Saturday, July 11, 2015

Jurassic World

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  Dammit...I really want a pack of raptors now.

Jurassic World – 4 out of 5

I know, I know…I’m late to the game on this one. This latest return to the world that Steven Spielberg originally brought to the silver screen 22 years ago has already taken in all the money in existence and, for one reason or another (usually involving fighting dinosaurs of my own—yes, Chris Pratt’s character is based on me and my raptor farm), I didn’t get to see Jurassic World until this last weekend. Believe me, it killed me to go weekend after weekend not seeing it because this looked like excellent popcorn summer blockbuster action fun. Now, after seeing it, I can safely say that it was exactly that!
                                                                                                                   Universal Pictures
This movie could just be director Colin Trevorrow talking about his favorite cereal and why
a T-rex would hate that cereal but it would still be an awesome movie if they just
randomly cut to this every 20 minutes.

22 years has passed and John Hammond’s dream of a park populated by real, scientifically birthed dinosaurs is a reality. However, park manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) isn’t satisfied with just "good enough" attendance and it is her responsibility to make sure that the park is always overflowing with guests. To do this, the Jurassic World laboratory produces a hybrid dinosaur called the Indominus Rex. However, like all times that the folks behind this park have played God, things end badly and the Indominus Rex escapes. Now the guests, including Claire’s nephews; Gary (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson), are threatened by a rampaging dino. Claire turns to raptor expert and trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to try and subdue the threat but the Indominus proves to be more than they bargained for thanks to its hodge podged genetics. The very safety and future of the park is at risk if Grady can’t contain the beast…however, Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio); the head of security, thinks there may be another way to stop the creature and it involves a plan he has for the weaponization of the velociraptors.
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Raptors as weapons?  What type of madness are you up to now, Kingpin?

Plain and simple, Jurassic World is a lot of fun but it lacks the substance that the original film had. There’s no real terror moments like when the Tyrannosaurus Rex first attacked during the storm (who can forget the water ripple and that roar?) and the characters are terrifyingly underwhelming. In fact, I hate to say it but too often the dinos have more personality and are more dynamic than the human players. At its very core, this film is a shallow sequel not completely unlike The Lost World and the third film. It pales when compared to the first one and it lacks substance and soul. I know that sounds mean but this film is still pretty damn entertaining! There’s nothing wrong with mindless fun and this film proves it.
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This was literally all I needed to see in the trailer to sell me on this film.

The real highlight to this film is the dinosaurs because they’re the real stars. It’s awful to say but too often they were easier to watch than a majority of the characters. With an exemption held to Chris Pratt because he is genuinely good in the film and for the fact he is Chris Pratt, not many characters in the film have much depth going on with them and this lack of meat to the role is seen often in the performances. For the most part, no actor is flat-out terrible but too few of them really tried to stand out either. 
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You are legally required to add this picture when writing about Jurassic World.
                                                                                      Universal Pictures
Add a flare to any character in an action movie and they look
45% cooler.
Bryce Dallas Howard is great towards the end but is too cheesy during the first quarters of the film. The nephew characters feel like the pre-requisite of having children in mortal dino danger and the only real thing I felt for that was just a desire to not see them die (I'm not a monster)—that might be enough but I just couldn’t get invested in them emotionally due to be very poorly written. Finally, as much as I like Vincent D’Onofrio, his character felt like too much of his background is left on the cutting room floor and feels sorta out-of-place in most of the story until he's actually required. He’s a terrific actor and does well with his performance but the writing of his character left me wondering what type of person he’s suppose to be because he’s not completely bad but he’s not completely good either. He, like a lot of characters in the film, felt incomplete.
                                                                                                                   Universal Pictures
Now imagine what Michael Bay would do with that gyrosphere if he directed the film...
it would probably be the butt of a dino testicle joke.

However, like I said, no actor is outright terrible in their performance and there are some amazingly entertaining and engaging characters. For example, Chris Pratt’s character of Owen is really cool. He has just right amount of Pratt’s usual sass but mixed in with a guy who has a respect for his pack of raptors—plus, it’s just fucking awesome seeing Pratt with domesticated raptors. That fact alone was the reason I had to see the movie. Additionally, there are some really fun moments from Jake Johnson as a control room guy who seems to be the Anti-Dennis Nedry and it was definitely cool to see BD Wong return as Dr. Henry Wu.
                                                                                                                   Universal Pictures
He might have had some of the funniest moments in the film.

It’s a little disappointing that the film didn’t rely on mixing practical effects and computer effects to the degree the first film did—there are practical effects but CG is the name of the game here—but the results speak for themselves. Occasionally, this reliance on computer generated dinos takes away from a scene because it really feels like nothing is happening on set and too much is added in post but, for the most part, the effects are really cool and they really brought the Indominus, raptors, Mosasaurus, and other dinosaurs to life well.
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I'm sure this will end pleasantly for that man.

                                                                                      Universal Pictures
Seriously, I don't care about the risk, let's make this park
a reality and you can have all of my money!
Another thing I really enjoyed was how well the set designers and crew were able to create a world that made for a believable park. From the moment they arrive, all the little park gags, the way the sets looked and little things like the area where kids can ride and pet baby dinosaurs not only elicited me saying "Awwww" at the widdle baby dinos but it really submerged me in the reality of the park. Things like having corporate sponsorships on attractions and recognizable names for stores and restaurants on the main walkway made everything a little more real about the ordeal and made the world really come to life in a fun way.
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The attention to detail when making the park look legit is on point.

The first film was all about the horrors of science gone wrong—or as Jeff Goldblum said so famously about how the scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they never stopped to think if they should. The first film plays around with a lot of horror elements like when the T-rex attacks, the raptors' hunt, and Nedry’s unfortunate fate. While World does have some scary moments, like when the pterosaurs attack the guests and the fact that the Indominus Rex is capable of going all Predator on the collective asses of the park’s dino control unit but the real emphasis on this film is action and spectacle. That’s not necessarily a bad thing at all because when the film goes full Godzilla during the climax (I honestly thought I was going to see Ken Watanabe show up and say, "Let them fight.") or when we see the comradery between Owen and his pack of raptors; Charlie, Delta, Echo and Blue (and even when Blue pulls out a surprise, almost pro-wrestler like return to the fight), it all adds up to the 12 year old in me going nuts with excitement.
                                                                                                                   Universal Pictures
You're my girl, Blue!

Like I said, there’s not much depth to Jurassic World but that’s not necessarily a bad thing—I’m not going to sit on my throne in my ivory tower and act like I only watch films with deep character studies and complex drama (I’m the guy who goes ape shit for every superhero movie that arrives). Popcorn blockbusters are just as good to me as more complex films. They satisfy different parts of our brains and seeing a dude ride a motorcycle with a pack of raptors running with him or seeing a Tyrannosaurus rex lumber out of the shadows ready to fuck some shit is just exciting and a shit ton of fun. Jurassic World has a lot of issues with its human cast and the writing of their characters and the overreliance on computer effects but it still is a very fun movie that has some awesome moments that make the price of admission worth it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to imprint on some newly hatched raptors and show them that I’m the Alpha!

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