Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Movie Review: Jurassic World

Like the much maligned Superman Returns, Jurassic World is, first and foremost, an homage to the original. Unlike Superman Returns, Jurassic World just made more than 500 million dollars in one weekend.

The movie is fun, but ultimately redundant. I'm not just talking about the premise being a repeat of part one's, either: a number of elements are borrowed from other installments, and there are quite a few nods to other classic genre films, as well.

But the T-Rex's share of references and retreads were definitely from Jurassic Park. I almost wished they just done this as a reboot: just re-imagine the premise of part one where the catastrophe happens after the park opens instead of before. That's basically the movie they made, anyway.

Ultimately, I left having enjoyed the movie, but I didn't feel like I'd been shown anything new. If this had been a story-driven film, that wouldn't be a big deal, but in a summer blockbuster, I feel like we should be able to expect more surprises.

For what it's worth, Jurassic World does a decent job giving its characters individual arcs. Pratt definitely comes away feeling like the movie's action hero, though it's worth noting that Howard's character actually got a more fulfilling story arc.

The action sequences themselves were well constructed, though artificial. This comes off feeling one step away from animated, and I almost wish they'd just taken that last step. There were quite a few scenes where the disconnect between live-action sets and actors and obviously computer-generated creatures was jarring: why not replace the sets and people and remove the issue?

The movie's exciting, though not really scary. I'd have preferred if they'd pushed the boundaries of PG-13 a little more aggressively: the film has a tendency to shy away from darker elements. The most egregious example is the magically disappearing children: early on, we're shown that about 50% of the park's guests are minors, but everyone under the age of 30 is conspicuously absent when the dinosaurs attack.

I kind of wish I'd seen this before learning that this beat out The Avengers for the highest grossing opening of the past 13.82 billion years. It's not really fair to expect it to live up to those kinds of numbers. The movie accomplishes what it sets out to do: deliver a fun, family-friendly adventure homage to Jurassic Park. That should probably be enough, but I certainly wanted more.

Maybe we'll see them step up their game in the sequel. I'm still holding out hope for Jurassic World War: let's stop playing around on these islands and take this concept global already.

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