What could go wrong when you genetically-manufacture dinosaurs for human entertainment? An adaptation of a novel, the Jurassic Park film series begged to answer that question with 3 popular Steven Spielberg-affiliated installments over 8 years; the last one being released in 2001. Plot ideas for a 4th movie were reportedly bounced around, and apparently it took 14 years to settle on one. Looking at the ultimate concept, one might wonder why it took so much brain power: the scientists create a dinosaur that ends up threatening everyone's life. Sounds pretty obvious...and familiar. At a baseline level, Jurassic World (directed by Colin Trevorrow with a co-written screenplay by Trevorrow, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver and Derek Connolly) is a good, enjoyable film because it provides what we go to the franchise for: cool effects and terrifying creatures eating people. From an analytical standpoint, however, there are a few kinks.
First, the elements used to elevate the storyline from being a mere rehash of the original (the intended homages are nicely done, by the way) ironically do that very thing or are underdeveloped. It's 22 years later on the Costa Rican island of Isla Nublar and the dinosaur amusement park has been rebuilt and opened as Jurassic World. Tightly-wound operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard; Ron Howard's offspring, if you didn't know), wigs out regularly as new concoctions of animals have to be made-with increasing fear factor-every few years to keep the novelty from wearing off. In one of the opening scenes, she chastises a co-worker for insensitively wearing a classic Jurassic Park t-shirt because "people died;" a point that keeps being made along with a dogmatic theme about not underestimating animals and treating them with respect, but here we are...using gargantuan beasts, made intentionally frightening, as play things...as if this hasn't happened before and garnered terrible results. Claire has this love-hate, opposites-attract, attraction-relationship thing with laid-back trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) that would fine if it wasn't so predictable and they actually had chemistry. Her other connections involve her older sister, Karen (Judy Greer, whom I still refer to as "Fern Mayo from Jawbreaker") and 2 nephews, Zach and Gray. Karen has this solemn aura and is pressed to make the dinosaur-loving Gray's 1st trip to Jurassic World perfect, hinting that something's up. I thought she was dying, but it was less dramatic than that: the boys don't know a divorce is on the table. Claire doesn't know this either, but she doesn't know anything. She hardly sees or talks to her family, and when her nephews arrive, she puts them off on her assistant. Yet, she makes some disgruntled, contradictory remark about being single and childless. I'd say that she was written confusing on purpose if the script explained her neuroticism and detachment. We also don't know why teenage Zach is so dejected, rude to his little brother and a playboy, beyond just being an adolescent. The character details were handled like a bare-minimum, obligatory requirement. The resolution was done the same way; after the crisis was *Olivia Pope voice* handled (I won't spoil that part), we didn't see how the chips fell. For the entire movie, Claire is obsessed with the reputation and sustenance of the park, to the point of not evacuating it in danger for public relation's sake, but we don't know if she lost her job for negligence of if the park closed. Zach and Gray didn't confront their parents about the divorce (Gray put things together). Did they even get the divorce? Yes, I know there's going to be a follow-up film, but there were no teasers or lead-ins; not even after the credits. If I didn't hear about it beforehand, I'd have no indication that a 5th Jurassic Park was coming.
With shotty character development, recycled details, loose plot resolution and awkward campiness, all that's left are the dinosaurs and computer-generated imagery, which never falters with this series. That as the primary motivation to purchase a ticket (which, it more than likely is), Jurassic World is worth the $3,000 popcorn. That figure is clearly an exaggeration, but movie theater popcorn is hella expensive.