When I was 8 years old my parents let me watch my first “scary movie” – and it was something that I’d look back to as the first time I was genuinely frightened by a movie. That film was Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster, Jurassic Park. This would remain, along with the likes of Star Wars, Toy Story, and A Christmas Story, one of the most beloved films of my upbringing. I remember how excited I was to go see the sequel in 1997. The Lost World is a movie I probably enjoy more than most (an entire movie of Dr. Ian Malcolm!), though admittedly it can’t live up to the awe and thrill of the first. Unfortunately they kept going and made a third, a movie I recently revisited and really disliked.
That was in 2001. Fourteen years later, relative newcomer Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) heads up an attempt to recreate the same reactions in both a faithful fandom and a new wave of unsuspecting victims with the new movie, Jurassic World. With a new cast, headed up by leading man Chris Pratt and the under-appreciated Bryce Dallas Howard, and 14 years of CGI and technical advancement, dinosaurs live to roam the earth once again.
The question is, does anyone care? Is this still a magnetic, thrilling idea? And if not, what would they have to do to make this sequel/reboot/whatever a success?
Well, now that we’re through the first weekend, the box office success is already there and in a bigger way than anyone saw coming. World opened to a ridiculous $204 million , the second largest opening weekend haul in history. I personally had to drive to a different theater because the show times for the next 3 slots were sold out.
Needless to say, the faithful fan-boys and their eager but ignorant kids all came out to relive the magic Spielberg gave us the moment Sam Neil’s Dr. Grant watched a heard of brontosauruses make their way across an open plain to the swelling sound of John Williams' iconic score.
The new film takes place at the wildly popular theme park, Jurassic World, which is located on the original island of Isla Nublar. We join two typical youngsters who have a first class trip to the resort through their Aunt, played by Howard, who is a big executive at the park. They are later joined by a velociraptor trainer of sorts – Chris Pratt. As imagined, some things get out of hand, escalate rapidly, and chaos ensues.
The questions that still remains, however, is what would World do differently than it’s predecessors to not only drum up nostalgia but re-invigorate an archived saga? The biggest question for me, which I don’t really feel was answered well enough, was why the heck would anyone still be messing with genetically engineered giant lizards after the first three movies proved that it doesn’t go well?
The film seems to be very self-aware of all of this and almost acts as a commentary of itself in the way it sets up the plot. Early on Howards leads a group of investors through the park. She asks them what they want, and they answer that they simply want to be “thrilled.” She has another conversation with the park’s principal owner and says that just having dinosaurs isn’t good enough any more. This is the same idea the movie is juggling in reality.
It’s no longer good enough to just have some sparkly special effects. The originals were ground-breaking, but that won’t cut it in a overloaded pool of CGI driven action movies.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the nostalgic ride, I don’t feel like they really did a whole lot for the series. Most of the characters were barely developed, minus possibly Howard’s, and the weight of the original just wasn’t there. Several minor plots twists ramped things up a bit, but those were fairly insignificant to the main points the movie was making. I did find this to be a better ride than the third installment, and you certainly wouldn’t have found me glancing at my watch out of boredom. It was worth a trip to the theater to relive some of that nostalgic movie magic., but the movie probably won’t be on a top 10 list by year’s end.
Did you see Jurassic World? Agree or disagree with me? Leave a comment!