It's a little hard to believe it's been 22 years since the release of Steven Spielberg's groundbreaking Jurassic Park. Based on the popular Michael Crichton novel, the 1993 film used animatronics, puppets and especially CGI to bring dinosaurs to life before our very eyes in a new way. The popularity of the film spawned a 1997 sequel from Spielberg that has mostly been panned by critics and fans alike. Four years later, a third film, which suffered many production problems, hit cinemas to an even more polarizing reception. While talk kept circling around about a fourth film, the series remained dormant until the 2013 20th anniversary of the original film. Two years later, we finally have a fourth entry into the Jurassic saga, serving as a direct sequel to the original story, taking place over twenty years after the first park's tragic events. And this time, the park is finally open to the public.
With a Jurassic Park movie, you can expect two things: impressive dinosaur visuals and people getting eaten by them. The first sequel, Jurassic Park: The Lost World, went for a "more is more" approach and featured a lot more dinosaurs eating a lot more people on a second island that had originally been kept secret. Jurassic Park III saw a small band of people going to the second island to try to rescue a young teen who had gotten stranded on the island, so Jurassic World marks the first time since 1993 that fans get to return to Isla Nublar. In the new film, inGen has made it possible for the park to finally open, and it's a large-scale theme park with incredible attractions that mix a bit of Sea World and Disney World all into one. The attraction concepts proposed by the film alone are impressive, and aside from the viewers knowing it's all going to go south at some point, you can't help but wish this was a real place to visit.
Director Colin Trevorrow is new to this franchise but he does well to pick up where Spielberg left off. Tonally, Jurassic World fits into the canon of the series. While it completely ignores the other two sequels, it remains really faithful to the 1993 original. There have already been many complaints that it copies the original a little too much while attempting to pay homage, but really, some of those nods that can be as elaborate as an entire action sequence are still unique enough to stand on their own, giving World some of the familiarity of Park with a modern take on it. The kids Tim and Lex are replaced by two brothers named Zach and Gray, and they are even related to one of the head honchos at the park, Claire (played by director Ron Howard's daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard), much like the original film's siblings were Park creator John Hammond's grandkids. Similarities abound and continue, but World's characters also differ as well, with Chris Pratt's Owen Grady being a former member of the Navy who's working with inGen to try to domesticate and control a special pack of velociraptors. Owen is a much different lead character for the film series, with all previous central characters having been archaeologists or scientists, and it adds a welcomed different feel to the adventure. Owen even has a little bit of an Indiana Jones vibe - all the way down to his wardrobe - which all works well here. The kids Zach and Gray are a little tough to warm up to at first, but when they start finding themselves in live-and-death situations, Zach turns from grumpy older brother to Gray's protector and it's far more endearing that way. Similarly, Claire is all business from the start--even going so far as to blow off her visiting nephews--but loosens up as the story progresses, becoming a good match for Owen. While there isn't a whole lot of depth to the character development, the main characters do still grow with the story, which makes the story a bit more than just your usual bargain bin disaster flick.
When I first heard the news that the plot involved a genetically created dinosaur and domesticated raptors, I feared for what this production had in store. However, the more I thought about it and saw footage from the trailers, I realized it all makes perfect sense. For one, money talks. Of course someone would still push for Jurassic Park to become a reality despite the disastrous events of the first movie during a test run (which was largely simply because a rogue employee shut down power to the park, letting the dinos roam free). It makes perfect sense that someone would come along and try to fix Hammond's mistakes and make the park a reality. Next, with all the genetical testing in recent years, and with the fact that scientists are making dinosaurs from found DNA, it also makes perfect sense in our technologically spoiled and numb society that someone would have the utter audacity to "cook up" a new dinosaur from various DNA samples in an attempt to "wow" the masses who have seen it all (which, in turn, is a commentary on our movie-going society as well). And, lastly, it shouldn't surprise us much that someone would try to tame or control velociraptors for organized use. It's already been established three-times over how smart these animals were. Thankfully, the film does not ignore, either, their wild nature and unpredictability. In the end, I felt that all of these progressions for the story make sense in the current world we live in.
I have to admit that I had a blast watching this one. I was 13 when my parents took me to see the original in the theaters and while I've had reservations about how this new one would play out, I was still anticipating a new Jurassic adventure. We decided to go all-out and watch World in IMAX 3D and we were all really glad we did. While the 3D isn't essential to the viewing experience, it wasn't a major detractor either. It did, however, pull you into the scenes a little more than just 2D would, and with the bigger screen and sound for IMAX, it was just a great way to see the latest dinosaur adventure. Some of the action was a bit bloody at times (but not really graphically gory - like dismemberments in the first and second films), and the 3D made the blood stand out as CG rather than practical effects. Honestly, I'm interested in seeing the film in 2D the second time to see how it all works together without the third dimension (and mandatory glasses). But if you've ever seen any Jurassic films, you'll know that the script is usually a bit corny, the effects are great, you'll have some good scares, and it's just a real fun time watching people evade dinosaurs that are hunting them. Even the original movie had plenty of eye-rolling moments (Most of Lex's lines and behavior, Ian's womanizing ways, the lawyer, etc), but the groundbreaking visuals are what helped propel Jurassic Park to modern classic status. Jurassic World may not break new ground, but after having as much fun as I did watching it, I'm tempted to say it's as good as the original. Fun sequences, creative park elements, likable characters, delightful callbacks to the 1993 film and dinosaurs in abundance, Jurassic World was just a darn good time at the cinema. The only thing that I really found a bit disappointing was Michael Giacchino's score treatment. I absolutely loved his work on the show LOST, the past two Mission: Impossible films and even the two most recent Star Trek entries, but for some reason, his work for Jurassic World paled in comparison to John Williams' score for Jurassic Park and Lost World (the latter of which I especially enjoyed). While Giacchino does occasionally work in Williams' JP theme, it's used far too sparingly. His new theme for the park itself isn't bad, but when you've got such fanfare as the Williams' theme, it just doesn't quite stack up. Like with the film itself, I'd like to see how it all holds up with repeat viewings, but as of only one viewing of the film, the music stood out as a bit disappointing.
Violence is the main concern for Jurassic World viewers, in terms of content. The body count is high in this one, with teams of soldiers attempting to subdue the beasts getting massacred and tossed around. There's also a pretty harrowing scene where pterodactyls escape and begin attacking park patrons left and right, picking them up and dragging them off or swooping down to attack. In one sequence, a man on a helicopter gets impaled by the beak of one of these prehistoric birds, killing him instantly. Another moment sees a woman being carried off by one and then both get eaten by a mammoth sized water beast that leaps out and swallows them both in one motion. The main baddie, the Indominus Rex, probably kills the most, murdering other dinosaurs just for sport and eating people in one gulp. When it first escapes, we see it grab one man and then hunt another that is hiding behind a car. There's moments like those that are pretty intense but also pose the most thrills for Jurassic fans. The velociraptors also get some killing time, with one character having his arm bitten (but not off) before being pounced on and finished off while screaming. We then see blood splattering onto a nearby window. Some of the bloodiest moments are the dinosaurs attacking each other, but there are plenty of scenes where dinosaurs grab people and eat or kill them and blood is shown. In one scene, Owen finds a chunk of the Indominus's flesh in the forest as it had clawed its own tracker out. We then see this chunk up close several times in the film. One of the bloodiest moments shows a couple of soldiers dragging away a hurt comrade who has a bloody knee and blood on their face (it's very brief though). Otherwise, aside from violence, there's a surprising amount of unnecessary language in the film. It starts out with no profanity at all, and in the moment Pratt's Owen is introduced, he uses the "S" word. It's then used a few more times during the film, along with "h*ll," "d*mn," 2 "S.O.B." (with one isolated "b*tch" when Gray tells Owen he shouldn't say that word), and a use of Jesus's name as well as several "Oh my G-d" (mostly from Howard's Claire). Finally, there are a few references to dinosaurs mating, and one moment of innuendo when Owen tells Claire that the dinosaurs need to eat, need to hunt and need to "mate," but instead of saying it, he makes a fist pumping motion with his hand. He then jokingly says she can surely relate to one of those things.
Fans of the Jurassic film series are likely to find a lot to love about this latest film. It's not perfect, but it's great cinematic entertainment, and those who enjoy dinosaur-driven mayhem will find a lot to love about Jurassic World. If this is just the beginning of more films in the series to come, bring 'em on... let's just hope they continue to treat the stories with this kind of attention and care to deliver good, solid, dinosaur havoc like with Jurassic World. (As a side note: Sadly, none of the main original cast is in this film--aside from scientist Dr. Henry Wu, who was in the dino lab in the first film--but keep an eye out for a book that has Jeff Goldblum's picture on the back cover. It makes two blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearances in the film!)
- John DiBiase (reviewed: 6/14/15)
Parental Guide: Brief Summary of Content
Sex/Nudity: When Claire goes to ask Owen for his help back at his workshop, Owen jokingly and suggestively asks if she'd like to discuss things in his bungalow. She says no and he then soon makes a joke about how she doesn't understand the dinosaurs, that they "need to eat, they need to hunt, they need to..." and then makes a fist-pump motion. He then adds, "Surely you can relate to one of those things?"; Zach, although he's got a girlfriend at home that he's clearly not as into as she is of him, frequently checks out girls throughout the early part of the film.
Vulgarity/Language: Roughly 5 "S" words, 1 "J-sus," 5 "h*ll," 4 "d*mn," 5 "Oh my G-d," 1 "Oh G-d," 2 "S.O.B.," 1 "a" word, 1 "b*tch"
Alcohol/Drugs: Some people have drinks at the park.
Blood/Gore: A shark is fed to a large underwater beast. We see the tail fall into the water with some blood floating around in the water before the beast finishes eating it; There's some blood when the Indominus attacks a man; After it eats another man, we see blood on its teeth up close; Owen finds a chunk of dinosaur flesh in the forest. We see the pink, fleshy meat of it with a tracker attached to it. There's a little bit of blood on the flesh as well. We later see this chunk of flesh again; Blood drips onto a man's arm from a tree above him; A dinosaur picks up a man in his mouth and we hear him screaming as he's eaten behind a tree. We see blood splatter through the leaves; A soldier is dragged away from danger by his comrades and we see the man's face is blood and his pant leg is ripped open at the knee with blood on it; The Indominus attacks a dinosaur with some blood, and then it bites his head (and the scene cuts away); Gray picks up a cracked helmet that has some blood on it. He and Zach then find a Jurassic golf cart that is smashed with possibly some blood on it; We see a fallen, dying dinosaur with blood on it. We then see a field of dead dinosaurs with bloody wounds on them and birds starting to pick at them; Zach and Gray have some small bloody cuts on their faces; Owen and Claire have varying degrees of slightly bloody scrapes on them throughout the latter half of the film; Pterodactyls swoop down on park-goers and attack them. We later see lots of people with bloody cuts and injuries as they're being bandaged up; Dinosaurs attack a group of men and we see some blood splattered on their night vision cameras; We see a sudden bloody hand hit a window and leave a bloody hand print on it. He's then soon attacked by another dinosaur; A man reaches out to a dinosaur and is suddenly bitten on the hand (not gory). He's then thrown back and eaten off camera as he's screaming. We then see blood splatter onto a nearby window; Dinosaurs fight during the finale and we see bloody scrapes and bites taken out of each other during the battle; The final shot shows a dinosaur with scars and bloody scrapes on it.
Violence: Lots of intense dinosaur-related violence. A man falls into a velociraptor pen and is almost eaten but is saved; A goat is shown being fed to a T-rex (but is eaten off camera); A shark is fed to a large underwater beast; The Indominus Rex attacks a man, eating him, and then chases Owen and another man. The two hide behind a car, while the dinosaur hunts them. He then grabs the other man entirely while he's seated, lifting him into the air (we don't see the rest of what happens); A strike team is deployed to stop the dinosaur but is annihilated by it instead. We see men tossed through the air, crushed in the dinosaur's hand and then stepped on, bitten and eaten behind other things. It's a pretty intense sequence; Zach and Gray stray with their gyrosphere off the intended path and find themselves surrounded by dinosaurs. They're then attacked inside the glass ball, with the dinosaur's claws piercing the glass and the dino smashing the ball on the ground repeatedly. The dinosaur also kills another dinosaur. It chases the boys towards a cliff where they jump into water below; We see smashed vehicles from where a dinosaur attacked and presumably ate the drivers; The Indominus crashes into an enclosed dome building, releasing pterodactyls into the sky. They attack a helicopter, stabbing one passenger and killing him, while pulling out another passenger and biting him in mid-air. The helicopter then crashes and explodes, killing the pilot; A dinosaur hunts a couple people in a garage. It then busts through the ceiling and they run away; The pterodactyls attack park-goers as they run away screaming, knocking some down, carrying some away, and biting others. Some attack the little baby dinosaur riding pen and pick up a baby triceratops, then dropping it and presumably killing it; A woman is carried off by a pterodactyl, dropped into a pool and then pulled out again. A large beast them leaps out of the water, eating both in one bite; A pterodactyl attacks and knocks down Owen. Claire then shoots it repeatedly; A group of men shoot at a large dinosaur; A group of dinosaurs attack a group of men, killing and wounding most of them. A dinosaur is hit by a rocket, presumably blown up; A man is trapped in a tree log as a raptor tries to get to him; A wounded man climbs into the back of a truck but is pulled out by a dinosaur and eaten/killed; One of the boys uses a shock stick on a raptor; A dinosaur rushes into a room full of people and corners a man. He reaches out his hand to try to talk to it and it bites the man's arm. It then tackles him and kills him behind some equipment as he screams; Some dinosaurs fight each other, with several being killed/thrown into things. A large dinosaur then swallows another dinosaur; And other sci-fi monster violence.
** Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's rating.