Jurassic World: A Fanboy’s Review
22 years ago, a 9 year old version of me watched what would become my favorite movie in my hometown movie theater (along with my way too young brothers). 1993 was the year that ushered Jurassic Park onto the silver screen and to a 9 year old boy that was already crazy for dinosaurs that slept on a bed with a headboard covered in dinosaur toys, this came at the exact right time for me. The years that followed the merchandising was incredible: my dinosaur toys were joined by velociraptors, Jurassic Park characters and vehicles and the awesome Compound Center to contain them in…not nearly enough fencing though. As I grew, the sequels followed as did video games where I’d hunt as a velociraptor or use stun weapons against them and in recent years, I’ve re-created my childhood vision of Jurassic Park with Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis or the mobile game where you create a functional Jurassic Park (while pleasing bitchy guests that don’t appreciate what you have made for them or get all pissy if someone gets eaten). Needless to say, like many kids Jurassic Park was literally my childhood. So when it was announced that Jurassic World was going back to Isla Nublar (the first island from the first movie) and would involve a functional park, I was overjoyed! In fact WAYYY back in 2011 when I did a Jurassic Park Week on this site, I made a column of the pros and cons of making a 4th film. I more or less begged that we should go back to the first island! So now that a new box office record has been crushed here’s my overview of Jurassic World now that I’ve had time to breathe:
After 2 disappointing or mixed-reception-at-best sequels, a fourth Jurassic Park film was long rumored but spent well over a decade in Development Hell which yielded some really odd directions that the franchise was allegedly heading towards (but still possible but more on that later). Although 14 years since last seeing a Jurassic Park movie in theaters was a very long wait, I’m a bit happy to see it thrown in at a time where other beloved franchises are either well established (Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America) or a few years at most from launching (Justice League, Deadpool, Wonder Woman, ect) . It’s a good time to be alive to see Jurassic Park on the same marquee sign as Avengers and Ant-Man. It was definitely a welcome return.
As for the movie itself, I’ll get to the point and say what I thought about it: I loved it! It’s every bit of the sequel that the original movie deserved. While some people are quick to dismiss the sequels as terrible follow-ups, they did bring us a few exciting moments as more dinosaurs were brought in (Lost World with Stegosaurus and JPIII with the Ankylosaurs) so it’s hard to fully hate them, but with the vibe that Jurassic World gives, you can probably be safe in disregarding the other sequels as they are not mentioned at all (they may no longer be canon). Jurassic World definitely brought a lot of emotions. To see a functional park was absolute joy for me and there were moments that made me laugh, a ton of moments that made me joyful with nostalgia and some moments that even made me sad. So the feels were in overdrive for this movie. There were tons of shout outs to the original film and overall it was a blast to return to Isla Nublar. So much fun, that I almost for a bit just wanted a regular day in Jurassic World to be the entire film.
With it being a Jurassic Park movie, it goes without saying that the dinosaurs are the true stars and the reason we watch these films. Unlike the Spinosaurus of Jurassic Park III, which was quite hated, I found the genetically modified Indominus Rex a lot more fun as the movie’s big threat. In defense of the Spinosaurus though, it turns out that it used to be a pretty cool crocodile/duck-esque terror beast of a dinosaur in real life and is quite fascinating to read about. Indominus was pretty fun and as a character Indominus is definiely a tragic one (although it does a few dick-ish things but I suppose it didn’t know better since she’s still very young). You do feel a bit sorry for her and her upbringing and you do cheer for her at times and shake your head in disapproval minutes later when she kills a dinosaur that you didn’t want her to. On a similar note, the velociraptors, which has long been a fan favorite despite being the “bad guys”, are now trained and part of Chris Pratt’s bad ass “Raptor Pack”. With names of Blue, Charlie, Echo and Delta, it’s very easy to get attached to them and they do feel like 4 individual characters as opposed to just being “the raptors that will probably kill someone in an awesome way” like in past films. Finally, Rex-y may be 22 years older (she’s the same one from the first film) but still every bit of a bad ass and the new kid on the block, Mosasaur was great to see. That alone is why Jurassic World isn’t just another dinosaur follow-up to the original. This might be the first time you actually feel an emotional connection to the dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park series. I mean we felt bad for the sick Triceratops, I sorta feel for that last velociraptor in the first movie when she charges the Rex with pure rage for killing her pack mate and we all were collectively livid when a Rex was killed by the Spinosaurus, but somehow this time, the connection to the dinosaurs seem a bit stronger and more genuine.
As for the dinosaur’s human counterparts we still get annoying kids (a staple of the series at this point), but they are completely overshadowed by Chris Pratt who really carries the human side of the movie. We don’t get the humor he’s known for with the exception of a few chuckles but he plays the action star role really well. Irrfan Khan’s character Simon Masrani is the carrier of the “John Hammond legacy” and sadly we don’t get to see a ton of scenes with him. Dallas Bryce Howard is arguably the movie’s main character (with Pratt as the love interest) as we see her character grow throughout the film the most…all the while running from dinosaurs in high heels…ouch. I also strongly feel that Jake Johnson’s character sort of represents some of us hardcore fans of the original film down to his defense of wanting to honor the original park (or more accurately we all represent the guests of Jurassic World clamoring for something new, fresh and dangerous).
After a record breaking opening weekend it’s all but confirmed that we’ll be seeing the dinos on the big screen sooner than later. However, I do have a slight concern for the future that will venture into spoiler-territory ( Skip to the next paragraph now until you’ve seen the movie…I’ll wait): So with the subplot of wanting to use the velociraptors and other genetically modified dinosaurs for military purposes, I’m severely worried that the follow-up will involve this plan coming to fruition. While I doubt it’ll look like what Jurassic Park could have become with weird dinosaur hybrids with soldiers….yes that is something that happened during the Development Hell phase (or maybe it didn’t); I feel that it’ll take away the wonderment of the films and go back to mindless murdering monsters that made Lost World and JPIII not as enjoyable as Jurassic World or Jurassic Park. I’m not saying it can’t work (Daniel Craig as Bond worried me back in the day and he became a favorite, so I love being proved wrong). As much as I’ll like to see another round at Isla Nublar, at this point it’ll probably not happen given how many people died, the park won’t re-open without some major PR spin doctors. So Nublar is likely out, save for maybe a scene or so (hopefully to recruit Blue who I seriously hope became hunting friends with Rexy). Isla Sorna would be interesting to see again now that we’ve had a break from going there, but I feel whatever becomes the next movie it’ll probably not take place on an island at all and we’ll see the dinosaurs reach the mainland and/or we’ll see Dr. Wu’s genetic monsters either used for military or sold to the highest bidder (a good opportunity to bring Dogson’s company Biosyn back to the movies which might be cool). It could be fun and could end similarly to the bomb filled ending of the novel, but dinosaurs on the mainland or in a warzone likely means less dinosaurs (at least nice herbivores). So I’ll be crossing my fingers that this fresh re-launch of the series doesn’t become short-lived and continue on the same momentum that Jurassic World has started. I also seriously won’t mind if it ends here with Rexy roaring in triumph while standing tall as queen of her island on Isla Nublar, but there’s too much money to think this is the last romp in the Jurassic Park series.
(END Spoiler-y rant): Overall much like the weeks that followed way back in 1993, I am still unable to shake constant dinosaur thoughts out of my mind or stop bringing it up into daily conversation (I’m not ashamed to admit I even bought some merchandise to further personalize my desk at work). I’m a kid all over again and I’m sure I’ll probably pay another visit to the park while still in theaters. It’ll be a crime not to see it on the big screen as intended (or multiple times). Welcome back Jurassic Park, we’ve missed you!