While sharing an elevator with a small boy and his dad, this kid ecstatically informed me about how he was going to see Jurassic World for the second time. He beamed with excitement as he described to me the grand finale in which the bad raptors turned good to join forces with the T-rex and beat the evil dinosaur. I smiled deeply at this young man’s enthusiasm which mirrored that twerp of a dinosaur-lover I was when I saw Jurassic Park at the age of eight.
I tend not to bring nostalgia into my reviews since I believe it cheapens the effect for those who are not in on the franchise. But when I first saw this movie in the theater, I sat next to two little girls under the age of 10. Some critics have cited how the grim violence may be too dark and shocking for kids who are into dinosaurs. These two girls were on the edge of their seat during the action and cackled with thrills as dinosaurs gobbled humans. Most kids are smart enough to enjoy the PG-13 action of a monster picture without cowering in their seats. If I could take this type of intensity at 8, then today’s kids are more than capable of not only handling the action, but enjoying it as well. It was such an amazing sights to witness that thrill once again and share it with a new generation.
Okay, enough about the kids. Does the movie succeed without the amazing dinosaur special effects? For what is essentially a winking homage to the original, Jurassic World does its job well. It fulfills that dark fantasy I always wanted to see in the original – the opening of the dinosaur park. All the rides, attractions and exhibits are all fully operational alongside the containment of prehistoric beasts. It’s all very elaborate and commercialized. And I couldn’t wait to see it all come crumbling under the weight of dinosaur carnage. The movie constantly teases all the gruesome fun to come from the “trained” raptors to the giant sea creature that can swallow whales whole.
But what of the human characters? As with any monster movie, the characters are mostly just vessels for the destruction. The good news is they’re likable enough to not be completely one-dimensional. Chris Pratt naturally steals the show as the likable scientist/dinosaur ranger – dressed in a ruff garb and riding into the action on a motorcycle. His romantic interest is a shrewd park manager played by Bryce Dallas Howard with a good mix of being overly business and frazzled with emotion. Vincent D’Onofrio is well cast as the war-hungry military man that becomes the villain and Irrfan Khan does a nice job as an eccentric investor. The only returning character comes in the form of B.D. Wong – reprising his role as the scientist Doctor Henry Wu.
But there are far more returning elements from the original Jurassic Park than just one character. Several winks and nods to the original and peppered into both the story and visuals. The park itself is built around the ruins of the previous movie – leading to its discovery as a tomb of nostalgia. The new prehistoric creatures that roam the park use familiar methods by placing their eyes close to their prey and sniffing them before taking a big chomp. It does become a little tiresome with all its callbacks, but there’s thankfully enough originality at play by the third act when the all the park attractions savage the human guests.
Jurassic World is genuine adventure and excitement that will entertain adults, but perhaps entertain the kids even more. It’s packed with enough dinosaur action and genuine thrills to make up for all the usual tropes of the monster movie genre that usually dampen the experience. Sure, I could be the downer adult who rains on the parade by berating the lack of deeper character, the banking on nostalgia and the level of violence, which could be deemed inappropriate for kids. But how could I deny the same level of joy that I experienced when it’s renewed for a new generation?