MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Jurassic World’ Is Pure Summer Fun


Film: Jurassic World
Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow

Jurassic World is a loud, fun, and exhilarating thrill ride that offers plenty of eye candy for moviegoers young and old. It’s a bit dumb, but that’s okay.

Separated from their parents for the holidays, two brothers (the talented Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson) are sent to visit their aunt at the world’s greatest theme park. Jurassic World, built on the same island that hosted the original Jurassic Park, is a state of the art attraction featuring twenty different dinosaurs. The island welcomes twenty-thousand people a day, with revenue rising year over year, but focus groups have shown a drop in interest from the general public. The solution? Create a new, bigger dinosaur.

The aunt, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, also happens to be the general manager of the park. She oversees everything, which places her somewhere inside every subplot within the film. She’s close with the park owner, a mysterious billionaire who isn’t concerned with profit. She also works with security, including the former Navy officer turned future hero played by Chris Pratt. She even interacts with the brothers’ mother, her sister, several times throughout the film.

Speaking of our hero, he works with raptors. The relationship he has with the prehistoric creatures is a very delicate one, but investors in the park are pushing him to find a way to train them for financial reasons. The hero is resistant to this, of course, and then spends the rest of the film proving the point he makes at the very beginning, which is that man will never be able to control raptors, and the sooner we realize that the less of us we will have to bury.

The rest of the park staff is littered with notable names and fun performances, including a fantastic turn from Vincent D’Onofrio as an InGen security officer with progress on his mind. He and fellow former Law And Order cast member BD Wong have far less screen time than the leads, but each gives memorable turns in their individual roles. Lauren Lapkus and Jake Johnson also appear, each supplying convenient aide and comedic relief as needed.

Judy Greer makes an appearance as the mother of the brothers at the center of the film, but she’s given very little to do. She has maybe three sequences in total, and one has been included in every trailer released so far. She’s not bad, but she doesn’t add much either.

I don’t have to tell you that things at the park eventually take an unforeseen turn for the terrible and the new creation finds its way to freedom. Thus begins a series of increasingly chaotic events, including chases, gun battles, panicked crowds, and plenty of jungle exploration. It’s all thrilling and gorgeously designed, but it also feels very much like the amusement park ride the film may very well still inspire. It’s scary, but only as long as you’re lost in the magic of moviemaking. Deep down you know the famous people won’t be in real danger until act three, but director Colin Trevorrow does a great job of hooking you early so you remain more or less on the edge of your seat throughout.

Comparisons to Jurassic Park are unavoidable, and to its credit Jurassic World makes several attempts, both big and small, to tie the present day park to the events of the past. Giving away such surprises would be rude, but suffice to say as long as you have some memory of major scenes in the first film you will find a nod or two in this feature to appreciate.

As to whether or not this film can match the entry that launched this entire franchise, the answer is no, but it’s not for lack of trying. Jurassic World has all the elements of a perfect summer blockbuster, but the script lacks the bite and awe-inspiring wonder series fans have come to expect. The new creature is created with terror in mind within the context of the film, so its presence is more ferocious and scare-inducing than anything we’ve seen before. This doesn’t mean the more carefree and fun sequences that make everyone feel young again aren’t present, as they most certainly are, but the bigger scenes are so action-packed it’s easy to forget all the simple fun that occurred moments before. The park, for example, is so large and detailed in its design there is far too much to take in with a single viewing. You want this place to be real as much as you wanted the first park to be real, even though this is unquestionably different in almost every way.

Where the film ultimately comes up short is with its story, which slowly unravels after an incredibly promising start. There is an unspoken agreement to everyone entering these films that belief will be suspended for the sake of entertainment, but the film pushes this contract to the limit as its third act begins to wind down. Every movie has to end eventually, and every story needs that late-in-the-game Hail Mary play that helps turn everything around, but audiences may find they’re divided over whether or not they’re willing to take the final leap of faith the film demands. It’s not that the third act is bad or in any way not entertaining, but it will likely be too much of a stretch for some. I, for one, feel bad for those unfortunate souls.

I can still recall the way I felt the first time I visited Jurassic Park, and I can very much imagine young people today feeling a similar rush when viewing Jurassic World. For me, this film doesn’t offer the same world-changing level of entertainment, but there are several moments of cinematic brilliance that made me feel just as excited about the art of moviemaking as I did for the first time more than two decades ago. It might not be the best film of the year, but outside of Mad Max: Fury Road this may be the movie to beat in summer 2015.


Review written By: James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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