It’s hard to believe that it’s been 22 years since the original Jurassic Park. Despite the fact that it’s also been 14 years since Jurassic Park III, the audience has never left and the interest level has always remained high with the hopes that we would get to someday return to that world. Enter Jurassic World (2015) as we finally get a chance to see what the dinosaurs of Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna are up to now. But will the movie live up to all of the hype?
Before we explore what Jurassic World is all about, let’s first take a look at what could have been. The fourth movie was actually in pre-development as far back as 2001. Even as Jurassic Park III was finishing up, Steven Spielberg was working on ideas that he felt would surpass the second and third films. Rumors and denials were running rampant but the fourth film would eventually be announced for a summer 2005 release. The original idea would have picked up the theme of the dinosaurs moving off of the island and onto the Costa Rica mainland. Both Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum would have reprised their roles and even Richard Attenborough would have been back. Laura Dern was supposedly involved at one point as well. The action would have been moved out of the jungles and into the mainland, wrapping up the original series in a new and different way.
Sadly, constant delays and complications with the script prevented this version of the fourth film from ever being finished. Poor health would eventually make Richard Attenborough’s involvement impossible before his death in 2014. Author Michael Crichton would pass away in 2008 and the other actors all moved on to other projects, believing the Jurassic Park franchise to be dead. However, Steven Spielberg continued to work behind the scenes, hiring new script writers while incorporating some ideas from previous versions, as well as unused ideas from the novels. Finally, in 2013, the fourth film finally moved forward as Jurassic World began pre-production.
The movie is set 22 years after the original. Isla Nublar is now a fully operational park called Jurassic World. Bryce Dallas Howard (Terminator: Salvation, Spider-Man 3) stars as the park’s operations manager Claire Dearing. She is being visited by her nephews Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) just as a new genetically engineered dinosaur, the Indominus Rex, is ready to go on display. Owen Grady (Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy), a velociraptor expert, is asked by the park’s owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Kahn) to ensure the enclosure is safe. Owen is also approached by Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio, Daredevil), the head of InGen security, with the idea to make the velociraptors work with the military. Yeah, that sounds like a brilliant idea doesn’t it? Not a surprise, things quickly get out-of-control when the Indominus Rex begins to outsmart the humans after breaking out of its enclosure. Apparently, nobody learned from the past that controlling dinosaurs is anything but easy.
Jurassic World is the most fun I’ve had with the franchise since the original. While it may lack the awe and wonder of Jurassic Park (1993), it offers up the perfect summer action adventure movie. While the dinosaurs seem to be more of the same at first, some of the final battle sequences more than make up for that. Indeed, the final battle involving the Indominus Rex may well be one of the best monster sequences on film in quite some time. And the Mosasaurus seems to already have secured it spot amongst favorite dinsosaurs.
The only returning cast member is B.D. Wong as geneticist Dr. Henry Wu, reprising his role from Jurassic Park (1993). In fact, he plays a slightly more enhanced role here and one wonders if we haven’t seen the last of him yet. And Chris Pratt secures his spot as summertime action hero, adding another franchise to his repertoire and his bank account. With brief nods to John Hammond and Dr. Ian Malcom, Jurassic World pays respect to the past while boldly moving the franchise forward. Some of the characters could have been better developed, but I think the overall plot, while a little repetitious, was more than entertaining for summertime movie watching.
Director Colin Trevorrow has weaved in a modern-day message of consumerism and today’s youth always wanting something bigger, louder and faster. Definitely something many of us older film goers can relate to. As for the musical score, Michael Giacchino gives us a fun action-oriented soundtrack that compares well to his previous work on the new Star Trek and Mission: Impossible franchises. Sadly, it is not as majestic as what John Williams originally offered but works well enough here.
If opening weekend is any indication, Jurassic World has reinvigorated the franchise and we’ll be getting more films in the future. While I do miss the tone of the original film, Jurassic World is clearly the second best film in the franchise. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope we can see more in the future. After all, one wonders what’s been going on at Isla Sorna, which doesn’t even get a mention here. With Chris Pratt signing on for multiple sequels, this franchise has clearly been awakened from its slumber with a hungry audience eager for more.