Jurassic World: Life, uh, Finds a Way Again

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Jurassic World picks up about 20 years after where Jurassic Park left off. Now with state of the art containment systems, live stage shows and rides with a Jimmy Fallon soundtrack, Jurassic World has turned dinosaurs into a safer amusement. That is until Indominus Rex comes along. Created in a lab by Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) for the purpose of spiking interest in the park again, Indominus Rex  is a combo of Tyrannosaurus Rex and a variety of other dinosaurs and amphibians that the research team refuses to divulge to the park, or heck even the people running the park. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is our stereotypical woman in charge. Her chief concerns are keeping a good front and making sure that the money keeps rolling into the park. Her sister Karen (Judy Greer) sends her children, Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) to visit their Aunt while  dealing with problems with her marriage. Gray and Zach are quickly passed off to Claire’s assistant, the lovely British Zara (Katie McGrath), due to important work Claire can’t possibly get away from. When her boss, Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), sees the new dinosaur he is immediately worried about the paddock the creature is being kept in. The creature’s name is Indominous after all. The creature has already adapted to its environment, eaten its sibling and learned to predict where its food is coming from. He informs Claire that it is time to have an expert come look at the place. Claire goes to resident Velociraptor trainer and ex-Navy man, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt). Owen is a no frills, Steve Irwin-type who wants nothing more than the good behavior of his Velociraptors and to keep them away from the head of a Navy project headed by Hoskins (Vincent D’Onfrio). Hokins wants to use the creatures to hunt in the Middle East and take our terrorists, regardless of the fact the creatures are difficult to control. Owen and Claire have a history, which is made immediately awkward and apparent. He agrees to check out the paddock, but immediately informs Claire that Indominous Rex is a terrible idea and likely has already become uncontrollable as it has been raised in isolation. When inspecting the cage, Indominous Rex blends into its surroundings as a stealth technique and convinces the group that it has escaped. Two park staff are attacked and Indominous Rex escapes into the park and puts everyone on the island, including thousands of guests, at risk.

I loved Jurassic World, but there are some things you should know going in. If your best friend is a paleontologist and they are going to want to argue with you every detail of what Jurassic World got wrong, maybe leave them at home for this film. There are quite a few behaviors and looks that are most definitely designed for the thrill of an audience and not for accuracy. First of all,  the Jurassic period isn’t even the right time period for most of these creatures, but I digress.  This movie is not designed to be a think piece; it is designed to be an action/adventure film. Throwbacks to the original Jurassic Park film are everywhere. Look for Mr. DNA in displays, Ian Malcolm’s book “God Makes Dinosaurs,” a statue and hall dedicated to John Hammond, and a special surprise from one of everyone’s favorite dinosaurs in a holograph display. There is also a part of the film that explores old parts of the park, so hold onto your JP Jeeps everyone.

As the music swelled and that old familiar John Williams tune played, I teared up. It felt like coming home, even with new additions. Lowery (Jake Johnson) does an excellent job of portraying a man deeply touched by the previous park. He considers himself a follower of Ian Malcolm, even looking like his hero, and has the dinosaur toys and  an old Jurassic Park t-shirt (100$ on Ebay evidently), even if it is in what Claire considers to be poor taste. Owen Grady is a fantastic character, full of the spirit of Quint from Jaws and a little bit of Starlord without the gadgets. Pratt is obviously enjoying the role the whole film, and his quick lines roll off the tongue. D’Onfrio’s Hoskins is stellar, and this actor is really starting to earn his chops as a serious villain contender. It is difficult not to get completely caught up in the music, action sequences, and catchy dialogue. It is equally difficult not to be thrilled by the little homages back to the original film.

The women in this film are a bit hard to swallow, even with The Guardian saying the  being female should put us at ease. Claire is far dumber than the major head of a dinosaur park should be. Sure, she’s basically a manager with sales skills, but she’s the head of one of the biggest attractions in the world. She runs in heels through a jungle and we are left to believe that this is totally normal. She is shown to be sad that she doesn’t have kids of her own and her sister doesn’t really help the issue. If she doesn’t have kids, it doesn’t need to be a major point in the script. Who the hell cares? How does this have anything to do with the fact that there is a park full of dinosaurs coming to kill everyone? It’s admirable she’s concerned about the safety of her nephews, but for crying out loud you can be sans children and still be worried about the offspring of your siblings.  Bryce Dallas Howard’s portrayal only gets worse when she tries to push up her sleeves in her designer outfit and act like a badass in front of Chris Pratt. I desperately wanted to replace her with Zara (Katie McGrath), who manages to be mostly competent, save for losing Gray and Zach, and that whole pesky getting eaten nonsense.  Karen (Judy Greer) gives her kids terrible advice about running from dinosaurs (they do better jumping into water to mask their smell) and leaves her kids with her sister for several days in order to start divorce proceedings which she’s tried to hide from her kids. This is a shame, as Gray is WAY more perceptive than she gives him credit for. When your kid remembers the exact number of teeth in a dinosaur’s mouth, maybe you shouldn’t leave out divorce lawyer business cards where he can find them. She, however, manages to be a loving concerned mother who is believable in both her frustrations with Claire and her worries over her kids.

Overall, Jurassic World is part action/adventure and part morality tale. Nature should be approached with respect and caution, not the desire to create the biggest, scariest thing in the world to sell tickets to a bunch of tourists. I adored the film and appreciate being given another chance to relive one of my favorite franchises without the addition of Shia Labeouf or crystal skulls.

Jurassic World is now in theaters.

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