When I first saw the trailers for Jurassic World, I knew something was off; I just didn’t get the same feeling of awe when seeing the dinosaurs, as I did when I saw Jurassic Park for the first time… or any subsequent time. I went to see the movie anyway, hoping that my reservations would be proven wrong, as many times a trailer does not properly reflect the quality of a film. Sadly, I was left as disappointed as predicted.
Jurassic World presents us with a world in which the original Jurassic Park was rebuilt, made bigger, and is exceedingly popular. However, the investors are worried that profits are slowing and their park, Jurassic World, is becoming nothing more than a zoo now that the novelty of dinosaurs has vanished. To address the investors’ concerns, the park genetically engineers a new creature, using genes from various dinosaurs and filling the gaps with currently living animals. The creature they create is a gigantic monster who, inevitably escapes its confines and goes on a murderous rampage through the park.
Our protagonist, Owen (Chris Pratt), is eventually given the task of taking down the new creature, and save the nephews of the park’s director, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). Throughout the movie, the audience is blasted with lectures about the dinosaurs not being recognized as animals and not being treated with respect. At one point, the park’s geneticist, Dr. Wu (BD Wong), argues with the park owner (Irrfan Khan) about making the new creature. Dr. Wu retorts that he was pressured by the owner to make the creature. He says that the owner wanted more teeth, and bigger claws, and larger more ferocious dinosaurs. All the problems the park now faces area result of trying to satisfy investors who constantly want knew attractions to maintain the park’s popularity. The creature that was created was a result of corporate greed (and some other plot details that I won’t discuss for spoiler reasons). Interestingly, the very reasons the movie expresses for the creature existing and now killing people, are the same exact problems that the movie itself faces. It is almost as if, on a meta level, the movie is self-aware of its flaws, and expresses these problems within the plot o the movie itself.
Looking at the first Jurassic Park, the presentation of the dinosaurs is so incredibly different from how they are presented in Jurassic World. In Park, the dinosaurs are wondrous, majestic, terrifying, and awe inspiring. In World, these same creatures are bland, generic, and do not provoke any emotion than any other creature from any other monster movie. The dinosaurs in World are not treated with the same level of respect in their creation and existence as they were in Park. This is both the problem that exists in the movie and the problem with the movie itself. In Park, our first contact with a dinosaur Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler stare up, with jaws drop, as calm, docile, dinosaurs slowly move past them, in all their glory. These two doctors, who spent their whole life digging for fossils and learning about dinosaurs finally get to see their life’s work right in front of them for the first time. This moment is revelatory for both the characters and the audience, as John Williams’ music slowly swells, and the camera pans to show the vast amount of dinosaurs drinking from a nearby lake, just as the park owner, John Hammond says, “Welcome, to Jurassic Park.”
On the other side of the spectrum, the scene that the audience is supposed to first feel a level of awe, is also near the beginning, during a Sea World type attraction. A great white shark hangs above a giant pool and a giant sea creature leaps out of the water, rips the shark out of the air an dives back in the water. The audience is then lowered underground where they see the creature continuing to feed on the shark before swimming away. As an audience, you’re expected to be impressed, as Zach the older brother (Nick Robinson) looks up from his phone for the first time, and finally seems interested by the park’s attractions. But the scene was, in fact, nothing special in the slightest. The scene is so packed with CGI (as is the rest of the movie) that it’s nothing one hasn’t seen before in other monster movies. It no longer feels real to the moviegoer, and it no longer feels like something special. Like the engineered monster in the movie, this film was made to have more teeth, bigger claws, larger dinosaurs, and more action and violence, to attract a crowd and get that box office money. But it never feels like the director truly cares about the characters themselves, both human and non-human. The movie is just trying to push another big summer action adventure blockbuster, where it does not matter if the characters are one-note caricatures, because that’s not what the audience is there fore. They just want to see dinosaurs chase people an fight each other.
A few scenes in Jurassic World, have easter eggs from Jurassic Park. in World, we are shown a quick shot of the goggles from the first film. We also see two characters driving one of the jeeps from the first film, and a flair is used in Jurassic World, in a way almost identical to how it was used in Jurassic Park. These scenes, I imagine, are meant to help the audience connect Jurassic Park to Jurassic World and create some nostalgia for the portion of the audience that lovingly remembers the first film. Some of these scenes worked for me. I certainly felt some warmth when I heard the familiar John Williams score come on near the beginning, when the kids are first running through the park. But mostly, as I see these small pieces of the first film being shown in front of me, all I could think was that I would have rather spent my money watching Jurassic Park on the big screen, and just waited for Jurassic World to show up on a movie channel.
I don’t want to dismiss the acting from some of the actors involved, however, given the dialogue, i can only imagine how lacking the script must have been. But certain actors are definitely trying to elevate the film as best they can. Chris Pratt does seem to be trying his best to bring a real personality to a character that’s not much more than a watered down Indiana Jones, except he has raptors instead of a bullwhip. Credit must also be given to Omar Sy, who plays Pratt’s partner/assistant Barry. This is one of the few actors who appears to show love and respect to the dinosaurs he works with. Sy did an excellent job of bringing some character and authenticity to this film. Other actors seem to have worked hard as well but the one-noted nature of the remaining characters just completely overshadows whatever work the actors put in.
This film was truly disappointing. After two awful sequels, and years to revamp the franchise, this could have been something truly great. But as the film itself seems to know, the desire to make money won over the desire to make a quality film. Teeth, and claws, and blood won over character development, story, and respect for the work. On a met-level, though the box office will show this film to be a success, I think the film acknowledges its own critical failure, and its inability to match the greatness of its predecessor. I will end this post by posting the two scenes discussed above, because the only way to truly understand the problems with this film, is to simply compare the reveal in Jurassic Park and the reveal in Jurassic World.
Sorry, the abridged trailer version was the best I could find.