There’s a scene in Jurassic World where brothers Zach and Gray Mitchell stumble into the abandoned visitor’s center featured in the very
first Jurassic Park. They create a torch by burning the trademark “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth” banner that once proudly hung there.
What a perfect metaphor for this abysmal sequel.
Despite director Colin Trevorrow’s stated reverence for the 1993 Steven Spielberg classic, he shows a shocking disregard for all the things
that made it great.
The original’s breakthrough use of computer-generated dinosaurs may be its most enduring legacy, but, as any true fan will attest, the film’s
quality extends far beyond its technical accomplishments.
Trevorrow’s incarnation forgets that character and terror were both paramount to its success, and both are woefully disregarded here.
The characters uniformly consist of walking, talking clichés, with Chris Pratt leading the way as the rugged and charming hunter, Owen, and
Bryce Dallas Howard playing the socially-awkward corporate stiff, Claire.
Zach and Gray are Claire’s nephews. They are sent to Jurassic World by their parents to visit their aunt, who manages the park.
Despite the disaster that unfolded 22 years ago, Isla Nublar is now a full-fledged amusement park and zoo, as the late John Hammond
Unfortunately, the island is filled with complete morons, exhibiting the level of intelligence one would expect in a stereotypical slasher film.
Remember that Jurassic Park and its sequel (The Lost World) featured a cast of characters that consisted of paleontologists, paleo
botanists, and mathematicians (Or was that a chaotician?).
There were discussions of evolution and nature’s order, with a level of intelligence that exceeded most mainstream blockbuster films.
It didn’t seem to hurt their popularity, so why does this one have to be so dumbed-down?
Dialog is poor throughout, with an extreme overreliance on lame jokes and dumb exclamations.
One of the children laments that the new park is just kid’s stuff.
I couldn’t agree more. This entire affair feels like Junior Jurassic Park.
There’s a scene where the two kids are driving a Jeep down a road and a security guard deadpans: “That’s a first.”
What’s a first? A Jeep driving down a road?
The sense of humor is borderline nonsensical at times, as if the screenwriters couldn’t think of anything funny to say and try to disguise
random observations as side-splitting hilarity.
Man, when those Jeeps drive down roads, they really crack me up!
The sad part is how many people in my theater laughed because they realized it’s supposed to be a joke.
Fortunately, Trevorrow’s cast work hard to sell the flimsy material they’re given.
The rest of the screenplay doesn’t fare much better, consisting of a series of subplots that never pay off or come together.
It’s suggested that Zach and Gray’s parents are getting divorced, and there is one scene when Gray breaks downs and sobs about it. He
was having the time of his life at the park before the scene, and is again having the time of his life after. As far as I remember, it was never
even mentioned again.
Then there is the silly subplot involving Vincent D’Onofrio’s Hoskins, who wants to use the dinosaurs as troops. I’m not even joking. He
even says they will replace ‘boots on the ground’ someday. Now I can’t get the image of a raptor in a helmet wearing fatigues out of my head.
Then there are Irrfan Khan and B.D. Wong (The only returning cast member from the original film), whose storylines could have been
The real threat occurs when the genetically-enhanced Indominus Rex breaks out of containment.
The sanctimonious Owen expresses outrage that the company would create such a beast. He seems to have forgotten that dinosaurs were
extinct and that every single one of them originates from genetic modification (Remember the frog DNA from the first film?).
Owen even has a group of trained raptors that follow his commands. Although it seems like the only thing he can actually get them to do is
beg for treats.
Well, that’s one way to destroy the palpable sense of fear the first three films built up for these predators.
I also find it amusing that the films claim how super-intelligent the raptors are, despite them not even being able to distinguish a projection
of a dilophosaurus from the real thing near the film’s climax.
The final sequence is an all-out dino brawl. Who cares about the characters? People want to see a couple animals fight, right? Well, if that’s
what you want, you get it. They bite and fight and fight and bite, and it all ends with a hilariously bad replication of Samuel L. Jackson’s
famous fate in Deep Blue Sea…but with dinosaurs!
And if that’s not enough, we get a cheesy sunset shot, followed by the now requisite final moment where a dinosaur roars dramatically.
Some would say it’s all in the name of dumb fun, but to me it was just dumb. Especially when considering the franchise’s roots.
Perhaps I could have forgiven some of the dramatic shortcomings if the film made up for it with accomplished action sequences, but
Jurassic World fails to make an impression.
The first two films were filled with memorable sequences; mainly involving the T-Rex and raptors. And even the otherwise mediocre third
entry had that fantastic ‘bird cage’ setpiece.
Trevorrow throws more dinosaurs at us than ever before, but to no avail.
The silly sense of humor and characters also diminish the film’s ability to frighten us, but at least Trevorrow seems aware of this fact.
He does helm an impressive production, filled with great visual effects and the largest scale of any Jurassic film yet.
Despite the weak screenplay, the cast is notably good, and probably saves Jurassic World from an even worse fate.
The film also receives a very good score from composer Michael Giacchino, who does a nice job reprising John Williams’ classic themes
while creating a few very good ones of his own. (Film Score Nerd Alert: Keep an ear out for a very brief reference to Williams’
underappreciated theme to The Lost World during the film’s climactic showdown.)
Sound mixing and editing are also outstanding.
On a technical level, Jurassic World is certainly impressive, and that, along with its corny sense of humor may be enough as a guilty
pleasure for some. As a fan of the original, however, I expect better than mindless nonsense from the series.
This homogenized update is a complete disappointment.
As Ian Malcom would say, “That is one big pile of shit.”
(out of four)
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Written by: Rick Jaffa & Amanda SIlver and Colin
Trevorrow & Derek Connolly
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent
D'Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Irrfan Khan, Nick Robinson
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Cinematography by: John Schwartzman
Released: June 12, 2015; 124 Minutes