...Claire from Jurassic World or Dr. Grant from Jurassic Park?). I thought that a raptor was the most well written character - YOU'RE MY BOY, BLUE! My wife said the most unrealistic part of the movie was not that dinosaurs could be cloned...but that Claire could run around the entire movie in high heels. Yes, this woman ran through jungles from DINOSAURS and kept her heels on the entire time.