Jurassic World is a long-anticipated, wild ride
When I was younger, one of my favorite things to do was to go with my mom or dad to a local video rental store and beg them to rent Jurassic Park. While I can’t recall the first time I ever watched the movie or its sequels, I remember the pure joy and excitement I felt every time I sat down in front of the VCR and watched the copyright warnings appear. Years later, I’m just as excited when I see Jurassic Park playing on cable.
Jurassic Park was an integral part of my childhood. Sure, I didn’t understand a lot of the humor, and I would get scared of some of the dinosaurs, but it inspired me to want to be a paleontologist. While I didn’t end up studying dinosaurs, my passion for learning about them never died out, and the nostalgic love I had for the films only increased as I rewatched them. So, when I heard rumors of a fourth Jurassic Park film being written, I was ecstatic.
Talk about making a fourth film started circulating around 2001–not long after the release of the third installment. Rumors spread that several characters would make appearances in the new film, including Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and fan-favorite Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). A first draft of the script was written in 2002, and numerous rewrites occurred by 2003. In one of these drafts, the concept of genetically modified dinosaurs was explored. However, those genetically modified dinosaurs would be a cross between different dinosaurs and humans.
I can recall the speculation surrounding the dinosaur-human hybrids when I was younger; I remember fans of the films being skeptical of that plotline, and the uncertainty of having non-dinosaur dinosaurs. As it turns out, the plans for genetically modified dinosaur-human hybrids fell through; instead, the genetically modified dinosaurs would be an amalgam of multiple dinosaur species.
The film was set to release in 2008, with talks of Laura Dern reprising her role as Ellie Sattler, but the film’s release was delayed due to a Writers Guild of America strike during 2007 and 2008. It wasn’t until 2012 when Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver were contacted to write a new script that Jurassic World became a possibility. Preproduction began in 2013, and the rest is history.
Given the number of setbacks in developing the franchise’s fourth film, the numerous rewrites to the script, and the uncertainty of the whole enterprise, fans have been erring on the side of caution. While some were thrilled to learn of the sequel’s production, others worried that the film wouldn’t do justice to the first film. The success of a third sequel seemed unlikely to many — each subsequent sequel has each diminished in popularity.
On the review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, films are rated on a scale of one to 10; the sequels to Jurassic Park rated 5.6 and 5.2. Despite the “success” of the films at the box office, viewers weren’t happy with the final products. Residual feelings of disappointment and lingering doubts about the film’s plot has led many to view Jurassic World with caution.
As a fan myself, I will admit that I was a little nervous about the direction of the film. However, my desire for another installment overwhelmed my nervousness about it. I became a fanatic about this movie; I was just waiting for the day when it would be released and I could go see it in the theater.
So when I was presented with the opportunity to go to an exclusive early screening of the film, I was elated.
From start to finish, Jurassic World is action-packed. What seems like five minutes into the film someone’s life is already at stake, there are dinosaur shenanigans, and romance is blossoming. The film starts with two boys (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson) traveling to Jurassic World to meet their aunt, the park operations manager (Bryce Dallas Howard). Upon arrival, they — and the audience — are swept up into a park full of mesmerizing attractions.
Howard’s character proves to be a cut-and-dried, non-maternal woman focused on her work rather than on her relationships. After leaving her nephews in the care of an assistant, Howard is joined by park backers on a tour of the genetics lab, wherein the newest attraction is revealed. With every new attraction park attendance has spiked, we are told, and Indominus Rex is meant to be the next “big” thing; audiences want bigger, scarier, meaner dinosaurs. People should pretty much assume that things are going to go downhill for the characters in the film really quick after this.
Cue Chris Pratt’s character! As a specialist in training Velociraptors, he is approached by Howard to inspect Indominus Rex’s paddock and behavior, to see if she’s ready to be shown to the public. Also, there’s some silly little romantic banter between the two, so. It is soon after Pratt inspects Indominus’ enclosure that the s**t hits the fan.
Left and right, things seem to go wrong.
Maybe there’s some dying.
Okay, maybe there’s a lot of dying.
Despite the park’s enormous success, many of the security measures seem to fall apart very quickly. Indominus Rex carves a bloody path across Isla Nublar, and Howard’s nephews get caught in the fray. Belatedly realizing how much she cares about her family, Howard manages to convince Pratt to go out into the park to help her find them.
What happens after that, well … I’ll leave that for you to discover.
Overall, the film is as action-packed as the first three films, if not more so due to the advancements in CGI and visual effects. Like the first two sequels, Jurassic World falls a bit flat in certain elements of the plot. The romance between Pratt and Howard’s characters seems forced and stilted; they don't have any chemistry together. There’s also the annoying detail that Howard’s character wears heels for the entire movie and miraculously never trips, never falls, never stumbles, no matter how rough the terrain. There are also a few instances where the film fails to fit into the canon and mythos of the original film, but these are more forgivable (and easy to overlook).
Despite the inconsistencies and/or issues, the film does harken back to the original films with a few easter eggs and the reappearance of B.D. Wong’s character, Dr. Henry Wu. There’s enough new material and new characters to reinvigorate the franchise, and plenty to satisfy fans new and old.
Jurassic World does not mess around. The film is full of action, full of dinosaurs, and features a whole slew of famous faces — including a few unexpected cameos. For fans of the original films, it might seem difficult to accept Jurassic World as part of the franchise after 14 years of waiting, but this movie is more than just a sequel. Jurassic World is a new beginning for the franchise. The pack has evolved to fit the technology of the times, and will undoubtedly usher in new generations of fans for years to come.
For me, the film was everything I’d hoped it would be. I was halfway in love with Jurassic World before it even had a release date, but when I finally did see it, it became one of my favorite movies. It was like the park and I had grown up at the same time. Having that experience and seeing the end product felt like an affirmation of my love for the franchise.
If you have any lingering doubts about the film, all I ask is that you give the film a chance; after all, “life, uh, finds a way.”
Jurassic Park opens worldwide today.
Morgan Vourvoulias-Saunders is a third-year student in the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University in Philadelphia. Follow her on Twitter at @mvourvoulias.