NOTE: This review was originally published on the website “The Baconation,” which is no longer active, back in 2015.
A fourth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise has long been in the works, and if nothing else, its assembly at least gives this new generation something to warmly embrace that doesn’t find itself cloaked in candy colors and Marvel branding. On my way to the theater, I kept trying to think of what I exactly wanted Jurassic World to accomplish as a film, and it didn’t take long to realize that I was overanalyzing a lot of my expectations. The only thing I wanted was the element of wonder and danger that was missing in the third installment, but heavily present in the first and underrated second film.
On that note, Jurassic World delivers quite a bit of suspense and exhilaration. I would even say it goes far beyond the thrill and intensity factor of the original film with what it chooses to show. There’s much more blood and violence than in any of the previous films, and the special effects are some of the strongest the series has ever seen. Aside from occasionally appearing to be a Samsung sponsored commodity with the heavy emphasis on product placement, in addition to elements that almost seem like self-parody for a summer blockbuster, this is only one of the many summer blockbusters we’ve been spoiled to so early in the season.
Our setting is Jurassic World, a monstrous theme park housing real-life dinosaurs, some of which genetically modified, that provides the thrills and excitements of living with dinosaurs. We immediately focus on Zach and Gray Mitchell (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins), two young boys who venture out to Jurassic World to visit their Aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who runs the park. Claire, however, is busy trying to attract financiers to see the park’s new “Indominus Rex,” one of the genetically modified dinosaurs that combines eight different species of animal to, in turn, create a humongous dinosaur.
The park’s main dinosaur trainer is Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), an ex-Navy member, who immediately works to help after a catastrophic turn of events has Indominus Rex leaving his concubine, wreaking havoc on the park. Numerous failed attempts to cage and detain the beast eventually result in several other dinosaurs being let out of their cages, causing for a complete meltdown of the entire facility. Despite lacking in proper artillery and being responsible for hundreds of thousands of lives, Owen and Claire work together to try and stop the beasts from terrorizing the park.
The original Jurassic Park worked so well because of its emphasis on peril. The film put you into a barrage of situations that felt like you were at the mercy of the same large, hulking beasts the characters on-screen were running from. Jurassic World restores that element, constantly trapping the viewer in an awkward or frightening position, with Colin Trevorrow commanding controlled but large-scale direction at all times. This is the essence of why Jurassic World is such a thrill; it plunges us into many different scenarios and gives us a variety of evocative landscapes and dinosaurs to feast our eyes on at all times.
Through starring roles in some of Hollywood’s loftiest and most expensive productions, Pratt has finally asserted his ability to command a presence. If Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t convince you that he wasn’t on top of his game, Jurassic World will be that deciding factor. He has the subtle, suave goofiness that doesn’t make him bumbling and incompetent and the right amount of intelligence as a character actor to be taken seriously, and he rises to the occasion with this picture at every turn. His character is actually so interesting that it makes focusing on the two young boys feel like a burdened change in direction, mainly because Robinson’s character is such a moody, unlikable teenager.
In itself, Jurassic World‘s burdens come in the form of excessive product placement, to the point where if Starbucks or Samsung isn’t being shoved down our face, it’s Coca-Cola or Beats by Dre. Some don’t pick up on product placement as easily as others, but when we’re immersed in a theme park setting like this, which is predominately wilderness as is, these sorts of things are much easier to spot, especially when it seems that Trevorrow is trying to make sure that said product is always at eye-level with the audience when it’s in frame. Furthermore, there’s the obvious element of events occurring to the characters’ advantage just in the nick of time, which, while common for the summer blockbuster genre, is nonetheless cloying and overly obvious. We’ve already been asked to suspend our disbelief for dinosaurs, so scenes like a dead Pterodactyl’s beak coming dangerously close to one of the young boys’ faces before slowing to a halt feels like a cheap shot at suspense and convenience.
These burdens, however, do not discourage the fun Jurassic World brings. Few franchises from yesteryear that are revisited in the modern day have the ability to excite, but just hearing the name Jurassic Park brings to mind a multitude of different visuals that capture the imagination. Jurassic World is a testament to the imagination and proves, yet again, that even franchises that have laid dormant for several years can still get off the ground and morph into something worth watching.
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, BD Wong, and Irrfan Khan. Directed by: Colin Trevorrow.
Steve Pulaski has been reviewing movies since 2009 for a barrage of different outlets. He graduated North Central College in 2018 and currently works as an on-air radio personality. He also hosts a weekly movie podcast called "Sleepless with Steve," dedicated to film and the film industry, on his YouTube channel. In addition to writing, he's a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and has two cats, appropriately named Siskel and Ebert!