Audiences across the globe seem to have spared no expense when it came to spending money at the box office, as JURASSIC WORLD is earned a monstrous $524.1 million it’s opening weekend. There’s no doubt that the movie has become a gigantic commercial success, to the point where talks of more sequels are being openly discussed (38 sequels according to star Chris Pratt, that lovable rapscallion!). There’s no doubt that JURASSIC WORLD’s franchise power and its ability to bring in the big bucks seems as unstoppable as the Indominus Rex, but is the film itself really deserving of all the money it raked in?
Taking place roughly twenty years after the events of the first film, JURASSIC WORLD centers around the fully functioning dinosaur theme park on Isla Nublar. In an effort to increase ticket sales, InGen decides to create a new genetic hybrid called the Indominus Rex to peak audience interest. But the Indominus proves to be a much more clever girl than they anticipated, and she soon begins wreaking havoc on the park, destroying everything and everyone in her path. Now it is up to Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a Velociraptor expert and trainer, and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), the park’s operations manager to stop the Indominus Rex and save Dearing’s nephews before the park’s attractions make all the park-goers extinct.
It’s hard for me to express how I felt walking out of the theater after seeing this movie. There are plenty of loving nods to the original 1993 film, the cast was extremely likable (Pratt is as charming as ever and Howard gives a solid performance), and the overall vibe of the film was fun. I have to admit that there is something fantastic about finally seeing what the park would look like after all these years; the film knows exactly how to tap in to your nostalgia and you can’t help but smile as tourists look on the attractions in wonder. All in all, fun really is the best word I can use to describe this movie, but that doesn’t mean the film is devoid of flaws.
First of all, there has been a lot of discussion regarding this film’s portrayal of gender roles, and on the whole the reaction had not been positive. While I can’t say there were any female characters I admired as much as Ellie Sattler from the first film, I don’t think negative representation was the film’s intent, nor do I think it openly objectify any of these characters. Still, there are certain aspects of how this film’s female characters are portrayed that are going to continue to be a point of controversy for many film-goers (sadly not every film can be as progressive as the latest Mad Max), and quite frankly I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me a little bit as well. Another aspect of this film that I disliked was the way in which the character Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) insisted his solution to the Indominus rampage was the correct one. Granted, we as the audience are not meant to agree with him, but there was very little logic applied to his solution, nor did he take any fail-safes into account, so we know the moment the plan is implemented that it’s going to backfire. In previous films, you were certainly meant to disagree with various characters, but you could at least see where they were coming from and understand their point of view. With Hoskins, his logic makes no sense, and as a result it takes you out of the film (since you’ll be slapping your hand into your face every time he insists he’s right).
Probably the film’s biggest shortcoming is also the same thing that is its greatest strength, and that’s its sense of childlike glee. The film’s action sequences are reminiscent of all the times you would play with dinosaur toys as a child, and all of fun and insanity your wild imagination could come up with. The film embraces this sense of wicked delight (to the point where many have compared the film itself to the opening of Toy Story 3), meaning that it’s difficult to find a moment during the action where you’re not either smiling or on the edge of your seat. While this is undoubtedly enjoyable, the film in turn sacrifices the intelligent themes, pointed commentary, clever foreshadowing, sharp dialogue, gripping suspense, and genuine terror of the original in exchange for action set pieces and fan service. In a sense, the film knows it will never be JURASSIC PARK, and so in many ways it doesn’t try to be. Instead, it just tries to be an enjoyable creature feature, and in that respect, it most definitely succeeded. However, because it attaches itself to the JURASSIC PARK name, there is undeniably a sense that JURASSIC WORLD is borrowing from the goodwill of its predecessor in order to cash in on your nostalgia. One might say Universal and Legenday Pictures stood on the shoulder of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as they could, and before they even knew what they had, they patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now they’re selling it! For many people, this is the dividing factor, and I can tell you as a fan of the first film, you will either love or hate the movie for it (there is one bit of fan service in particular in which I honestly can’t tell if the film is giving a nod to fans or condescending to them, I’m genuinely not sure).
The reason I wasn’t sure how to feel walking out of this film is because of the cognitive dissonance I felt between the film’s fun and its flaws. Will I see the movie again? Absolutely, and at full price too! But in the future will I look back at this as an important film, or one that I’ll cherish as one of favorite films for the rest of my days? No, sadly the movie isn’t deep or moving enough for that (although there are parts where you will truly feel for a few of the dinosaurs, those poor girls!), but that doesn’t mean that kids in 2015 won’t. Much like I grew up both fearing and being enthralled by the first film, young boys and girls alike who have never seen the original will undoubtedly be spellbound at the sight of dinosaurs on the big screen, and will probably look back on it with the same fondness when they grow up that I see when I look back on the first. As such, I can’t fault this movie for knowing how to cater to its key demographic.
Ultimately, this movie will be a toss up for you. If you like action or monster movies, you will most definitely find this film enjoyable, as long as you don’t expect to be as enchanted as you were with the original film. However, if you’re not a fan of the first, or if you’re a purist, you may have a little trouble believing that life could find a way in this franchise.
What did you think of the film? Did you find the franchise’s latest chapter to be larger than life, or did you think the park should have given you a refund? Be sure to let us know @TheMovieChickk!
Be sure to check out our quick review for The Popcorn Talk Network!
~ Megan Salinas
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