Editor’s Notes: Jurassic World is now open in wide release. For an additional perspective on the film, read Laura’s review.
Of all the properties from which Hollywood seems hellbent on milking sequels, Jurassic Park is certainly one of the strangest. A landmark in big screen entertainment, the dinosaurs created by ILM in Steven Spielberg’s original 1993 blockbuster were as bone-chillingly terrifying as they were breathtakingly beautiful, completely believable beings that occupied the same space as the characters onscreen. But Jurassic Park was far more than just a movie where people ran away from malevolent creatures. In adapting Michael Crichton’s novel to the big screen, screenwriter David Koepp created a world where the dinosaurs were just as, if not more, interesting than the monsters trying to eat them.
Jurassic World is the latest film to cash in on abandoning the ideas set by its predecessor.
Ultimately, Jurassic Park was a meditation on man vs. nature and the danger that ensues when the former thinks it has power over the latter. Three sequels and 22 years later, that message has all but been forgotten, abandoned for the sake of box office profits and manufactured nostalgia. Jurassic World is the latest film to cash in on abandoning the ideas set by its predecessor, and early box office reports would suggest that Universal and Amblin’s business model isn’t going anywhere.
John Hammond is dead, but his vision lives on with his park finally being brought to life. Thanks to products like Pandora, Starbucks and countless other forms of product placement, every ride and attraction imaginable is available for children and adults to enjoy. On a day with attendance over 20,000, high-ranking park runner Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) unveils their latest attraction to the new owner of the park, Irrfan’s Kahn’s Simon Masrani. Their new dinosaur is a genetically modified hybrid that is their largest, most dangerous dinosaur yet. Since this also happens to be the day that Claire’s nephews (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson in the underwritten overused “kids in danger” role) are visiting the park, the subtly named Indominus Rex escapes its paddock and begins terrorizing the park.
Director Colin Trevorrow has been very open about just how much the original Jurassic Park meant to him. His reverence for the material and nods to the Cricthon universe are present in every frame of the film.
Normally, this setup would be enough fodder for one film, but for some reason Jurassic World thinks that adding in more plot threads are a good idea. We get Chris Pratt playing the straight-faced Owen, a former military man in charge of training the velociraptor. He ends up helping Claire save the kids that nobody in the audience cares about. There’s BD Wong, who may or may not be doing some behind the scenes scheming. Vincent D’Onofrio’s Hoskins, who wants to employ trained the raptors as weapons for the military. Jake Johnson shows up every now and then to try and inject some humor. There’s no problem with adding multiple components to a story, but why write it all so lazily?
Director Colin Trevorrow has been very open about just how much the original Jurassic Park meant to him. His reverence for the material and nods to the Cricthon universe are present in every frame of the film. By the time we are privy to the umpteenth callback to something more iconic and substantial than film it is part of, “Hey, I remember that!” just doesn’t cut it anymore. A sequel needs to give audiences more than fleeting jolts of superficiality. Even with four screenwriters present, Jurassic World offers little more than reminders of the greatness that it will never come close to matching.
Even with four screenwriters present, Jurassic World offers little more than reminders of the greatness that it will never come close to matching.