“You can track them by smell or footprint?” asks Claire Dearing. Owen Grady responds, “I was with the Navy, not the Navajo.”
When Jurassic Park (which was based on Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel) opened in theaters 22 years ago, it became a worldwide phenomenon and soon became the highest-grossing film of all time (a record that stood until it was surpassed four-and-a-half years later by James Cameron’s Titanic). Its use of CGI to bring dinosaurs to life was a giant leap forward for what digital effects could accomplish. It was followed by two successful sequels (1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park and 2001’s Jurassic Park III), although it was difficult to recapture the awe and wonder created by the first film. After Jurassic Park III, there were attempts to craft a fourth film, but nothing really got off the ground and it would be 14 years before a new Jurassic Park film would materialize. I recently saw Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World on the big screen in 3D, and it was such an enjoyable experience (with even a few nods to the original film).
2015’s Jurassic World is set 22 years after the events of Jurassic Park on the island of Isla Nublar, where the Jurassic World theme park has been operational for the last 10 years. Things go awry when the park’s upcoming new attraction, a dangerous, genetically-modified dinosaur hybrid, breaks loose and roams across the island, prompting the park’s operations manager and a velociraptor expert/trainer to spring into action to stop it before it reaches the public. Trevorrow brought together a terrific cast that includes Chris Pratt (as Owen Grady), Bryce Dallas Howard (as Claire Dearing), Nick Robinson (as Zach Mitchell), Ty Simpkins (as Gray Mitchell), Vincent D’Onofrio (as Vic Hoskins), Irrfan Khan (as Simon Masrani), Omar Sy (as Barry), B.D. Wong (as Dr. Henry Wu), Jake Johnson (as Lowery Cruthers), Lauren Lapkus (as Vivian), Brian Tee (as Hamada), Katie McGrath (as Zara), Judy Greer (as Karen Mitchell), and Andy Buckley (as Scott Mitchell). Pratt is just cool as velociraptor trainer Grady, who’s managed to establish a connection with his velociraptors and must use his military training and wit when the Indominus Rex breaks loose. Howard brings uptightness and humility to Claire, who must do what she can to contain the breakout of the Indominus Rex as well as save her nephews. Wong, who is the only actor from the first film to appear in this one, has a slightly expanded role and is able to add some layers to Wu (even I was surprised by where he took the character).
Trevorrow’s direction is strong, drawing excellent performances and staging exhilarating action sequences. The screenplay by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly, and Trevorrow builds upon the world established in the previous Jurassic Park films and balances the drama with the right amount of humor. It takes jabs at corporations and the dangers of corporate greed (which is best represented in the film by the creation of the Indominus Rex). There are also several nods to the previous films, including the finding of the old Jurassic Park Visitor Center and a copy of a book written by Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum’s character from the first two films) being seen at a Jurassic World workstation. John Schwartzman’s cinematography reflects the tone of the film while matching the visual aesthetic of the first three films.
Ed Verreaux’s production design is amazing (I loved the different parts of the theme park). Kevin Stitt’s editing gives the film a good pace and creates a lot of suspense. The sound design by Pete Horner and Al Nelson enhances the suspense and scares, and the special effects are incredible (the dinosaurs are just as compelling today as they were over 20 years ago, if not more). Michael Giacchino delivers a suspenseful score that retains the style of the previous Jurassic Park scores by John Williams and Don Davis while still sounding like a Giacchino score (he does sparingly use Williams’ original themes on a few occasions). Trevorrow’s Jurassic World is a welcome addition to the Jurassic Park franchise with winning performances, outstanding special effects, and is just a fun monster movie to enjoy.