Welcome to the fourth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise review series! Technically this could be considered the fifth... but the little nugget regarding the LEGO Jurassic World game is more for a different series. It just fit well here.
So if you've been following along, you already know what this post is going to be about. I was lucky enough to see the new movie this afternoon. And let me tell ya... we've got some things to talk about! Fair warning: there most likely will be spoilers up ahead. So if you don't want to know anything about the new film, what are you doing on the internet?!?!
Seriously though, I will try to keep the spoilers to what most folks have read/written about before the film's release. Now, without much more delay, get your passports ready, click past the jump, and let's do this thing!
While googling the movie poster for a good one to post, I ran across hundreds. Some fan-build (and really good!), some international. Most had some kind of spoiler. A few were the promo shots Hollywood loves to tease out there. I settled on the one above, found on IGN's website here.
The article is from last October, and starts some online buzz about the recently released film. If you've read any online anything about the movie, you'll know that it stars Bryce Dallas Howard and Star Lord. His real name is Chris Pratt, but after last summer's Guardians of the Galaxy, I don't think anyone will know him by any other name! There was only one true connection (actor-wise) to the previous films: in the form of Henry Wu. The character makes his triumphant return as the lead geneticist for this round's dino-DNA. And yes, he is played by the original actor, BD Wong!
Separate from Mr. Wong and Speilberg (in the Executive Producer chair again), the entire cast and crew are newcomers to the world... of the Jurassic... um... film world.... Dinos included! The fictional company InGen makes it's heroic/diabolical resurgence as well. The new kids in the film did a great job, although the youngest felt much older than I suppose he was scripted for.
Overall, the film was a fantastic journey through the park, upping the dino-death-rate ante by putting it in a Disney theme park-esque atmosphere, much more advanced than John Hammond ever dreamed. With that said, there weren't very many new paths the story could take. I spent the first 20-25 minutes if the film predicting the new character's ultimate end (live or die... make your choice) as they were introduced.
For me, the script was very predictable, and in certain elements, it felt that the script writers anticipated that reaction and wrote in a few lines to that point. The characters, this time, seemed to be aware of their predecessors mistakes. But in classic hubris stories, chose to ignore them, with the thinking, "this time will be different!"
I saw the film in regular 2D, although I really wanted to experience the 3D aspect, Visually, the franchise has come a tremendous way. The first film introduced us to a mashup of real-life effects mixed, for the time, with seamless CGI. This latest installment continued that tradition, with just as impressive effect! Real world technology has come a long way since 1992-93, and as such we have visually stunning movies like Guardians and Avengers. I am grateful that some of our generations "new" big directors are going back to film effects roots and combining practical with digital. Makes me look forward even more to Abram's Force Awakens later this year!
At it's heart, Jurassic World stays true to the creature feature survival genre, with mixed in heartstrings moments. Unfortunately, it stays predictable the whole time. Jump scares were not there for me (even though they were few in number). The tense, dino-is-right-behind-you moments were not as nerve-wracking, despite the excellent acting from all the players. Pratt's Owen is, without a doubt, the calm center of the storm. One scene has him protecting Howard's character as the new terror is hunting them, acting as the only protection for her. She is quietly sobbing, terrified out of her mind, while he's mastering his fear, even though it is clearly evident on his face.
Out of the principle cast, the oldest kid, Zach, played by Nick Robinson, and Howard's Claire had the biggest character shifts. Zach went from the classic teen-angsty big brother to a younger version of Pratt's Owen. Claire has a John Hammond-esque change in that she's fully confident in the park's security and a consummate sales and marketing professional, to a human being that actually cares about others outside of herself.
I got the feeling that Claire and Owen were to have more of a love story, with the supposed attraction between the characters clearly evident from the first scene with the two of them. Although, Owen did seem to have more chemistry with his raptors.... I'm glad the writers left it a bit more vague, choosing rather to focus on the true survival element the series was made famous on. Still a better love story than Twilight. There were a couple tender moments in the film that truly belonged, including one toward the end between the "geeks" of the cast of characters. Overall, though, the romantic elements didn't feel forced or afterthoughts to get more dates in the seats. They felt organic with each character in the situation.
Looking up current reviews (most of which I don't really give a whole lot of credence to...), the critics weren't blown away with the film, with a Metacritic.com score of 59 as of this writing; however, they did rate it more positively with an average score in the high-70s to low-80s, or 3-3.5 stars out of four. Most critics felt it was one of those popcorn-muncher summer blockbusters where you check your brains at the door and hold on for the ride. While that is true, you don't need to pay close attention to grasp what's going on, those that have grown up with the franchise will feel nostalgia, seeing that the world of Jurassic World takes place on the very same island as the first film.
For me, the first will always be king. followed closely by this one, then the third, with the second bringing up the rear. As with anything, I recommend going out to see it in order to form your own opinion. Should you see it on the big screen? I say definitely yes. Will this be the movie of the summer? Eh... considering there aren't many on my radar that I'm dying to see... maybe. That all depends on the Minions movie coming out next month!
Well, that's it. I hope I didn't spoil too much for you. Go see this latest installment. It is worth the two-hour time frame. Feel free to comment, share, subscribe... the usual!
Thanks for reading!
Stay tuned for my next post: featuring some preview buzz for some new games coming our later this year!
Until then: stay classy interwebs!