Jurassic Park

Third-time feature filmmaker Colin Trevorrow relies on solid thrills and an excellent set of CGI-dinos, keeping the film reasonably enjoyable.
By Husam Jayyusi on June 11, 2015

Filmmaker Colin Trevorrow‘s “Jurassic World” stars Bryce Dallas Howard (“The Village,” 2004) and Chris Pratt (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” 2014). 22 years after Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park,” the titular ‘park’ has been renovated into a theme park of the same name, but it isn’t attracting enough visitors. So to make things interesting, the suits decide to fast-track the development of the Indominus Rex, a faster and more robust version of the T-Rex. The new Rex escapes, and everyone’s now in danger, putting operations manager Claire (Howard) in charge of damage control.

It’s exactly what you thought it would be.

I was never a huge fan of “Jurassic Park” aside from its technical innovation and proficiency and the foundations for what we’ve come to expect from a “bums in seats” summer release. That being said, “Jurassic World” has a much easier job. It doesn’t as much have to contend with the original as it does to focus on eradicating the horrendous sequels that preceded it. Within those parameters, Trevorrow’s film does its job quite well. 

Did the film need to be made? Arguably. It doesn’t excel in any specific area and isn’t exceptional in any particular way. The set pieces, as predicted, are excellent and, to be honest, the real reason anyone is watching the film. If you’re expecting Oscar-caliber writing and performances, save your money. The structure is solid and moves well towards a climactic finale, which is silly at times but not worth complaining about. The CGI is often overblown, but the dinosaurs look as good as they did in the original, a testament to how the original has stood the test of time.

Colin Trevorrow’s direction is solid, if not spectacular. He may not be in the mold of the top action directors working today, but he appears to be in control without letting the film run sloppily. He is clearly a fan, though with many homages to the original and—less visibly—Hitchcock. The writing by Trevorrow and Rick Jaffa is simple and to the point, which isn’t always a compliment—it ticks the genre’s go-to narrative arcs—but delivers on thrills and action. The music by Michael Giacchino builds on the previous work of John Williams, and the use of the original theme is a welcomed touch.

As we all know to whom center stage belongs, I’ll call the ‘leads’ in the film the supporting cast. Everyone seems to be enjoying Chris Pratt and his meteoric rise. Still, I feel he is on the road to Seth Rogen’s typecast syndrome. From “Parks & Recreation” to “Jurassic World,” he is a cut-and-paste character in most of his appearances. This devalues his performance here to my liking. For fans of Chris’s onscreen style, though, he is as reliable as ever. 

Jurassic World - Still
Guardians of the T-Rexy // (Left-right) Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Nick Robinson, and Ty Simpkins in a still from Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World, a Universal Pictures film.

The actual acting talent on display is the ridiculously underrated Bryce Dallas Howard. Luckily the clip famously bashed by “Avengers” (2012) helmer Joss Whedon was just a mistimed flash in the pan. Dallas Howard isn’t simply feminine fodder but the heart of Jurassic World. Her transformative character arc is delivered brilliantly. She starts the film off as the corporate antagonist, then sets along a road to redemption. It’s a pleasure watching her work. Both actors build a solid foundation for the franchise to move forward. 

Characters that are never molded or developed into anything worth remembering round up the rest of the cast. Seasoned performers such as Judy Greer (“Men, Women & Children,” 2014) and Vincent D’Onofrio (“The Judge,” 2014) are simply filler. This is something forthcoming sequels will need to improve with writing and possibly better casting. We’ll call them Dino Chum for now. 

The weakness, which indeed pegs the film back, is in the narrative. It provides no surprises and never deviates from the direction every audience member is expecting it to take. It’s laid out in a very Film-101 narrative structure—human f@#cks with nature, chaos, villains rise, heroes rise, climactic battle, credits, rest-stop, drive home. You crave the intelligence the film thinks it has but fails to demonstrate at any point.

If successful, “Jurassic World” could arguably be to the current young generation of filmgoers what “Star Wars” was to the former, and I say that in the loosest context possible. The franchise could be successful if it continues on this predictable yet solid road. It is undoubtedly a fun summer blockbuster with newcomers and fans excited to see dinosaurs again on the big screen. It evolves in quality from the previous two sequels. It efficiently combines a solid mix of good photography, special effects, and character work. Better writing and a well-rounded supporting cast can do wonders for this franchise in the years to come.

Unlike its predecessors, “Jurassic World” is a surprisingly rejuvenating adrenaline shot for the series. It relies on solid thrills and an excellently created leading cast of CGI dinos to keep everyone entertained. However, for the skeptics, if you enjoyed the original, you’ll enjoy “Jurassic World” simply because the original is flanked by the same positives and negatives surrounding this film. In essence, if your friends or fellow critics hated this film, they should hate the original too; otherwise, they would just be contradicting themselves.