Monday, June 15, 2015

Review: Jurassic World

For what it's worth, I'm now pretending Jurassic Park: The Lost World, and Jurassic Park 3 never happened.

Seriously, if you haven't seen this yet, stop reading, turn off your computer, and go see it. I'll wait.

Nobody ever listens to me. Well, as usual, I'll do my best not to do any big spoilers, but you had your chance.

When the original Jurassic Park was released in 1993, it was a milestone. It was an incredible movie in terms of story, casting, and, of course, special effects. Dinosaurs in movies wasn't a new thing even in 1993. They reach back to Gertie the Dinosaur, one of the first cartoons way back in 1914. The first Jurassic Park though, showed us dinosaurs as lifelike as we've never seen them before, and there is no way to truly replicate that first sensation of wonder in a generation that has become accustomed to realistic monsters like in Godzilla and Pacific Rim.

Jurassic World comes pretty damn close though.

Granted, the sense of wonder isn't QUITE as strong as it was in the original, and a lot of it is reliant upon one either having kids or still being in touch with their inner child. But that sense of wonder that was so sorely missing in Lost World and 3 is there in spades. 

It starts with a pair of brothers, Zach and Gray, who head to the park for their shared Christmas present, and to visit their Aunt Claire, who is conveniently enough, running the place. 

The wonder is as you follow them through the park, seeing the attractions through the eyes of the kids. We're also treated to appearances by several new species for the series, including Ankylosaurs and Mosasaurs. In addition, there's even a petting zoo, and there is seriously few things more adorable than watching some 4-year-old little girl wrapping her arms around the neck of a baby Brachiosaur. 

Of course, what kind of story would this be if the entire length of it was a walk in the park? The scientist's newest creature breaks out and proceeds to cause all kinds of havoc, eventually drawing out Owen Grady and his pack of trained Velociraptors to try and hunt it down when the human attempts fail. 

References to the original movie abound, from the statue of John Hammond (a tribute to the late Richard Attenborough), to the multiple variations on the Jurassic Park theme, to the guy working in the control room actually wearing a Jurassic Park shirt. 

We also finally see the raptors for everything they can do, from how intelligent they are by being trainable, to watching them charge full-speed through the jungle, and a reminder of how deadly they can be. 

We also get a reminder of the dangers of genetic manipulation that the first movie hinged on. 

While I love Jeff Goldblum and his portrayal of Ian Malcom, Jurassic World is the sequel that should have been, as opposed to The Lost World and then Jurassic Park 3 (Though, I will never not laugh at the group of Japanese businessmen being chased down the street by the T-Rex). Jurassic World just leaves the others in the dust and is only a hair below the original. 

Not to say it doesn't have issues. The biggest of which being not taking advantage of previously introduced characters. The character of Claire could easily have been Lex from the original, with her nephews being Lex's brother Tim's kids. That would've made a handful of scenes much more powerful and we wouldn't have to meet new characters. Lex and Tim being the grandchildren of the park's originator, John Hammond, would also only make sense that one of them would eventually be chosen to continue his legacy. Why none of the script-writers seem to have had that brainstorm, I honestly don't know. 

Still, this is THE movie to see this summer. Even more than Avengers: Age of Ultron in my opinion.

So what are you waiting for? Go! Now!

~ Shaun

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