Movie Review: Jurassic World

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To answer your first immediate question: yes, I do own a glow in the dark velociraptor t-shirt.  And yes, it will probably sway my judgement in regards to this movie.

Jurassic World (if you’ve never heard of it, because it was barely advertised anywhere) is the follow up to Jurassic Park, which omits the two sequels from the timeline; which is ok with me, even though I don’t really hate either of the sequels.  This new one imagines what it would be like if the park actually became successful, and corporations took over the park with their shady interests.  There’s a pretty extended shot of Chris Pratt firing a gun at a dinosaur with a clearly lit Starbucks sign glowing in the background, almost in focus, that made me laugh more than get angry at the product placement.  If Jurassic World really existed, are you going to attempt to argue that there *wouldn’t* be a Starbucks and a Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville in the town square?

While I guess the main characters would be Bryce Dallas Howard’s park manager lady, and Pratt’s rugged raptor trainer guy, there are two other characters much more worth noting.  First, is the 13-year-old kid played by Ty Simpkins, the latest child to be manufactured out of the Amblin Entertainment Little Boy Machine, who represents the child in us all who would love to experience something like a dinosaur park.  And the second is Jake Johnson’s hilarious control room character, who wears a vintage Jurassic Park t-shirt and meta-winks about how awesome the original park was on a consistent basis, who represents the man-child we’ve all become who still isn’t afraid to admit they love this franchise.  Oh, and thirdly is the mosasaur.  That thing rules.

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The action is pretty solid.  I was worried going in that the overuse of CG would ruin it, but whatever, it’s kind of expected at this point.  I think they still used a few practical dino heads here and there.   I found the action to be as decent as pretty much any summer blockbuster you’d expect to see nowadays.  Maybe better.  I actually found this movie to probably be more entertaining than Age of Ultron.  But that’s just me.

Maybe the movie is a little too long-winded, but if you stick with it, it pays off.  Once the climax started happening, it took about 5 seconds for me to assume what would happen next, which basically occurred as I imagined.   That’s not to say it’s bad.  To be clear, I was pretty pumped at the end.  But if you’ve seen the original film thirty times in your life like I have, you can figure out where they’re going to go with it.

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On that note, as far as the fan service goes…  Let me put it this way…  You should not only *expect* fan service in a movie like this, but you just go ahead and embrace it.  As revolutionary and amazing as Jurassic Park was, it’s now just become a #brand over the last 20 years.  And the writers of Jurassic World have fully acknowledged that.  I’m going to say that 80% of Jurassic World is just nostalgic hat tips to Jurassic Park, and because that was the obvious intention, I’m not really going to hold it against the movie.  It’s one thing to do what Terminator does and make sure to force in Arnold’s classic lines “I’LL BE BACK”, “HASTA LA VISTA, BABY” amidst trying to do something new, but I think it’s a different thing (and not necessarily a bad thing) to essentially just base your entire film around the direct acknowledgement of the thing you’re feeding off of.

I mean, the nostalgia is built directly into the plot, so if you’re not in it for the nostalgia, then you probably won’t enjoy it that much.  Jurassic World is basically the dream of the 10-year-old who loved Jurassic Park when they were a kid, who wished that the park actually became a successful, real place; and visualizing what it would look like.  And then mix that in with modern CGI action, add conflict, and you’ve got a good, very watchable summer blockbuster.

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You know what, you can probably just void my entire review, because I’m a very biased Jurassic Park nerd.  When I was a kid, I bought into the entire JP franchise machine.  I had the toys, t-shirts, the very warm Jurassic Park comforter with all the dinos on it; I had it all.  Jurassic Park was designed to make money in both the world of the film, and through the film itself.  I’d go to Jurassic World if it really existed.  I like going to the zoo and staring at the sleeping wombats, so I’d definitely like to see a dinosaur.  This movie is nearly 100% wish-fulfillment for turds like me.  But that’s beside the point.  If you don’t want to give into the fact that this is catered towards current children, and 30 something man-children who used to be Jurassic Park’s current children, then don’t even bother, because you’re just going to be a smarmy jerk about it.  Why are you trying to ruin my fun?

Jurassic World is a satisfying corporate meal.  It’s like going to McDonald’s.  A lot of people aren’t going to like it, because they are simply against the fact that some giant corporation is shoving generic food down their throats, but at the same time, McDonald’s can be delicious.  Jurassic World isn’t the dollar menu trash that McDonald’s slops your way, it’s more like an Egg McMuffin.  There’s nothing wrong with an Egg McMuffin, other than the fact that it’s probably pretty unhealthy for you.  But it tastes so good, and it’s such a classic sandwich!  I will shamelessly throw money at McDonald’s to get me some McMuffins, even though I know I’m just feeding the machine.  Sometimes I’d rather have the classic, nostalgic taste of McDonald’s over the consistently made, well-engineered food at Chipotle (Marvel).  Because even eating there is feeding into the corporate machine, but maybe it hides it a little better because it’s cool and hip and you get a lot of food for the price you pay.  But you eat enough Chipotle in a short period of time, you start to get sick of it, too.

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Then where do you turn?  You can only eat a delicious, perfectly cooked, medium rare filet mignon with caramelized onions on top (Mad Max: Fury Road) every once in a while, because it’s a rare treat.  For the most part you’re stuck eating normal food, like Taco Bell’s exploding nacho quesaritos with Dorito shells (Furious 7), or a bag of White Castle sliders that will fill you up for a few hours before you’re desperately hungry again (San Andreas).  At least we’re not settling for a 6″ turkey club at Subway (Poltergeist ’15).  I think what I’m trying to say is that I’m hungry and I’m going to go get some lunch.

I liked Jurassic World, and I assume someone will go see it on my recommendation and then come back and say “That sucked, dude!  You suck!”  In response, I’ll just stare off into the distance, and say “They’re moving in herds. They do move in herds.”  And slowly walk away from them.  Because you can make your own choice whether or not to see a loud dinosaur movie, jerk.

8.5 out of 10

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4 thoughts on “Movie Review: Jurassic World

  1. Bags O Donuts says:

    Scott, I generally love your reviews, and this actually has nothing to do with that… I just (finally) watched Jurassic World and what stood out to me the most (oddly) is the over the top Mercedes product placement. Jurassic Park used Jeeps. Even Jurassic World did a small homage to those Jeeps. But still, this movie was overtly all about Mercedes SUVs. I don’t really know a lot about Mercedes SUVs other than that they’re not American and they’re not the archetype of off-road vehicle (maybe they’re trying to become that) and that they’re almost always the bad-guy-mobile in shitty movies. Buying a Jeep means that some American gets their salary for a year, and when Jurassic whatever decides it’s no longer a Jeep thing but rather a Mercedes thing (especially when they are trying SO HARD to nod to the original with the Lora Dern outfit etc – I guess they decided that trying to do a straight up Sam Neill would be too much), that annoys me. That is all.

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