Jurassic World is dumb. But it may have been the most fun I had in the movie theater all year. Hypocrisy level: fire-engine red.
Yes, I if you were to peruse what I’ve reviewed recently, you’ll find a rather unflattering take on Furious 7, another summer blockbuster that scaled new heights in the Ionosphere of Dumbness. So why this dumb movie and not that one? I think, suitably enough, the answer can be found in the DNA. The Furious movies started out as relatively grounded propositions and eventually turned into Hanna-Barbera cartoons. The Jurassic franchise? When the entire premise rests on decisions that insane people would make, then there’s no going back to gritty realism. As such, I am able to embrace the rampant ridiculousness of Jurassic World, high-heeled heroines and all.
What can be more ridiculous than someone actually going ahead and opening a theme park filled with killer dinosaurs? Nothing. Even the terrifying death and child endangerment explicitly outlined in the previous misadventures couldn’t deter functional human beings from playing God and whipping up some prehistoric man-eaters and putting them in paddocks that have doors that open directly into the guest concourse.
But here we have it, Jurassic World, a fully realized amusement destination filled with spectators and candy and T-shirts and velociraptors. In charge of the ebb and flow of the day-to-day operations is Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard, The Village) a competent taskmaster whose only weak points are babysitting her nephews and choosing functional footwear.
Those nephews show up at Jurassic World primed for a good time, but, wouldn’t you know it, they pick the exact day where all hell breaks loose and a genetically manufactured monster called Indominus Rex launches an all-out campaign of people-eating and property destruction. As the Park implodes, Claire looks for help from the one person who has the leather vest and three-quarter sleeve roll needed to save her nephews: Owen Brody (Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy), a wise-cracking velociraptor wrangler with a distaste for authority and a love of denim.
I mean, on paper, there sure are a lot of ingredients that would point to Jurassic World being a shallow, contrived, dumbass motion picture event: simple writing, precocious kids, wise-ass tech guy offering meta commentary, faceless mercenaries, cartoon villains and, of course, the dreaded “let’s weaponize X and save American lives even though it’s the most ridiculous scheme ever devised” plot point, which has been cinematically tortured beyond recognition. All that stuff is simmering in this primordial ooze, but somehow Jurassic World rises above it all and puts forth a nuclear good time. I’ve pegged three reasons as to why the film works as a slam-bang popcorn actioner (and enough cash to fill a brachiosaur’s colon along the way):
I think it all starts with this guy. He made himself into a go-to blockbuster lead as Star-Lord, but when he’s riding his motorcycle with a pack of raptor hunters the guy hit another gear of movie cool. I’ve always been a fan from his Parks and Recreation days and though he’s going for a much burlier role than his hapless Andy character, that easy charm bleeds into Owen. The result? We’ve got one of the most likable movie heroes in quite some time and he’s one of the few humans in this franchise to hold a scene better than a T-Rex.
Colin Trevorrow notes in one of the bonus features that he wanted to come at the movie as if he were a kid going to the park for the first time. A bit corny, sure, but that approach gives the whole film a breezy, fantastic feel (as in “fantasy”) that keeps the idea of fun front and center at all times — even when maintenance guys are getting devoured alive.
The last thirty minutes or so
The action scenes are well done throughout, but the final stretch that features the most gung-ho dinosaur mayhem the series has ever seen is a blast. It’s a well-staged denouement and Trevorrow has a solid command of when to break out the beats and gags. From when Pratt jumps on his motorcycle to the culmination to a massive, all-out dino-fight, you’re talking about the best action spectacle this side of Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015.
Speaking of spectacle: the Blu-ray is, as you’d guess, a roundhouse. The 2.00:1 widescreen transfer looks awesome, with the boosted def actually enhancing the copious CGI. There are practical dinosaur models used here, but the quality of effects ensures that the crossover is barely noticeable. The sound mix especially shines, a DTS-HD Master 7.1 track that hits hard with all the necessary roaring and ripping you’ve come to expect. Extras: featurettes including a making-of doc, a Chris Pratt tour, a look at the movie’s dinos and an “All-Access Pass;” deleted scenes; and a fun dialogue between Pratt and Trevorrow.