Review: Jurassic World Hit Me Right In The Nostalgia

howardNothing could have matched the original Jurassic Park, but Jurassic World danced so well along the line between charming nostalgia and modern adventure flick that nobody should really care.

The movie was absolutely successful in capturing the feel of the original Jurassic Park, which all of its other sequels utterly failed to do, and made seeing dinosaurs amazing and awe-inspiring all over again, despite the proliferation of realistic-looking cinematic monsters. And it brought back some of the most beautiful touches from the first film, too – for example, a moment where you’re reminded the dinosaurs are living, breathing animals instead of just terrifying monster things out to eat the protagonists.

The dinosaurs are fantastic, and not just in a “movie monsters” way. The movie takes time to make them real animals, and each is a character. The velociraptors are terrifyingly intelligent pack hunters; the T-rex is a majestic killing machine; the triceratops are gentle.

Sprinkled throughout the film are a series of homages to the original, some subtle and some less so. I won’t spoil them for you, but one was already given away by the trailers and most of the posters – the corporate leader in the park wears white, just as John Hammond did in the original.

Then there are a number of occasions in the movie where the film doesn’t take quite the usual action flick route.

prattThe park’s owner is an incredibly rich guy who actually, shockingly, isn’t a horrible person focused on money. The kids in the movie are less annoying than your usual movie children, although like all movie children the younger one has too much hair.

The adult protagonists, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) aren’t complete cardboard stereotypes either. Sure, Owen’s a tough former Navy guy on a motorcycle, but he cares about animals; sure, Claire is career-oriented, but she is absolutely able to hold her own in a dangerous situation. And unlike some reviews have said, she’s not a damsel in distress in this movie, but an active character who makes decisions and acts on them.

That’s not to say the movie is perfect. There were a few missteps.

  • Someone needs to tell Hollywood movie execs that we heartless career women very often have a pair of tennis shoes or hiking boots under our desks. Throughout the movie, Claire runs around in high heels without a misstep. While there are actually women who can do this, the fact that the actress had to train for it as if she were running a marathon should tell you it’s a little bit unusual. And then to do it in a jungle?
  • Another thing: The kids in the movie were okay, but there was a thoroughly unnecessary “let’s-worry-about-our-parents’-marriage” subplot with them that seems to be present in every action movie lately. It doesn’t really harm the movie, but it wasn’t needed.
  • Then there’s the one-note villain. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it; you’ll know who this is the second he steps on the stage anyway. It’s about as subtle as an angry T-rex.
  • The score shines, but it shines most when it’s using pieces from the Jurassic Park score by John Williams. Next time, steal more; you had the rights anyway. Why not pull in some of the lesser-used themes and bump them up? Petticoat Lane, anyone?

But the missteps weren’t enough to kill the sense of wonder we all felt when John Hammond first said “Welcome… to Jurassic Park.”

And that’s what this movie does: It brings back the wonder and the excitement of Jurassic Park and turns you right back into a 12-year-old. Enjoy it.

dino

2 Responses

  1. Jodi

    Great review. I wasn’t going to go see this movie because the trailer looks so over the top and silly. Your insights have me second guessing that decision. Two weekends ago the original Jurassic Park was on 4 different cable channels at the same time. I kid you not. There was Samuel L Jackson at the controls on one channel and flip to the SyFy network (or whatever they are calling themselves these days) and there he was in the exact same spot, not missing a bit of dialogue. I usually wouldn’t have watched but I figured the Fates were talking so I made some popcorn. And you are right, the original is so perfect. When Sam Neill sees dinosaurs for the first time it is so achingly heartwarming, it gets me every time. Thanks for the recommendation. I might have to go to the movies this week.

    1. I wouldn’t call it the greatest action movie ever made but it *was* deeply satisfying in a way that most reboots/sequels never manage to be. It’s a solid movie, and you care enough about the characters to want them to live.

      Unlike movies like Transformers, where you care enough about the characters to sincerely hope they fall down a well or at least get a really bad hangnail or something…

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