FlixChatter Review: Jurassic World (2015)

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It’s been twenty two years since the release of Jurassic Park, the phenomenal sci-fi thriller that’s still as timeless as ever when I saw it recently. So even though Steven Spielberg is no longer in the directing chair (but still served as executive producer), I was still anticipating my return to Isla Nublar.

This time around we’ve got a sprawling dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as envisioned by John Hammond. It’s been fully operational for about a decade but even with a giant shark-eating Dino-Shamu attraction, visitor rates is on the decline. So of course a new, shinier attraction is created to entice the masses.

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I have to say that there’s not much of the way of surprise or even suspense in Jurassic World. When they engineered a bigger, louder and scarier dino called Indominous Rex, you know it will somehow escape and wreck havoc on the park. There are thrills and special effects extravaganza when that happens and that’s really the reason to see a dinosaurs movie, but for me, it’s not enough for a movie to only succeed on a technical level.

I miss the wit and emotional depth of the original film. Richard Attenborough’s Hammond had such warmth when he first welcome us into the park… and he loved the creatures he built in that park so it was not just about profit. There’s also an intoxicating and contagious energy as the group begin their journey to Isla Nubar that just wasn’t present in this film. This time around we’ve got billionaire Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), the Bollywood actor adds gravitas to the film despite not having much to do. Simon doesn’t really have emotional investment in those dinos other than what they could do to his pocket books. Same could be said about his employee Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) who’s portrayed as an ambitious go-getter who’s all business and no time for *frivolity* like spending time with her two young nephews visiting the park.

The only person who seem to have a semblance of relationship with the lab-engineered creatures is Owen (Chris Pratt), a former navy who’s been working as a velociraptor trainer at the park. He even gave them cutesy names: Charlie, Echo, and Blue. The scenes involving him and those raptors are pretty cool. He had no idea the park is engineering this monstrous creature called the Indominous Rex, part T-Rex, Raptor, cuttlefish and frog which gives it all kinds of superpower like chameleon camouflage. The monstrous beast is truly the star of the show, not even Pratt’s charisma can compete with THAT. More of that later.

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So it’s during its paddock inspection when all hell broke lose. As if that mammoth lab rat weren’t vicious enough, the fact that it was bred in captivity means it’s got zero social skills and loves ‘killing for sport.’ The scene inside his paddock is the moment with genuine spine-chilling terror in the film, and the first time we get a sense just how horrible things would get in the park. The rest of the movie is pretty much a series of chase and action sequences, with the most thrilling parts involving dino vs dino fights. Seems that the Indominous Rex is kind of an analogy for the movie itself. Yes, it is bigger and louder, but bigger does not always mean better or more exciting. It doesn’t help that some of the human story is so lackluster and cheesy.

The romance between Owen and Claire falls flat for the most part and I cringe during the brotherhood story of the two young boys trapped in the park. It’s supposed to be heartwarming but it feels so forced that it comes off as hackneyed and annoying. It’s too bad because I really like Nick Robinson in the indie flick The Kings of Summer and Ty Simpkins seems like an adorable child actor. Don’t even get me started with Vincent D’Onofrio as the bad guy Hoskins, head of InGen’s Private Security division. He’s just irritatingly verbose and not nearly as sinister as his turn as Fisk in Netflix Daredevil. Omar Sy and Judy Greer are completely wasted here so not much for me to say about either of them. Jake Johnson basically served as comic relief in this movie and not much else, but at least he made me laugh a couple of times.

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Back to Mr. Pratt, Hollywood’s Boy Du Jour who’s charismatic and sexy in this movie. He’s definitely my first choice to play Indiana Jones, and here he even looks the part. But he’s not given much to do in this movie and most of the time his alpha male character across smug, not charming. I like Dallas Howard as an actress but her character is kind of tough to root for, which is the problem with the way she’s written. I mean, why the heck would they have her running around in heels the entire movie?? It’s not a question of whether she can pull it off [she did], but why?? Apparently that was the actress’ choice according to this article, “… those heels were her shield in a certain way as a woman. She felt like surrendering the heels felt like surrendering the femininity of the character…” Huh??

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But in any case, that’s one small quibble as the movie has other issues. Despite some of the spectacular action, the movie felt pretty boring at times. Even the most thrilling moment involving the Indominous Rex still didn’t hold a candle to the moment the t-rex escaped from captivity during a power outage in Jurassic Park. I suppose it’s not fair to compare it to the original and most of us knew it’s never going to top that first film. But at the same time, this seems to have a lot going for it to be much more memorable than it is.

Similar to a recently-released blockbuster Tomorrowland, this film has an intriguing concept and lots of attention to detail, but the movie as a whole just doesn’t gel as well as I had hoped. The emotional connection is non-existent either, despite the ever increasing peril the humans are subjected to. Humans are either being gobbled up like a piece of meat or thrown around like mere playthings, but it hardly matters because they didn’t earn our sympathies. Heck, the most emotional moment for me actually involves an injured dino as a result of Indominous Rex’ killing spree.

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It’s interesting that the producers hired director Colin Trevorrow, who only has one feature film credit under his name, the charming & quirky sci-fi comedy Safety Not Guaranteed. So this is his first foray into blockbuster territory, and though I think he is talented, I wonder if he’s really the right fit for this job. At times this movie plays like an action comedy, instead of a mystery thriller with some comedic elements. We’ve got the visual and effects spectacle, but yet the sheer terror and that sense of wonderment Spielberg gave us in the first film is largely absent.

Final Thoughts: Jurassic World is nothing more than popcorn cinema and no less disposable as the nameless extras gobbled up by Indominous Rex. I suppose if you go in expecting a ton of dino-chomping action and all kinds of chase scenes, then you probably enjoy this movie immensely. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate this film, it just doesn’t leave a lasting impression to me. I’ve rewatched Jurassic Park countless times and still in awe, but I doubt I’ll be revisiting this film anytime soon. The only thing that remains epic, evocative and powerful is John Williams‘ score, even when a few notes came on in the beginning of the film, it made me feel nostalgic about the Jurassic universe. It speaks volumes about this movie when the classic score is still the most spectacular and memorable piece about it.

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Have you seen Jurassic World? Well, what did YOU think?

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52 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Jurassic World (2015)

  1. I know there’s a lot of people that want to see this but if it’s on TV, I’ll check it out. I enjoyed the first film but its predecessors weren’t so great.

    1. Hi Steven, I still think it’s worth seeing maybe on a matinee showing as visually it looks great on the big screen. But yeah, I guess it’s about the same in terms of quality as the second Jurassic Park, which is quite a disappointment.

  2. My new second favorite in the franchise (moving the previous terrible twosome down another notch), but everything pales next to the original. Fine review, Ruth.

    1. Hi Michael! I guess when we see it in the grand scheme of the Jurassic franchise, this is still better than the first two sequels, but really that’s not saying much does it?

  3. Really great review, Ruth. I suspect you are right–I’ll wait and watch it sometime down the road. I’ve read favorable reviews this one, but it just can’t compete with the original, it seems.

    1. Hi Cindy! If you’re not even that excited to see it, just wait to rent it. Yes I miss a lot of the iconic characters from the original, esp Mr Hammond and the snarky & flirty Ian Malcolm!

  4. Great review. I’ll keep my expectations in check, then.

    I saw Jurassic Park two years ago when they re-released it (at least in Mexico) for its 20th anniversary (and in 4D, which was incredible). I’d seen it as a kid but had forgotten it, so watching it now was an amazing experience. What a great movie!

    I’m excited for this one, mainly because of Chris Pratt, sexiest man alive (for me, anyways).

    1. Hi Fernando! I really wish they would re-release Jurassic Park again, as I missed the re-release from a couple of years ago. Chris Pratt does look the sexiest he’s ever been in this movie!!

  5. Really well-reasoned write-up Ruth. I think the reason I liked it more that you is because, for me, it did capture much of the original film’s magic. Otherwise, I agree that it’s primarily a popcorn-cruncher.

    Adam.

    1. Hi Adam! I think whether it captures the magic of Jurassic Park is subjective, but given I just rewatched it recently, it really felt like a letdown to me. The emotional factor just isn’t there and there are lots of plot issues and daft characters.

  6. Tom

    I’m definitely treading carefully going into this. I think it’s all but impossible to compare it to the first (I maintain the second and third have their own merits as well but I know I”m in the minority there haha), but I’m going to try my damnedest to keep comparisons out of a review that I’ll someday write about it. Hahah. I’m so behind on posting right now. I should have seen this one already actually. But I suppose that also speaks somewhat to my attitude towards a new Jurassic Park movie.

    Plus I already am not too fond of the idea of Chris Pratt’s character naming the raptors. They aren’t pets, man!!!

    1. Hello Tom! It’s really impossible not to mention the first one, since the film itself didn’t really try to set itself apart. I think the fact that they still use that iconic score and made references to the original means they go for the nostalgia factor to entice older moviegoers to see it. I know it’s not gonna top that one but I really wish it had more depth and awe-inspiring moments.

      Ahah, yeah not a lot of sensible things going on in this movie, but that that raptor-naming thing was actually pretty cute.

      1. Tom

        Just got back from seeing it. I hate to say this, but there is a decent chance it will make my list of 8 worst films of the year. Jurassic World was a horrible waste of my money. 😦

        1. Ouch! Well I can’t say I disagree with you there Tom. I haven’t seen many horrible movies this year so this one certainly rank among the worst I’ve seen so far. But of course it will keep getting made as it breaks all kinds of records 😕

  7. I think it’s nearly impossible to capture the greatness of the first/original film, especially when the master himself Spielberg wasn’t heavily involved in this project. I had no interest in seeing this film when it’s first announced, mostly because of the rumors script changes. The trailers got my interest just a bit, so like I mentioned before, I’ll see it but my expectations would be very low. I mean it can’t be worst than that abomination third film, I still can’t believe that one even got made.

    1. I’d think Spielberg would give some pointers to Trevorrow, esp when there are script changes which is always worrisome. But since your expectation is already very low you might not be as disappointed, ahah.

  8. For the most part I agree with your assessment. It’s a fine popcorn piece and will make a ton of money without leaving much of an impression. My oldest daughter saw a link between Claire and the younger brother, she thinks they are both somewhere on the Aspergers spectrum.Each one bright but a bit socially awkward and having difficulty with adjusting to the changes they have to face. Maybe that accounts for her need to keep her shoes. Also, the alternative is bare feet or they stop down and find her some shoes. Tough to do when running for your life. Ian Malcolm makes two silent appearances on the cover of a book that the employees seem to like. We really miss his sardonic humor. Can you imagine the snarky one liners his character would come up with in this situation?

    1. Hi Richard! Interesting observation there about the Aspergers spectrum. I think Claire got better socially as the film progresses though. Ahah, good point I suppose about the other options about going barefoot or trying to find shoes, ahah. Yeah I miss Ian, man why didn’t they have him do a quick cameo, even if it’s via satelite video or something, he’d surely have some fun snarky comments!

    1. Can’t say I blame you Keith. But yeah, looks like it’s gonna make a boatload of money so unfortunately we’ll be seeing endless Jurassic movies. Hopefully it’ll get better after this but that’s perhaps unlikely.

  9. Never have been a big fan of the franchise, so haven’t rushed out to see this one and skimming through your review there isn’t much of a reason to do so.

  10. I honestly hated this one, Ruth 😦 and I almost feel ashamed! My review for this is going to be destroyed by all the pro-Jurassic World fans out there! Great review…I just wish I was on board with this one :[

    1. Oh don’t feel ashamed that you hated it. My review isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement and now that I think about it, 3/5 is a bit more generous on my part. Yeah unfortunately the JW fans might be as rabid as those of Guardians of the Galaxy.

  11. abbiosbiston

    I think I liked this a bit more than you did but I agree with all your points especially the high heels. I also did not recognise Vincent D’Onofrio even a little bit.

    1. Hi Abbi! It’s been interesting to see the variety of responses from bloggers about this one. You didn’t recognize D’Onofrio? Ahah that might be ’cause he’s really awful here.

  12. Some interesting thoughts there Ruth, I was shamelessly entertained by Jurassic World and can’t actually fault it myself but hey, it won’t neccesarily work for everyone 🙂

  13. I enjoyed it too, but it repeats way too much from Jurassic Park to be taken seriously. I pretty much agree with your final thoughts; the bits of Williams’ soundtrack they used were great but I can’t see myself ever watching this one again.

    1. Hi Stu! I kind of expect it’ll pay a lot of homages to the first film but it just wasn’t a memorable movie overall. I can’t see myself seeing this again anytime soon either.

  14. Hmmm, sounds about right. I think I’ll go see it cos… well, huge-ass dinosaurs are pretty damned cool no matter how you slice it!! I agree with you regarding the original, I loved the fact that Hammond really seemed to care about his creations. I am interested to see how Pratt is, I have only ever seen him in Parks and Rec! That is kind of a cool concept… a velociraptor trainer.

    Damn just thinking about raptors makes me wanna watch the original and that scene where the two kids are stuck in the kitchen with two of those evil bastards!!

    1. Hello Jordan! Ahah, giant dino IS indeed very cool and it’s the reason to see it. I wish the humans are as interesting though. I like Pratt but even his charm couldn’t match the heart of John Hammond nor the snark of Ian Malcolm. I had just seen the original not that long ago and it is still as epic as the first time I saw it!

      1. I must go rent the original, all I can remember is that raptor in the kitchen scene and the creeeepy “uh uh uh! uh uh uh!” coming from the computer at some point. That and Hammond, I remember his character well, but shiiit…. I must have been under ten when I last saw it!!! Definitely time for a rewatch

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  16. Yeah, I thought that Trevorrow was an odd choice, but I feel like he did a stand-up job, considering. I mean, the film does nothing new, but as far as genre is concerned, it delivers in spades.

    I love that you mention the iconic score from the original. It really does bring back such nostalgic feelings!

    1. Hi Drew! Yeah, I think the fact that it’s only his second movie, Trevorrow pulled it off. But I think had Spielberg was still behind the camera, it could’ve retained some of the masterful things of the first film. But man, that score is STILL amazing!

  17. Brittani

    22 years, ugh I feel so old! I love that they kept Williams’ original score. It’s still perfect even today. Great review!

  18. I have yet to talk the wife into going and seeing this with me. Might have to have a “boys night” and go see it, it does sound like fun, even though it couldn’t ever hope to top or even equal the original. People who think it could have are dreaming.

    Great write up!!

    1. Hi Rodney, it’s fun enough to perhaps just rent it later. Though visually speaking it is worth a look on the big screen, so perhaps a matinee?

  19. Nice review, Ruth! I had the opposite reaction to most of your problems with the film, except for some of the writing issues and Claire wearing high heels for the entire movie. 😉 Overall, I was impressed. I didn’t expect much, so I was thrilled to be so thoroughly entertained by this movie. I might even see it on the big screen again soon.

    1. Hi Josh! I know I seem to be in the minority who’s not wowed by this one. I doubt I’ll be seeing this again anytime soon. But hey, cool that you dug it 🙂

  20. I’m gonna check this out this weekend but I’m kinda shocked it had such a great box office, the trailers looked kinda unimpressive to me. Still, good for Chris and Bryce, it’s great she is in movies again

    1. Hi Margaret! I’m glad Bryce is in the spotlight again, I really like her, beautiful and talented. I do hope she gets a better-written role next time though.

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