As I left the Regal Metropolitan Tuesday night, I heard lots of happy JURASSIC PARK fans exclaiming variations of statements upon the freshly watched JURASSIC WORLD. All positive, but the one I’m thinking about as I’m cozying up to the keyboard right now… well, “There’s JURASSIC PARK and there’s JURASSIC WORLD and forget everything in-between!”
Now, I’m not THAT harsh upon Spielberg’s THE LOST WORLD or Johnston’s JURASSIC PARK 3… But then, I’ve always been a disappointed with JURASSIC PARK, for not delivering my fave sequences from the book upon the river, the waterfall and The Aviary. That said, I do feel Spielberg’s JURASSIC PARK is an absolute classic film, in much the way that I love Kubrick’s THE SHINING, though… if we’ll all be honest, it does leave a lot of the best stuff from Stephen King’s novel on the floor.
In fact, as I write this review, I’ve got my active shutter 3D glasses and JURASSIC PARK 3D in the PS3. This original film is fantastic filmmaking. Spielberg made this movie with the knowledge that NOBODY was going anywhere until after the credits because… HOLY SHIT, DINOSAURS!!! He built the characters, allowed long passages of time to be filled with the absolute wonder of John Williams’ score. The casting was note perfect at every level. After 20 years of watching this film, every frame is burned into my mind. I remember talking with Ray Harryhausen a few months before it came out, he felt a tad depressed, as he loved the Dinosaur work he’d seen early so much that he felt nobody would care about his Dinosaurs anymore… I assured him I’d always love Gwangi. And for the record, Gwangi is still the coolest sounding and moving dinosaur. I love him. So much personality.
So let’s get into JURASSIC WORLD. Like those attendees leaving the screening tonight, it feels like this new team decided to forget the second and third films too. The film definitely acknowledges the original film… score, locations, a t-shirt and the weight of what happened all those years ago has pretty much been completely forgotten. The park opened, rebranded as JURASSIC WORLD – and they never looked back. They’ve continued to add attractions, rides, an IMAX 3D theater and a really big swimming pool you don’t want to get in.
Before any Dinosaur Amuck action gets going, we get a really great sense of this epic Theme Park. If you grew up with JURASSIC PARK, you’ve probably dreamt of a functional version of John Hammond’s dream… which was really Michael Crichton’s dream… but let’s stay in the fictional universe for a bit.
I wanna go. I mean. If you’ve ever loved dinosaurs, you’re going to pretty much demand that scientist & industrialists build this thing for real. The functioning Isla Nublar JURASSIC WORLD is a jaw-dropping wonderland. Baby Dinosaur petting zoo, where you can have a child ride upon a saddle on the back of a triceratops. Hug a baby brachiosaurus. Oh yes please!
In many ways, the first half of the film feels like John Hammond’s dream perfectly realized, they truly spared no expense. This Park has tech the likes of which you’d have to travel to Abu Dhabi to witness. As sheer wish fulfillment, in SPADES! You take your young family to see this and there’s going to be a feeling like, F’ DISNEYLAND LET’S GO TO JURASSIC WORLD! The presentation and the lay out of attractions is just a wonder to behold.
Consider yourself a JURASSIC PARK super geek? You may find yourself pointing at things on screen and having a wave of giddy, “That’s so cool!” slicing right down to that awe you felt as a kid.
Alright – so enough about how cool the park is, who are we experiencing it through. Well, mainly a pair of brothers. These two kids are the nephews of Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire, who seems to be in charge of operations at JURASSIC WORLD. Ty Simpkins plays Gray, he’s the younger brother. He is a dino super freak. His brother seems to be about 16, I think he just finished his Sophomore year of High School, cuz he has two years till college. Nick Robinson’s Zach is one of those teenage boys that’s beginning to go a tad girl crazy. He’s far more interested in girls his age than resurrected dinosaurs, but still… being splashed by a Mosasaur eating a Great White Shark has a way of readjusting one’s priorities. They came to the island thinking they were going to be hanging with Bryce’s Claire… but she’s got other more important things than family to focus on.
Yeah, I know. Doesn’t sound like a lovable character – and I don’t think she’s meant to be. The tragedy that’s going to hit Isla Nublar this particular weekend is going to shake her up a bit, make her reevaluate priorities, but first, she has business to handle. The fantastic Irrfan Khan’s Masrani, who bought IN-GEN and the park – and shares Hammond’s Spare No Expense style of management, but has managed to get a hold of Isla Nublar and create all this wonder and run it successfully. That he is there is driving Claire a bit nuts, she’s been cramming information and is a bit overwhelmed. When Masrani asks her to show Pratt’s Owen the new Indominus Rex, as well as the Paddock it is in… well, it is awkward because apparently the two have an uncomfortable history, but there’s really nothing that can be done. Pratt’s a friggin Raptor Whisperer!
Personally, the film could’ve began with the Indominus Rex escape, and have been Pratt and his Raptors for 2 hours and I would’ve been ecstatic. BUT I really do love the kids and the fully realized and functional park… but when the shit hits the fan, that’s usually when we as the audience begin clapping and screaming – and yeah, that is here in spades.
Part of what makes JURASSIC WORLD just wonderful for me, is that it pays attention to the geography established by Crichton. More than that, it brings us to some of the actual locations from the first film that have been allowed to kinda go back to nature a bit, what happened there 20 years ago made it too macabre to fit into the new family friendly face upon the park… um excuse me, I mean WORLD. Giggle.
Structurally, the film kind of follows the rules of WESTWORLD. You’ll see folks enjoying the luxury and wonder of a killer destination! If corporate evil is to be represented, it’s in the form of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Hoskins. Now, Hoskins isn’t overtly evil. Just… when the island goes nuts, he sees it as an opportunity to shine. He also seems to have a slightly shady relationship with BD Wong’s awesome Dr. Henry Wu. Dr. Wu might be a slightly chaotic good character, but he could also just go full on MAD SCIENTIST with a smile in a future film. In fact, I hope Dr. Wu has a private island somewhere that has more fantastical creatures of his own custom design – and Pratt’s Owen and Howard’s Claire show up to find him – and we get something more akin to Most Dangerous Game or Island of Lost Souls in structure. Dr. Wu has massive character potential and B.D. Wong deserves the shot to really make the character fly. Or, perhaps he gets kidnapped by a South American Drug Lord and has to make crazy critters for him, and the drug lord takes John Matrix hostage and Charlize could play grown up Jenny Matrix coming for her Dad and having to fight Dr. Wu’s wild animals.
Sorry… Sometimes crazy imaginative awesome fun movies make me dream of absurd crazy fun directions to fling them. ALSO – when those characters get into Dr. Wu’s Chamber of Miniature miracles – I want to watch that sequence again and see what all is in the background of shots. That is most likely a big clue spot for where Legendary & Universal could be steering this possible newly reinvigorated franchise.
So – how did Michael Giacchino handle the scoring duties? By adapting John Williams pretty damn faithfully – and playing in that exact musical universe. They did not strive for a new musical sound in the least. This feels very John Williamsy and that’s nothing but awesome. I heard more than one person after the film exclaim that the music cues made them cry and well up with emotion. That will most certainly not be a unique experience.
In most cases, the greatest thing about any Spielberg film is John Williams’ score. I can’t separate them from those movies. I applaud the decision to adapt and play with Williams’ phrasings. Giacchino again has kicked ass.
I have to say… Colin Trevorrow, whose last film was also his first… and was made for the estimated budget of $750k… well he certainly got to play with every possible toy in the world. His work with the actors seems to really wallow with the sense of fun and genuine emergency of the situations they find themselves in.
The great big STAR of the film though is Chris Pratt & the Raptors. It’s just. You’ll either hate it, or it’ll be the best fucking thing ever.
Ever since we saw Raptors in snapping distance to Pratt’s widdle yummy fingers – we’ve wanted to know… HOW CAN HE POSSIBLY SURVIVE?
How can Raptor Whispering possibly work?
I’m still asking myself that question. I mean, sure I can look at a schematic for how to make BB-8… still doesn’t stop my jaw dropping wonder of seeing him roll around in the real world in front of fans. But I will say. Chris and those Raptors see one another and I believe it. I don’t doubt that either of those unlikely things are sharing the same air, light and physical space with one another. It might have something to do with Omar Sy’s awesome fucking best buddy reaction shots firing enormous gobs of empathy in Pratt’s general direction making me believe that he’s seen Pratt do this shit and it never ceases to amaze him.
It’s crazy. There’s something just magic right now in film history with Chris and the camera and crazy other stuff on screen. Pratt sells the CG on screen better than you’ll believe reading these words. A dried joyless raisin told me that Pratt could hardly stop from laughing in every shot of the film… and here’s a character that used to a Seal Team Six type of guy, but now he works with dinosaurs – and you get the idea that Pratt’s Owen was a teenage boy about the age of Nick Robinson’s Zach character when the incident of JURASSIC PARK happened. At that point who knows what he was thinking… But he was a BOY – when a story swept the world off its feet. SURVIVORS OF DINOSAUR ISLAND. Can you imagine growing from age 16 to actually TRAINING RAPTORS in a life time?
When you train RAPTORS for a living, you know what you look like in the fucking mirror?
He will ride on a motorcycle at night at the lead of a pack of Raptors of which he is the ALPHA RAPTOR. He trained these animals from BIRTH! After having retired from SEAL TEAM SIX. So… Ya know… WHAT THE FUCK! You know where “Blue” is going at the end of the movie? Owen’s beach bungalow, where he and Chris will chill. And that’s the magic of friggin film. And somewhere in Chris Pratt’s head throughout this movie is the idea that he was a kid watching JURASSIC PARK with his family and now… He’s huntin’ with RAPTORS!
It is thoroughly absurd. Gloriously so. I mean, but didn’t you love it when Dick Van Dyke danced with those Penguins?
The notion of DINOSAURS and MAN on screen, is one of the greatest and most consistent FUCKING WOWS that movies have given us. I mean from the moment Winsor McCay tossed an apple to GERTIE THE DINOSAUR to Willis O’Brien’s LOST WORLD to DeMille’s Lizards with Fins glued to em in ONE MILLION B.C. to the dinosaurs of KING KONG and then Harryhausen’s work and forward. Dinosaurs capture our imaginations. We dream of them, put them on cloth patterns and wear them, we make toys and play in sandboxes with them, we go to museums to see their bones… But in the movies this weekend, there’s only one fucking movie that’s gonna show you some new shit with DINOSAURS and it’s ass loads of fun kicked up to OH SHIT levels and I can’t wait to watch the hell out of this.
Cuz really, while this is a long ass review, I’m still evaluating. A film like this, I’ll see 20 – 30 times by next year. Why? Cuz I have a full size fucking Plush Pterodactyl hanging from the ceiling of my living room that my wonderful wife gave me and then suggested it GO RIGHT THERE! And to get to see a whole murder of pterodactyls and other flying fossils act like Pigeons after breadcrumbs in the park but with PEOPLE… The sheer joygasm of that… and getting to watch that in 3D in my living room with a PTERODACTYL HANGING IN IT… well, yeah. That shit is meant to happen. This isn’t as elegant or masterful a film as Spielberg’s original. The cast is rock solid, but it isn’t quite the magic formula of Crichton’s original characters perfectly cast with Spielberg at one of his most inspired year of his life. Nothing will top that original, but it doesn’t have to.
JURASSIC WORLD is a joyous celebration of the dream of John Hammond, the nightmare of Michael Crichton and the cinema of Steven Spielberg. And I’m so happy I can say that. Helluva summer so far.