In 1993, we were first introduced to the little theme park in the Caribbean where you can buy over-priced souvenirs and get eaten alive by a 65-million-year-old dinosaur with teeth the size of your forearm. Spielberg’s classic “Jurassic Park” broke ground in the film industry and was rewarded both in the box office and with a loyal fan base. After two sequels, however, the franchise entered a 14-year hiatus. This June, Colin Trevorrow took us back to the island with the blockbuster of the summer: “Jurassic World.” With such a ubiquitous franchise returning to the big screen the stakes were high, and undoubtedly so was the hype—on both sides of the camera. The question is, did the film live up to it?
“Jurassic World” takes place back on Isla Nublar, the same location as the original park. Whereas the first park was in its trial run when the events of “Jurassic Park” took place, “Jurassic World” is a fully imagined, fully functional and fully attended vacation attraction. With the dino numbers up, the money flowing in and the park filled to capacity, it’s pretty easy for fans of the series to see where this is going.
The film centers around a new dinosaur that has been added to the park and, keeping with the most recent science fiction trend, this one has been genetically modified. A genetic hybrid of classified dino-genomes apparently gives us a giant white dinosaur eerily reminiscent of Rudy from “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.” Despite its Blue Sky Studios doppelganger, the Indominus Rex is a dinosaur to be reckoned with.
Without too much spoiler-material, the dinosaur inevitably escapes and starts terrorizing the populace. The trope is a little overused, but what would a “Jurassic Park” film be without a dinosaur on the loose? It would be nice at some point to see a dinosaur movie without the mandatory character-chomping, however. I suppose that’s what movies like Disney’s “Dinosaur” (an extremely underrated film) are good for. I will say of the series, and of all the rampaging dinosaurs, “Jurassic World’s” big-bad had me on the edge of my seat more than the rest.
Rather than blatant violence and gore, “Jurassic World” uses pure, Hitchcock-ian suspense. The infamous Indominus Rex isn’t even fully shown until about halfway through the film. The audience is only given glimpses of a gleaming red eye or a set of massive claws, building more terror for what it could be than what it actually is. Any film that can cause more unease and disturbance with what it doesn’t show you gets major points in my book.
As good as the CGI monsters are, the characters without teeth and claws are the real stars of “Jurassic World.” Star of the recent Marvel hit “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Chris Pratt plays Owen Grady, a rough-and-tumble Navy officer who works in the park to train its four velociraptors. As ridiculous as it sounds, the relationship between Owen and the raptors is an emotional one, and frankly one of the best parts of the film. Playing opposite Pratt is Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire, one of the directors of the park who is also aunt to the necessary-by-trope children, Zach and Gray (played by Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson). Howard is an absolute powerhouse in this film, and will surely be a favorite for high-profile roles in the future. And not to worry, the rapport between the Claire and Owen is far less creepy than the controversial clip from the first trailer made it seem.
Okay, great, so “Jurassic World” has some nice suspense and some quality acting, but is this just a remake of “Jurassic Park” for the 21st century? The short answer is yes. “Jurassic World” takes a classic story and updates it for a more commercialized, more scientific culture. The result of those shifts is a dinosaur that is, as Claire so neatly phrases it, “bigger, louder, [with] more teeth.” It also pays more attention to the science—or it tries a little harder at least.
Will “Jurassic World” blow your mind? Will it be the best picture at the Oscars? No. The plot is a little predictable, and the tropes are a little stale, but do those things stop it from being a good movie? Absolutely not. If you see “Jurassic World” and keep in mind what it is and that you are indeed not seeing the drama of ages, you’ll come out with exactly what you went in looking for. It is a great movie for the summer and a great addition to the Jurassic Park franchise. I give it 8.5 out of 10 mutant dinosaur teeth. Now go out and see a movie.
Student Events will be screening “Jurassic World” on the great lawn at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, and in the Schwartz Auditorium at the same time on Saturday. And yes, there will be free food at both.