Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Jurassic World

*** out of ****

Jurassic World is the best sequel in the Jurassic Park franchise… and that’s a minor compliment. It’s the first entry to throw caution to the wind and behave like the unrestrained dino-rampage movie that big kids want to see. The result is a mixed bag full of fun and stupidity.

The movie asks the question: What if at some point between the first movie and the present day, the vision of the original park's creators was finally realized? In this movie, we visit an alternate universe where de-extinction is commonly accepted and the renamed “Jurassic World” is one of the most popular vacation resorts on the planet.

We follow two adolescent brothers (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson) as audience surrogates into the world of the movie. The younger one of the two, is excited at every opportunity to see a dinosaur, while the older one is distracted by his smartphone, and just as impressed by real live dinosaurs as we are with modern CGI.

Their Aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the resort’s power-suit administrator, with the careless motivation to take the park’s already booming popularity up a level with a dangerous new twist to their dinosaur cloning, courtesy of genetic engineer, Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong -the only returning JP alum).

Chris Pratt is the park’s Velociraptor-wrangler, who works on training the animals, which is catching the eye of a security specialist (Vincent D’Onofrio) who sees their potential for military weaponization.

All these elements culminate to result in dinosaurs on the loose, kids in peril, a badass who can wield the rage of raptors in his favor, and an uptight businesswoman letting loose to save the day. These contrivances are justified by the generic sci-fi jargon of writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) -and are lightened-up through the humor of director Colin Trevorrow and his collaborative writer, Derek Connolly. How their semi-entertaining comedy, Safety Not Guaranteed, landed them this coveted project is beyond me, but at least it isn’t boring.

Michael Giacchino's new score conveys excitement, but fails to use John Williams' original music creatively. Sometimes it's just awkward where you hear the original themes (Yes, themes. Williams was so awesome back in the day, that you left the theater with more than one melody dancing in your head). Giacchino is one of the better composers working on major films today, but it's sad how seldom his work has a big impact.

To my relief, after the online criticisms, like the one on, the final color grading in this movie is normal, resembling the look of the previous movies. It's also primarily shot on film. However, the CGI often suffers from a lot of the industry's needless indulgences pointed out in that brilliant article.

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that I’m probably never going to get the Jurassic Park sequel that I want. The original movie proposed some profound concepts, for which every sequel has refused to expand upon, favoring dinosaur carnage being the result of sheer stupidity and the repetition of the same old mistakes. 

Until this movie, we hadn’t even returned to the original island. As far as spectacle-driven entertainment goes, Jurassic World contains things I always wanted from a JP sequel accompanied by things I never wanted from a JP sequel. I don’t have the time to list them, but the overall experience they create, is acceptable, brainless entertainment.

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