Some people never learn from the mistakes of others. Thank God, otherwise Jurassic World would never have seen the light of day. Director Colin Trevorrow fulfills Hammond’s grand vision of a fully operational park. And my, is it spectacular. Trevorrow has cooked up one of the best summer blockbusters this season, one that’s sure to please fans of the original while welcoming new attendees with open arms. What more do you want? It’s freakin’ dinosaurs!
Twenty-two years after the nightmare on Isla Nublar and the park is finally open. What’s interesting, though, is how the film uses the passing of time to its storytelling advantages, namely, that of an increasingly jaded audience demanding more. Claire, the park’s lead executive, is under pressure from investors to deliver something bigger and better. This plot point is a reflection of what we’ve become as moviegoers. We continually demand for bigger and better movies yet we are never satisfied. In a metaphorical sense, the creation of the Indominus represents Hollywood’s machine-like mentality to churn out the next big thing without giving it much thought.
The writers aren’t chastising us so much as they are acknowledging our bloodthirsty desires. It’s what leads the genetics lab to cook up something unimaginable and unpredictable, proving that audience demand can be a force of nature in of itself. Claire, like the park staff, can do nothing except obey the laws of nature.
The Indominus Rex, in turn, is the force that contends with nature; it’s what happens when we try to control the uncontrollable – a familiar theme in the franchise. But unlike previous films, Jurassic World demonstrates a willingness to evolve with its genetically-modified antagonist. As does the film’s treatment of the raptors. Instead of using them as predictable villains, Trevorrow shows us they are capable of so much more. They’re charming, fascinating, and more importantly there’s a soul inside. Now, the taming of the raptors isn’t a show of our ability to control, but rather what happens when we learn to respect nature, which is precisely Owen’s philosophy. Raptors can be more than mindless killing machines. It’s up to the human characters to prove that they’re better than negligent zookeepers.
Sometimes, they can be worse. In-Gen is once again up to no good, plotting something that involves stealing embryos. This is clearly set-up for the next movie, but it’s the same beat from the first film so it’s not much of a step forward. Vic Hoskins, however, as the new face In-Gen, oversteps his bounds completely. For some odd reason, he sees potential in the raptors as deployable weapons. It’s distracting because the notion of dropping raptors in a war-torn region is exactly as it sounds: ludicrous. I can accept the Indominus’ many outlandish traits because at least there’s explanation behind it. How and why Hoskins wants to turn raptors into soldiers is beyond me.
That being said, there’s plenty of ludicrousness to go around. As exemplified through Hoskins, you’ll either run with it or reject it. Luckily, there’s plenty of reasons to run with it. Chris Pratt proves his versatility as an actor, stepping into a role that’s part Indiana Jones and part Jack Colton. Owen may be a hunk, but he’s an intuitive hunk who cares deeply about animals. Then we have Claire, played by Bryce Dallas Howard. Claire spends her days trapped in a corporate environment, which has made her cold and somewhat soulless, until her nephews arrive and re-engage her humanity. Thus, Claire and Owen meet somewhere in the middle. One takes charge while the other has to nurture, and the film has fun with alternating these roles between them.
My one complaint is that Jurassic World relies too heavily on CGI. Part of the wonder of the first film was its groundbreaking use of animatronics. Spielberg, then, challenged his effects team to blend the CG with the practical and keep audiences guessing. Here, it’s pretty obvious that the filmmakers went full CG, but it allows Trevorrow to be more aggressive in staging the dinosaurs. And he does not hold back whether it involves Owen squaring off against raptors, or a heart-pounding showdown between two giants; Trevorrow does his audience proud.
Jurassic World never tries to be better than Jurassic Park. Trevorrow knows and respects that he can’t. Instead, he honors the promises made in the original, while fulfilling our wishes for a thrilling summer blockbuster. As a lifelong fan, it brought a tear to my eye to see the park come to life. I felt like a kid again, which is something I long for whenever I go to the movies. Jurassic World reminded me how important it is to preserve that feeling. Move out of the way, nostalgia. I am lining up again.