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Review: Jurassic World Was Exactly What We Expected

There is no way I could hide my smile. Despite having almost no faith that Jurassic World (2015), the sequel to the blockbuster and critically acclaimed Jurassic Park (1993), would meet expectations, I was a little giddy entering the theater. This was the sequel to a movie that haunted my childhood, still gives me goosebumps and continues to be an overwhelming cinematic achievement. There was simply no way to curb my excitement.

A few minutes into the movie, that excitement was curtailed. Think back for a second to the first time you saw dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. The velociraptor scene that opens Jurassic Park scares you before pulling back to give you a much grander perspective of the park. Then there is a mystical haze over the screen as you see these creatures grazing for the very first time. Jurassic World tries to play on similar feelings. You see outlines of dinosaurs. They don’t truly show them at first. Then you finally see the park and the music kicks in (cue music getting stuck in your head).

The main issue with the dinosaurs in this movie (from the very first time you see them) is that they belong in a video game. From the way they run to the way they interact, it all just felt a little fake. It was the exact opposite of the original premise, in which Industrial Light & Magic spent hundreds of hours making the creatures look as real as possible.

One thing that I’ll take away from seeing Jurassic World in a movie theater is that the audience was never actually scared. There was plenty of action, including a Godzilla vs. King Kong style scene. But the scares never really came. I’m not sure if it was the premise of the movie that you’ve undoubtedly seen in the trailers (humans and raptors team up!) or simply the dinosaurs CGI look. Even extreme closeups of the dinosaurs were done in CGI. Either way, this movie was not scary the way Jurassic Park was.

Chris Pratt was phenomenal. Did you expect anything less?

This movie didn’t pass by without merit. The absurdity of the velociraptors and Chris Pratt teaming up was setup really well in the movie. By the time that scene rolled around, I thought to myself, “Ok, I can buy this.” Another nice touch was an homage to the old park (and movie). Jurassic World was a plausible sequel in that it gave us a place to move on from and a plausible time frame for that development. There is just enough left behind from Jurassic Park to make you smile.

You’ll notice that we’re more than halfway home and I’ve barely mentioned the actors or actresses in Jurassic World. There’s a reason for that. The acting in this movie falls into one of two categories. Either you were Chris Pratt or you weren’t Chris Pratt. Pratt’s performance is really incredible and he provides a perfect blend of comedy and action hero.

Bryce Dallas Howard (The Help) was one of the worst parts of Jurassic World. Unlike the extremely likable Pratt, you are almost rooting against Howard by the end of the movie, as she does everything in her power to mess things up. It might be the script or it might be her. Either way, she’s a forgettable nag of a character. Finally you have the kids who are there to be kids. You can see the connections between the kids in this movie and the kids in the original but again, you don’t seem to care as much about these kids running through a video game like atmosphere (there is no kitchen scene).

This dinosaur is confused about why he looks like he's in a computer game.

Overall this movie will do a few things really well. It will most definitely entertain you. It will certainly bring back memories of Jurassic Park (and likely make you want to re-watch the original). Jurassic World will make you love Chris Pratt even more than you already do and make you wish Jeff Goldblum had made an appearance. Finally, it will make you miss the way CGI looked at the birth of CGI.

I lied. There was one more. Jurassic World will make you think “why was Michael Crichton even credited in this thing?”

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