Take a Drink: at every callback to the first movie.
Take a Drink: whenever someone walks through a hologram.
Take a Drink: whenever Zach flirts with a girl.
Take a Drink: whenever the movie contradicts its own science.
Take a Drink: every time someone says “Indominus Rex”
Take a Drink: whenever a human is killed.
Take Two Drinks: whenever a dinosaur is killed.
Do a Shot: Margaritaville
By: Babyruth (Three Beers) –
You’d think that fool John Hammond would have learned his lesson after that little whoopsie on Isla Nublar and the subsequent two tragedies, but twenty-two years later, the late CEO’s dream of a theme park full of live dinosaurs has become a reality. Jurassic World is a full-on tourist destination, bigger than Disney, bigger than Sea World (which isn’t that hard these days), featuring up close and personal dinosaur encounters, kiddie rides on baby Triceratopses, and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.
The park—I mean world, they don’t use the term “park” anymore because who wants to be reminded of those unfortunate events that happened a really, really long time ago?–has been operating without incident for ten years now but business is starting to decline as the fickle public are not so impressed with boring, old, live dinosaurs anymore. They want more. They want bigger. They want something new.
Get it? Get it? GET IT?
Management heard the demands loud and clear and has been working on a top-secret new attraction, the Indominus Rex, soon to be presented by Verizon. Part T-Rex, part something classified, she will be the biggest and scariest creature yet, sure to draw in the crowds. How could this idea possibly fail?
Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), has got everything under control. A no-nonsense go-getter who plans everything to the minute and is the type of person who wears head to toe white even while drinking coffee (maniac!), Claire oversees the day-to-day goings-on of the park/resort.
Not Jessica Chastain.
A kink is thrown into her schedule when her two young nephews (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson) come to visit. But Claire can’t be bothered with pesky children, so they are handed off to a chaperone to explore the park while Claire focuses on that new asset (that’s how she refers to the animals).
Velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) has been called in to assist with the new beast. Owen’s a rugged dude with a kind heart, kind of hybrid of Indiana Jones and Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon. He is one of the few employees of Jurassic World that acknowledges the dinosaurs as living, breathing animals with feelings rather than numbers on a report. Owen and Claire have a bit of a history having gone on one disastrous date, though they still maintain a semi-acknowledged attraction to each other. What they really need is to be put into a life and death situation to give them that final push to realize they belong together.
Lurking in the background, is Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio looking like an ol’ greasy Pappy), head of security for InGen, who is dead set on using Owen’s training skills to form a dinosaur army (you read that correctly).
Everything seems to be going as planned until, uh-oh, the Indominus Rex goes missing. Who would have predicted this genetically-modified super-dinosaur would figure out how to escape and go on a killing spree into a park full of 20,000 people?
Many were puzzled when it was announced that Steven Spielberg entrusted the little-known Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) with his vacated director’s chair. (Though he didn’t direct, Spielberg is the executive producer and was still very heavily involved in the production of Jurassic World.) Spielberg said he chose Trevorrow because he believed in his vision and ability to pull it off and also because he himself had once been relative newcomer who was given a similar chance with the film Jaws.
Trevorrow, an obvious and admitted superfan of Spielberg and Jurassic Park, stays true to the spirit and feel of the original film (Jurassic World is more of a direct sequel to Jurassic Park than the two prior follow-ups. That second island is never mentioned), while updating the formula to reflect the more jaded times in which we now live. There’s a meta quality that adds a level of intelligence to a story that’s pretty damn ridiculous (but in the best possible way). While it lacks much of the heart and magic of the original, it is by far the closest any sequel has gotten to it.
Jurassic World, the theme park, is incredible. It’s elaborately detailed and just looks so damn cool, like something that would actually exist in 2015. Usually product-placement in film is a groaner, but in this case it works because of course a huge tourist destination is going to be overrun with commercialism. It’s a great payoff after twenty-two years to finally see the finished park in all its glory, before, well, you know…
The film doesn’t waste much time getting moving, quickly establishing the characters before jumping into the action (though we could have done without the throwaway divorce subplot. Also, can someone please, finally cast Judy Greer as something other than a wacky best friend or concerned mother?).
There are some great nods and tributes to the original film hitting all the right familiar notes without relying too heavily on the nostalgia factor. My favorite is a moment when Zach and Gray happen upon the original Jurassic Park building, now in shambles and covered in overgrown weeds, while a haunting piano version of John Williams’ iconic theme faintly plays in the background. Keep an eye on what the boys use for a torch.
Trevorrow gives us some fantastically executed setpieces. The introduction of the Indominus Rex and the gyrosphere attack scene in particular. The film is well-paced and moves along briskly, with some funny moments to break up the tension. Yes, it’s Summer Blockbuster 101, but it’s done right.
Charismatic yet relatable, Chris Pratt has been the go-to guy for leading man roles lately. But it’s because he does it so well.
Bryce Dallas Howard…so here’s where as a woman I am required to point out that her character is the stereotypical uptight career-woman with no time for a man and who-gasp!-doesn’t want children. But no fear because deep down she does have maternal instincts after all (phew!) blah, blah, blah feminism… Look, if her character in the next film is a soccermom driving a minivan with a damn sticker family then maybe I’ll have a little more of a problem, but in this movie she’s a badass not only because she saves the day more than once, but she does it while running in heels.
Pratt and Howard have a cute Romancing the Stone-esque chemistry and play off each other well. You know they’re going to live and you know they’re going to end up together, but it’s fun to watch them get there.
Jake Johnson provides comic relief as control center employee Lowery and he’s one of the best things about this movie, not only because of his one-liners, but he’s often one of the few voices of common sense. I’d watch an entire Lowery origin-story film. Which would also have to include Vivian (Lauren Lapkus), who sits next to him and is equally great.
The rest of the cast is smartly assembled, so much so that I didn’t experience any of the voids I expected to feel with the absence of the original core characters (BD Wong as Dr. Henry Wu is the sole returning cast member). Colin Trevorrow recently explained “I know a lot of fans want to see the original characters back. They’re iconic. But I respect those actors too much to shoehorn them into this story for my own sentimental reasons.” After viewing the film that logic was spot-on. It would have been too contrived and tacked on. Besides, I’m sure Jurassic World is the last place those characters would want to go.
Okay, I did miss Goldblum a little.
It’s been noted that no women or children have ever been the victim of a dino-attack in any of the previous Jurassic installments. Well, without giving too much away, I can tell you that that streak has been broken and it is downright hilarious, almost as if Trevorrow and Spielberg are saying “you wanted it, here you freakin’ go!”
CGI is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it allows filmmakers to accomplish things that are otherwise impossible. But on the other, when blatant and overused, it’s a constant reminder that those things are impossible and are only being accomplished with computer trickery, taking the viewer out of the moment. It works best when invisible, seamlessly blending in with the action, but is all too often distracting instead.
One of the very first films to incorporate CGI, 1993’s Jurassic Park remains the gold standard even two decades later. That’s pretty impressive, especially with how much technology has advanced since then. Part of the reason for this is because of how perfect a balance the film struck between the use of CGI and practical effects. In actuality Jurassic Park contained only five scenes of computer-generated dinosaurs, everything else was achieved using animatronics (designed by the late, amazing Stan Winston) plus good old fashioned suspense building via shadows and sound. CGI was used to assist, not in place of.
Unfortunately it has become all too common for films to rely solely on computer effects as they are cheaper and less time-consuming. Jurassic World is no different. Very few of the dinosaurs are “real.” This becomes very transparent during a scene with a dying Apatosaurus in which a full-size robotic model is used. It’s the most emotional moment of the film and it’s fitting that it is organically accomplished. Juxtapose that with the scene of hundreds of Pterodactyls (Pterodacti? Or is it Pteranondon?) swooping down on the hordes of screaming, running extras who are clearly flailing their arms at nothing, and the difference is glaring.
Basically this, just on a (much, much) larger scale.
And that’s my biggest problem with Jurassic World. It looks great and is entertaining but it rarely feels like anything more than a movie. I remember seeing Jurassic Park in the theater and feeling the wonder and dread as if I were inside the movie. I was hoping to get that feeling again but it never happens here, even in 3D (which should be noted, is very well used).
The ending is balls-out ridiculous insane. And then just when you think it can’t get any more balls-out ridiculous insane, it does. None of it makes any sense, but that likely won’t matter to the audience hungry for something new, bigger, and more.
Though heavy on the CGI and lacking that extra something of the first film, Jurassic World is a satisfying blend of nostalgia and thrills and is one hell of a fun ride.
NOTE TO PARENTS:
There are some pretty gory moments. Please use common sense when deciding on taking your children to see this movie. At the screening I attended several people did not and had to remove their hysterically crying kids from the theater as the rest of the audience shot them looks of disapproval or pointed and laughed (that was me).