Review: Ryan Pumroy on “Jurassic World”

Bigger. Cooler. More teeth. That’s how characters in Jurassic World describe the new dinosaur and main villain: the genetically mutated Indominous rex. However, those words also describe the film, which is the fourth in the series.

Jurassic World (2015)
Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Screenplay by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Derek Connolly & Colin Trevorrow 
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, BD Wong, Jake Johnson, Lauren Lapkus, and Irrfan Khan
124 minutes
Rated PG-13
Distributed by Universal Pictures
United States

It’s bigger, cooler, and slicker. They spared no expense. But it does what the other sequels failed to do. Jurassic World recaptures what made the original Jurassic Park so special. It has a sense of wonder, a balance of thrills and humor, and the human drama of it all works well. Despite not having Jeff Goldblum, this is perhaps the best film of the franchise.

Two brothers visit their aunt, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is one of the number crunching, profit margin focused higher-ups at the Jurassic World theme park. She quickly pawns the boys off on an assistant. Meanwhile, we meet Owen Grady (Christ Pratt), who, along with his team, is researching the training of raptors. The backdrop is the creation of the D-rex, a super-dinosaur and genetic mutt whose super powers are shown only once or twice. When she escapes captivity, shit hits the fan.

When the end credits began, the audience applauded. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen that happen. There were several kids there, and they seemed to greatly enjoy the movie. Will Jurassic World have the same impact that Jurassic Park did on kids then? In a world with two Avengers movies and continual blockbusters, I don’t think so. Jurassic World is great fun, but it’s in a crowded field.

It also isn’t a perfect movie. Three main things keep bugging me. First, the movie is not terrifying enough. This may be a symptom of the PG-13-oriented box office – not too scary, not too light, but somewhere in the middle that frankly isn’t satisfying. In a theme park with over 20,000 visitors, there just isn’t enough death and destruction. The brothers, park visitors, and park employees find themselves in so much danger, yet the peril is unconvincing.

Second, the lead character of Owen Grady has no arc. He’s a cocksure, rugged, nice guy throughout. He doesn’t change. Chris Pratt is good, but he has such sweetness to him. Grady’s character would work better if he were more of a likeable asshole. This would provide more conflict between Grady and Claire, and their relationship wouldn’t be so bland.

Lastly, the speedy ending. The movie ends with questions unanswered. We don’t know what will happen to the Jurassic World park. I suppose it has to be closed, but what would a sequel focus on? A minor, yet highly emotional, beat is about the boys’ parents getting divorced. I’d like something more on this. These movies are ostensibly about dinosaurs – they are actually about people. These quibbles might stem from there being four credited screenwriters (working in two teams) for this film. Remember those reports from a few years ago that told of a Jurassic Park IV plot focusing on genetic mutation and human-dinosaur hybrid soldiers? The remnants of that plot remain in Jurassic World. However, the movie holds together overall.

Despite these, the movie is indeed fun and entertaining. The effects and music are great. The whole cast is excellent. The movie truly captures a world and a journey.

My favorite element is the theme park minutiae, including embroidered polos, Margaritaville selling out/product placement, and a young employee saying to disgruntled park visitors, “I just work here.” I imagine these things will give former Disney World workers déjà vu.

–Ryan Pumroy

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