I took my little sister to see Jurassic World late last night in an effort to not spend another evening sitting on the couch with the puppy and watching one of the same four movies I always watch. And what a fantastic idea it turned out to be.
The original Jurassic Park (1993, starring Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborrough, Sam Neill, Laura Dern) was an enormous success. Its lifetime, worldwide gross comes out to over $1 billion, with $50 million opening weekend (see all the numbers here). When it came out, it became the highest grossing movie of all time, and held the position until Titanic in 1997.
Now, 22 years later (in real time and in the movie’s timeline), Jurassic World is doing proper justice to the original by completely destroying the box office. As I write this at 11:30 am on June 13, 2015, the movie has been in theaters for less than 48 hours. Variety.com posted yesterday at 4:55 that Jurassic World was on track for a $70 million Friday, and estimated to make $162 million all weekend. This would make it the highest grossing June premiere of all time (read the article here). And, for the record, the 20-screen theater in my town was playing the movie on four different screens last night.
Okay, let’s quit with the numbers and talk movie facts. I’m going to prove to you in the next 500 or so words (hahahahahahaha yeah right, I’m going to make an estimate now that I’ll hit 900 at least) why you should cancel any other plans you had this weekend and go and see this movie, and probably in 3D.
This isn’t just dinos gone wrong. Well, it is. But it’s better.
A new Jurassic Park movie could have easily taken the remake route. Or, better yet, the “not a remake but actually a sequel with the same plot as the original” route. The latter was my fear. However, that’s not what happened.
First, I need to set the scene (assuming you haven’t already taken my advice and gone to the movie theater). The movie takes place 22 years after the events of Jurassic Park – the other sequels have been “set aside”, according to director Colin Trevorrow, and this is acting as a direct sequel to the 1993 film. John Hammond has passed away, and Isla Nublar has become Jurassic World. This theme park is completely operational (making it the first Jurassic movie to feature a functional park), and draws millions of people to interact with real live dinosaurs. However, the park’s attendance is fading because dinosaurs just aren’t cool anymore. The solution, of course, is to simply create a new one, one that’s bigger and badder and scarier than anything people have ever seen. Any idea where things could go wrong here?
There were three things that put the plot of Jurassic World one step ahead of where I expected it to be:
1. A clear antagonistic motive. It bothers me when it takes half of a movie to figure out who you’re supposed to hate. Conflict is essential, and this movie gives you a clear conflict immediately. Hoskins
(aforementioned character to hate) wants to use the velociraptors that Owen (Chris Pratt) has raised and trained for military purposes. He thinks that because people can train them, they can be turned into killing machines that the enemy can’t possibly beat. He was on screen for a whole two minutes before I turned to my sister and said “I hope he gets eaten by one of the raptors.”
2. A layered climax. Is that really a phrase people use? I honestly have no idea but it sounds like what I’m trying to describe so, if not, I’m coining it right now.By that, I mean that it wasn’t just a build to a climax and then there was a big fight scene and then that was it. Every time you thought that things couldn’t get worse or more exciting, you learned something new and there was suddenly a whole other sub plot you had to tie into everything, and that’s awesome. It’s so easy to take a movie like this, make the graphics unbelievably cool, and then forget to write a good story. For another example of this, read my review of Godzilla.
3. The love story wasn’t overdone, but it was just enough to keep you thinking about it. A complaint I most often hear from my sister and her friends (they’re all into comic books, so they prefer the origin stories and factual accuracy of a movie over anything added for the sake of a movie) is that the love story is forced. And I can agree with that, despite my affinity for any love story of literally any kind. In this case, however, I believe that it’s a great balance between too much and nonexistent. Plus, I just love Chris Pratt to death and as long as he’s happy, I’m happy.
Holy scary dinosaurs, Batman.
We all know that dinosaurs have a scare factor on their own. They’re big and have lots of teeth and they don’t exist anymore. When it comes around the corner, it’s going to scare you. But, in the same way that the park felt that dinosaurs just weren’t news anymore, and they needed to make one that would scare the pants off of their patrons, Jurassic World needed to take dinos to the next level. I mean seriously, Jurassic Park was so 20 years ago. Everyone knows that dinosaurs are well within the range of today’s effects teams. They made a new Godzilla movie last year for crying out loud. To keep the scare factor, they needed something new.
First of all, there was a new dinosaur. That helped. A genetically modified T-Rex with unknown abilities has tons of potential to scare, because everyone knows what a T-Rex or a velociraptor looks like, but the Indominus Rex (latin for fierce/untamed king) could be absolutely anything.
Then, add in the phenomenal job this film does with visual effects. And I don’t mean the animation of the dinosaurs. I can vividly picture every scene that made me lose my seat, because the camera would pause and then go wildly out of focus, picking something minute in forefront or background of the shot on which to focus. As you were trying to comprehend why a single blade of grass was important, a booming footstep or a dinosaur’s eye would catch you completely off guard. It scared the popcorn out of me and I adored it.
Sentimentality always gets me.
There were enough references to the original movie in this one to make me very happy. My favorite is certainly the significance of both the velociraptors and the T-Rex to the plot, since the two were biggest elements of Jurassic Park. Although, I was disappointed that there was no reference whatsoever to the toilet scene, because that is clearly the best part of the original.
And, no spoilers today since I want you to go see it for yourself, but please believe me when I say that the ending literally made me sit in my seat and keep repeating “That was AWESOME” for the rest of the movie and the duration of the credits.
If you do visit your local movie venue and see Jurassic World, tell me what you thought! Was I right or dead wrong? Either way, let me hear it!
P.S. I am aware that every picture in this post was a picture of Chris Pratt. Sorry, not sorry. I love him.