It was never about the movie. It was about the movie-going experience. I saw Jurassic World on Thursday, 22 years to the day after Jurassic Park opened. Seeing the original when I was almost seven years old is my first movie theater memory and sparked my nerdy obsession interest in dinosaurs.
So when I repeatedly asked my fiancée and friends if they were ready for “the movie experience of a lifetime,” as I did during our pre-movie dinner, our walk to the theater, and after the final trailer ended, I wasn’t being sarcastic. I felt that way in 1997 when The Lost World came out and in 2001 for Jurassic Park III. That the franchise then took a 14-year hiatus only elevated the anticipation.
The details that emerged as Jurassic World went from rumor to reality were inconsequential. Chris Pratt as the star? Spielberg as executive producer? Sounds great, but I was going to see this movie regardless. And I was going to be very excited about seeing this movie. OK, so…the movie (hold on to your butts—spoilers galore):
Since JW became official, I’d been saying I’d be perfectly fine with a fully functional park: no escapes, no killings, just the paying public enjoying the dinosaurs. While that wouldn’t make for the most exciting film, it would be original. The beginning of JW is exactly that. The park is humming and includes a Sea World-esque show involving a Mosasaurus, a petting zoo where kids can ride baby herbivores, and a visitor’s center that has the iconic DNA strand and a holographic Dilophosaurus. The park has come a long way from “two no-shows and one sick Triceratops.”
Obviously, (one big pile of) shit hits the fan. At times, I was confused. Why did the park’s bosses want Owen to train the raptors? Who was paying the guy hell-bent on using the raptors not just to stop Indominus rex but to fight in our country’s wars? How did Claire run so fast in high heels? While not plot-related, I was troubled by the lack of John Williams’ epic score. We heard it in the beginning but, as I recall, never again.
None of those issues detracted from my overall enjoyment of the film. The dinosaurs looked good—most of them in the original were animatronics as opposed to CGI, and I think the former looks better up close. But when a T. and I. rex are engaged in a herky-jerky battle or a flock of pterosaurs are darting through the skies, CGI can work fine if executed properly, and it was in JW. Viewers will see themselves in the younger brother, or at least I did. He races to the attractions, jumping to see over rows of people, soaking in every glorious second of being in a theme park with freakin’ dinosaurs.
Of course, Indominus rex was created precisely because visitors were getting jaded. Throw in the fact that one of Jurassic World’s employees laments that the original Jurassic Park didn’t need any dino hybrids, and it sure seems like the filmmakers are making a point not just about park visitors, but theater goers as well. Then again, as you’ve surely realized by now, I’m no seasoned film critic.
I am, however, a dinosaur lover. I not only rushed to theaters to see the Jurassic quartet, but I even saw the remakes of King Kong (2005) and Land of the Lost (2009) because they included dinos. I’m giving my stamp of approval to Jurassic World, but I can tell you the lead geneticist’s name (Henry Wu), noticed that Stegosaurus is misspelled on the embryo in the first movie, and have suggested that the original really should’ve been called Cretaceous Park. You probably want someone else’s opinion.