Time to review an entire movie series!
Jurassic Park was groundbreaking, cutting edge stuff that created a mold to be reused over and over in Hollywood: a small group of people, cutoff from civilization, must survive an unexpected breakdown of the system they’ve created. It’s usually a kind of “science without respect for boundaries” theme. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Of course, a careful watch of Jurassic Park reveals some ridiculous plot holes that I won’t dwell on here.
The sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, is unfairly criticized. It’s a solid piece of work with a couple of surprising plot twists. I can’t say I loved the daughter-in-distress character, but I did love watching the T-Rex rampage through San Diego. I think it’s a superior film to the first, myself.
The less said about Jurassic Park III the better. Man, does it stink.
So, how does Jurassic World compare? I think it’s a really good film. Chris Pratt is believable enough as an ex-Navy Seal working on a training program for velociraptors. Bryce Dallas Howard injects enough fragility in her role of the park administrator to overcome the necessity to the plot that makes her kind of a bitch. Irrfan Khan has an interesting role as the new head of InGen. You’re never quite sure whether he was clueless about the dangers of cloning dinosaurs (like John Hammond from the first film), or willfully ignorant (like Peter Ludlow from the second). Vincent D’Onofrio does some great hammy acting as the bad guy, the guy who wants nothing more than to put those raptors into the fight against ISIS. (There are also two kids, of course, who spend the whole film in danger. Snore.)
One of the brilliant things about the film is that it spends just enough time at the beginning showing us this fully functional amusement park, and it looks really fun. I so want to go there! Who wouldn’t want to watch a giant swimming dinosaur eat a shark? Who wouldn’t want to pet a baby apatosaurus? And is there anything cuter than watching those kids ride around on the backs of baby triceratops? What’s also smart about this portion of the film is that it’s both the most brazen and most logical product placement idea I’ve ever seen. I read a review asking “Why do we see a Pandora shop in this movie?” The real question is “How could you not?” A park like this would absolutely rely on that kind of shopping/branding opportunities, so it makes more than perfect sense for the film to do the same thing.
This film has a slightly different kind of problem for the heroes to overcome: a genetically designed dinosaur that is larger and smarter than anything we’ve seen to date. I also appreciate the detail that this Indominus Rex has lived in isolation its entire life, and so it’s just a little crazy. That adds some science to the proceedings, and add tension at the same time.
All in all, this is a fun ride, maybe a better film than the first, if not quite as interesting as the second.