Raking in $652 million in the United States alone, Jurassic World was by far the highest grossing movie this year. It also currently holds the title of the third highest grossing of all time, though I expect the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie, out December 13th, to beat Jurassic World handily, but let’s save that for another article.
Being in third place puts Jurassic World behind Avatar and Titanic, but well ahead of the original Jurassic Park film. What? Really? Well, actually, when you adjust for inflation, Jurassic Park lands seven spots ahead of World. All of this aside, will this year’s World movie stand the test of time as 1993’s Park has? Now that World has been released on home video, is it worth the purchase to watch it over and over again, as I admittedly have done with Park for years?
Let’s face it: Jurassic Park is a classic. It is easily one of the greatest movies of all time and among my top ten favorites. However, in order to “size up” Jurassic World against Jurassic Park and answer my questions, I did have to purchase the movie, which I’m glad I did. Jurassic World has so much going for it. Let me count the ways.
Jurassic World is the first sequel in the franchise to return to Isla Nublar. The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3 both took place on Isla Sorna, which felt almost as though they were trying to distance themselves from the original. In Jurassic World, they paid homage to the first film in so many ways, rather than trying to run away from it. The video below shows the nostalgic moments that were purposefully added to the film to hearken back to the previous three movies.
Colin Trevorrow, the director, deserves credit for this incredible attention to detail. Credit should also go to the cinematographers for making the vision a reality, because honestly, the camera angles are perfect.
Jurassic World made a serious attempt to continue where the first movie ended. Even though John Hammond’s park failed, twenty-some years later, the park is finally open to the public, which is an incredibly exciting notion. This was definitely the right direction to take the franchise. As the video above alluded to, there are characters in this film who are very similar to characters in the first film. Simon Masrani is a very John Hammond-like character. Owen Grady (played by the awesome Chris Pratt) is an even more cooler Robert Muldoon. Zach and Gray remind us of Lex and Tim. My two favorite characters, though, are Lowery and Vivian, who work in the control room. (I really want Lowery’s “legit” Park t-shirt.)
Every sequel has had characters return from the first movie. The Lost World had Dr. Malcolm. Jurassic Park 3 had Dr. Grant. Jurassic World? We see Dr. Henry Wu (played by B.D. Wong) return. Dr. Wu was a very minor character in the first movie, but played a much larger role in the plot development of World, since he helped create the Indominus Rex.
The screenplay is fairly good. I particularly liked the moment where the loudspeaker says, “Due to a containment anomaly…” and one person looks up and realizes no no no we are under attack by prehistoric flying things. So much wrong had to happen up until that point in order to set the “prehistoric flying things” loose, though. And that’s the biggest thing I didn’t like about the script. Those who built Jurassic World made so many stupid mistakes simply for the sake of making the plot work. For example, Jurassic Park (located on the same island that Jurassic World now inhabits) had electrified perimeter fences. Why doesn’t the new park have a few of them, to stop the advance of the Indominus to the visitor’s center? Because stopping the Indominus also stops the movie. Stupid, but it moves the plot forward. Here are a few others:
I’m also not sure whether I buy this idea of using velociraptors for the military. It worked to tell the story, because dinosaurs can’t be the only antagonist. In Jurassic Park, it was Nedry, who tried to steal and sell the dino-DNA to another company who was interested in starting their own dinosaur park. In Jurassic World, it was Hoskins (with InGen, not Masrani Global), who wanted to field-test the raptors to see whether they could be used for the military, and when that didn’t work, he gave the order to have the embryos removed from the island. Because Nedry lost the Barbasol can, another park with another company was never realized. However, Hoskins’ “deal with Dr. Wu” seems to be leading toward a Jurassic World sequel involving more and more parks with more and more genetic hybrids used for more than just entertainment.
Michael Giacchino, you are no John Williams. That being said, you’ve done the Jurassic franchise proud, because your score/soundtrack is incredible. I could listen to some themes that you composed for Jurassic World on repeat (particularly the main/initial theme from “Gyrosphere of Influence”). I believe that the score can make or break a film, and this movie’s score has definitely given the film the appropriate atmosphere. Listen to the soundtrack on Spotify.
Dinosaurs! (Special Effects)
More dinosaurs! Jurassic Park’s total dinosaur effects shots make up only 14 minutes of the 127 minute film. I haven’t set a timer to figure out the exact minutes and seconds for World, but it feels like dinosaurs were featured more heavily in this film than in any of the other three films. And why not, when the special effects technology has advanced so much even since 2001’s Spinosaurus versus T. Rex battle? Let’s “spare no expense” and add more dinosaurs, because we can!
To borrow a line from Mr. Arnold: “hold onto your butts”. Jurassic Park worked well, because the characters told the story, not the dinosaurs. That should be the case in any dinosaur movie. The special effects were awesome (as were the practical effects with the animatronic apatosaurus), but the CGI is occasionally overwhelming. Adding more dinosaurs isn’t always better, but I did like that they were featured more in this movie than in any of the previous movies.
Is Jurassic World an instant classic? Well, no. It certainly pays homage to the classic movie that came before it, and it is likely the best sequel we’ll ever have in the Jurassic franchise. For that reason, it’s a good film to have on your shelf.
You can buy Jurassic World on Amazon or from your favorite retailer today!