A fulfilling, thoroughly entertaining popcorn flick that stands as (so far) the one true sequel to 1993s modern classic, Jurassic Park. Where some critics apologetically liked the film, I fully embraced it - this is the first film I've seen so far this year that I immediately wanted to see again. While I've seen many good (and entertaining) blockbusters this year, Jurassic World (and to some degree Age of Ultron) was able to satisfy many of my summer movie needs. The film is entertaining through and through, with a few characters that I truly cared about, and set pieces - and a few moments - that really had the rekindling of a desensitized audience's wonder, awe, and imagination in mind.
In the vein of 90s movies like Independence Day, The Mummy, and other summer blockbuster films before it, Jurassic World has "audience entertainment" in mind. Where films like ALL of the Transformers sequels failed, Jurassic World doesn't talk down to its audience or bore us by taking itself overly serious. Instead the movie focuses its run time on fun time, giving us some characters that matter, and a script that adds little throwbacks to prior Spielberg blockbusters.
Director Colin Trevorrow rightfully justifies the existence of yet another Jurassic sequel with the Steven Spielberg-produced Jurassic World, by thematically commenting on the state of modern "blockbuster" cinema by utilizing the limitations of our wit and imaginations in light of what once brought immeasurable awe and wonder. Jurassic World goes for broke, answering many of the missed opportunities of both the disappointing The Lost World and the despicable Jurassic Park 3 and nearly nailing them all. While this film has a different visual feel and style to the other sequels, the heart and nature of its morals, characterizations, and themes lie more in context with the first film in a way that the other sequels didn't even attempt to achieve.
Jurassic World, off the bat, is not a film for small children. Where the first film kept in the slow-burn nature of other Spielberg classics (namely Jaws), this film puts us inside the park within the first five minutes (something that at first I thought the film did a little too fast) and the mayhem ensues shortly thereafter. The first attack is loud and frightening, and stands more in line with the monster movies that were influenced by films like the first Jurassic Park rather than that first film itself. I appreciated the film simply for fact that the small child sitting behind us was genuinely upset and on the verge of tears after witnessing the first human meal of Ingen's genetically-altered creation, the Indominus Rex.
One thing that must be mentioned is that this film is of a somewhat different ilk than Jurassic Park, despite my previous mention of it being the one true sequel. In theme and storytelling progression, this film fully realizes John Hammond's vision as to what his original park was to become - a place, much like Disney World, where families can come and enjoy another world from an era out of ancient history. But, what the film also does (and by the creative choices of Trevorrow and his fellow screenwriters) is fully utilize the importance of "wowing" current audiences in a way that only the first film was able to do, but does so in the modern-era of blockbuster excesses, wasting not a moment to punch us in our faces with one entertaining moment after another. As the film progresses, you begin to feel the opportunities the film presents the audience with, and the payoffs do not disappoint.
Jurassic World also does a fine job of actually making us care about the characters. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are both effective and good in their parts, especially with Pratt's character who has, in a way, successfully trained velociraptors much like a Sea World trainer would with seals or sea lions. The two young brothers, whose parents sent them to the park to spend time with their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays the operations manager of the park of sorts), are very good characters for younger audiences to connect and immerse themselves into. The film wisely avoids making the boys cliche versions of some emo-pop band-loving fanboys, and instead gives us characters who feel organic to the real world and can actually stand on their own two feet without having to be guided around by their hands like useless pieces of crap (I'm talking about you, Tim and Lex). And again I must mention Pratt, who is doing a fine job of being cast in parts that allow him to play roles in his witty, likeable, Pratt-ness way. As a former Navy man (though it's not mentioned, he probably could have been a SEAL for the way he acts in the film), one could theorize that his job before being hired to work with raptors could have been training dolphins to locate explosives underwater.
Watch this film to have fun. The movie goes for broke by rectifying one of the biggest missed opportunities of Jurassic Park 3, and should be respected for having much of its action take place during the day rather than hidden at night. There's a good assortment of dinosaur action, but it isn't overbearing - in fact, the film centralizes a lot of its time on the human characters allowing them to grow at least a foot or two beyond cut-and-paste villains and heroes. The film has running time of just over two hours, but the pacing is swift to where it doesn't feel as long as the third film (which was actually over twenty minutes shorter).
Jurassic World may feel like an assortment of elements and ideas from different versions of screenplays for the continuation of the series, yet Colin Trevorrow and his crew are able to play many of these elements off in satisfying fashion. The last twenty minutes of the film are in line with less intelligent science fiction films, but then again, the wonder and awe of dinosaurs isn't in the realism of its nature but in the "fiction" aspect of its science. Jurassic World is a summer movie first and foremost, and Spielberg wisely chose a mostly untested Colin Trevorrow to helm this best of the dino sequels that will surely open the gates for bigger, more horrifying tales.
Cinematographer John Schwartzman had a steady hand at shooting the film, making many of the shots easy to comprehend and all of the action easy to see. Though I dislike much of the color desaturation that is present in many films these days, the color and tonal change here isn't overdone to the point of being distracting. The sound design is thankfully full and robust, though many of the dinosaur sounds have that feeling of being recycled from the hard, creative work of the designers from the first film. And for the most part, the film utilizes the old-fashioned rule that CGI should be used as a last-ditch effort when practical effects are almost impossible to create by hand. The locations of Jurassic World are real (mostly shot again in Hawaii) and there are even some animatronic dinosaurs in a few close up scenes, which is refreshing when the eye can ascertain high levels of bullshit when it's blaring itself right before your eyes with its stink.
There are also a lot of Spielbergian references in this film - obvious ones being Jaws and the original Jurassic Park, but I even saw a moment reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I'm sure there are more, but I was too busy enjoying the movie to notice them all. The film also does a fine job of utilizing little set-ups and payoffs, little things that, if you're paying attention during the film, you'll notice certain characters meet their doom in a way that is hinted at earlier in the film. I like shit like that.
And this one's for you, Phil Tippett.
The final showdown between the two prehistoric behemoths is also something akin to being a child and watching Godzilla fight Mechagodzilla: "Oh fuck yeah, it's goin' down!" And any film that breaks the mold and allows the raptors to, at times, be the heroes is fine by me.