Movie Review – Jurassic World (2015)

Released to the theaters this weekend is Jurassic World, the fourth movie in the Jurassic Park franchise.

Back in 1993, Jurassic Park ruled the theaters with its story involving a high-tech theme park filled with dinosaurs brought back to life through advanced technology.  This was followed by The Lost World: Jurassic Park in 1997, and then Jurassic Park III in 2001.

And now, after waiting fourteen years, the next Jurassic Park film has finally been released.

Enter Jurassic World.

Jurassic World (2015) - movie poster

Jurassic World (2015) – movie poster

Directed by Colin Trevorrow and starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Vincent D’Onofrio, Jurassic World goes back to the franchise’s roots and returns us to the original ideas set in Jurassic Park.  A new team has taken over John Hammond’s operations and the theme park (now named Jurassic World) is open to the public.  New dinosaur attractions have been added over the years, and now it’s time to open another one.  The latest creation, a hybrid dinosaur named Indominus rex, is guaranteed to terrify the visitors and boost the audiences at the theme park.  Of course, you know what happens next . . .

Jurassic World begins with two brothers, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins) at their home.  Although Gary is still young, he has a keen interest in dinosaurs and science.  His older brother Zach is more interested in girls, and he’s practically counting down the days until he can move out of his parents’ house and live on his own.  Their parents need some time alone to sort out their own problems, so they send the boys on a vacation to Jurassic World.  The boys’ Aunt Claire happens to work at the dinosaur theme park, and she’s going to look after them and give them a personal tour of the place.

Zach and Gray catch an international flight to Costa Rica, and then they board a high-speed ferry with other guests bound for Isla Nublar, a.k.a. Jurassic World.  After that they board a monorail that takes them through the famous Jurassic Park gate and ultimately to the visitors’ complex.  While Gray is excited to see the dinosaurs, Zach is more interested in looking at the young ladies.

Unfortunately, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) has to meet with some investors, and she’s unable to meet her nephews.  She has her personal assistant, Zara Young (Katie McGrath), keep an eye on them instead.  The boys are disappointed that Claire is going to be busy that day, and they don’t care for Zara, either.

Claire’s meeting with the investors is successful, and they agree to sponsor the park’s latest attraction, a brand new predator dinosaur called the Indominus rex.  After the meeting, Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), the owner of the park, arrives, and he flies Claire in a helicopter to the northern end of the island to personally inspect the new habitat for the Indominus.  It turns out that the Indominus rex (a hybrid creation of other dinosaur species) is more of a handful than originally anticipated, and the park has to increase the height of the walls of its enclosure.  After hearing about the dinosaur’s problems, Simon tells Claire that he wants Owen Grady, a Velociraptor expert, to look for vulnerabilities in the Indominus rex‘s cage.

Meanwhile, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) is working with a team of four Velociraptors (named Charlie, Delta, Echo and Blue), and showing that the raptors can be trained.  Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), the head of InGen security, sees the raptors as potential weapons to be sold to the military.  He’s convinced that dinosaurs can be trained and used as the ultimate weapons on the battlefield.  Owen doesn’t agree as the dinosaurs are still very dangerous and cannot be trusted in such a role.  When a worker falls into the raptors’ pen, Owen risks his own life to stop the raptors from attacking the worker.  Owen saves the worker and he escapes, but he also proves that these raptors are not tame.  Vic isn’t swayed and he thinks that his “dinosaur weapon” idea could still work.

Claire later meets with Owen at his private bungalow.  The two of them briefly had a relationship together, but it’s obvious that nothing worked out between the two of them.  Despite that, Owen agrees to help inspect the Indominus rex‘s cage and make it more secure.

While all of that is taking place, Zach and Gray have been exploring the theme park with Zara.  They watch a show at the Jurassic World Lagoon and are amazed when a gigantic Mosasaurus leaps out of the water to feed on a suspended great white shark.  This is the turning point for Zach’s attitude, and he starts to have fun.  He quickly convinces Gray to ditch Zara, and the two of them easily slip away into a crowd of people.

Back at the Indominus rex‘s enclosure, Owen spots suspicious claw marks on the inside of the walls.  Claire tries to use the enclosure’s thermal cameras to find the dinosaur, but it cannot be found.  Thinking that the Indominus has escaped, Claire scrambles the Animal Capture Unit (ACU) team and gets them moving to find and capture the Indominus rex.  Owen and two staff then enter the enclosure to find more evidence as to how and why the dinosaur had escaped.

As the ACU is racing to the scene, Claire has somebody in the control room activate the Indominus rex‘s homing beacon.  The person does so and states that the Indominus is still *inside* of its enclosure.  The Indominus is a hybrid, and one of its genetic traits is shared with a tree frog.  As a result, the dinosaur has the ability to change its temperature to blend in with its environment.

The Indominus ambushes and attacks the three people.  The gate is partially opened so that Owen and a staff member can escape, but the Indominus breaks through the gate and escapes as well.  Owen hides underneath a vehicle, cuts a fuel line, and douses himself with gasoline to mask his smell while the Indominus attacks and kills the other staff member.  The Indominus then loses track of Owen, and it wanders further into the island.

Claire and Owen return to the control center where they, along with Simon Masrani, watch as the ACU tracks the Indominus rex‘s homing beacon.  When the ACU team arrives at the position of the dinosaur, they discover that the Indominus had ripped the beacon out of its skin.  Owen informs them that the dinosaur must have remembered when the beacon was installed.  Just as the ACU team realizes that it walked into an ambush, the Indominus rex (it had camoflagued and changed its skin to match its environment, just like a tree frog or a cuttlefish) attacks and easily kills all of them.

Now Simon and Claire realize just what sort of a danger is loose on the island.  They’re forced to begin the evacuation procedure for Jurassic World.  Claire orders all of the northern areas of the park to close.

Meanwhile, Zach and Gray had boarded a user-controlled gyrosphere ride that allows guests to take a closer look at some of the sauropods and other herbivores.  They hear a message about needing to return immediately to the ride’s station, but they ignore it since they’re VIPs associated with Claire.  The two boys continue driving across the landscape until they discover a gate that had been broken.  Zach then drives their gyrosphere through the gate and into the true wilderness of the island.

Claire calls Zara and discovers that Zach and Gray ran away from her.  She then learns that the boys are on the gyrosphere ride, and it’s confirmed that one of the ride vehicles has not returned to the station.  When Claire tries to call Zach’s phone, the signal is weak and she’s unable to communicate with him.  Claire asks Owen to go with her and search for her nephews.

After the massacre of the ACU, Simon Masrani meets with Dr. Henry Wu (B. D. Wong), the park’s chief geneticist, about just what kind of a hybrid dinosaur / monster that they created.  When Simon tries to hold Dr. Wu responsible, Dr. Wu responds that it was Simon who was pushing for them to develop a large, dangerous and scary dinosaur to impress the crowds.  This was really a monster of Simon’s creation, and not that of the geneticists.  The workers were just following Simon’s orders.

While in the forest, Zach and Gray discover a small group of Ankylosaurus dinosaurs.  Then they quickly discover that the Indominus rex is there as well.  The Indominus tries to attack the gyrosphere, but it instead sends the vehicle rolling through the forest.  The Indominus then attacks one of the Ankylosaurs.  The armored plating and heavy club make the Ankylosaurus a formidable opponent to the Indominus rex, but the Indominus ultimately wins the fight when it flips over the Ankylosaurus onto its back and then easily bites its exposed head and neck.

The Indominus then turns its attention back to the disabled gyrosphere and two boys trapped inside.  It picks up and smashes the vehicle again and again.  Zach and Gray escape the gyrosphere and make a run for it.  The Indominus chases them to the edge of a small waterfall.  Knowing that there is no other choice, Zach convinces Gray to jump with him into the water.  The two of them do so and barely escape from the predator.

Claire and Owen discover the wrecked gyrosphere and quickly learn that the Indominus rex attacked it.  Claire fears for the worst but is relieved when Owen spots the boys’ footprints.  They follow them and track to where the boys jumped into the river.  Owen keeps tracking them and Claire follows along.

Meanwhile, Zach and Gray discover the old Jurassic Park’s Visitor Center.  The building was abandoned after the deadly incident over twenty years ago.  Nature has been slowly overgrowing and reclaiming the structure.  Inside of the Visitor Center, the boys see that everything is still in place from the incident years ago.  The work their way through the building and make their way to a garage with a couple of jeeps.  Gray is able to simply change batteries and get a jeep running again (no explanation as to how the *gasoline* and other components are still good after all of those years of storage), and the two of them drive away.

Owen is hot on their trail, and he and Claire also discover the Visitor Center and its garage.  Just as they’ve examining a jeep and wondering if they can get it running as well, they’re both attacked by the Indominus rex.  The dinosaur rips open a wall and chases the two of them through the Visitor Center.

After escaping from the Indominus rex, Owen and Claire make their way into an open area where they discover a dying sauropod.  The large herbivore was viciously attacked by another creature.  The two of them try to comfort the dinosaur as it takes its final breaths.  Claire feels sad and forms a small bond with the animal, seeing it as a living and breathing animal and not merely a statistic.  After the sauropod dies, Owen and Claire see corpses of other sauropods littered across the field.  They realize that the Idominus rex is aware that it’s the top predator, and it’s able to kill other creatures simply for sport.

Claire calls the control center and reports the last known position of the Indominus rex, and another team is dispatched to stop the dinosaur.  This time the team is using lethal weapons, and they’re there to kill it, not to capture it.  Since they’re short on helicopter pilots, Simon volunteers to fly the helicopter for the second ACU team.

The Indominus rex has been heading south towards Jurassic World.  It’s quickly spotted from the air.  Somebody on the helicopter shoots at it with a machine gun, but that only makes the Indominus mad.  The dinosaur crashes through a wall of the Jurassic World Aviary, a tremendous dome that houses the theme park’s Pteranodons and Dimorphodons.  Some of the flying dinosaurs escape and they fly right into the helicopter, causing it to crash through the dome and land in an explosion, killing all of the passengers.  The much larger hole in the dome allows the rest of the flying dinosaurs to escape from the aviary.

Zach and Gray arrive back in Jurassic World just as the Pteranodons and Dimorphodons begin attacking and killing the tourists.  Zara spots the boys, but she’s grabbed by a Pteranodon and later accidentally dropped into the Jurassic World Lagoon.  Pteranodons dive into the water and try to grab Zara.  One of them grabs her and begins to fly away with her, but the Mosasaurus leaps out of the water and easily eats both Zara and the Pteranodon.

Owen and Claire also arrive in the chaotic park, and they’re reunited with Zach and Gray.  The four of them quickly manage to find shelter and avoid the fleeing tourists as well as the flying dinosaurs.

Following the death of Simon Masrani, Vic Hoskins assumes command of Jurassic World.  He’s eager to prove that the Velociraptors can track and kill the Indominus rex.  When Owen learns of this plan, he reluctantly agrees to help as long as he can be in the field with the raptors.  The raptors are let loose and they race into the forest with Owen and the InGen soldiers in quick pursuit.

Sure enough, the raptors lead the InGen men right to the Indominus rex.  However, instead of attacking the large dinosaur, the raptors communicate with it.  It’s quickly learned that the Indominus rex has some Velociraptor genetics as well.  The Indominus rex convinces the raptors to turn on the InGen men and attack them.  The InGen men try to shoot the Indominus, but they only cause the dinosaur to flee into the forest.  The raptors then attack the InGen men as they try to retreat.  When one of the raptors encounters Owen, the two of them start to rekindle their bond.  Suddenly one of the InGen men shoots the raptor with a shoulder-fired rocket, killing it instantly.

Back at the park’s research laboratory, Dr. Wu is ordered to pack up the laboratory and to evacuate with the dinosaur embryos.  Hoskins knows that this incident is going to destroy the reputation of Jurassic World and close it permanently, but the company still has a future if it can preserve the embryos and their research.  Dr. Wu is last seen being evacuated on board an InGen helicopter.

Owen, Claire, Zach and Gray also arrive in the laboratory, and they see some of the experiments that have been taking place there.  The four of them spot Vic Hoskins as he’s trying to grab a few more embryos.  He’s still convinced that the future of InGen will involve dinosaurs such as the Velociraptors and the Indominus rex as weapons.

Suddenly a Velociraptor appears in the laboratory.  It corners Hoskins and backs him against a wall.  Hoskins reaches out with a hand and tries to calm and plead with the Velociraptor, but the raptor instead bites off Hoskins’s hand.  The raptor then attacks and kills Hoskins.  Owen, Claire, Zach and Gary use that distraction as a chance to escape from the raptor.

The four of them run outside, but they’re trapped and surrounded by the three remaining raptors.  Owen stops the raptors from attacking and he re-establishes his bond with them just before the Indominus rex arrives.  Owen and the three raptors attack the Indominus, but two of the raptors are killed and one is seriously injured.  Gray knows that the only way to defeat the Indominus rex is with more teeth.  Claire realizes what her nephew is talking about, so she runs off to get help while the Indominus rex continues fighting with Owen and the raptor.

Claire orders her friend in the control center to open the door to the Tryannosaur enclosure.  She then lights a flare and leads a female Tyrannosaurus rex to join the fight against the Indominus rex.  The trick works and the T. rex fights the other dinosaur.  At first the Indominus rex gains the upper hand and nearly defeats the T. rex.  The tide changes though when the injured Velociraptor (Blue) returns and attacks the Indominus again.  This allows the T. rex to gain an edge, and the T. rex and Blue force the Indominus backwards towards the Jurassic Park Lagoon.

The Indominus rex is injured but still capable of fighting.  Just before it attacks, the Mosasaurus reaches out of the water, snatches the Indominus, and drags it under the water to her death.  The T. rex then leaves to recover from its nearly fatal fight.  Blue shares one last moment with Owen before it runs back into the forest.

The tourists are all evacuated to Costa Rica.  Zach and Gray are both reunited with their parents.  Owen and Claire leave together, possibly giving a relationship a second chance.

Jurassic World ends with the Tyrannosaurus rex climbing onto the helicopter pad, surveying the wrecked theme park, and letting out a tremendous roar.


So is Jurassic World a good movie?

Yes and no.

For starters, we really don’t know for a fact where this film exists in relation to the other the Jurassic Park movies.  There’s no mention of Isla Sorna / Site B, nor is there any mention of the Spinosaurus from Jurassic Park III.  John Hammond is only mentioned once or twice, and except for Dr. Henry Wu, basically nobody from the first film is mentioned in this film.  It looked like one of the workers in the control center had a book written by Dr. Ian Malcolm on his desk, but it was difficult to see if that was true or not.

What Jurassic World really needed was some way of establishing to the audience how the Jurassic World park was finally built.  They should have done some sort of sequence (perhaps in the opening credits) showing the transition from the incident on Isla Nublar (the events in Jurassic Park) to today, allegedly the twenty-something year of the theme park.

After all, those dinosaurs were capable of living on their own and reproducing (nature had found a way for them to survive, just as Dr. Malcolm predicted).  Did a specialized crew arrive on the island and somehow kill or capture every single living dinosaur so that the new theme park could be built?  Was there ever a danger of the dinosaurs on Isla Sorna swimming or flying to Isla Nublar or any other area?  Did InGen build *another* dinosaur processing facility to breed the dinosaurs and then transfer them into Jurassic World?

We know that Site B was built as the main processing center for creating and breeding the dinosaurs.  The research facility in Jurassic Park was real, but it was also used as a minor attraction to show off the park’s technology.  The real dinosaur creation work was handled over at Site B, and then the healthy animals were transferred to their enclosures in Jurassic Park (as we saw in the opening scene in Jurassic Park when a Velociraptor mauled a worker).

There is no transition between Jurassic Park and Jurassic World.  Nor is there really an explanation of the events in The Lost World: Jurassic Park or Jurassic Park IIIJurassic World appears to instead be a direct sequel to Jurassic Park, just set some twenty or so years later.

It seems like the timeline in the Jurassic Park franchise is close to real time.  Jurassic Park was released in 1993.  Jurassic World was released in 2015.  That’s a difference of twenty-two years.  In Jurassic World, we know the theme park has been operational for just over twenty years.  They’ve been periodically adding new attractions to revive the public’s interest, and the Indominus rex is simply the latest addition to a very well established theme park.

Assuming that Jurassic World is, in fact over twenty years old, and that the franchise follows today’s timeline, it makes you wonder just how it was actually built back in the mid 1990s.  Remember that at the end of Jurassic Park, Dr. Grant was not endorsing the theme park, and Mr. Hammond gave up his dream.  Jurassic Park was dead.  But if Jurassic World theme park really is over twenty years old, that means that the island was taken over by a private organization sometime right around 1993, just after the events in Jurassic Park, and the brand new Jurassic World theme park opened within the next year or two.

So was the general public not swayed at all by the death and destruction caused by the dinosaurs?  Shouldn’t Isla Nublar also have been turned into a protected nature preserve just like they did to Isla Sorna?  Remember that in Jurassic Park III, Isla Sorna was a heavily restricted area that was guarded by the Costa Rican military.

Again, there’s basically no information that links Jurassic World to the ending of Jurassic Park, or to either of the previous sequels.  This is sloppy and it fails to establish the film within the franchise.  We know that it’s a sequel, but it’s very questionable as to how it connects with the other films.

So what about the rest of Jurassic World?

Another problem was with the two boys, Zach and Gray.  Gray?  Really?  Who in the world names their kid Gray?  Anyway, those guys were obviously a rip-off of Lex and Tim from Jurassic Park.  Lex and Tim’s parents were getting a divorce, so they were sent to visit their grandfather, Mr. Hammond, and see his new theme park.  Here it’s basically a repeat except that, A) We briefly see their parents in the beginning and again at the end, and B) Claire is their aunt, not a grandparent.  But it’s the same in the end.  The only reason we know that Zach and Gray’s parents are getting a divorce is that it’s briefly mentioned in the film, but that’s it.  We see so little of their parents that their divorce is basically meaningless.  The mere mention of it only further proves that Zach and Gray are even more of a rip-off of Lex and Tim.

The way that Zach and Claire kept lying to Gray to try to convince him that they were really safe was also stupid.  The kid was obviously smart and aware of what was happening.  He knows all about dinosaurs, their genetics, he know how far and how long it takes to drive to the airport, and he can also miraculously repair a jeep and get it operational again.  Trying to convince him that there wasn’t any real danger was just stupid.

And just for the sake of it, both of those boys needed a haircut.  That style of long, unkept hair has always looked really bad.

Jurassic World (2015) – movie trailer

Other questionable moments in Jurassic World:

  • Why didn’t Claire simply activate the homing becon inside of the Indominus rex BEFORE activating the ACU or allowing *anybody* to enter its enclosure?  Shouldn’t Owen have also caught that mistake since he knew all about homing becons?
  • Why was it up to Simon Masrani to pilot the helicopter that chased the Indominus rex?  A place such as Jurassic World should have had several helicopters and even more pilots on hand.  The resort is on an island.  It’s an island with vicious dinosaurs.  It’s a place that needs aerial support for not only tracking and capturing escaped dinosaurs, but also emergency transportation for people as well, such as during evacuations.  So again, why was it up to the park’s owner of all people to get behind the controls (helicopter pilots sit in the RIGHT seat, by the way) and fly the aircraft?
  • Why didn’t the theme park have a series of dinosaur-proof shelters?  Didn’t anybody learn from the incident in 1993 that you need strong shelters with reinforced doors as well as communications with somebody (rescue, military, etc.) outside of the theme park?  The insurance company for the theme park should have mandated emergency shelters from the very beginning.
  • Speaking of shelters and the evacuation of the theme park, why couldn’t we see more of that in the film?  The theme park had over 20,000 people that day.  All we really saw of the “evacuation” was simply herding all of the visitors into a central area near the park’s entrance.  We didn’t see emergency vehicles rushing people to the docks, or boats, helicopters or seaplanes getting people off the island.
  • Once it was decided to evacuate the people from the island, shouldn’t the Costa Rican military have been called to help with the evacuation?  Or the U.S. Navy?  Or *anybody* for that matter?
  • Couldn’t that fancy resort hotel also have been used to shelter the visitors?  They could have barricaded them in the various rooms and hallways.  The people would have had easier access to food and water, they would have had furniture and air-conditioning, and everybody would have been safe when the Pteranodons and Dimorphodons attacked.
  • Speaking of dinosaurs, shouldn’t the boys have easily been caught and eaten when they were chased by the Indominus rex?  That dinosaur should have easily caught them once it was clear of the trees.  Near the end of the film, the Tyrannosaurus rex should have easily caught and ate Claire as well.  That scene with her running on foot and leading the T. rex was hilariously bad.  Unless the dinosaur engineers deliberately messed with the genetics and found a way to slow down a T. rex, then we know from the first Jurassic Park film that the T. rex could run at over 30 mph.

Despite all of the flaws and my personal opinions towards characters and situations, I still liked a lot of Jurassic World.  This is definitely a fun summertime movie.  Fans of the Jurassic Park films will probably enjoy this one as well, just as long as you don’t look too closely at it.

I’m a theme park junkie.

Considering that this was both a theme park movie as well as the next Jurassic Park film, it was just a natural attraction to see this film in the theater.  Personally, I would have liked to have seen more of the Jurassic World theme park and resort in this film.  They have a great premise here, and they could have shown Zach and Gray experiencing the different rides and shows.  They could have also shown the dinosaurs causing havoc in other parts of the resort / island as well.

Jurassic World (2015) – final trailer

The best way to enjoy Jurassic World is to shut off your brain and to just enjoy this as a dinosaur and action film.  Although Jurassic World doesn’t have the charm of Jurassic Park, this is still a decent movie and it has a great feeling of nostalgia.

three-and-a-half stars