“Jurassic World” — A Film Review (Spoiler-Free!)

Well, it’s been 14 years since we last had a Jurassic Park movie. Pretty unbelievable. For a while, I thought they might never continue with the franchise. But lo and behold, here we are in 2015 with the fourth film in theaters.

It’s not just in theaters, though. It’s absolutely dominating them. On its opening weekend, it grossed over $500 million worldwide — the biggest global opening of any movie.

Ever.

The filmmakers probably had a pretty good idea of what they were getting into when they officially decided to make a new film, but I’m not sure whether they anticipated quite that huge a success. So, money aside, the question is: did the film do its job revitalizing the thought-to-be-extinct franchise?

In this guy’s opinion, it certainly did.

No, this is not an official poster. It's fan-made. I just thought it was cool. Oh, you want the real poster? *sigh* Fine.

No, that’s not an official poster. I just thought it was cool. Deal with it.

When publicity for this movie started going into full swing, I decided to avoid said publicity as much as possible. I would not watch any of the trailers, I unfollowed the Jurassic Park page on Facebook, all that kind of thing. I didn’t want to know what the dinosaurs looked like, I didn’t want to know the story. I wanted to be completely surprised by everything when I finally saw the movie.

Of course, my plan didn’t work out entirely. Sometimes accidentally, and sometimes because my self-control cracked, I did learn a few little things here and there. Not knowing these things would have been nice, but it didn’t spoil my movie experience at all, thankfully. All throughout the movie, I didn’t know what was going to happen. There was tension. There was excitement. There was even some great humor sprinkled throughout. And by the end, I couldn’t believe it was already over. I wanted more.

Oh, I was satisfied with the movie, don’t get me wrong! But I wanted more. As in I enjoyed the movie a lot, and I wanted more of it. Let’s dive in with more detail, shall we?

The film gets going pretty quickly — very quickly, actually, which is one of my only major gripes with the movie. We don’t get much setup or background at all. I personally would have liked more exposition, but it doesn’t detract from the film as a whole too much. Still, though, I do think it’s a problem.

The characters in this film are not quite as memorable as the cast of the original film, but I definitely liked them quite a bit in general. Now, the Jurassic Park films have never been especially deep in terms of character development, and Jurassic World is no exception. Still, though, I liked these characters and wanted them to succeed. Our main players are Claire Dearing, Owen Grady, Gray Mitchell, and Zach Mitchell.

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Of these players, Claire is the one who receives the most development. Played charmingly by Bryce Dallas Howard, she’s a rather cold and mechanical woman at first, and she doesn’t seem to care enough about her two nephews she hasn’t seen in about seven years. Throughout the course of the film, though, she grows. I can’t say exactly how, since this is a stripped-down, spoiler-free version of my full review, but rest assured that Claire has an interesting arc, even if it isn’t especially complex.

Owen is a great character as well. He doesn’t really change, but he’s important to the story also. He’s a solid, no-nonsense do-gooder played fantastically by Chris Pratt. He’s almost like a combination of Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm from the original film: the former because of his respect for dinosaurs and down-to-earth qualities, and the latter for knowing when to tell people that their ideas are bad and will inevitably lead to disaster. All things considered, I’d say Owen is easily my favorite character from the movie.

The two kids, Zach and Gray, are pretty decent. Gray is a nice preteen boy who’s fascinated with dinosaurs, and quite likeable as a character. Zach, unfortunately, is less likeable, taking the stereotypical role of a careless teenager who’s often mean to his brother and likes to stare at pretty girls — even though he already has a girlfriend (although he doesn’t seem very into her at this point in their relationship; in fact, it could easily be inferred from the brief scene we see them together that he is wanting to break up soon). Now, thankfully this all doesn’t last. As the story progresses, Zach reassures Gray that he’ll protect him, and the two brothers bond through their adventures. I do wish, though, that Zach’s staring problem had actually been addressed. It’s a loose end that never gets resolved, which irks me a little.

There are some supporting characters of note, too. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, though, I’ll just mention one: a guy named Lowery, who I’ve heard described as a “reverse Dennis Nedry” (the guy from the first film who steals the embryos). He seems pretty geeky, and he’s criticized for having a messy desk; he even wears similar-looking glasses. Unlike Nedry, though, he’s a good guy who wants to help in any way he can (and he’s got a lot of the funniest lines from the movie, too).

I think that’s enough for characters. What about the dinosaurs?

The dinosaurs are pretty great! Since this review is spoiler-free, though, I can’t talk specifically about them. What I can talk about is what they look like. I was hoping for a good mixture of CGI and animatronics in this film, but unfortunately, it’s mostly CGI that we get. Now, it looks pretty good for the most part — certainly better than in Jurassic Park III — but I was definitely hoping for even better. Oh well. It doesn’t really detract from the movie, I just wish that there was less reliance on CGI these days.

The film also contains many references and homages to the original film, which was a fantastic touch. Again, though, I don’t want to give any of them away, so . . . MOVING ON!

Oh! I must mention the music! Unfortunately, the music didn’t impress me as much as I thought it would. Sure, I loved the uses of the original themes, and there were some standouts here and there for the new music. But I didn’t get the “mind-blowingly awesome” score that I was hoping for. Now, I was only disappointed with the score while I was watching the film; but I’m actually listening to the soundtrack as I type this review, and I can now appreciate the music better now that I don’t have the movie to distract me. It’s a good score, really. It just doesn’t “wow” me quite as much as I’d hoped it would. Personally, my favorite musical moment is a slower, more nostalgic rendition of the ending music from the first movie (the piano solo as they’re riding away in the helicopter). (And shockingly, this part of the score isn’t on the soundtrack! Seriously?!)

Better wrap this up. So. In conclusion.

All in all, Jurassic World is a solid and immensely entertaining entry in the franchise. Colin Trevorrow is clearly a capable director. The story is solid and fun, the cast is very enjoyable, the dinosaurs are still awesome and scary, the music is good, the homages to the first film are wonderful, the humor is great, and it’s really just so good to finally see a new Jurassic Park movie. While this film didn’t make my heart pound like I’d hoped (I fondly recall the “raptors in the kitchen” scene from the first movie), it did make me jump a few times, and there also were several moments that made me go “Oh . . . snap.” There’s thrilling action and some pretty great tension. So, while the original film is still the best to me, this is my favorite of the sequels. I look forward to watching it many more times. And bring on the next movie!

Jurassic World gets a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars!

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I hope you enjoyed this review of the film, even though it’s pretty thin. There’s a way to fix that, though. GO SEE THE MOVIE ALREADY!!! *ahem* And then you can read a much more in-depth review (and with more pictures!).

See you in two weeks! You get another movie review then — this time for Pixar’s latest outing, Inside Out. See you then!

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