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Jurassic World

Platform(s): Movie
Genre: Action
Publisher: Universal Pictures
Release Date: June 12, 2015


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Movie Review - 'Jurassic World'

by Adam Pavlacka on June 12, 2015 @ 3:00 a.m. PDT

Twenty-two years after Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World. Visitor rates are declining, so a new attraction is created, but it backfires horribly.

It's been 22 years since "Jurassic Park" debuted on the big screen, setting the standard for special effects and sound reproduction (it was the first film to be exhibited in DTS) as well as breaking a few box office records of the time. "Jurassic World" updates the original concept but stays true to the original, resulting in a sequel that just might break a few records of its own.

Set on the same island as the original "Jurassic Park," Isla Nublar, "Jurassic World" doesn't attempt to reboot the franchise. Instead, it looks at what happened in the past and asks the question, "What would man have done afterward?" The answer, of course, is "Try again."

"Jurassic World" is a bigger, better, badder version of the original theme park, but this time, it's a full-fledged resort. There are fancy new attractions, such as a water arena., dinosaur holograms, corporate sponsors, and a hotel. It's Jurassic Park as Disney would have envisioned it. At the heart of the park is Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), a mid-30s workaholic whose sole goal in life is the profitable operation of Jurassic World — not because it's what she wants but because that's what's expected of her.

Opposite Dearing is Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), the free-spirited, philanthropic owner of Jurassic World. Masrani wants the park to be a success, but he isn't driven by profit. He has a love of dinosaurs, much like the John Hammond character in the original film.

Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Vic Hoskins (Vincent D'Onofrio) round out the main cast, with Hoskins serving as the primary human antagonist. Unlike Nedry (in the original), Hoskins isn't driven by profit but by the desire to use Velociraptors as living weapons. Grady, played by Pratt as a cross between his Star-Lord character from "Guardians of the Galaxy" and Muldoon, the game warden in the original film, respects the raptors as creatures and is against weaponizing them.

All four of the main cast are strong characters in their own right, but it is the fictional Indominus Rex that symbolizes the excesses of human greed and drives the overall story. Created by Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong, reprising his role from the original), Indominus is "bigger, better, badder" all in a bid to gain corporate sponsorship and raise theme park attendance. Watching that scene play out early in "Jurassic World," it was impossible to not think of Jeff Goldblum's line from "Jurassic Park," "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should."

Incidentally, "Jurassic World" features a number of corporate sponsorships via product placement (American Airlines, Hilton, Margaritaville, Samsung, Verizon, etc.), but the script is smart enough to criticize the practice in-universe. One has to wonder if the marketing execs at Verizon knew that its fictional counterparts were sanctioning ethically questionable practices when signing off on the use of its name for the film.

As Indominus slowly creates havoc around Jurassic World, the park's operators soon realize how overwhelmed they are, and the majority of the film is a man-versus-nature roller coaster ride. The director, Colin Trevorrow, revisits many of the underlying themes of "Jurassic Park," but it never feels like a retread. Any parallels are more like a homage.

There is even a direct reference to the original film via a short visit to the original visitor's center, which was re-created for "Jurassic World."

Without spoiling the plot, it should be noted that the raptor pack seen in "Jurassic World" are also fully fledged characters of their own. Despite the trailers showing Blue, Charlie, Delta and Echo as trained attack dogs, "Jurassic World" treats them as the wild animals that they are. As Grady points out in the film, nobody "domesticates" a raptor. "Jurassic World" stays far away from that trope.

Of the supporting characters, Jake Johnson deserves special note for his portrayal of Lowery Cruthers, Jurassic World's tech lead. Cruthers has a geek passion for his job that comes across as authentic, rather than stereotypical. In the overall scheme of the movie, it's a smaller role, but Cruthers is also one of the characters that sticks with you as the credits roll. You can't help but cheer for him.

Visually, "Jurassic World" is a feast for the eyes, with Hawaii standing in for Isla Nublar. Shot primarily on 65mm film (instead of digital), the lush environment pops with color and clarity. Sound design is just as sharp, with positional effects in the jungle making it sound like creatures are everywhere. With that said, you can probably pass on the 3-D showings, since the 3-D effect is minimal. The IMAX 3-D showings are IMAX DLP, which means it doesn't use the full IMAX screen. You're better off saving the cash and hitting up a standard screen for this one, but it's definitely worth seeing in the theater rather than waiting for home video.

Whereas the two prior sequels, "Jurassic Park: The Lost World" and "Jurassic Park III" treated the franchise as a monster movie, "Jurassic World" manages to match the beats of the original and also bring something new to the franchise. It's a fresh take that mixes wonderment with cultural criticism, and the movie is stronger for it. "Jurassic World" doesn't quite best "Jurassic Park," but it is easily a close second. This is the sequel that fans of the original have been waiting for; they just didn't know it.

Score: 8.5/10

Jurassic World is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 2 hours and 4 minutes. It is showing in 2-D, 3-D and IMAX 3-D.

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