Sunday, June 14, 2015
Movie Review - "Jurassic World" (2015) - What A Wonderful World!
Before I begin this review, I would like to ask - Why do you think "Jurassic Park" was one of the most successful films of all time? Why do you think it has survived past its initial release in theaters, garner fans all over the world, inspired three sequels and made people interested in dinosaurs again?
The easy answer is that dinosaurs appeal to both young and old, but if that were the case then "We're Back!" would be considered one of the greatest animated films of all time. I think it has to do with a number of factors - The story that evokes elements of "Frankenstein," bringing the dead back to life and man playing god, to the groundbreaking visual effects that still hold up today while still using a good combination of computer effects and animatronics, and the majesty of dinosaurs while never loosing sight of the child-like wonder behind these ancient and mysterious creatures.
"Jurassic Park" is still worth watching today because it combines two vastly different worlds and lets the chaos unfold before us, while still being a milestone in filmmaking techniques, something that Steven Spielberg consistently improves upon.
The fourth installment in this dino franchise, "Jurassic World," attempts to be a modern-day equivalent of the 1993 Spielberg classic, while emphasizing the corporate takeover of this lavish and commercial plan. But in the process, most of the charm and grandiose nature of dinosaurs is lost in favor of a predictable plot and one dinosaur that can be whatever the filmmakers want it to be.
Set twenty years after the events of "Jurassic Park," John Hammond's dream of a tropical island resort built around dinosaurs has become a reality and is now open to the public. But it seems the executives want to bring in more tourists, and demand that scientists use gene splicing to create entirely new dinosaurs for a new attraction. But this dinosaur, nicknamed the Indominus Rex, becomes too intelligent for its own good, and finds a way to escape. Now it is up to the manager of the park, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and the Velociraptor trainer, Owen (Chris Pratt) to save the 20,000 people on the island.
My biggest grip with "Jurassic World" is that everything can be seen five minutes before it happens. Every line of dialogue, all the plot twists, what the dinosaurs will do, is so predictable that it makes most scenes a bore to watch.
I was sitting next to a small kid in the theater, and he was very enthusiastic about this film. He was squirming in his seat when a dinosaur was on screen, and it was clear that he didn't go to that many movies in theaters, because he was constantly talking to his mom sitting next to him. Yet I could hear him pointing out what was going to happen in the next scene, and he was always right. Even a child who hasn't seen that many movies could tell what was going to happen.
Of course every one would know that a genetically-engineered dinosaur would be nothing but trouble, but then you have the uptight business woman who knows nothing about children, the kids who are only there to stare in awe at the dinos while still running in fear of the big baddy, the forced military cliché who only sees dinosaurs as a weapon for war, the long-winded speech about playing god and how these scientists aren't mad, and ultimately you have the badass who knows everything about the monsters and does everything cool.
But wait, wasn't almost all that in "Jurassic Park"? Yeah, but in 1993 we had never seen something like that before. Now there are so many films that try to be like "Jurassic Park" that we've grown tired of it. Not to mention, "Jurassic Park" was enthusiastic about everything, leading to some suspenseful and haunting scenes.
While there are some enjoyable moments in "Jurassic World," there is nothing here that quite equals the reveal of the T-Rex from the first film. The best scenes usually involved Chris Pratt being Chris Pratt, as he mingles with velociraptors, and we eventually find out that he is the Alpha male of their hunting party.
Only Chris Pratt could successfully work his way into a Raptor herd and make it convincing and fun to watch. Which would explain why the film was marketed around Pratt riding along several Raptors.
The Indominus Rex - or iRex as I've come to know her - is one of the most contrived plot creations I have ever seen. He seems to have a bit of every dinosaur in her and more, including T-Rex,
Velociraptor, Gigantosarus, cuddle fish, frog and snake DNA. As the film progresses, they keep adding more parts to the iRex that it becomes ridiculous.
I was surprised that they didn't say this abomination of science had Superman DNA or was part-Jedi.
However, I will admit that during the first act of "Jurassic World," the iRex was an intimidating foe, without ever revealing her. This hybrid was able to figure out about the dome that surrounds her, attempts to break the glass housing the scientists and is able to fake an escape attempt without lifting a claw. But, by the time she starts killing other dinosaurs she has lost most of her character and becomes another monster on the loose.
This does eventually lead to the best scene in the film - the final confrontation. Without giving too much away, everything that had been captivating about this film comes together to give us a moment that made several audience members applaud in my theater. If I were to recommend "Jurassic World" to anybody, it would be to watch that sequence.
Overall, "Jurassic World" is one of the most predictable films I have seen, but is not without awe-inspiring moments. While it has the scope and size of "Jurassic Park," it trades in likable characters and a Shakespearean-story of power and playing god with the plot of an average B-movie. Come for Chris Pratt and dinosaurs, stay for the cheer-worthy finale.
Final Grade: C+