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Pretty Bad36.84%
Total Crap: 31.58%

4 reviews, 14 user ratings

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Jurassic World
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by Erik Childress

"22 Years In The Making Yet 65 Million Behind"
2 stars

Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park was one of the many game changers in the evolutionary line of special effects films. Though it still blended traditional animatronics with newly-integrated CGI it led to the old school effects men to recognize they were about to become extinct (a line then incorporated into the film.) It was much more than that though to a generation of filmgoers both young and old. Becoming the highest-grossing film in history (until Titanic came along) it holds a fond place in the hearts of many regardless of where it fits into their all-time Spielberg rankings. Clearly that is the case of director Colin Trevorrow who was hand-picked to make the leap from a modest, but well-received first film (Safety Not Guaranteed) to a major Universal tentpole much the same way Spielberg was with Jaws. As if heeding the warning though of his first film's title - a story involving a homemade time machine and a theme of wanting to correct the past - Trevorrow treads way too close on the heels of what came before him. The result is an effort so beholden to the iconic bits of the original that it never breaks free to become its own film.

Taking place 22 years after the events of the original (and reportedly going Bobby Ewing on the sequels), Isla Nublar is now a fully functioning tourist attraction. The park is operational with the kind of staff Dennis Nedry spoke of, but attendance has plateaued as of late. In the hopes of drawing in new crowds, Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), the heir apparent to John Hammond and his park manager, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) have cross-bred an entirely new species of dinosaur. The Indominus Rex is made up of T-Rex parts and, well, a bunch of other classified stuff including frogs but minus the snails and puppy dogs tails because that wouldn't be scary or fast enough.

The attraction has not yet been made open to the public as there are still unknown safety concerns. So they want to bring in Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), an ex-Navy man who now spends his time training velociraptors. (Yes, you read that right.) Naturally, Owen and Claire have a history - one date, but still - and just as he arrives it appears the animal has escaped setting off an institutional panic behind the scenes. Complicating matters are Claire's nephews (Nick Robinson & Ty Simpkins) somewhere off the leash in the park and need to be tracked down while the hunt for the dino is on. There is also Hoskins (Vincent D'Onofrio) the InGen rep who believes that if raptors can indeed be put under control they can be sicced on our military enemies and he sees the opportunity for the ultimate test run now.

The more one pays attention to the unfolding plot of Jurassic World, the more one understands that the film has gone past tribute to following the Hollywood rules of crafting a sequel. Follow the blueprint and just make it bigger. This is all the more disappointing consider the film all but opens with its greatest possible innovation. As the two boys, one a science nerd and the other well into accelerated pubescence, approach the theme park the familiar notes of John Williams guide the way. Using the original iconic score from the moment we were first held in breathless rapture at the appearance of the Brachiosaurus, we now find ourselves under the same spell but to present our species dominance on the food chain of commerce. It's a striking contrast that provides hope that this will be as much a satiric lesson in our cinematic overindulgence as it is a dinosaur adventure. Alas all its morality wrangling is no different than any other Man-as-God sci-fi film (nothing nearly as interesting as screenwriters Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver's work on the new Rise & Dawn Apes films) and its big dinosaur moments also feel right out of another time. Literally.

At times Trevorrow feels like he wants to amp the action up to Aliens-like levels of intensity with armed guards hunting down the Indominus. When the non-lethal ones fail, bring in the bigger guns - and watch them fail just as quickly. For those quick to deride Spielberg's original for not being JUST a rampaging monster movie, the opportunity is always on the table for the next director in line. (And yet Joe Johnston's perfectly fine 90-minute Jurassic Park III was just that and is often dismissed.) However this one reaches no further than the first film for inspiration. Not following the playbook and peppering it with his own spices, but merely following the recipe down to the letter until it finally feels like the "synthetic" steak cooked up by Seth Brundle in The Fly.

Hiding under cars to avoid detection and two kids terrorized in a vehicle who manage to escape to lower ground give you a direct taste from a vintage '93. Despite choosing to ignore the events of the sequels (and hoping the audience forgot them too) we get an open field (or open jungle) raptor attack from the second and a bigger attack from the skies as finally seen in the third. Evidently no one thought of trying to craft an attack on the mountainside monorail. Of course not, because it wasn't in any of the previous films. By the time we get to the Deus Rex machina of the virtually identical climax (complete with a reprise of the biggest dino on display) the film has succumbed to the gods of repetition and there is no turning back.

Pratt certainly looks and feels the part and is transitioning nicely from supporting goof to full-on star, but he still seems like he's playing second fiddle especially when he's thrust directly into the Hammond subplot from the original. ("I wonder if perhaps you would be good enough to take a gas jeep, and bring back my grandchildren.") Howard unfortunately takes on the Hammond part here, only with all the feminine clichés we have come to expect out of an action movie. From the 1980s. A workaholic with no time for family, but when it comes time to be a reluctant action heroine, a tight tanktop is revealed and the skirt becomes torn enough to provide a leg show. Visually pleasing perhaps and it could have even served as another opportunity for satire if Claire was not written as such a one-dimensional space-filler with Howard's performance making the space seem that much more empty. For all the leaps this summer has seen in advancing the role for women in summer blockbusters from Charlize Theron's Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road to even Melissa McCarthy's Susan Cooper in Spy, this is a major step back even if Claire does end up with her own action figure before Black Widow does.

"It's OK to lie to people when they're scared," says one dumb character to another. Aside from that replacing "fair & balanced" as the new Fox News slogan, it actually makes for a more apt description of Jurassic World than the winking industry meta of "No one's impressed by a dinosaur anymore" or Jake Johnson's tech wearing a bit of 1993 nostalgia and reminding us how great that park was. (Johnson also has the film's greatest bit alongside fellow tech Lauren Lapkus when he decides to turn hero himself.) For all the noise, sound design and special effects, Jurassic World certainly does not slow down enough to be boring. But it is lying to itself and generations of fans if a change in actors, location and daylight are substitutes for ingenuity or mere homage. Not a single action beat from Jurassic World would make a top five list from the series (i.e. T-Rex attack, kitchen raptors, the trailer ravine, electrical fence, pterodactyls.) Like the movie itself, the actual park may have saved themselves $26 million if they had just allowed nature to take its course and allow its T-Rex and a raptor to have their Baxter/Bear moment and create their own little Indominus. (If suspension of disbelief is on high alert, then we must allow this perversity as well.) It is unfair to saddle Trevorrow with the historical gravitas that this was to be his Jaws. Instead it turns out to be his Jaws II. In spirit, if not quality.

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originally posted: 06/11/15 01:06:17
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User Comments

4/06/19 Kengh It’s really disappointing reboot. 1 stars
6/11/17 Homo habilis I'd rather step in literal Triceratops poo than watch this figurative Triceratops poo 1 stars
10/30/16 morris campbell by the numbers but the dinos still thrill 4 stars
9/30/15 Loopy fairly boring and by the numbers, a few cool moments not enough 2 stars
7/10/15 Paula Daniels Liked it but very short time wise 4 stars
7/09/15 Luke C Enjoyed it, but doesn't touch the original even remotely 4 stars
7/07/15 mr.mike "Is Noice" (Borat) 4.5 stars 4 stars
6/22/15 KingNeutron Liked it, but really wasn't scary like the 1st film 4 stars
6/17/15 Jack The worst of all the JP films. 1 stars
6/17/15 action movie fan great exciting ginosaur moive bat6tles danger the best so far for 2015 5 stars
6/15/15 DeebaDoobie The climax reminded me of the 'Time Masheen' in 'Idiocracy' LOL 1 stars
6/14/15 Del The plot was predictable. The action was boring. The jokes were lame and the plot lazy. 1 stars
6/13/15 Bob Dog Shoddy reboot. 2 stars
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