Film Review: Jurassic World

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Years ago there was a little girl who was afraid to walk out into her front yard for fear that tiny dinosaurs would gorge themselves on her soft little legs. In all fairness to her father the yard was mowed to a level in which the grass blades would do little to provide cover for their surprise reveal, but imagination will take you to places that defy logic.

That was the magic of the first film. I was only five when Jurassic Park was released so it’s easy to understand why I would be so impressed with dinosaurs, because dinosaurs, but I get just as excited and anxious by the ripples in the cup of water now as I did decades ago. Which is why I needed Jurassic World to be great.

Unfortunately I find myself needing to start my review with the word “unfortunately.” In all fairness my expectations were super high due to overwhelming anticipation for the return of this series (think about how obnoxious Star Wars fans have been this past year about The Force Awakens; that’s me with this), so keep that in mind when I talk about why this film isn’t all that I hoped it would be, and then you can decide how much you’re willing to let that excuse forgive.

With the reopening of the park, it’s easy to draw comparisons between Jurassic World and Jurassic Park. Honestly I’m all for it. It’s been over two decades since the first film and I’m not ashamed to admit that I would gladly accept the safe route with a recycling of the first film to help usher in a new string of dino movies. Give us dinosaurs, have things go horribly wrong, put people in danger, the end, much applause. For the most part World has this request covered with some pretty awesome set pieces, changing things just enough with the catalyst of an extremely intelligent and dangerous new type of dinosaur developed in the lab from who knows what. The movie would have been great had it stopped there. But then it just kept on going…

…by introducing Chris Pratt and his pack of raptors. Ugh… Obviously the concept of these films only works because of your willingness to believe in an extremely unlikely concept, which is something I will gladly sign up for. I will accept the giant Sea World inspired tank containing a monstrosity that would easily put a killer whale to shame, I will accept the cutesy petting zoo with rideable triceratops babies, and I will even accept the lazy river through the land of giant herbivores, but I draw the line at the raptor pack. What on earth would an amusement park be hoping to accomplish by training an extremely dangerous creature to obey commands? Oh, you didn’t know amusement parks and the military go hand in hand? How silly of you. I’m sorry but I wasn’t impressed by the pack when it was first introduced in the trailer, and no amount of payoff (which there is a small amount) can make me change my mind about how ridiculous it is as a serious concept.

As much as I disliked this subplot, the biggest disappointment doesn’t come from what the characters do, but from the characters themselves. To put it simply, I didn’t find myself attaching to any of them. The kids are annoying, Bryce Dallas Howard’s character isn’t relatable, Pratt’s character is equally flat, and the relationships connecting them are just as weak. Part of what made Jurassic Park so great is found in the characters and how they work off each other as they move through this world, and though there are a few great bits littered throughout Jurassic World, the only real reason I had any positive opinion towards anyone was in large part thanks to my attachment to the actors playing them. On their own, the characters aren’t good enough to create that added layer on top of the story to make it more than just plot.

If you’re OK with just a fun plot with dinosaurs and great effects then Jurassic World works well in giving you what you want. But I was hoping for so much more. I wasn’t expecting something that would surpass Jurassic World, but wanting something to be a close second didn’t seem like a demanding request.  Unfortunately that request was denied.  In other words: Jurassic Park > The Lost World: Jurassic Park > Jurassic World > Jurassic Park 3.

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