WARNING: This entire review is full of spoilers. Proceed wisely.
Jurassic World has had lines and lines of movie goers lined up hours before each showing for the past several days.
I know, because I was one of those movie goers.
My girlfriends and I decided we were going to do a Jurassic Park movie marathon the day we went, just because it sounded like a fun idea.
One of the best movie-going decisions we’ve ever made.
Here’s why, and this is important to my review:
By seeing the movies beforehand we were ‘in’ on all the little nods towards the previous films, especially in those moments when the brothers end up back at the first park. Though not necessary for enjoying the film, it made it a lot more fun. But watching the films not only made those throwbacks easier to recognize, it also helped to remind us why the films worked so well.
JURASSIC PARK STORY BLUEPRINT
What makes a good Jurassic movie
- Characters (usually heroes) come back from previous films.
- Dinosaurs (duh)
- Family dynamics
- Someone you have good feels towards gets eaten.
- The guy who’s got it coming, gets it.
- A character you have neutral feelings for gets eaten.
(Let’s be honest. Some of these guys were introduced for the soul purpose of getting eaten.)
- Poor decision making skills.
- The kid who knows how to get things done.
- The woman who can hold her own.
- The hero.
- The hero who wasn’t a hero at the beginning.
- The Hunter
The sad thing about Mr. Udesky was that he wasn't actually a hunter. "You never know about people."
- Dino attacks.
- There are raptors, there are always raptors!
- Epic dino-brawling.
- T. rex
Now. How does Jurassic World fill these must haves for an epic, awesome, dinosaur movie?
A character’s return.
Those who have seen Jurassic World may or may not have noticed the leading scientist. Yup. He’s the same guy who worked for Mr. Hammond at Jurassic Park. But what he’s doing at Jurassic World reveals to be something quite shady. And that kind of makes you sad. He was never suspicious in JP, he was just the scientist who was excited about his work. Now things are different, and you can tell almost immediately.
Yes. Most obviously. Hammond’s dream of a dinosaur theme park zoo thing has come to life, so there are definitely dinosaurs.
As per usual there are kids involved, and like Tim Hammond, Gray is a dino-nerd, and like dino-nerd Tim, he has an older sibling (Zach) who he doesn’t always get along with. But when push comes to shove, these siblings are there for each other, especially in their struggle of facing their parent’s divorce and dinosaurs.
Someone you have good feels toward gets eaten.
In this case he isn’t eaten, killed yes, eaten no. Simon Masrani is the owner of Jurassic World. He’s this kind of lovable guy who isn’t all driven by dollar signs. He wants the goers of the park to have fun, he is learning how to fly a helicopter (not well, which only enhances our like for him), he wants to keep his dinosaurs and the people safe, and he’s all about enjoying life. The kicker however, is when he risks his own life to put human life over his dinosaurs (his income), and takes armed men in his helicopter to stop the threat to his park goers. That he dies during this heroic act is tragic but admirable, much like Eddie (reference above).
The guy who’s got it coming, gets it.
This is the guy that just rubs you the wrong way. And Hoskins is the worst of them yet. If you didn’t know he was going to die the second he came on screen, you knew for sure when that raptor was looking at him with that head gear on and Owen (Chris Pratt) tells him she’s looking at what she wants to eat. I don’t know how you could get more obvious with foreshadowing. Not only is he a jerk, but he wants to use the raptors for military purposes. And due to your attachment to these most dangerous and uncontrollable dinosaurs, you hate him for it. Let’s just say I was waiting for him to get eaten with sinister pleasure.
A character you have neutral feelings towards gets eaten.
Zara, Claire’s secretary, probably suffers one of the most brutal deaths in all Jurassic history. She’s scooped up by our flying buddies, dunked in the water, picked back out of it, dunked back in, and suffers this repeatedly until she finally gets snapped up--along with her flying attacker--by the whale dinosaur you met earlier in the film. I hope you guys were paying attention to him, because he becomes important! A fact you should pick up on by the number of his appearances. Now. We don’t really hate Zara. She’s not Morgana any more, just an innocent secretary who is as freaked out as everybody else. And it’s not really her fault for neglecting her boss’s kids. She’s a secretary, not a nanny, and who isn’t obsessed with their phone...besides we people who refuse to spend that kind of money on a phone...
This is a big one in Jurassic World. The whole worrisome thing is that our leading scientist will not tell anyone what kind of dinosaur our loose monster is. Not even the owner! Here’s a hint. If the scientist won’t tell you what kind of dinosaur he’s used as a base for his bigger, scarier masterpiece, you always assume it’s the scariest dinosaur there, and if you’ve been paying attention throughout the three previous films, you know it’s not the T. rex.
Let’s just say this entire movie proves that the last thing you want is a T. rex sized raptor.
Can you say, end of the world?
Poor decision making skills.
Like all other Jurassic movies, JW is full of them.
Genetically enhancing a raptor was one of them, not having bunkers in the case of dino-escape was another, not having an evacuation plan, dino-proof glass (I mean we have bullet proof glass, if these guys can cook up dinosaurs, they ought to have dino-proof everything), leaving your nephews with your secretary in a giant park with dinosaurs, I mean the list goes on.
The kid who knows how to get things done.
These boys got an old car from the original park to run you guys. Getting it done.
The woman who can hold her own.
Turns out Claire isn’t just an uptight ship captain. She’s got the guts and the power to not only run through the jungle, streets, and mud in heels, but she’ll shoot you dead and look like a boss doing it, not to mention she leads a T. rex to the final battle that may or may not result in their deaths.
Any girl who can bait a T. rex in heels has got my bad-a vote of the year.
There is always a dino-experienced man with leadership skills and intelligence. If he says don’t move then DON’T MOVE. If he says raptors can’t be controlled, don’t try to use them as army grunts! I mean. This only worked because of the relationship Owen had with the raptors, and even then, it didn’t all work out the way you hoped it would.
The hero who wasn’t a hero at the beginning.
Sometimes there is more than one of these, but my vote goes to Simon Masrani and Claire. They weren’t obvious heroes when the film started, but their determination and sacrifice gets my vote for heroism.
I think also that the raptors and T. rex ought to be included.
There's always that guy who thinks he can, or is determined to kill the dinosaur. In this case, it was a team meant to contain the escaped mystery dino, but their appearance on screen was short lived. Because they all died.
There are raptors, there are always raptors!
Now they come in giant-size and can camouflage themselves. Awesome. Death.
Can I just say that, that was probably the most epic battle I have ever seen in my life. Our theatre was cheering, you guys. It was like watching a boxing match but to the death.
You’re not going to beat a giant sized raptor without more teeth. Just saying.
Jurassic World stuck with what worked, and that’s why it was awesome. But there was more to it. This was a smart script. We’v already broken down the necessities for a awesome Jurassic movie, but here’s why it was the best.
Raptors and T. rex.
Throughout the film you are building a relationship with the raptors. If you’ve seen the movies before, you already have a high respect for these incredible creatures. They’re powerful, intelligent, wild, and just plain cool. They are the most exotic and dangerous of all dinosaurs put to use in these films, not because they’re big, but because they learn. This is not only emphasized in previous films, but driven in to your brains when you see them interacting with Owen. They’re not being trained like dogs who will obey because they’re dogs, they are respecting their alpha. And then you are reminded of just how wild and uncontrollable they are when they almost eat him. Yup. That’s a delicate balance. Even so, this only makes you love them more. They’re not only these awesome creatures who can respect a human, but they’re also headstrong and their own master. They have this pet-like quality that isn’t pet-like at all. You love them because Owen loves them and because you already know just how kick-butt they are.
T. rex. It wasn’t until Claire was standing in front of Gate 9, lit that flair, and the gate started to come up that I realized...we haven’t seen a T. rex until this moment. And again, if you’ve seen the previous films, you know that this isn’t a guy you want to mess with. Raptors may be the most dangerous dinosaurs in the dino-kingdom (you can hide from a rex, but you can’t hide from a raptor), but the T. rex is the king (rex = king in latin, and once he’s got you there is no escape), and he doesn’t mess around with tactics, he’s just going to eat you. The fact that one of the most beloved dinosaurs has been saved for this moment was probably one of the best decisions the writer(s) could have made.
Emotional relationship with raptors + saving the rex for last = epic feels.
Now things just got serious.
You have an established emotional relationship with the raptors. You loved them when they were being trained by Owen, you loved them even more when they were running beside him on his motorcycle, and then you were crushed when you saw them turn on him. But if you knew that this mysterious dinosaur was raptor-based like me and some of my girl friends, you probably saw that coming. Even so. Those of us who knew hoped and prayed it wouldn’t happen. But when you saw the little guys pause, the big guy come out, and then they start talking, making the same sounds (those sounds that you know only a raptor makes--I mean for real, Ian in that field (JP2), when he heard those noises, he knew exactly what dinosaur was out there, and that’s why he was so freaked out.) you knew what was going to happen. Your heart broke! It was like having your best friend turn on you. But that moment in the park, when they are surrounding Owen, Clair, and the kids, that switch back was an absolute hurrah moment! Their relationship with Owen outweighed their loyalty to a bigger, badder alpha. They protected their friend!
And this is when the movie went from another Jurassic movie, to one of the most epic things I have ever seen.
The raptors turned on the bigger raptor, but if you remember the first Jurassic movie, you know that it’s going to be a tough sell for these guys. They’re too small. Blue, our favorite raptor, gets thrown against a wall in the first few seconds of battle (who Owen has said is the beta, which means she may not be the alpha where he’s involved, but she’s the alpha among the females. She’s the strongest, swiftest, and if you noticed in that first scene with Owen, she gets the biggest piece of the cake...which in this case was a giant rat). If the beta is out, how are the others going to fair? They do their best, and when you watch them go down, your devastated. The writer(s) establish in this moment that not even a raptor can take down this genetically enhanced beast, and then little Gray makes a point that sends Claire to the T. rex.
“We need more teeth...”
Well of course you do. My one disappointment here was that the kid is super dino-smart. Even more so than Tim from the first film, and his only contribution was that “we need more teeth...”
Regardless. He was right.
Claire has her moment in the battle’s spotlight when she leads the T. rex to the his-sized raptor. But their brawl is short lived. Though the T. rex is the right size, he’s just not durable enough or smart enough to take down this beast, who in this moment you realize has armor-like skin that a rex just can’t get through. If you remember that she ripped out her own tracking devise, this makes you realize just how powerful she is. A T. rex can’t get through her skin, but she can. That doesn’t bode well for the T. rex, and that’s true. Though the guy made a valiant effort and a pretty spectacular spectacle, he was outmatched by this bigger badder beast.
So if a raptor can’t do it and a T. rex can’t do it...who can?
That’s right. You need both. Blue’s smack down with the wall apparently didn’t kill her. She booked it only to bring back another T. rex. That’s right. The two came together to take down this monster. This is where it got real. The T. rex was brawling the big raptor, and Blue was crawling all over both of them like a ninja from hell, only attacking the big raptor.
But how do you get through that armor-like skin?
The T. rex was almost there, but if you were paying close attention, you would have seen that they were getting closer to the water.
Remember I said you needed to pay attention to that whale-dino?
Yup. That beast came, jumped out of its pool like Shamoo, clamped its giant mouth over the giant raptor’s neck, and pulled her down into the depths of its territory never to be seen again. It was finally dead.
It took three awesome dinosaurs to kill that thing!
Never genetically enhance a dino again...especially a raptor that can control its thermo, can camouflage, and has armor-like skin. If that wasn’t a dumb idea I don’t know what is.
But wait...our scientist got away with a lot of his science. Could it be the competing company from the previous films? Or just a military operation that's going to fail fail fail.
Another film anyone?
But I digress. Back to the awesome power of team work. In normal circumstances a T. rex and raptor should have never been able to do this, and even if they did, instinct would pit them against each other the second the bigger threat was gone.
But that didn't happen. There was a moment of acknowledgment between the two and then the T. rex went on his merry way. Blue gave a last glance at her alpha (Owen) where there was this bitter sweet moment of goodbye and then she too left the stage.
In that moment these creatures went from animals, to something a little more thoughtful and profound. Though I appreciate this moment, I hope we don’t go Planet Of The Apes here. It’s one thing to have dinosaurs who exceed animal behavior and intelligence, but it'd be ruined if they went that far with it.
But not to worry. I doubt that’s a thing they will ever do.
So there it is. An analysis of Jurassic World and why it rocked. Of course there may be some who don't agree with me. That’s perfectly all right. People are entitled to their opinion, but I loved this movie. It’s the best thing I’ve seen in a long time, and now you know why I loved it so much.