‘Jurassic World’ Review

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Dir: Colin Trevorrow

Writer(s): Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver

Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, Vincent D’Onofrio, BD Wong, Lauren Lapkus and Irrfan Khan

Synopsis: Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfill a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitor’s interest, which backfires horribly.

 

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

 

It’s been around twenty years – in real life – since we first saw the original Jurassic Park hit theaters. The movie pushed the boundaries and arguably rejuvenated the industry in terms of special effects and animatronics. The first film holds a special place in many people’s hearts, including mine, so when Jurassic World was announced, it had many of us skeptical about how this new movie would hold up against the original that had great moments and characters. Well, guess what, Jurassic World is a great sequel to the original and does have great moments and some good characters.

 

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Because the saying “learn from your mistakes” apparently doesn’t exist in this world, Jurassic Park, now called Jurassic World has been open for a few years now on the same island, Isla Nublar, where the events of the first film took place. John Hammond’s dream of a theme parked filled with real life dinosaurs has come to fruition thanks to industry billionaire Masrani (Khan), who wanted to carry Hammond’s wish. The park is run by Claire (Howard) who is under a microscope to get the park’s numbers up. Cue the new genetically mutated, hybrid dinosaur: Indominous Rex, bigger, faster, and of course, more deadly.

 

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That’s not Claire’s only problem, she also has her nephew’s Zach (Robinson) and Gray (Simpkins) coming to visit for the week. Gray is thrilled to be there and wants to visit everything possible, while Zach rather be elsewhere and not babysit his younger brother. The other storyline is raptor trainer and ex-Navy solider, Owen (Pratt) who sees not just his raptors, but all dinosaurs as something that should be respected and that they are animals living in a different time, and are not theme park attractions that can be controlled. He also has his problems with InGen worker Hoskins (D’Onofrio), who thinks Owen’s raptors can be used for something more.

 

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There is a lot of moving parts in Jurassic World, and some of them work really well while others fall flat or are underdeveloped or underwhelming. Of course the idea of creating extinct animals could be seen as a noble one or, like in this case, an easy way to make a ton of money, but dinosaurs? I mean come on. So who do we have to thank for the dinosaurs in Jurassic World? Well none other than the only returning character from the original film, Dr. Henry Wu (Wong). He also was the one that design the Indominous Rex for the park to spike audiences and sponsors interest. Then it breaks out and sets off a chain of events that lead to all out chaos that echoes what has happened in the past. It’s almost one of the running themes in the series, that greed and maybe even hubris overtake our rational side of thinking. Because seriously, making a new dinosaur? Really? Especially how the Indominous Rex is so damn terrifying. It’s big, fast, and doesn’t care what is in its way. The Indominous Rex is a great addition to the dinosaur villains.

 

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But, and this is something that is also bought up in the movie, is our (general public) need for more our downfall. Director Colin Trevorrow is almost making fun of the public’s need for more as all throughout the park are noticeable and big name brands, making Jurassic World not just a speculate, but also a marketing darling.

 

The other theme is relationships, and Jurassic World goes back to its roots and gives us two great younger leads opposite two great adult leads. The relationship between the two brothers feels genuine and Robinson and Simpkins play well off each other. The relationship could have gone a little deeper, because there is a potential for it. As for Claire and Owen, they have an interesting one. They went on a date that was memorable for the reason you wouldn’t think. The two are exact opposites of each other and it works at the beginning, but once things go, well, Jurassic Park-y the both of them realize they need to work together, which leads to a somewhat forced romantic arch. I say somewhat because it comes and goes and isn’t in our face so much like others we’ve seen.

 

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Now, to the thing I know everyone will complain about: the CGI. Yes, Jurassic World’s dinosaurs are mostly CGI. Some of it looks absolutely great and it works for what they are trying to do and makes sense why they would go the CG route, and it’s not because it’s easier. It’s not a complete departure for the series. The first Jurassic Park did have animatronics and touched them up with CGI to make the dinosaurs look even better than they already did. Luckily, there is an animatronic dinosaur in the movie and it is a great scene at that. I don’t want to go too much into the scene, but the scene will bring you back to the first movie.

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Speaking of that, Jurassic World isn’t a reboot, it is a continuation to the series. However, it doesn’t try to forget what came before it. It embraces it and not going pays respect, but pays homage and stays a bit within the spirit of the first movie. The good thing is that it doesn’t do it to rehash the ideas or even say “hey, look at it!” Jurassic World is its own thing, but it reminds us that we’re all fans and Trevorrow is remember what made this series and first movie so special.

 

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Going back to the cast, it is the cast that makes Jurassic World also work. Pratt isn’t a goofy character, not that his character doesn’t throw in a few witty one-liners, he’s probably the most serious character we’ve seen him in a while. Bryce Dallas Howard is a great female character that learns the errors in her ways and has a nice character development moment. Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus appear as control room workers that have great character moments and are pretty much the default comedic reliefs. BD Wong finally gets worthwhile big screen time (his character in Jurassic Park book is more of strong supporting character), but his character coming back isn’t fully developed which is a shame.

 

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When it comes to the “weak” (I say weak for the lack of a better word at the moment) cast members, it may surprise you that Vincent D’Onofrio is one of them. His character’s motivations automatically make him the human villain, but the way his character presents himself is sometimes a bit too much or a way a character in that kind of position shouldn’t really be acting like. Omar Sy, who plays Owen’s friend, gets the short end of the stick and doesn’t get a lot to do, so we really can’t blame him. Judy Greer’s short appearance as Claire’s sister and Zach and Gray’s mom is interesting to watch, but considering he literally has about three scenes, I can’t put her high up on the list.

 

All in all, Jurassic World pays respect and captures the spirit the first movie and if you’re a true fan of the series you’ll catch the homages and cool Easter Eggs thrown in there. There are fantastic moments in this and I couldn’t believe that a movie could make me feel like a kid again, even if it was for a minute. Does the entire movie work? No, some things are left open and just pushed to the side, but you can almost forgive them after experience all the great moments. Jurassic World is a ton of fun, and isn’t that what’s most important in a summer movie? I think so.

 

Jurassic World

4.5 out of 5

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‘Insidious: Chapter 2’ Review

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Dir: James Wan

Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey, Steve Coulter, Leigh Whannel and Angus Sampson

Synopsis: The haunted Lambert family seeks to uncover the mysterious childhood secret that has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world

 

*Reviewer Note: If you have not seen Insidious, which I recommend you do, then you maybe shouldn’t read this. There will be things from the first movie that will coincide with Insidious: Chapter 2. So if you don’t want to be spoiled by either movie then go watch them first and come back*

 

Picking up right where the first movie left off, Insidious Chapter 2 finds the Lambert family reunited after Josh (Wilson) ventured into the Further to retrieve his son Dalton (Simpkins). However, the hauntings continue to occur, and Josh doesn’t seem to be quite himself anymore. Josh’s wife Renai (Byrne) starts to be haunted again and Josh’s mother Lorraine (Hershey) enlist the help of paranormal investigator Carl (Coulter) and ghost hunters Tucker (Sampson) and Specs (Whannell)

In the first Insidious, Wan and Whannell’s story was mostly centered around the Lambert family, as Josh and Renai focused on getting their son back. With the sequel there’s more of a mystery element, and the cast is split into two core groups for most of the film. One is Josh, Renai and their kids and the other is Lorraine, Carl, Tucker and Specs, who try to figure out why the Lamberts are still being haunted and if there is something else going on.

The nice thing about the sequel is that it doesn’t hold anything back. We know the family, the story (to some extent), and who the characters are. So James Wan doesn’t wait until the half way point of the movie to crank up the scares and doesn’t build the tension or atmosphere because it pretty much starts off right away, and more importantly it works. But it’s also not necessarily a sequel either per se. The movie, with the exceptions of flashbacks, is told right after the first movie. So the “mythology” is in tact. We don’t have a “six months later” text which is nice. They make no apologies in trying to obscure any of the events from the first movie, they revel in them.

This is one of the reasons why Insidious 2 is different from your average horror sequel, because you actually have to know something about the first film before you watch the second. However, one of the things I keep hearing is that the movie is a bit tonally different from the first and in a way I have to agree.  Tucker and Specs’ roles are expanded in this and continue to provide the comic relief and some people feel it as a “campy.” I don’t know if I’d go that far since they really only showed up in the last thirty minutes of the first movie so they have obviously have more to do this time around with their Ghostbuster-y gimmick.

Meanwhile, Wilson does a fine job of portraying the inner struggle between Josh and the after effect of going into The Further in the last movie. Byrne does a good job as Renai again but it almost feels like her screen time is shorter here. While Insidious 2’s marketing would have you believe that Byrne is the leading lady, it’s kind of feels like its Hershey who has more screen time, which isn’t really that bad.

All in all, Insidious: Chapter 2 is once again a pretty good haunted house movie. It’s scary and intriguing and even puts a fun spin on what we’ve already seen. I wouldn’t say it’s as scary as the first movie, again with the exception of a few scenes, but still worth checking out to see the conclusion of the Lambert family mystery.

 

Insidious: Chapter 2

4 out of 5