Jur-ASS-ic World

I finally got around to watching Jur-ASS-ic World the other night. My lovely wife got me the Jurassic Park complete collection on blu-ray. It was a very thoughtful gift. A nice box set of four movies, and only one of which is any good. Well, that’s what I thought anyway. So, we sat down to watch the Chris Pratt starring reboot, expecting the worst and hoping for, well, not the worst.

It turns out Jur-ASS-ic World is actually pretty good. Of the four films in the series, it’s the second best after the original. The creators of this film managed to do something that most of today’s reboots are incapable of doing: feature nods to the original but do not slavishly adhere to old tropes so much that they create a remake. *coughStarWarscough*

The story is pretty simple: the new theme park, the aptly named Jurassic World, actually opened to the public. People have been able to visit real dinosaurs for years, and nobody has been eaten. It’s a roaring success, and in order to stay a success, the theme park has genetically engineered a new attraction so the masses won’t get bored with the same old dinosaurs.

You could argue that Jur-ASS-ic World is a remake of all the other movies in the series. After all, they’re all basically the same thing: people go to see dinosaurs, dinosaurs escape from holding pens, dinosaurs eat people. But the thing with Jur-ASS-ic World is that they did enough things differently, and enough things right, to set it above the dreck the was Jurassic Park 2 and 3.

Some of the right moves included not going through a laborious origin story. We already had that in the first film. They assumed everyone was familiar with that, and they dived right in. We don’t need to know how the dinosaurs came to be or how the park came to be, that stuff is extraneous at this point. So, we get right into the action a lot sooner without any unnecessary padding.

Another good move was casting Pratt as the star. His Hollywood cache is continuing to grow. He’s a great leading man. He’s got charisma, acting chops, humor, and by all accounts he’s a nice guy, too. There’s pretty much nothing to dislike about him. Coupled with the fact he’s a fan of the original film, you’ve got a match made in heaven. Pratt delivers on all counts. He’s got the appropriate amount of gravitas in serious scenes, he’s able to add levity when the film steers toward the ridiculous, and he’s fun to watch.

The nods to the previous films are just that, nods. You get to see Mr. DNA for a second, and you get to see the original park building for a minute. But they leave it at that without any more. Entire plots aren’t recycled like in Terminator Genysis, and we aren’t forced to sit through fanboy pandering like in Spectre.

Director Colin Trevorrow does a good job behind the camera. The directing is solid, but workmanlike. You don’t get any unusual visual flairs, but you don’t have any stupid bullshit like shakey-cam or 360-degree hero spins. His style is such that you don’t notice the directing, and that’s a good thing here. You want to showcase the dinosaurs, not the director’s ego.

Jur-ASS-ic World also tries to tack on some social commentary. There’s a line about how people aren’t impressed by dinosaurs today like they were 20 years ago (an obvious dig at CGI when the first movie came out compared to today). There’s a glut of commercialism in the theme park like a Starbucks and various other stores. I get the sense that the writers (which include Trevorrow) wanted to say more about society. More about the military-industrial complex. More about our over-fascination with luxury and sameness and commercialism. But they didn’t go far enough. Probably, that was due to studio meddling. The social commentary is at the edges of the film, and perhaps a director with more clout could have put that stuff front and center.

The only misstep of the film is the CGI. The original worked so well because a lot of the dinosaur effects were practical, with use of CGI only when needed. Jur-ASS-ic World, on the other hand, goes full-on CGI for pretty much every shot of a dinosaur. In the beginning, when the raptors are shown in broad daylight, they look fake. They look better in the night shots. Today’s CGI is a lot better than it was 20 years ago, but it still doesn’t look real. They should have used more practical effects, or perhaps done more stuff in the dark to hide the unreality of the work.

The film is a fun, breezy action-adventure ride. There’s not a lot in terms of plot of character depth, but there doesn’t need to be. I came to watch dinosaurs eat people, and I got plenty of that. There’s no need to belabor it with much else. And despite a few cheesy lines here and there, Jur-ASS-ic World, comes across much better than I ever expected. I found myself smiling as I watched it, which isn’t something that happens a lot. It won’t be remembered as a better film than the original, but at least the first film now has a respectable sequel.

Verdict: Good

6 Responses to “Jur-ASS-ic World”

  1. March 3, 2016 at 3:48 am

    Okay, I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect you to enjoy this one at all. I mean, AT ALL. But I’m surprised.

    I thought this was enjoyably naff without being beholden to the original and suffering a critical waste of talent in the villainy department. D’onofrio was useless as the nasty corporate hack again and wasted by the film overall: and that’s just the start.

    Although, in defence of this film, it was popcorn-level amusing and thrilling in bits and pieces (I did like the Uber-Super-Duper-saurus so that was cool).

    • March 3, 2016 at 9:35 am

      I didn’t expect to like it, either. Lack of expectations can usually help a film. Yeah, as a mindless popcorn ride, it delivers. Maybe it doesn’t have the depth of a great film, but it never set out to be that in the first place. Not every movie has to be like that, and even I can recognize that (sometimes).

      • 3 Jonny2x4
        March 4, 2016 at 8:57 am

        Personally I think people put the original Jurassic Park in a ridiculous pedestal and expected way too much from Jurassic World.

      • March 4, 2016 at 1:13 pm

        For the original, you had to be there. Sitting in the theater, as a kid, in 1993, and a fully-formed world of dinosaurs appears before you (and looks GOOD) was totally mind-blowing. Anyone too young will never completely understand. Much how I will never understand what it was like to see the original Star Wars trilogy in the theater.

  2. April 6, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    I love the pun in your title. I agree: The film is a fun amusement park ride. I’m hoping the sequel will go in a new direction–an all-out world war. They could call it Jurassic War. The #1 reason I went to see it is because I read a lot of feminists were calling the film sexist, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

    I wrote a short post on Jurassic World called “Why a Woman Needs a Man.” If you would like to read it, I am open to any helpful feedback: https://christopherjohnlindsay.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/jurassic-world/

    • April 7, 2016 at 8:57 am

      The film doesn’t have much to say either way about men or women. There are stock character tropes, which are lazy, but apart from that I didn’t see anything obviously sexist. I’ll check out your review soon.

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

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February 2016


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