The one interesting thing about Jurassic Park many moons ago is that it still holds up as a spectacle. In a world where CGI has made films borderline unrecognizable from reality at times because of the sheer volume of CGI, Jurassic Park (and Titanic, among a handful of others) holds up because it still feels real. It isn’t, of course, but the suspension of disbelief that CGI has slowly been eroding away in film for the past 20 years because of how prevalent CGI is in the blockbuster film making process. And it’s kind of ironic that the film that inspired the use of CGI, and away from practical effects, has now spawned a sequel that is so relentlessly CGI that it looks like every other blockbuster in the modern summer movie season.
It’s absolutely, profoundly and exceptionally forgettable.
Simple premise. After the failure of the original Jurassic Park, a new one has been crafted and is successful in its operation: Jurassic World. And now they’ve decided to create a new dinosaur all their own, to help spike sales, as park manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) overseas the creation of a badass predator that puts the T-Rex to shame. Her nephews (Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson) are visiting for one week while their parents are finalizing a divorce, of course, and during their visit all things wind up blowing in their face. The new dinosaur escapes, apparently much more intelligent than they had ever thought, and is now wrecking havoc on the theme park. With 22,000 people in attendance there’s plenty of mayhem and carnage to be found as a lone badass (Chris Pratt) is there to try to save the day. There’s also a fairly similar plot twist towards the end, as well, leading up to what’s most likely a franchise for the Guardians of the Galaxy star.
It’s essentially the same sort of “Westworld with dinosaurs” set up that inspired the novel the first film was based on. The only difference is that this is a sort of sequel to that madness, with some lessons having been learned and others needing to be. This is a world where both sequels to the original didn’t happen. It’s essentially a failed experiment that paved the way for what has been a fairly stable amusement park. The film even brings back B.D Wong in his role as the genetic scientist for this park, which is a nice ode to continuity in what could’ve been a clear sweep.
The film has an immaculate set up as Colin Treverrow has taken the lessons of Spielberg seriously as his opening act is worthy of the man executive producing his film. We get the sheer majesty of this park going in with some brilliant camera work as Treverrow lets us breathe this world for a while. It’s truly majestic at times as this modern dinosaur theme park is extraordinary in breadth and depth. Treverrow shows it through a child’s eyes, allowing us to see things in the same way Spielberg did in 1993. It’s the same style JJ Abrams appropriated for Super 8, which Spielberg produced as well, and the opening act feels like something Spielberg himself would’ve done in his prime.
The problem is that after the opening act the film doesn’t have nearly the same level of magic as it turns into a fairly pedestrian action film. And for all the CGI in the world it doesn’t have an elite level action hero to bring it to that final high point. And it’s not for lack of effort from its main star, either.
What Chris Pratt brought to Guardians of the Galaxy was something interesting because he wasn’t a typical hero. He had the look of an action hero, and the good one liners, but at the heart of it was a sort of goofy man-child persona that catered to his comic strengths. In Jurassic World he’s reduced to a sort of man of action role with a handful of one liners that doesn’t work, including the obvious romantic lead. It’s a role suited for someone more like a Jason Statham, with more of a tough guy persona, as opposed to the inherent goofiness tinged action that Pratt brings to the part.
He’s competent in the part but he’s wrong for it once the action starts. It needs someone more serious and he’s not the right guy, even though he might be the right from a commercial standpoint. The first one worked because it was a group of people fighting against the odds in a world designed to kill them. Adding in Pratt as a sort of badass riding in to save the day from a genetically engineered dinosaur with his pack of trained dinosaurs elevates the role into something more and Pratt isn’t that guy.
The film follows suit as it essentially just shuffles through the motions of being an action film when there are a number of other, more interesting things to follow. A dinosaur on dinosaur on fight is fun, and the film’s big ending piece, but ultimately it’s something we’ve seen in other films with different things. This is no different than a robot vs. robot fight in Transformers or anything that happened in Pacific Rim. It’s better animated but it’s no different and this film feels as soulless as those did.
It’s not a terrible film … but it feels like just another Jurassic Park sequel, nothing more.
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Writer: Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Colin Trevorrow & Derek Connolly, based on the novels by Michael Crichton
Notable Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Irrfan Khan, Vincent, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, B.D Wong