Friday, June 12, 2015

Jurassic World Review

It's been a long time since we as an audience were given the pleasure of returning to the Jurassic Park universe, which has been a universe that I have personally been a huge fan of. Mostly anyways. I don't know how old I was when I first watched the Jurassic Park movies and read the books. I know I would've been four years old when the first movie came out and eight years old when Lost World came out. I know I didn't see them when they were brand new, but I did see them when I was very young and I really loved both of them. Jurassic Park is of course a classic and most people would agree with me on that. However, there's a lot of people that really hate The Lost World and I really don't understand. Sure, story-wise it's not as strong, but in terms of dinosaur action it is extremely entertaining. In fact, there was a point in my life where I liked The Lost World more than the first because of how entertaining it was. Don't hurt me too much for saying that because that's before I actually appreciated story when it came to movies, which is where the first excels. I also read and loved both books by Michael Crichton, which is a very different experience since the movies don't really follow the books. Especially not the second one. The only thing they really have in common is the title. Jurassic Park III? Yeah, we don't speak of that one. It's an atrocious mess in so many ways.

With that background in mind, it's time to dive into this Jurassic World movie. A fourth movie in this franchise has been in the works for quite some time and I'm really glad that it took them so long to make it because a Jurassic Park IV shortly after Jurassic Park III would've been a movie that no one would've cared about. I have a feeling that it would've gone the way of Steven Spielberg's Jaws franchise. Ever seen the fourth Jaws movie? Yeah, you don't want to. Instead it's now been 14 years and we are calling it Jurassic World, giving the feel that it is more of a reboot than a sequel. In case you are wondering, no it's not a reboot. The previous three movies are still relevant in this, especially the first which is referenced and given tribute to several times. But it is a new cast, new characters, new story, etc. So it feels like a reboot. And it works. I think it successfully brings the franchise back to it's former glory.

Is this a perfect movie, though? Absolutely not. Despite it being a worthy sequel, there are plenty of issues with this movie. The first in my opinion is the story. It's not really a justified story that makes a lot of sense. Sure, you could argue that bringing dinosaurs back to life is not really a realistic possibility. But if, in theory, we were to find a way to bring dinosaurs back to life, I feel the first movie accurately tells the story of how that would go. Even though the story in the second movie isn't as strong as the first, the reasoning for them to come back to the island is very plausible. Once again, I ignore the third one. But in terms of story, this is a lot more far-fetched than the first two. There's a lot of stupid people doing a lot of stupid things that no one would realistically do, especially considering what happened in the first two movies. We learn in the first movie that creating a park with live dinosaurs is not a good idea. Bad things will happen. People will become lunch. But we do it anyways. Why? Because we needed a movie. But that's not the end of it. The world apparently forgets what happened in the first two movies and storm out to this park anyways. And for some reason they get bored of the park. So to counteract this, the park managers decide to create hybrid dinosaurs to keep interest, the most recent of which is the holy-fetch-asaurus. I won't tell you much about this new huge carnivore, but the more you learn about it, the more you begin to wonder why in the heck would they create a dinosaur like this. Oh yes, because we needed a movie.

The other major thing that I need to point out is that the pacing of the movie is off. The best monster movies do spend a lot of time building anticipation and don't show the monster until later in the movie. This is something that Jurassic Park does perfectly. If you go re-watch the movie, you may be surprised to learn how far into the movie you get before you first see the t-rex. But despite this, you aren't bored. Jurassic World tried to follow this formula and I appreciate that attempt, but I was bored. Whenever dinosaurs weren't chasing and eating people, I was bored. I shouldn't have been begging the movie to get to the dinosaur action. I should've enjoyed the whole build-up. But I didn't. It also didn't help that for the most part, this movie is super predictable. I will say it was cool to see Dr. Hammond's original goal with this park finally realized, but you know exactly what's going to happen. Part of that is the trailers give away the whole story. The other part is that it's just super obvious. You have a dinosaur park created. Something bad is going to happen. You know that. And when the trailers told you that they made a holy-fetch-asaurus, well you know exactly the bad thing is going to happen. The fact that the trailers take it even further makes in even more frustrating.

Now that I've gotten all of that out of my system, it's time to give you some positives because I do stand my ground in saying that this is a worthy sequel. Is the story realistic? No. Is the pacing on? No. Is it unpredictable? No. Is it entertaining? HECK YES! Does it have good characters? Also a yes. Let's talk about this characters first. Not all of them are great. The movie spent a lot of time on these two kids whose parents send them to the park by themselves. Why not go with them? I don't know.  It sounds like a fun family weekend. Oh but their aunt is one of the main workers at the park. Ok fine. I'm not going to say I didn't like the kids. They were decent. But I also won't admit that they were necessary to this story, because they weren't. Speaking of their aunt, Bryce Dallas Howard starts out as one of the really dumb characters who makes a lot of really dumb decisions just so that we can have our movie, so I thought I would hate her the whole time. But I didn't. The second half of this movie she becomes a very likable character. But there is one person in this movie who single-handedly takes this movie on his back and makes it worthwhile. That's Chris Pratt. In the midst of all these dumb people making dumb decisions, he's the smart one who knows what's going on. He knows that creating the holy-fetch-asaurus was a bad idea. He's also been opposed to the hybrid dinosaur thing in general. Since he's not in charge, he has no control over these decisions, but when he's called on to help, he knows exactly what to do. And he does a dang good job at it. He's a well-written character who pulls off a dang good acting performance. His breakout performance as Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy wasn't a fluke. This guy is for real.

Next up is in the entertainment value that this movie provides. I saw this movie in 3D IMAX because two years ago they re-released the original Jurassic Park in 3D and that was one of the best theatrical experiences of my life. I usually don't fork over a ton of money for one movie, but because of my experience with this re-release, I had planned for a long time to see Jurassic World in this format. Being honest, the 3D in the original Jurassic Park was a lot better than Jurassic World, but seeing Jurassic World in 3D IMAX was certainly a great experience. The visual effects in the movie were fantastic. The cinematography was beyond beautiful. The music by Michael Giacchino was great as was the inclusion of John Williams' classic theme. All this made for a great IMAX experience that I would definitely recommend. Even though I did have issues with the story and the pacing, the dinosaur sequences were amazing. The holy-fetch-asaurus (yes I did get this nickname from Jeremy Jahns, by the way, albeit an edited version of his nickname for the Indominus rex) was terrifyingly beautiful. When compared to other monster movies, which is essentially what this movie is, this is one of the better monsters out there. When he got close and was chasing people around and eating them. Wow! These were moments that were equivalent in glory to the first two and that's some pretty high praise. There's been a lot of talk and controversy about the raptors in this movie. My thoughts? Haha! I'm not going to tell you. But I do have a lot of them if you want to talk to me in private. Also, the last 30 minutes of this movie was fantastic. No spoilers, of course, because it did do a few things I was not expecting, but man was it an epic ending.

Overall, I did have my fair share of problems with Jurassic World. I didn't think the story was that great. I thought the pacing was a bit off. I was disappointed with the predictability of 90 percent of the movie, part of the which is the marketing team's fault for giving away too much in the trailers and TV spots. But this is a super entertaining movie with great performances from Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard that makes this a worthy sequel. Do I like this as much as Jurassic Park? Of course not. Do I like this as much as The Lost World? I'd also say no to that. But that's because if I were to give grades to these two movies, Jurassic Park would get a 10/10 and The Lost World would get a 9/10. It goes without saying that Jurassic World is better than Jurassic Park III, which I would give like a 4/10 at best. Still, though, this is a worthy sequel and a good summer blockbuster. It's not a great movie, but it's a good movie and I'd be down for a sequel with these same characters if they decide to go that route. My overall grade for Jurassic World is an 8/10.

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