I do so love when a movie series returns to its creative roots. JURASSIC PARK was an epic film, and then Spielberg and company found a way to destroy its flavor with two banal sequels. After a lengthy hiatus that included much soul-searching, and dumping Jack Horner, JURASSIC WORLD brings the franchise back to the wonderfulness of the original.
I try to not watch trailers before I see a movie. Often, they are misleading. At best, the reveal too many key plot elements or scenes. Unfortunately, the trailers for JURASSIC WORLD permeated media in a major advertising campaign blitz. What I saw in the trailers alarmed me. Did I actually see Velociraptors work along side the film’s protagonist Chris Pratt, as a unified force? It reminded me of ALIENS VS. PREDATOR, where viewers were force-fed the notion a petite black woman was the only human representative capable of defeating a horde of aliens by teaming with the creatures who hunt humans for sport. Please. The concept was idiotic, and though they tried to salvage the movie series with a follow-up, the initial theme essentially destroyed the franchise in the world of celluloid.
The raptors, in the same frame with Pratt, are not friendly creatures. Luckily, there are no “we are family” moments between species. I’ll test your memory here, but think back to the second film in the CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON series; THE REVENGE OF THE CREATURE. In the film, John Agar, experimenting on the intelligence of the gill-man, uses an electric prod to teach the word “stop” to the Creature. Through Pavlovian testing, the Creature hesitates at the sound. It establishes a necessary reaction for the climatic scene. The raptors work much the same manner in JURASSIC WORLD. It is done well.
Now, consider Jack Horner. After JURASSIC PARK, Horner attempted to garner his fifteen minutes of Andy Warhol fame and used rather sketchy paleontology findings to discredit the Tyrannosaurus Rex. He claimed the King of Dinosaurs was nothing but a mooching scavenger. Somehow, he convinced Spielberg to shift attention away from Rex. It was a bad move that culminated in a horrendous JURASSIC PARK 3, where a Spinosaurus, which in reality measured only 20 feet compared to T-rex’s 50 feet, fights and defeats Rex. Horner’s new Rex theories were dismantled by his peers and colleagues within a year. He is now in the café of scientific oblivion, sipping coffee with the two researchers who tried to convince us of global warming with a fabricated hockey stick graph model. Rex is back in full glory in JURASSIC WORLD. In fact, he received cheers and applause from the preview audience when he appeared on screen. They were louder than any reaction to superheroes.
JURASSIC WORLD makes many references to the original, and basically ignores everything from the sequels. It is twenty years past John Hammond’s disastrous attempt to bring dinosaurs to a theme park. In that time, technology has improved, enabling Hammond’s dream to become reality. Thousands of people visit JURASSIC WORLD on a regular basis, but as with all things, dinosaurs become mundane with the public and the park must find new and exciting ways to keep ticket sales booming. Enter Indominus Rex, a genetically built dinosaur hybrid, meant to add an element of fear and terror to park visitors. BD Wong returns as Dr. Henry Wu, and is the culprit behind creation of the new Rex. He is reminiscent of Dr. Susan McCallister, played by Saffron Burrows, in DEEP BLUE SEA, who created superior sharks, but opted not to tell anyone about the enhances features.
In keeping with the Spielberg tradition of constantly putting children in danger, Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson star as Gray and Zach, who are visiting the park while their parents attempt to end their marital bliss. There can never be happy families anymore in films. It doesn’t fit the template of a dysfunctional society, so loved by liberal Hollywood ideology. Entrusted to the care of their aunt, the boys naturally find a way to immerse themselves in park havoc, while they discover the bond that exists between brothers. Meanwhile, Auntie Claire, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, while chasing the All American Woman Executive Dream, has the hots for Owen (Pratt), who is in this story what Robert Muldoon should have been in the first. All these subplots are secondary and just provide hurdles for a tale about a genetic freak, and the dinosaurs who hate him.
Critics were able to see JURASSIC WORLD in 3D. It is worth it. The dinos, especially the raptor attacks, are superb. The dinos look great, thanks to Ed Verreaux’s production design. Cinematography by John Schwartzman is excellent and provides several iconic moments sure to appear on posters and memes. Music, though featuring additional tunes by Michael Giacchino is basically variations on John Williams memorable score.
All in all, JURASSIC WORLD brings the series back to where it belongs. You can watch the first one, skip the second and third, and jump straight to this one and have a better franchise. The movie is filled with dinosaurs and dinosaur action. It’s worth repeated views and deserves a spot on your home video shelf. As such, it exemplifies excellence in film entertainment and captures the coveted Fist of Fiore Award for 2015. You’ll like this one; it’s a keeper.