Friday, June 12, 2015

Summer Cinema: Jurassic World

Opening nearly 22 years after the original, Jurassic World picks up where Jurassic Park left in 1993. Earning a robust $18.5 million on Thursday, JW is expected to gross a giant $125 million this weekend. It was surprisingly bustling at the Cinemark Playa Vista where their Jameson and Ginger Beers made the film more enjoyable than it probably actually was. *TIP* Get two dranks before you go into the theatre * While JW has it's moments, it's also filled with cliches and the human characters are less interesting and have less to do than the dinosaurs.

The flick finds Jurassic World fully recovered from the events of 1993's Jurassic Park where the genetically modified dinosaurs made from original DNA mixed with frog samples run amok and kill visitors. Now a Disney meets Seaworld joint where 20,000 goers are boated in, there's shopping, a luxury hotel, water shows and safari-type attractions. Little kids Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) are sent by their parents because auntie Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) runs the show. In a world of easily lost interest, the park's owner Simon (Irrfan Khan) is always looking for the next cool attraction to spike attendance. In this case, a bigger and scarier dinosaur with more teeth. Returning character Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) obliges and they've concocted a hybrid creature known as Indominus Rex which turns out to be smart, aware and able to camouflage itself...Meanwhile former Navy guy Owen (Chris Pratt looking real Steve McQueen-ish) is busy training raptors to be his homeboys that Hoskins (Vincent D'onofrio) wants to weaponize and use to replace troops in war. Of course shit goes bad, Indominus Rex escapes, the kids are stuck in the park and off we go.

Jurassic World has it's moments. There's humor, adventure, thrills and scares. They build on the story Park created and include it here. There's even cameos from Jeff Goldblum's Ian Malcolm on book covers and Richard Attenborough's John Hammond as a statue. I was surprised that the dinosaurs were given such vital roles in the story as Transformers and Godzilla mistakenly focused on the BS human crap then left 15 minutes for the title characters doing their smashy smashy. But the raptors, T-Rex, I-Rex and Shamu-saurus (what I'm calling the water based attraction/huge dino) basically make shit happen and resolve the conflict. Howard's Claire and Pratt's Owen have a nice rapport that the lady described as Han Solo and Princess Leia-esque which I'd have to agree with. My biggest issue with the film is the kind of schlocky and tired storyline of weaponizing the dinosaurs. Didn't we already see this in the Alien series? Or in part JP2 when the mercenaries show up wanting to take some creatures back to the lab? The hybrid dinosaur felt like it came straight from a SyFy movie, I mean come on, they made history's most terrifying killer, more terrifying, with special powers! As did the whole, how do you take out a dinosaur? With more and bigger dinosaurs! Then D'onofrio's chubby, "probably never served in the military but wants to be a hero" character spouts out cliche lines like "that's above your pay grade" and "light it up!" The mainly CGI dinosaurs was also kind of a turn off as the first shot is a computer generated claw breaking out of an egg so you know what you're in for.

Jurassic Park is of course by far and away the best of the series but I would still put World behind part III. That's probably half nostalgia because it includes original characters Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler but also because it's got some real scares in it and the dinosaurs are frigging mean! They're also mainly practical puppets so it feels more convincing.

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