Jurassic World is coming off of an unsuccessful third installment in the franchise and over the past few months of its heavy marketing, has been garnering some high expectations. The original Spielberg helmed Jurassic Park was a groundbreaking spectacle, the first movie to ever combine such high caliber CGI (believe it or not something considered radical twenty years ago) with an enormous amount of fantastic practical effects. And I think that right there is one of the reasons why it's such a treasure of a film. Nowadays, CGI and visual effects have evolved so rapidly and so quickly that they seem to be in everything, and unnecessarily so. Not that there's a problem with CGI itself, it is a wonderful tool, but there's a problem with its execution and reason for usage. While it has definitely become better as its aged, we still haven't broken the barrier where it looks completely feasible and genuine. Unfortunately, the human eye is just too skilled at distinguishing light and how it interacts with objects, making computer generated images on that brink of 'almost there but not quite'. Luckily, we have directors who continue to try and do as much on camera and as least on computer as possible (Christopher Nolan, George Miler and obviously Spielberg to name a few) but the dependence on CGI has risen to an unstoppable level. While the visual effects in Jurassic World are great no doubt, the overuse of them already takes out from the wonder and authenticity of the dinosaurs. That being one of the main problems with Jurassic World, it's still an enjoyable ride and definitely a worthy addition to the franchise and the long slew of summer blockbusters this year.
Director Colon Trevorrow steps in with very little credentials, his only big film being indie 'Safety Not Guaranteed'. While he does manage ever so slightly to capture the original feeling of the original, his lack of attention to characters is very prevalent. One of the aspects that made the original so memorable and beloved was the characters. They felt unique, they felt interesting and above all, real. It's because of the characters and their relationships that we cared about the dinosaurs and the story. Only with interesting characters did we invest ourselves in the world and the situations they had to endure. In Jurassic World, every character, with the lack of the children, felt like a cardboard cutout of every generic character trope in films today. There's the 'badass savior' (Chris Pratt), the uptight, controlling 'know it all' (Bryce Dallas Howard), the 'man with an unpopular plan who'll stop at nothing to achieve it' (Vincent D'Onofrio) and it goes on. Luckily, the film doesn't revolve around the relationship between the adults, but also with the children, which makes it a much more intimate and emotional story. A lot of the narrative is told from the children's point of view, when they feel encapsulated by wonder, so are we, when they're running for their lives, we are right in the danger with them with the camera shot from their angle as opposed to the dinosaurs'. While Pratt's character (Owen) is rather cliché, he still manages to bring enough suave and style to the role to make it inventive. We buy his relationship with the Raptors mainly because of his charismatic charm but also because of his acting quips. Pratt is no longer the 'one hit wonder Star-Lord' we predicted him to be. He has true acting chops and while the film doesn't center around his character, every time he's on screen he owns it with true power. Howard's character, however, is very problematic, going through strange and unbelievable character arcs and her back-story seeming very rushed and convenient for the story. Howard is a tremendous actress no doubt, but unfortunately, her character comes off as really one-dimensional.
As mentioned before, the characters who do work besides Owen are the children. This is mainly due to the clear talent of the stars, Nick Robinson (Zach) and Ty Simpkins (Gray). The moment we are intoduced to them, we feel like kids again. A lot of Jurassic World feels so glorious because of Simpkin's ability to portray his enchantment. It's emphatic and really draws us in. Simpkins,once again, shows just how excellent of a young actor he is. Robinson, with very few credits on his resume, is going places. Jurassic Park focused a lot on the kids and World follows that exceptionally. While their backstory feels forced and tonally inconsistent with the film, it's their chemistry and on-screen personality that keep us intrigued in what will happen next.
Comparing World to Park is going to be difficult basically because as much as they probably attempted, both are too different. While World definitely homages Park, and it does succeed very often, it's still no Park. Park didn't have to rely on it's spectacle because at the time of it's release, it was radical. World has the pressure and in-achievable task of replicating that. It's like going on a roller coaster for the first time and going on that same ride twenty years later. It may be fun, it may be thrilling, but it will never feel like that first time. Our memories are just too valuable and special to be able to be mirrored. World focuses more on the lush landscapes and architecture of the amusement park as opposed to the amazing dinosaurs themselves. They don't feel like the center of attention because they can't be. It's a truth we have to accept. One of the first establishing shots we get is a sweeping bird's eye view of the park, no single dinosaur in sight. Even with Michael Giacchino's score, which is perfect and another reason why he's one of the best composers working today, that magic cannot be captured again. It simply can't.
But all this said, Jurassic World is still a good film. There are some truly riveting and tense scenes that pay tribute to the original. There are nail-biting parts, heartfelt moments and a finale that is cinematic gold. We'll never witness another scene like the kitchen sequence in the original, but we have a number of great scenes to revisit over and over from this film. The T-Rex chase and the electrical fence scene from the original are untouchable. There's no way to make them again, but that can be said about certain scenes from World that'll be considered iconic in a decade. What I really appreciated about World was that it didn't try to be Jurassic Park. It borrowed similar themes but it never aspired to duplicate it. It tried to be its own thing and it succeeds. While there is a cringe-worthy amount of cheesy dialogue and somewhat forced humor, there is a lot of dazzling imagery, great children performances and a lot of memorable action sequences that only are memorable because they didn't try to be something they weren't. Too many remakes and sequels rely on what made their predecessors successful and obviously they need to to a certain extent but Jurassic World knows its limits. It's self aware and embraces that it's been twenty years. Maybe that's the best praise I can give this movie. Even though the adult characters are one-dimensional and the CGI is too heavy, it does try to be special. If I wanted to watch Jurassic Park I would watch Jurassic Park, but instead I wanted to see the next adventure, a new journey and that's what I got. I asked, I received and therefore, I guess all I can say is thank you.