(Editor’s Note: This is a SPOILER review. For our NON-SPOILER review go here.)
This weekend Jurassic World edged out Avengers as the highest grossing opening weekend of all time, and the Clark household contributed to that. My wife Paige, who is the predominant disaster film expert of 4LN, went to see it with her brother on Friday while I was at work. She loved it so much that we went on a date-night Saturday and saw it again. Because of her love of the Jurassic films, as well as her love of the quote, “hold onto your butts,” she is going to be co-writing this spoiler-filled review of Jurassic World.
But first, here’s the synopsis from IMDB:
Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfill a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitor’s interest, which backfires horribly.
Apparently the hubris of humanity knows no bounds. This action-packed Jurassic sequel picks up two decades after the park originally closed before it opened because it turns out housing a bunch of previously extinct, apex predators can turn out pretty bad. (“To a canary, a cat is a monster. We’re just used to being the cat.”). We learn that even with twenty additional years worth of technological advances does not necessarily equate to enhanced ability to control dinosaurs or decrease our chances of getting eaten alive by the giant, death-jaws of various carnivorous dino’s. We aren’t talking about Barney here, we are talking about the T-Rex, Velociraptors (both of whom are kind of good guys in this film?) and the new, genetically modified Indominus Rex (think Tyrannosaurus Rex but way more intelligent and deadly).
But why make a dinosaur that is as smart as a Velociraptor and as deadly as a T-Rex? To boost revenue, of course! The only problem is, you can’t get scary, predatory features without the instincts accompanying those features – at least that’s what Dr. Henry Wu says anyway. That’s right, BD Wong reprises his role as dinosaur geneticist extraordinaire, making him the only character from the original film (outside of Mr. T-Rex) to make it back for Jurassic World, which makes sense – why on earth would Malcolm or Grant ever come back to a place like Isla Nublar, where the shit constantly hits the fan? Dr. Wu, at the behest of the new owner of the park, has created some seriously terrifying dinosaurs by mixing and matching the genetic make-up of several different species. This inevitably goes bad when the newest creation, the Indominus Rex, manages to escape its paddock and proceeds to lay waste to anything that gets in its way. To make matters worse, the park is packed full of unsuspecting patrons, who’s only crime is wanting to ride a baby Triceratops. Is that too much to ask for? Who will save (most of) these people?
Enter Owen, the main protagonist of Jurassic World.
Chris Pratt does a great job playing ex-Navy man, Owen Grady, who specializes in Velociraptor training. He is the Cesar Milan of terrifying, death lizards. (Not to mention extremely fun to look at for two hours-Paige). Owen is put on assignment through inGen (Jurassic World’s mother company and employer to Dr. Wu) to train raptors and determine whether or not they can be used by the military in combat situations. Because it only makes sense to try and make a weapon out of an uncontrollable predatory instinct. This brings in Vincent D’Onofrio (Kingpin in Netflix’s Daredevil series) who delivers a solid performance as the sleazy head of the militarized branch of inGen, and is as close to a bad guy as this movie gets. Oh hey, what do you think happens to bad guys that aren’t dinosaurs in films like this? If your guess was get eaten alive by the raptors you let lose in the park, you’d be right (although the BEST death goes to the nanny who gets tossed around by pterodactyls, who then attempt to drown her repeatedly before they both get eaten by the Mosasaur).
Overall the cast was great. Pratt is terrific, although it is kind of odd seeing him play the macho, alpha-male action star after his role as Andy on Parks and Rec, but I have the feeling we will be seeing more and more of him in the role of action star with a dash of comedic relief than the other way around. Bryce Dallas Howard (The Help) plays the business savvy head of operations at Jurassic World and the tentative love interest of Owen. Howard and Pratt’s interactions are fun and lead to some great dialog – “I was in the Navy not the Navajo!” Her nephews Gray and Zach, played by Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson, are visiting the park for the weekend to see their aunt get into all sort of dangerous, dinosaur related shenanigans. But, like Stephen said in his non-spoiler review, Jake Johnson really steals the show in every single scene he is in. His comedic timing is tremendous, and he does a good job lightening up the frenetic pace this movie sets after the Indominus Rex gets loose.
One thing that is always funny about these movies is that they have state of the art facilities, which you would think includes state of the art communications equipment, yet every time the dinosaur manure hits the fan it all just stops working. I get that if everyone was able to clearly communicate, the response might be more effective, which in turns lead to the movie not being as entertaining – but you’d think that their fancy radios would function a little better than the two-way Power Ranger walkie-talkies you got from Radio Shack fifteen years ago.
Jurassic World is full of frantic pacing, great action scenes, and tremendous dinosaur battles. It is somewhat predictable from scene to scene, but this doesn’t diminish the fun and the wow factor the movie provides. It’s your typical summer blockbuster, but with DINOSAURS. I mean, how could it not be good? The acting is solid, the special effects are fantastic, and the new dinosaurs are unique and intimidating. I love the way they take several ideas from the zoo and apply them to Jurassic World. The Triceratops rides and the baby dinosaur petting zoo were fun to see and provided an interesting counterbalance to the Wu’s scary, genetic nightmares. The I-Rex is monstrous and scary and the final battle between the I-rex and the other dinosaurs is freaking incredible. There’s a reason this movie has had such a strong showing on opening weekend – it’s fantastic. Drop what you are doing and run to your local theater like a raptor is chasing you… or maybe not like that, because raptors are crazy fast and would totally eat you. Maybe just drive to the theater at or around the speed limit, and enjoy this fun summer blockbuster.