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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Movie Review - Jurassic World

Jurassic World (2015)
***Viewed in 3D***
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Vincent D'Onofrio, Irrfan Khan, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, BD Wong, and Judy Greer
Directed by Colin Trevorrow

While Jurassic World doesn't have the same emotional pull as 1993's Jurassic Park when we first witnessed dinosaurs roam across the screen under the more than capable direction of Steven Spielberg, this 2015 return to that same Costa Rican island is by far the best sequel of that film to come down the pike.  Thanks to similarly capable direction by Colin Trevorrow (of which this is only his second film), his crew of screenwriters, and surprisingly winning performances from Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, Jurassic World is an enjoyable continuation of this series paying enough homage to the past while also creating well-rounded characters all on its own.

We return to Isla Nublar, and despite the chaos that ensued in the first three films of this series, the InGen corporation and its CEO Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) have decided to bankroll the theme park Jurassic World.  Years have gone by and the park is a huge success -- which is more than can be said for John Hammond's initial attempts in the first film of the series.  However, much like your typical theme park experience, the guests keep wanting more and more.  In order to satisfy the masses, the park's operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) has had InGen's geneticists (headed by Dr. Henry Wu -- BD Wong of Jurassic Park fame) cook up a genetically-modified dinosaur called the Indominus rex which is bigger and more deadly than any predator currently on the island.  While he certainly appreciates the "Bigger!  Faster!  Scarier!" mindset, Masrani wants to ensure his guests' safety, so he asks Claire to have one of the park's well-respected trainers and former military man Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) check out the Indominus' paddock.  Unfortunately, as is wont to happen in a film like this, something goes wrong...and then things start getting worse and worse.

While the basic plot is certainly similar to that of Jurassic Park, the film never feels as if it's simply aping the original.  The amusement park aspect of this film is much more fully realized and more commercialized -- more fitting for today's society -- and feels unique enough to not be a simple rehash.  Yes, we're still given two kids in peril -- Claire's nephews Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) are visiting their aunt when all hell breaks loose.  We have another vehicle malfunction which causes some issues with the dinos (although this is at least almost as exciting as the Jeep sequence in the original since The Lost World gave us such a hideous car moment).  We have an ending that is nearly identical to the original.  Yet, somehow, Jurassic World still comes out feeling fresh (and this is coming from someone who just watched all the films in the Quadrilogy within the span of a week).

Part of the reason for Jurassic World's success is the charisma and charm exuded from Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.  While I've liked Howard in things, I've never thought her to be a captivating presence onscreen.  She tends to always play dour and forlorn, yet here she totally won me over with an authoritative bitchiness which then gradually cedes into a somewhat heartwarming aunt who not only fears for her nephews but for her guests within the park.  It helps, of course, that in her scenes with Chris Pratt the two have a natural chemistry that creates a humorously amorous relationship.  Their constant bickering at the film's outset is inevitably foreshadowing a romance down the line, but the duo make the obviousness work.

Quite frankly, I'm not sure Pratt could ever not have chemistry with someone onscreen.  It's obvious that this guy has the charm, suaveness, and debonair attitude to be this decade's Movie Star and Jurassic World continues to prove that point.  He's fun to watch and I think that has to stem from the fact that Pratt is just beginning this leg of his career path.  He knows what's ahead and I think he's living in the moment and relishing every second of it.  His excitement is contagious and certainly works in the film's favor.

There's nothing wrong with having a little fun at the movies and Jurassic World is just that.  While it can't reach the levels of the original, it's certainly a worthy successor and one that carries on Spielberg and Michael Crichton's legacy proudly.

The RyMickey Rating:  B
*Note:  I'm really hovering between a B+/B here.  I'm so early in my 2015 reviews -- I've only seen three films at this point -- that my rubric is so small, it's tough to really judge.  I reserve the right to lower or raise this slightly once I've seen ten or so 2015 films.*

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