The Pretty Good ‘Jurassic World’

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Jurassic World is a pretty solid film. It is perfectly fun summer escapism with amazing effects, nice performances, a decent story, and mostly likable characters. It is not the greatest thing ever made and it is not a hideous injustice to the artistic expression and power of cinema. It falls somewhere in between and will likely be forgotten by next summer when Hollywood rolls out the red carpet for another Marvel film or 80’s franchise reboot; that is okay.

The problem with everything that exists today in the internet, heading into the post-internet age, where children are learning to communicate through screens almost before they can communicate face-to-face, is that there is so much creativity and content at our fingertips that “okay” is not flashy enough. Okay does not garner clicks, likes, or retweets and is no longer an opinion worth having. Everything is hyperbolic and the only acceptable speech is superlatives. It is the “greatest”, the “worst”, the “best”, the “coolest”, the “scariest”, or the “lamest”. But if it does not end in “est” then why should anyone even care about it? People today need to be polarized about everything because it is more fun to either passionately hate or love a movie, and any middle ground is boring and becoming increasingly obsolete. This is dangerous territory because it removes a wide spectrum of criticism and the nuance of discussion, reducing things to one or two buzzwords and sidebar links fighting over clicks. Jurassic World is just okay.

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It is a film that would not truly be following the footsteps of Steven Spielberg without cloyingly sentimental overtones, which in this case is the bonding of two brothers — the stereotypical nerdy little brother and the apathetic, Ansel-Elgort-Lite teen heartthrob. The two boys, Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson), are sent by their mother (Judy Greer) to visit their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) at Jurassic World, a massive island in Central America where she works. The island is part theme park tourist attraction and part research and observational facility full of real-life dinosaurs that were cooked up in the labs. The new attraction at Jurassic World is going to be Indominus Rex, a genetically modified hybrid of a T-Rex and “classified” other genetic code. She is supposed to be bigger, scarier, and have more teeth in order maintain public interest in the park. The park’s owner (Irrfan Khan) sees behavioral issues and causes for concern with the new dinosaur, who has been raised in captivity without any contact, so he tells Claire to bring in Owen (Chris Pratt), a research trainer in charge of the Raptors, to have a look at the new creation. Indominus proves to be a very intelligent creature set on destroying everything she comes in contact with. And when she uses her smarts to escape from the walled paddock she was being kept in the entire island becomes in danger and chaos ensues.

The action scenes are phenomenal, particularly the final battle that pits several enormous dinosaurs against one another. It is beautifully shot, well directed, and the effects are great. The story could definitely be better as there is really not much complexity to it other than vague allusions to the question of nature vs. nurture. When asked where the alpha is after naming off his Raptors (Blue, Charlie, Delta, Echo), Owen responds “You’re looking at him kid.”

The romance that develops between Owen and Claire seems really forced and only thrown in for fan-service and for the sake of having romance in the film. The story involving the two kids never feels important because they are boring, one-dimensional characters that are not well developed; the only reason they are present in the story is to make the film appear more kid friendly and relatable to children. The most interesting character is actually the antagonist Indominus Rex, whose psychology and motives are often interpreted through Chris Pratt’s character.

There is the potential for a deeper more thought-provoking film buried somewhere underneath all the effects and overly sentimental storylines, but it is certainly not the aim of this film, which is fine. It shoots for entertaining summer escapism with an attractive, badass Raptor trainer who can become the face of the Jurassic franchise and it hits the mark perfectly. Chris Pratt is awesome and his performance is good enough to keep you engaged with Owen’s story and rooting for him throughout the film. Definitely go see it on the big screen, the way it was meant to be seen. It will not leave you feeling inspired, angry, or perplexed and that is alright. Jurassic World is a completely adequate and acceptable summer movie.

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