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Film Review

Parklife

6/17/2015

There are certain elements you need in order to make a “Jurassic Park” film more than just name. Are there dinosaurs? Do they escape in an unlikely fashion? Are there a couple of annoying kids that the film insists upon trying to make you root for? All of these things need to be present — and “Jurassic World” has them.

“Jurassic World” PG-13 124 minutes Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio

“Jurassic World”
PG-13
124 minutes
Starring: Chris Pratt,
Bryce Dallas Howard,
Vincent D’Onofrio

Aside from those things, however, diehard fans of the original “Jurassic Park” may walk away from “Jurassic World” a little disappointed. “Jurassic World” is an exciting, entertaining, ultimately fun film, but the approach that was taken with the newest Jurassic installment suffers from all of the core problems that plagued both “Jurassic Park II” and “III,” though it is a far better film than either of those.

“Jurassic World” is, for all intents and purposes, the spiritual sequel to the original film. Plenty of fan service is given to that film, while the latter two are all but forgotten. “World” takes place 20 years after the events of the original (fitting), but it is made clear that the past two decades have been anything but dormant. We are dropped into a fully realized theme park that makes the original idea seem almost quaint. The park’s owners, with shareholders to keep happy and ever increasing costs to cover, have begun to look for new and exciting ways to spice up the park’s inventory of animals, and have turned to gene splicing to create their own original dinosaurs. Chaos, as you might imagine, ensues.

I do not want to delve into the story of “Jurassic World” too deeply — partly because the film really is worth seeing with unsullied eyes, and partly because the story is not that deep or even important. But suffice it to say that there are chase scenes, fight scenes, more chase scenes, children in peril whom the film assumes you are much more invested in than you really are and, of course, a T-Rex.

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I will not call the film a disappointment; I was completely entertained, even though the plot is bare bones, the dialogue is embarrassing given the context (more on that soon), and the characters are barely fleshed out since they are clearly less important than the dinos.

I will, however, declare the film a missed opportunity. When the trailers first started leaking, I was convinced that “Jurassic World” was being positioned as a subtle comedy spoof of the entire “Jurassic Park” franchise. It seemed like a perfect scenario: purists will always love the original the best; it is silly to try to outdo it. Director Colin Trevorrow’s only other feature credit is the delightfully quirky “Safety Not Guaranteed,” and Chris Pratt is an actor who has made his bones off his comedy chops, including his revealing turn as Star Lord in “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Unfortunately, it was not to be, and “Jurassic World” is a straightforward action flick. There are moments of subversive humor — computer nerds Lowery (Jake Johnson) and Vivan (Lauren Lapkus) have a great take on the “kiss the girl in a moment of peril” trope — but ultimately the film is too big, with too much riding on its success, for Universal to really allow Trevorrow and Pratt to run wild. We are therefore left with scenes like the one where Pratt’s character tells kids that he is the Alpha in a pack of raptors, and instead of being able to chuckle at the absurdity, everyone just has to be OK with it. CV

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