Growing up, I probably could've (and still can) tell you the main character names in all 3 of the original Jurassic Park films... especially Lost World for some strange reason (Roland Tembo for the win). Here's a rundown of how important and influential these movies were for me:
1. At one point (or maybe twice), I had a Jurassic Park-themed birthday party.
2. I had a collection of about 10-15 Jurassic Park action figures (my Ian Malcolm was my prized possession, RIP)
3. One of the first CDs that I ever purchased for myself was the soundtrack to Jurassic Park III (I could probably still sing it along with the movie from memory).
4. When the Interweb first came out, I discovered a site that had the addresses of actors. My first fan mail/letter was sent to the address of the amazing Jeff Goldblum (Ian Malcolm). How do you NOT write to this stud?
5. I have been carefully and patiently keeping tracking of the "Jurassic Park 4" page on IMDB since it appeared somewhere around 2005. It gradually morphed into what is now Jurassic World.
I guess you could say I've been anticipating this movie for quite some time.
But, the question is, did I enjoy it??
Before I answer that question, let me explain what exactly I was looking for when I went to see the movie. Honestly, all I needed to see from Jurassic World was some form of that same magic that accompanied Jurassic Park and part of The Lost World. I urged to feel that same 12-yr-old-boy wonder that was captured in the very first film when Dr. Grant sees the dinosaurs for the first time. My biggest fear was that this movie would turn into nothing more than what was Jurassic Park III was...a monster movie with a bigger budget and no relation to Jurassic Park except for the name.
I needed to feel that magic again. I wanted to be awed by the dinosaurs and excited to see the park. At the same time, I wanted the film to address some of the original themes from Michael Crichton's novel and the original movie. For example, the dinner scene in Jurassic Park remains, to this day, one of my favorite movie scenes that I have ever seen. This is the scene where Hammond, Ian Malcolm, and the rest debate and analyze the ethics of creating the dinosaurs and whether or not it was ever a good idea. I'll include the video below. My favorite line from the entire dialogue is spoken by Ian Malcolm, "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should."
I LOVE that line. Watch the clip for your elf and get those same chills.
Anyway, I was worried that Jurassic World wouldn't explore those same themes that were the focus of the first two Jurassic films. From the trailers, it seemed like they were approaching the themes, but I was worried it wouldn't fully delve into the potential of them.
Those were my main worries...and I can now officially say that I LOVED Jurassic World. I went into the film with very muted expectations...I didn't want to be disappointed. I also didn't want the movie to be just a dinosaur-themed action movie liked Transformers, with no heart and all CGI.
It's safe to say that Jurassic World is the sequel that Jurassic Park always deserved. It grabs the original themes of the first and body slams into the 21st century. Not only does it add so much to the franchise, it successfully sets it up for even more additions in the future.
The best part of the movie is easily the tension brought on by the Indominus Rex. I loved how they didn't reveal all of it's secrets in the trailers or even at the beginning of the movie. The killer dinosaur remains a mystery even up until the ultimate climax of the movie. Many of the times that the dinosaur is in frame or in the scene, you definitely feel a sense of dread and actual fear for the main characters.
Chris Pratt's Owen was an amazing addition to this movie. His character, as well as the two kids, were the ones that worked the most for me. He was just a straight-up bad-ass. I didn't expect to like the taming of raptors idea, but they hit it out of the park with this one. He had more chemistry with the CGI raptors than he did with any of the other humans in the entire movie.
I really enjoyed the kids, opposite of most reviews, because I was able to relate to them the most. The youngest kid (played by Ty Simpkins from Insidious) easily reminded me of myself from that age. His awe, wonder, and overall excitement at being at a fully functional Jurassic Park was very believable and got me all sorta of teary-eyed.
Unfortunately, a few of the characters did not work. Bryce Dallas Howard was a little over-the-top in her character. She was supposed to be the Hammond-type all-business lady. But honestly, I thought it was a little over done. Also she never took her heels off for the entire movie. Her scene with the T-Rex towards the end was her one saving grace (spoilers...ahem).
Vincent D'Onofrio (from Law and Order: Criminal Intent) was also a little overdone, which is disappointing considering how well he's done as Kingpin in Marvel's Daredevil (Netflix, watch it). I thought the weaponizing idea was a little far-fetched and his villainy to be a little comical.
Overall, though, this movie satisfied the Jurassic Park-nerd inside of me. I do wish they had explored the themes of creating a new dinosaur a little bit more. There was never a scene in this movie that was quite on the thought-provoking level of the scene above. It lacked a little of the "hmmmm....interesting"-feel that was so prevalent in the original. A lot of those themes got lost and muddled once the Indominus Rex started terrorizing things.
In the end, Jurassic World was fun and a worthy addition to the Jurassic Park canon, while lacking a bit in character and thought-provoking themes. The weaknesses, though, are few, and neither stops this movie from grasping and running with the same charm that was brought to the table during the original Jurassic Park.I gave it an 8.5 out of 10.