Film Review: Jurassic World

Chris Pratt stares down a dinosaur (not pictured) in Jurassic World (Image © Universal).  

Chris Pratt stares down a dinosaur (not pictured) in Jurassic World (Image © Universal).  

"The park is open." That is what they call a “hook”. Even though the release of Jurassic Park was a very long time ago (and the day I graduated high school…sigh), and even though two sequels have proven to be lazy cash grabs, that log line had me right back in all over again. 

So, is Jurassic World another lazy cash grab, or does it have something…anything...new to offer? Well, a little from Column A and a little from Column B, I suppose.

It’s certainly an overblown summer smashy-boomy splody bit of nonsense turned up to eleven. It also certainly has cardboard cutout “characters”, including a brooding stud hero, an evil military dude, a snotty teen son, and a career lady who…get this…is a terrible person because she hasn’t married and procreated yet.

But there’s also some sharp meta commentary in there, about how dinosaurs are boring now, and audiences want bigger and better baddies, and about how corporate sponsors dull the edges of everything. The park is open, so the dinos have been caged and tamed and all the wonder is gone. None of that commentary is particularly insightful or new, but I’m glad it’s in there, anyway. It shows they’re trying. Other highlights: the best actor in the movie is The King of Summer’s Nick Robinson, who can do snotty, disaffected teen and scared shitless teen with the same amount of believably and panache. He’s literally the only one in the cast who ever really looked scared at whatever sock puppet the key grip was holding. And there’s a fantastically staged mass chaos scene where the winged dinos descend upon the crowd looking for snacks. There’s also a great scene with BD Wong, the only returning cast member. He shows up briefly to babble mad scientist nonsense and then disappear. Something tells me he’s not done with this series. Who knows what crazy shit he’s been cooking up in his labs? All I want for the next sequel is dinos loose in suburbia. Is that too much to ask?

And then there’s the raptors. The trained raptors. It says something about Spielberg’s greatness that a third-tier dino that really no one had heard of prior to 1993 is still…still the star of the show four movies in. As for the idea that these things can be “trained”…well, I didn’t like it. But I think they handled it well, and I can’t really say more on that for fear of spoiling too much. 

In the meantime, go catch this one in the theater, as it will have little to no value at home on your little TV. It’s a far cry better than the sequels, and damn good fun time in its own right. This is of course assuming you’ve seen Fury Road at least three times already because that movie is the greatest.