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Review: ‘Jurassic World’ forgot to cultivate its entire realm (Includes first-hand account)

Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was a monumental release. Based on the book of the same name by Michael Crichton, the pair created an epic action-adventure-science-fiction picture that wowed audiences with its incredible special effects and grand story concept. For those two hours in 1993, dinosaurs became real. Now more than 20 years later, Hollywood has once again decided to reach back in time for its latest movie idea, recreating the fantastic park for a new generation. However Jurassic World may impress audiences fresh to the series, but fans of the original franchise will likely be less dazzled.

Jurassic World receives more than 20,000 visitors a day and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) ensures it remains a well-oiled machine by planning and monitoring everything that happens at the park. Like any other theme park, they must add a new attraction every couple of years to keep visitors’ interest. The latest lab creation is called Indominus Rex, a dinosaur hybrid made to eclipse the biggest and fiercest of ancient reptiles, and it’s set to make its big debut in a few weeks. In the meantime, Claire finally invites her two nephews, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins), to an all-exclusive vacation; though she has trouble fitting them into her own busy schedule, instead delegating their care to her assistant. However the boys eventually become her top priority when the new Rex escapes its enclosure. Teaming with Owen (Chris Pratt), the Velociraptor trainer, Claire must stop the abomination before it destroys everything in its path.

Chris Pratt stars in  Jurassic World

Chris Pratt stars in ‘Jurassic World’
Universal Pictures

The premise that dinosaurs in themselves are no longer an adequate attraction is somewhat horrifying, but mirrors the approach and folly of many companies. Rather than continue to provide the quality product for which they’re known, they try to enhance the experience often at the expense of another key feature (in this case, safety). When competing with oneself, there can be no winners; only a multitude of losers. Director Colin Trevorrow has actually admitted in an interview that the Masrani Corporation’s desire to increase profits and appease its shareholders at any expense is parallel to Hollywood’s attitude to blockbuster filmmaking.

The story for this film mirrors the plot of the first, but on a larger scale because the park is already operating and features more species of dinosaurs. The downside is the pervasive use of CGI, detracting from the practical magic of the first picture that spoiled audiences with its spectacular presentation. On the other hand it does allow for some large-scale, dino-on-dino carnage, which is sometimes reminiscent of a Godzilla movie — particularly the way it reserves a fan favourite for a late entrance into the fray. Capitalizing on some other classic creature horror, there’s an attack that recalls The Birds and an appearance by Jaws‘ gargantuan ancestor, further demonstrating the script is laced with some horror movie gore and scares.

A scene from  Jurassic World

A scene from ‘Jurassic World’
Universal Pictures

The grandiosity of the film is unquestionably the reason to see it. Even the attractions — from a petting zoo populated by small dinosaurs to a high-tech hamster ball that navigates a valley of giant herbivores — capture audience’s imagination. Unfortunately the characters are underdeveloped with out-dated, cookie-cutter personalities. There’s a scene between Claire and Owen that almost exactly mimics an exchange in 1985’s The Jewel of the Nile. Owen is ex-military, though his animal training expertise is a mystery. Claire’s empowered woman is generally either ridiculous or adopts the archaic notion of female heroism that lacks feminine qualities. The villainous characters are entirely without any redeeming qualities, making it difficult to root for anyone outside of maybe the kids. It’s a substantial shortfall that significantly affects the movie’s overall quality. Also, where’s Jeff Goldblum?

Although almost none of the original cast makes an appearance, the movie makes multiple references to the initial film. One of the first is an amusing t-shirt choice by one of the control room staff (Jake Johnson). There’s also the animated helix and hidden artifacts discovered while the boys are exploring since the park is developed on the same land as Jurassic Park, forever casting its illustrious shadow on every sequel that comes after.

Director: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and Vincent D’Onofrio

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Sarah Gopaul is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for film news, a member of the Online Film Critics Society and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved critic.

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