Jurassic World cannot live up to the shock, awe, wonder, and amazement that came after the advent of Jurassic Park. It was that awe and wonder which spawned such a pop culture following the original movie and influenced so many young children of my generation. It was a product of its time. Jurassic World, by contrast, is not - as were the previous sequels - an attempt to capitalize on the success of the first by continuing the storyline. Nor is it exactly a "reboot." Rather, it is an odd duck - an action movie nostalgia trip. But, with strong action and a good chunk of self-referential humor, Jurassic World ends up being fun in its own right.
Jurassic World delivers something that, I think, people might initially see as impossible to measure against the original. The movie, despite the places it could have gone in attempting to reproduce the experience of the original movie, does not even seem to think that is possible. Perhaps they are correct. As one character intimates, the world has seen dinosaurs and is no longer in wonder at their existence. Jurassic Park II could not be done the same way as the original. Instead, it goes in a different direction and tells its own story.
Jurassic World thus ignores the other two movie sequels. It instead begins from the premise that the original park, despite its failure, was continued under new management and went on to become quite successful. Masrani Corporation - run by the most simplistic character in the movie, Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) - has now produced a world-class resort complete with Hilton, Ben & Jerry's, and a hibachi grill restaurant. Twenty years, however, after its world debut, the park ceases to hold the same charm, forcing management to attempt a new dinosaur launch. This time, they attempt to genetically engineer a dinosaur hybrid which is, to quote the movie, "cooler" than the others. This is the park's most nasty and newest attraction, as well as the protagonist of the movie - the "Indominus Rex."
The movie follows two primary storylines. First, that of a pair of kids visiting the island - Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) - who happen to be nephews of the current operations manager, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). After what beings as a routine, and boring, visit to an overly commercialized park, they are quickly sucked into the middle of the (dangerous) action and begin a quick-paced marathon of survival attempts. The second storyline follows the operations manager, Claire, and Owen (Chris Pratt), an ex-Navy animal expert who works at the park. Theirs is the task of being at the helm of restoring order to the park and evacuating the visitors as best they can when Indominus Rex breaks out of its confinement. In the wake of the breakout, the park descends quickly into chaos, and eventually some very radical measures are taken involving ever-escalating force. In the most extreme moment, the park's notoriously dangerous Velociraptors, who Owen has been attempting to train, are employed as fox hounds in a grand hunt for the Indominus.
The movement and resolution of the movie is both disappointing and satisfying. It is easy to get hung up on its shortcomings. For one, much of the story is overly linear. The characters are mostly flat, Masrani and D'Onofrio probably as the most annoyingly so. Chris Pratt's character redeems the movie at points, but his own acting charm is rather squashed by the dialog written for him. On the other hand, however, the movie is, to its own merit, a bit tongue-in-cheek. There are jokes about the name of "Indominus Rex", references to moments in the original movie, jokes about characters, and even a visit to the ruins of the original park. While not a parody, it is clearly not attempting to replicate the first movie - only allude to it. These are the moments, nevertheless, that help redeem its plot from being merely stale thrills and explosions. But, even so, the action sequences and the story can be at many points compelling. It has lost a great deal on story-telling, but it is not vacuous.
Jurassic World may not be philosophical, as the first movie attempted to be in its moral message about chaos and tampering with nature, but it does not have those same high goals, for better or worse. Taken as what it offers itself to be, a somewhat nostalgic and light action movie, Jurassic World succeeds. It is not the best movie you could see this summer, but it is far from being the worst. If you were a fan of the original Jurassic Park, I think you should spare no expense.
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10.